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Resiliency and adaptability crucial to Army Aviation's future

May 4, 2011

By Michael Negard, Commander's Initiatives Group, USAACE

Resiliency is the ability to "bounce back" in the face of adversity and stress. Adaptability is the ability to quickly adjust to changing conditions. According to the Army Aviation branch Chief, to be successful today and in the future, both characteristics must be prevalent in Army Aviation.

Addressing more than 1,500 military and civilian leaders, contractors and industry representatives April 18 at the 2011 Army Aviation Association of America annual professional forum and exposition in Nashville, Tenn., Maj. Gen. Anthony G. Crutchfield, Army Aviation branch chief and commander of the U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence (USAACE) and Fort Rucker, highlighted the key to success for the branch.

"We chose the theme of 'Full Spectrum Army Aviation: Resilient and adaptive for the future security environment' because it speaks to why we are here this week, where Army Aviation is today and where it needs to be in the future," Crutchfield said. "The future battlefield is an unknown and our Army and its maneuver commanders must be ready to rapidly transition between various levels of combat across the full spectrum of conflict. Full spectrum Aviation gives them more flexibility.

"There is no other combat enabler in the Army that is in greater demand than Army Aviation," noted Crutchfield. "I don't see a change in that demand in the near future."

Army Aviation's strenuous operational tempo is driven purely by demand for Aviation capabilities from ground commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan. With a total of 12 active component Combat Aviation Brigades (CABs) in the Army inventory and six brigades deployed, to include one CAB in Korea, the demand places stress on personnel and equipment.

"After a decade of combat, our Soldiers and their Families are tired and our formations are stressed," said Crutchfield. "Our aircraft are being flown four times the hours they were 10 years ago. I'm very concerned about the impact of demand today, but I'm also very concerned about where the stress will manifest itself in the next years to come."

The Army's goal is for active-component units to spend two years at home station between deployments. Most Army Aviation formations are spending just over a year in reset prior to deployment. According to the branch chief, resiliency is key until Army Aviation can achieve the needed time to reset.

"Resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or stress," said Crutchfield. "It applies to individuals, Families, our formations and equipment."

Kim Crutchfield, the general's wife, joined her husband on stage to emphasize the importance of resiliency, especially Soldier and Family resiliency, and highlighted a number of the symposium's programs.

"In keeping with the theme of resiliency I believe we are all so much better for each other when we take care of ourselves," she said. "There are a number of tools and programs available to our Soldiers and their Families and we should encourage everyone to participate."

The branch chief also highlighted the importance of being adaptive and how the Army's aviation training institution is focusing its efforts to enhance Soldier and leader professional development programs.

"What about the importance of being adaptive?" Crutchfield asked the audience. "The future security environment will be rife with uncertainty, ambiguity and complexity. We must develop leaders, both strategic and tactical, who are prepared, versatile and adaptable today and who can meet the challenges we will face in the future."

Using the cycle of "learn, act, adapt and learn again," the Aviation Center is incorporating aspects of the Army Learning Concept 2015 to enhance training and development programs to build more adaptable and versatile leaders.

"Our adversaries will use sophisticated asymmetric strategies, tactics, techniques and tools to defeat us," said Crutchfield. "To maintain a decisive edge over them we must exploit existing technology to augment our brick and mortar classrooms to deliver the best training to our leaders at the right time and place. As the operational environment changes, so must our Army's training institution."



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