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Paradigm Paralysis:  Doing More With Less In The Transport Helicopter Community
CSC 1993
SUBJECT Area - Aviation
                               EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Title:   Paradigm Paralysis:  Doing More with Less in the
         Transport Helicopter Community
Author:  Major Christopher E. O'Connor, United States Marine
Thesis:  Operating a transport helicopter squadron below 100
percent of its authorized table of organization (T/O)
manpower strength is an inefficient, labor intensive way of
doing business.  The Marine Corps must change its staffing
policies and incorporate innovative new ideas to rectify
manpower shortages.
Background:  The Marine Corps has never manned its transport
helicopter squadrons at 100 percent T/O.  The Marine Corps
created staffing goals and manning levels in an attempt to
account for personnel shortages; however, these procedures
were marginal at best and did not correct the problem.
Transport helicopter squadrons still do not have enough
personnel, and must rely on enlisted Marines to perform
extra duties in order to carry out all their missions.  This
paradigm of doing more with less has hindered the transport
helicopter community and adversely affected enlisted
Recommendation:   The Marine Corps must reorganize its
staffing policies and incorporate new ideas in order to
rectify chronic manpower shortages in the transport
helicopter community.
                    HELICOPTER COMMUNITY
Thesis:  Operating a transport helicopter squadron below 100
percent of its authorized table of organization (T/O)
manpower strength is an inefficient, labor intensive way of
doing business.  The Marine Corps must change its staffing
policies and incorporate innovative new ideas to rectify
manpower shortages.
I.   The Marine Corps has never manned its transport
     helicopter squadrons at 100 percent of T/O.
     A.  Marine Corps' staffing policy has been inadequate.
     B.  Manning levels have created manpower shortages.
     C.  Operational commitments do not reflect manning
     D.  Manpower shortages adversely affect enlisted
II.  Transport helicopter squadron's T/O is inadequate.
     A.  T/O does not allow squadron to conduct peacetime
         training without augmentation.
     B.  T/O does not support wartime missions.
III. Headquarters, Marine Corps must reorganize staffing
     A.  T/Os should be the only criteria used to man
     B.  Squadrons must review their T/Os for accuracy.
IV.  Aerial gunner MOS should be created.
     A.  MOS training would follow a formal training
     B.  New MOS would rectify manpower shortages.
V.   Enlisted ground-air exchange program should be
     A.  Program would be an incentive to ground combat
     B.  Program would enhance the Marine air-ground team.
                      HELICOPTER COMMUNITY
     As the Marine Corps enters into the joint arena, there is
one problem that has been around for so long that it is now
accepted as the status quo.  Doing more with less has always been
the trademark of the Marine Corps; however, this philosophy has
become a paradigm paralysis within the transport helicopter
community.  Operating a transport helicopter squadron below 100
percent of its authorized table of organization (T/O) manpower
strength is  an inefficient, labor intensive way of doing
business.  The Marine Corps must change its staffing policies and
incorporate innovative new ideas to rectify manpower shortages.
     Helicopter squadrons were designed to be manned at 100
percent of their T/O strength.  This provides the squadron with
an adequate number of mechanics, hydraulics and avionics men,
crew chiefs, and other personnel to efficiently maintain the
aircraft and operate the squadron.  However, as a result of
service-wide manpower shortages, Headquarters, Marine Corps had
to deviate from T/O manning and established staffing goals.  A
staffing goal is a Headquarters, Marine Corps reduction to a
unit's authorized strength.  For example, instead of having eight
hydraulics men as per the T/O, the squadron will have seven per
the staffing goal.
     Furthermore, staffing goals are no guarantee that the
squadron will receive everyone it rates.
The squadron will ultimately be manned by its parent air group.
If there are not enough hydraulics men in the group to man every
squadron at 100 percent, the squadron will receive less than the
number it rates.  So instead of eight as per the T/O, or seven as
per the staffing goal, the squadron could receive only six
hydraulics men as its manning level.  This would be a 25 percent
reduction in  T/O strength.  Since the same procedure is applied
to each of the  enlisted Marine occupational specialities (MOSs),
the squadron could find itself drastically short in numerous
personnel specialities.
     When Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 169 (HMLA-169)
deployed to Southwest Asia for Operation Desert Shield, the
squadron deployed with six less ordnance men than it rated in its
T/O.  The squadron Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel
Rodgers, stated in the Marine Corps Lessons Learned System
(MCLLS) that,
     Without the proper number of qualified ordnance
     personnel assigned to this squadron, an increased
     risk of ordnance safety violations and possible
     explosive mishaps, could occur during high tempo
     flight deck and land based operations. (8:15)
The Marine Corps Battle Assessment Team further concluded that "a
general shortage of skilled personnel was cited by most units."
     A medium lift helicopter transport squadron's PAA (Primary
Aircraft Authorized) is 12 aircraft.  This figure will not vary,
even though the squadron's manning level decreases.
Unfortunately, the result is that there is no proportional
relationship between the number of aircraft and the number of
personnel available to maintain and support them.
     The squadron's operational commitments do not change as a
result of shortfalls in the manning level.  Higher headquarters
expects a squadron to continue to operate and support all its
external exercises and commitments, even though its personnel
strength might drop below 85 percent of its T/O.  Doing more with
less is nothing new; therefore, few commanding officers are
comfortable telling their superiors they cannot do the mission
with the number of personnel on hand until it becomes extremely
obvious.  This usually does not occur until the squadron falls
below 75 percent of its T/O.
     The enlisted Marines bear the brunt of reduced manning
levels.  They are required to compensate for shortages through
increased work performance.  Twelve-hour days and 6-day workweeks
are the norm, rather than the exception.  Despite reduced manning
levels, normal maintenance requirements still exist, regular
periodic maintenance inspections must be performed, and broken
aircraft must be repaired.  The best leadership in the world will
not be able to maintain morale amidst continuous 60-hour
     Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 772 (HMH-772) was directed
to report aboard the USS Tarawa with minimum personnel for
noncombatant evacuation operations (NEO) and ferry home to the
United States.  The squadron could only take 50 percent of its
maintenance department to service 67 percent of its aircraft.
During Operation Sea Angel, squadron maintenance personnel were
forced to work 18-hour days for two weeks to support high tempo
operations. (5:11)
     A transport helicopter squadron is allocated 18 crew chiefs
for a 12-plane squadron.  The majority of the training missions
the squadron flies require two enlisted aircrew per aircraft.
Terrain flight (TERF), night vision goggle (NVG), and air combat
maneuver (ACM) missions require a well-trained crew with a high
degree of aircrew coordination.  Even if the squadron is manned
at 100 percent of its T/O for crew chiefs, it would be unable to
conduct such training missions with all its planes.  The squadron
can train Marines to assist crew chiefs as qualified observers
and aerial gunners; however, this requires an extensive training
program.  So even with a 100 percent T/O fill of crew chiefs, the
squadron is undermanned and requires personnel to perform extra
duties in order to carry out all its training missions.
     In combat, the enlisted aircrew requirements increase.  The
standard aircrew for a combat mission is a crew chief and two
aerial gunners.  The majority of the transport helicopter
squadrons that deployed to Southwest Asia lacked the required
number of qualified aerial gunners to man each of their aircraft.
As Major Phil Gleason, Aircraft Maintenance Officer of Marine
Heavy Helicopter Squadron 462 (HMH-462), remarked, "We didn't
have anywhere near the required number of qualified aerial
gunners when we deployed to SWA."(2:1)  The Battle Assessment
Team found that "the chronic lack of helicopter aerial gunners,
due to severely limited peacetime gunner billets, was corrected
by mass training of helicopter gunner candidates."(7:48)
Who is to say that next time we will have six months to correct
our personnel deficiencies?
     In order to alleviate manpower shortages, Headquarters,
Marine Corps must change its staffing policies.  Instead of
relying on staffing goals and manning levels, the Marine Corps
must return to T/Os as the only criteria for unit manning.  This
would eliminate staffing procedures that are marginal at best.
By returning to T/O manning, a squadron's manpower could be
determined by dividing the number of assigned personnel filling
T/O line numbers by the total number of personnel listed in the
T/O.  This would produce an accurate percentage of T/O fill that
could be standardized throughout the Marine Corps.  No longer
would one squadron on the east coast be reporting their manpower
status as a percentage of manning level while a west coast
squadron reported a percentage of staffing goal.
     In conjunction with returning to T/O manning, squadrons
should be manned at 100 percent of their T/O.  Headquarters,
Marine Corps, after receiving the mandated end strength from
Congress should man each unit at 100 percent of its T/O and
eliminate those units that would otherwise be a hollow force.
This would more efficiently manage manpower assets and provide
all units with enough personnel to accomplish their missions.
     A squadron's manpower percentage would be allowed to
fluctuate plus or minus 20 percent to take into account trainees
and transients; however, when the percentage of T/O fill fell
below 80 percent the squadron would stand down,  as it would not
have enough personnel to safely conduct its mission.  In a 250-
man squadron, this would occur when the squadron fell 50 men
short.  This policy would mirror the requirement for a squadron
to maintain 50 percent of its aircraft in a mission capable
status to conduct flight operations.  If the squadron fell below
80 percent of its T/O, it would be restricted from conducting
flight operations and supporting operational commitments until
correcting its manpower shortage.  This policy would change the
paradigm of doing more with less and prevent enlisted personnel
from being continuously overworked.  This change would be in
accordance with former Secretary of the Navy H. Lawrence
Garrett's statement in the Annual Report to the President and
Congress, February 1992:
     Navy and Marine Corps budget priorities begin today,
     as we restructure, where they did in the past taking
     care of our sailors and Marines.  Even with fiscal
     constraints and a smaller Fleet, we cannot allow our
     personnel readiness to suffer.  Our men and women are
     of the highest caliber and have unsurpassed dedication.
     ...Maintaining this professionalism along with our
     training, readiness, and fighting spirit cannot be
     compromised. (1:122)
     While the emphasis so far has been on a higher headquarter's
policy, squadrons would be responsible for a comprehensive review
of their T/Os.  Excess billets should be eliminated and critical
shortfalls identified.  This review would require an honest
evaluation of squadron personnel requirements.  The Marine Corps'
Battle Assessment Team noted that "a thorough study of what
units' actual personnel needs (are) in wartime scenario is
required." (7:34) and:
     If train as we fight is an all encompassing scenario
     that the Marine Corps espouses, then the average
     squadron T/O needs to be increased to reflect the
     wartime reality...."(7:51)
The result would be T/Os that would enable squadrons to
successfully complete all their missions.
     One critical personnel shortfall that requires immediate
attention is the number of enlisted aircrew assigned to a
squadron.  While a 12-plane squadron rates 18 crew chiefs,
it does not rate any aerial gunners or observers.  These billets
have historically been filled as a collateral duty by enlisted
maintenance personnel.  In order to fly a combat mission, three
enlisted aircrew are required on a transport helicopter: a crew
chief and two aerial gunners.  This represents a shortfall of 18
aircrew in a 12-plane squadron.  Instead of relying on collateral
duty personnel, a new MOS for aerial gunners should be created.
This would be in line with the Marine Corps' Force Structure
Planning Group's goal.  Headed by then Major General Charles C.
Krulak, "the goal was a concept-based, bottoms-up restructuring
of the Corps - a restructuring intent upon providing the Marine
Corps with the capabilities to carry out its role...." (4:15)  A
transport helicopter squadron would rate two aerial gunners per
aircraft for a total of 24.  These Marines' primary duty would be
flying; however, they could also be trained in maintenance-
related occupational fields as collateral duties.  This change
would not take maintenance personnel away from their primary duty
of working on helicopters, and it would provide the squadron with
the necessary number of personnel to conduct all its peacetime
training and wartime missions.  The aerial gunner MOS would apply
to every helicopter squadron in the Marine Corps.
     Marines selected for the aerial gunner MOS would attend
formal training conducted by a designated Marine air wing or the
Aircrew Candidate School at NAS, Pensacola.  The training would
consist of ground and flight training and would take six to eight
weeks to complete.  Initial ground training would include
aviation physiology and water survival, followed by classes in
basic aerial gunnery.  Upon completion of the ground syllabus,
student aerial gunners would commence flight training.
     Flight training would incorporate the combat capable stage
of training found in the basic aerial gunner/observer syllabus in
Marine Corps Order P3500.16A, Aviation Training and Readiness
Manual, Volume 3.  The student would have seven flights, for 10.5
hours, and be introduced to familiarization maneuvers (FAM),
confined area landings (CALs), terrain flight (TERF), night
vision goggles (NVGs), and air-to-ground gunnery (AG).  The
student would be required to fire a minimum of 500 rounds of
either .50 caliber or 7.62mm ammunition and would complete the
training with a combat readiness percentage (CRP) of 60 percent.
     Following a successful final evaluation flight, the student
would be designated an aerial gunner/observer and receive his
aircrew wings.  After reporting to his squadron, he would be able
to perform observer duties previously introduced in the combat
capable stage of training without supervision; however, he would
have to complete the combat qualified stage aerial gunnery
training prior to firing unsupervised.
     By implementing a primary aerial gunner MOS, the Marine
Corps would rectify a perennial manpower shortage and eliminate
the burden squadrons have had in identifying and training aerial
gunners.  In establishing a school to conduct combat capable
training, the Marine Corps would have met the recommendation of
the Southwest Asia Battle Assessment Team  to simplify training.
The Team recommended the following:
     Aerial gunner qualifications  are also in need of
     simplification and more skins (gunner flight pay)
     made available to all units to ensure an adequate
     pool of gunners is available in times of immediate
     crisis. (7:6)
     Along with creating a new MOS, an enlisted ground-air
exchange training program should be initiated between the
division and wing.  Selected ground combat Marines would be
chosen for a one-year tour with a helicopter squadron as an
aerial gunner.  The Marines would be prescreened to ensure that
they meet all the physical, aviation physiological, and water
survival requirements prior to reporting for training.  The
Marines would attend the helicopter aerial gunnery school for
their initial combat capable training prior to reporting to their
squadron.  The program would be an incentive for young Marines as
they would receive crewmember flight pay while in a flight
status; and upon successfully completing training, they would be
authorized to wear aircrew wings.  They would undergo the same
advanced training in the combat ready, combat qualification, and
full combat stages that is outlined in the Aviation Training and
Readiness Manual, Volume 3 for aerial gunners/observers after
they reported to their squadron.  The program would provide a
unique opportunity for ground Marines to gain first-hand
knowledge about the intricacies and working conditions within the
wing, and enhance the concept of the Marine air-ground team.
     It's time for a change.   Paradigm paralysis has resulted
from doing more with less, and has outlived whatever usefulness
it once had.  Innovative new ideas, together with changes in the
Marine Corps' manning policies, are essential as the Marine Corps
enters into the 21st century.  Marines are the Corps' most
important resource, and they  must be given the proper training,
resources, and necessary manpower to perform their mission.  They
should not be the ones to bear the burden of inefficient
     As the Commandant said in his speech at the Marine Corps
Command and Staff College in September 1992, "We must be a
relevant, ready, and capable Corps."  The policy changes and
innovative programs discussed herein will ensure the Marine
Corps' transport helicopter community is ready to meet the
challenges of an uncertain world.  Implementing these ideas will
take aggressive leadership.  As David Hackworth remarked, "The
Pentagon has few leaders with vision who have the guts to bring
the reforms that would blast our armed forces from the past."
(3:176)  Marine leaders have always met their challenges; it's
time to destroy this paradigm which has hindered the transport
helicopter community.
1.  Cheney, Dick.  Annual Report to the President and
     Congress FY 92.  Washington, D.C.:  U.S. Government
     Printing Office, 1992.
2.  Gleason, Major Phil.  Personal interview about personnel
     shortages during Operation Desert Storm.  Quantico,
     Virginia, 4 February 1993.
3.  Hackworth, David.  "Nuke the Pentagon."  Playboy,
     40(January 1993), 118-120, 176-177.
4.  Krulak, Major General Charles C.  "A Corps of Marines
     for the Future:  Relevant, Ready, Capable."  Marine
     Corps Gazette, June 1992, 14-15.
5.  Miller, Lieutenant Colonel.  "Personnel Shortages,
     Operation Sea Angel."  MCCLS Number 53143-97768.
     Quantico, 1991.
6.  Mundy, General Carl E.  Concepts and Issues:  United
     States Marine Corps 1992.  Washington, D.C.:
     Headquarters U.S. Marine Corps, 1992.
7.  Roberts, Major M. A.  Battle Assessment Team Southwest
     Asia Aviation Study.  Quantico, 15 June 1991.
8.  Rodgers, Lieutenant Colonel.  "Personnel Shortages,
     Operation Desert Shield."  MCLLS Number 32108-16703.
     Quantico, 1991.
9.  U.S. Marine Corps.  Headquarters U.S. Marine Corps.
     Aviation Training and Readiness Manual, Volume 3, MCO
     P3500.16A.  Washington, D.C., 20 March 1991.
10. U.S. Marine Corps.  Marine Air Group 16, Marine Corps
     Air Station Tustin.  Helicopter Aerial Gunnery

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