11th Theater Aviation changes name to US Army Reserve Command

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The old adage which says “change is good” has taken on a new meaning within the Army Reserve aviation community over the past 24 months. The U.S. Army’s Aviation Restructuring Initiative sparked a multiyear campaign across the aviation community with the end result being realized on the reserve component.

This past October with the formation of two, multifaceted, expeditionary combat aviation brigades. With these new elements, which are nearly identical to combat aviation brigades minus the attack capabilities, the ARAC coupled with the National Guard Bureau has developed a sustainable readiness model that will allow for continuous support to all combatant commands.

Formerly designated as the 11th Theater Aviation Command, the Army Reserve Aviation Command is now a one-star headquarters element which oversees two fully deployable ECABs. The 244th and 11th ECAB represent the east-coast and west-cost based brigades with identical utility, heavylift, aeromedical evacuation, maintenance and fixed-wing capabilities.

In keeping with the guidance of the commanding general of the U.S. Army Reserve, the ARAC’s Soldiers and units are required to be ready to conduct their mission at any time or any place and adjust to whatever conditions or changes they may face. At the ARAC, our approach to training mirrors the doctrinal blueprint of the Army aviation training strategy but under a heightened level of scrutiny. In keeping with the model, our aviators and flight-crews first focus on the basic individual level tasks which include readiness level progression and crew integration. It is only at this level, where the individual and crew level tasks must be mastered through sufficient repetition.

As an inherent Reserve force, we do not have the luxury that our active duty counterparts possess, because we normally only have 90-days or less of mission-critical training in any given year to get these principle tasks accomplished. Nevertheless, our command has continued its “learning organization” personality to navigate the existing challenges and consistently meet the training requirements through creative and evolving training schedules.

Implemented in fiscal year 2017, the Sustainment Readiness Model, replaced the recognized Army Force Generation readiness concept with the desired end state being sustainable readiness as opposed to progressive and cyclical readiness. Within the Reserve aviation community, our leaders have taken it one step further and nested an aviation specific readiness model within the parameters of SRM. The end result being the ARAC’s Collective Training Strategy, which couples the specific prepare year requirements of SRM into an actionable blueprint that can be utilized at each level of command. Whether it’s a platoon size element or a brigade command and control staff, the ARAC’s collective training strategy allows for each corresponding leader to spearhead their own individual and realistic training initiatives, as long as it is within the scope of the parent policy.

Embracing the broad concepts of sustainable readiness allows the ARAC to give the Army and Department of Defense a capability for use in a contingency operation, where and when needed. Rather than train to a specific known demand and fall off a readiness cliff upon return and entering into a reset period, sustainable readiness allows for units to operate within a higher aggregate “band of excellence” with respect to operations. This is particularly important when considering reserve component organizations, in the U.S. Army Reserve and National Guard.

Operating within a higher band of excellence is truly a risk mitigation factor for senior Army and national leaders as they plan and orchestrate force projection into a theater of operation. We fully expect that any large scale contingency operation will demand more than our active component can provide, particularly in view of aviation capabilities. Therefore, it is incumbent upon the ARAC to ensure we are premobilization focused throughout all operations and maximize our readiness with decisive action based mission essential task training.

We are embracing our role in the developing an evolution of a total force capability that is capable of meeting known demands, is postured for surge contingency operations and remains globally responsive and regionally engaged. We truly are a new Army Reserve aviation.