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Brig. Gen. Hackett updates Army Aviation Modernization Program

Presenters: Brig. Gen. Craig D. Hackett, Director of Requirements ADCSOP Force Development
April 04, 2000 11:30 PM EDT

Tuesday, April 04, 2000 - 11:30 a.m. EDT

(Special Briefing on Army Aviation Modernization Program. Also participating: Col. Timothy P. McHale, Chief, Aviation Division ODCSOPS-DAMO-Force Development Aviation; Lt. Col. Patrick J. Garman, Apache PEO Aviation Liaison Officer to Aviation Systems Acquisition, Logistics & Technology; Lt. Col. Steve E. Hambrecht, Office, Chief Army Reserve Aviation Force Integrator; Alberto J. Jimenez, Chief, Army National Guard Aviation & Safety Division)

Rear Adm. Quigley: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. We are having two events here in the press briefing room today. Let me work back to front. At 1:30 today we'll have the regular DOD Tuesday-Thursday press brief. And so I'll be back here at 1:30 in that regard. But first, and starting now, I'd like to introduce Army Brigadier General Craig Hackett, who is the director of Requirements, assistant deputy chief of staff for Operations, Plans and Force Development on the Army Staff. And he'll be briefing you this morning on the Army's aviation modernization plan. And I see that he's brought several of his folks with him to take your questions following his remarks.

General Hackett?

Brig. Gen. Hackett: First I want to say thank you very much for allowing us to tell this good news story, the Army aviation modernization plan, and I would like to address your questions at the end of this.

First and foremost, I want everyone to understand that our senior leadership, our Army and Congress acknowledge this as a good news story. The aviation modernization plan fully supports the Army transformation process and reflects both the Army vision and the Army modernization goals. This plan provides a significant departure from the past because it aligns the aviation strategy with the Army vision. It places the Comanche as the centerpiece of Army aviation modernization. Army aviation is a key enabler for both the Army vision and the Army strategy to implement that vision. I think more importantly the Army National Guard and U.S. Army reserve have been an integral part of the development of this plan, and this is the Army plan.

We plan on divesting legacy aircraft. We plan on divesting AH-1s in FY '00. We also plan to divest UH-1s and OH-58A and C models by FY '04.

The aviation modernization plan is supported with funding provided in the president's '01 budget and the '00 to '05 POM. Additional requirements, if they should arise, will be addressed in the '02 to '07 POM.

Our modernization strategy requires us to make investments in the near term to train, equip and man units, and to assess the funding in our mid to far term to support force structure and aircraft inventory changes. The Army is fully committed to the Comanches and has said so by our senior leadership on several occasions very recently -- to 1,213 aircraft.

Now, I'd like to quickly turn this over so we can get into some more in-depth discussions, to Colonel Tim McHale, to Lieutenant Colonel Pat Garman, who both work for me in the Force Development Directorate on Aviation. And I want to tell you that this plan that we are talking about with you today, which you I think have copies of, was delivered to Congress in order to meet the 1 April suspense.

Also we have with us Mr. Alberto Jimenez, who is the chief of Aviation Safety for the Army National Guard. We also have Lieutenant Colonel Steve Hambrecht, chief of the Army Reserve Force Program -- who have been working with us side by side, as we developed this plan.

Col. McHale? Pat?

Col. McHale: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.

Since last summer, we have been working very hard on the aviation modernization plan -- not only the Army staff and secretariat, but the heavy drivers of this -- that has been the TRADOC community, the commandant and his staff at Fort Rucker -- Army Materiel Command, the PEO, National Guard, Office of Chief of Staff -- Office of Chief of Army Reserves. And many MACOMs have been involved in this plan, an iterative process over the last year, while we have been working this closely with the chief of staff, senior leaders and staff groups to make sure we are in sync and in line with the Army transformation.

This modernization plan serves as a compass to give us an azimuth that lays out a direction of modernization efforts to transform Army aviation in concert with the Army's vision and the transformation strategy. As General Hackett said, this is a "good news" story -- working hard, side by side with the National Guard and Reserve all along the way to make sure we were in sync and can do the best for our nation.

Besides divesting aircraft, modernizing the active and the Reserve component to look alike is a major step forward in a full-spectrum capable force.

With this, we'd like to have Pat Garman here. Lieutenant Colonel Garman will give you an overview of some of the force structure changes and go through some of the details that are inside the Army aviation modernization plan.

Brig. Gen. Hackett: Some of these charts are used in the modernization plan that you were provided earlier. This is just to kind of help you through those so that if you refer back to them, you kind of have the background on how they were developed.

Lt. Col. Garman: Good morning. I know this central chart is not in your packet. Right now it's predecisional, it's what we have kind of looked at to make sure the transition can go, and I'll discuss it kind of in depth. But that is not in your packet, and once the final decisions have been made by the chief on when and how we're going to transition our units, that will be released to you. Down here, these four charts here are in your packet, and I'll kind of talk to you about that, as well.

But the first thing I want to talk about is Army transformation as a whole, and probably what you've read a lot about or seen what has been released talks about the transitioning of airframes and how we're going to do that and maybe some numbers, that sort of thing. But really, it starts with the training of the soldiers and how are we going to take the soldier of today through doctrine and training, leader development, and move him into the future to be aligned with what the chief as said in his directions? Because if we're going to have a more responsive, agile, versatile force, that's going to happen as the basis from the soldiers and leaders of the Army first.

On the bottom side, what you see is the equipment. See, recapitalization of the Longbow, recapitalization of the A-model fleet to the L-plus -- UH-60 A-model to L-plus, excuse me. Recapitalization of the Chinook fleet, CH-47 Deltas to the CH-47 F model, foxtrot. And, of course, our central piece, which is procurement of the Comanche, which is absolutely central to our attack-half strategy throughout the entire transformation process.

What you see here is kind of a divisional front. The lines are based on the chief's lines, tied to the ground transformation process but not timed in the same way, and I'll discuss that, why that is, is a second. But we have the near term, 2000 to 2004; the mid-term, 2004/2009; and basically the far term, '10 and beyond.

The upper part of this line is the active component and corps units; the lower part is the reserve component. And we wanted to break that out. And what these little boxes show, is these are the individual aviation brigades for every one of the divisions. And you can see just in general that we have a very rapid transformation of the Reserve component aviation brigades. At 2004 it's here. We are going to transform them to the new structure, this multi-function battalion structure, within the next three years. Now, the reason that is, as we know, is we have got to divest the legacy aircraft, that's the AH-1s and the UH-1s, as rapidly as possible. We've got to give those aviators in the attack cav units a bridge of an aircraft to fly, which is going to be the OH-58As and Cs, until they're fielded with Apaches. And we have to divest the Huey's, obviously, because of the problems we've had, and really it's not the aircraft that we need in a deployed force today.

To do that, we don't have huge numbers of aircraft not being utilized in the Army today. So as we transform and fill these units, we have got to harvest those aircraft from the active component and from the corps units, and in the corps units there are Guard, National Guard and Reserve units that we'll also harvest aircraft from. So initially, we're going to harvest aircraft from the corps based upon our new structure, and we're going to bring them down to fill up that Guard structure in the divisions. And as we continue on, we'll transform the active component divisions' brigades online to maintain our legacy war-fighting capability as we modernize the National Guard force at this rate. And it's relatively quick, because the vast majority of the transformations, seven of the divisions, we think right now will be done by '04 into the new structure. Now, of course, we know Comanche is starting to come on in '06, the first unit equipped in '08, and then we'll start fielding at 72 per year under the current program starting in 2010, and that's when the remainder of this new structure will be filled out.

So this is the new building block. And I think some of you have seen it. It's been out in the news for a little while. It's a multi-function battalion consisting of 10 Comanches, 10 Longbows and 10 Black Hawks. That's in the objective force structure.

This building block -- again, being the objective force structure, we don't have Comanches. They're not fielding, again, -- Comanche -- equipment till '08. So we will use either Apaches or 58-Deltas in the transitional period, until a Comanche is fielded, to fill the reconnaissance role.

Let's talk a little bit about what we're changing in some of the main structures, the corps aviation combat brigade structure, the support aviation brigade structure, and what our division aviation brigades are looking like.

And these charts are all in your handout. I'm not sure which page they're on -- I think around 11 or 13, for some of them.

The corps aviation combat brigade used to be the attack brigade, and it's a little bit changed, because now, instead of having three pure attack battalions consisting of Comanches and Long Bows, we have three multi-function battalions, consisting of, again 10 Comanches, 10 Black Hawks, and 10 Long Bows, those three battalions. It's that combat aviation brigade; really, it's because we have Black Hawks in that organization now, where we didn't before. That's significant, because now these battalions can then be deployed out as part of a stability and support operation or a small-scale contingency, to support aviation. They're already task-organized, they've trained with their fellow aviators, and they are prepared to execute full-spectrum operations, whether it is support for civil authorities or some sort of combat or near-combat operations.

So we go to three multi-function battalions consisting of 30 Comanches, 30 Long Bows, and 30 Black Hawks. And that's the total force structure in the battalion -- or brigade. Excuse me.

So the corps aviation support brigade, which is -- used to be called the lift brigade, made predominantly of utility aircraft -- the structure has changed a little bit more. We used to have a light utility helicopter battalion. Those aircraft have been divested. They're filled now with Hueys. We did not have an aircraft yet to fill that, so we divested that battalion, eliminated it from the structure, and we've grown up to the objective force structure of three battalions, consisting of the Chinook battalion, which is exactly the same as it used to be, at corps level; an assault battalion, with 30 helicopters -- and really that gives that corps commander the ability to take and provide additional support down to the divisions, as required. They used to be in two 15-ship companies. Now they're in three 10-ship companies, again, because that fits right into this building block.

This is a very flexible structure. If, in some situation, we believe that we don't need Long Bows, maybe some reconnaissance aircraft and more utility, you can take that unit out, and then you can augment it with the 10-ship company -- utility company, to give more capability. It all depends upon the mission that you need to execute.

It looks a little bit smaller.

We have 52 Black Hawks, plus 11 UH-60s. That's 64. We used to have 86 in a corps lift brigade. But we have also added 32 Black Hawks to the multifunction battalion. So that's really where those aircraft have come from.

We have also -- in the divisional area, we have pushed down some of those reinforcing assets already to the division structure. That LUH battalion that we talked about being at the corps has really been pushed down to the division structure. And it's changed the active component/reserve component lay-out a little bit. And we'll talk about that now.

Currently in a division aviation brigade structure, you have an attack battalion, a pure-attack battalion that -- it consists of Comanches and Longbows in the requirements; not today, they're -- consist of Apaches. You have a utility battalion that consists of Black Hawks, and then you have a division cav squadron that consists of OH-58 Deltas.

In the objective force structure, we'll have two multifunction battalions, and then we'll have a separate division cav troop of 12 Comanches. Now really, what we have done is we have taken these two existing battalion headquarters and -- rather than making them peer or single-mission, we have taken those same two headquarters, augmented them with staff and personnel, and we have given them the full capability; again, so when the requirement of going to support an operation, such as in Kosovo or Bosnia, or some sort of emergency relief in Central America or a volcano reaction, we have the ability to take a force and deploy it down there, which already is trained together, who has the maintenance structure to support all the aircraft. And we don't have to reach down and take different pieces of these organizations that appear really designed for the cold War sort of environment. And we can give them -- and they are totally operational with 24-hour operations. So we obviously have to increase our maintenance requirements, our staffing requirements, to make that possible.

Now what I haven't talked about yet, and it's kind of hard to see but it is -- on your book, is behind each one of these Black Hawk companies, there is a second company. And that's a reserve-component, 10-ship Black Hawk unit. And that unit exists specifically as a round-out unit for that battalion.

So if they do get activated, and have to go and support some operation for sustained operations and traditional capabilities, they would activate that 10-ship reserve company. And that would give them 10 Comanches, 10 Longbows and 20 Black Hawks. And that's sufficient, we believe, to do the command-and-control operations, the air mobile or air movement-type operations and the mission scenarios that we have looked at, of course, across the same full spectrum; it could be civil relief-type operations, or it could be other operations.

And what this structure gives us, again, is if you send somebody or an organization down for a stability support operation and something happens, they can transform rapidly between the different operations. They can go from stability support, to small-scale contingency and operate in that environment without having to send down additional capability, additional maintainers, additional staff who are all ready to go immediately.

So that was really the Corps of what we're doing. And of course the entire Army structure -- active component, reserve component, corps structure is going to this -- based upon this new building block, and we're going to make that transformation relatively quickly. And again, we have to do it quickly because we need to rapidly divest of the legacy air frames, modernize the National Guard, while we're still maintaining our Legacy war-fighting capability.

That completes my presentation.

Brig. Gen. Hackett: Thank you, Pat. Well done.

I'd like to now kind of open up for questions that you might have. And I'll have my cohorts here assist me in answering those questions.

Sir?

Q: Force structure pilots. Will you increase the number of pilots? And if so, by how many and how quickly?

Brig. Gen. Hackett: Do you want to take that?

Col. McHale: We actually are doing this within our existing force structure. Some of the analysis, final analysis, on -- about increasing the staff and increasing the maintenance personnel, we don't have some of the final numbers yet. But by going to this new structure -- for example, we've eliminated the LUH battalion. That's a battalion headquarters and a number of battalion people, who we now go down and that fills those second companies of these divisional multi-function battalions. So we are staying within our existing pilot and personnel structure.

Q: Okay. While the overall number of pilots doesn't -- do not increase, the number of available pilots at combat level does increase. Now, can you define that number for me, the number of pilots then available for combat missions in a battalion, the new battalion, for instance? Will it go up from --

Col. McHale: I'll answer that. Right now that's undergoing on a total Army analysis force structure is going through that process right now. They're working the numbers right now -- the commandant of the Aviation School. A good news story is we are increasing the pilots; we're working out the numbers now in order to support this organization, along with maintainers, and a more robust battalion staff.

Q: Could you even give a ballpark kind of figure -- 5 percent, 10 percent, 15 percent?

Col. McHale: No, I don't want to do that at this time, because as they ripple it out, as they look through it, they're working through the actions of the TAA process, which is run by a whole different other office. They go out and they work with all the MACOMs on what we can support as far as resources --

Brig. Gen. Hackett: Let me try to help out a little bit. The crux of your question goes back to in a combat op tempo, you normally have more missions and reliable aircraft to fly than you do have those crews to maintain the 24-hour operations. Let me try to address this two ways.

One, what Tim said, as far as the TAA process of going through and vetting that new force structure, that's ongoing. And you will see that in 7.1, which is the TAA process. But what you also have to think about is, because we changed the structure of the National Guard and Reserve components to mirror those of the active components and we don't have that training lag now, that a UH-1 pilot can't supplement or augment a UH-60 pilot, we have eliminated that.

So I have two options. And I'd like Alberto to kind of illustrate this a little bit. By his organization now becoming modernized, I can ask for crew to supplement an operation because I can take them from the National Guard and deploy them with a active component unit, which gives me 24-hour capability. Or I can ask for the entire unit to come, and that gives you that more robust capability, and you double your capability on the battlefield.

Alberto, do you want to add anything to that?

Mr. Jimenez: It looks like you already did.

Brig. Gen. Hackett: Okay.

Q: General, I wonder if we might --

Brig. Gen. Hackett: Yes?

Q: -- come up for air?

I must be perfectly -- (inaudible) -- because I tell you I am a little bit confused. Have you all prepared any kind of blue-top or anything that tells you how many Comanches you are going to have, when all this comes to end; like in '08 or '10, how many Comanches, how many Apaches, how many -- for the great unwashed azimuth, the vast recapitalized, give me -- nothing --

Brig. Gen. Hackett: Okay.

Q: -- have you all prepared a blue-top for the great unwashed so they can understand?

Q: That the average --

(Cross talk.)

Q: -- but whatever -- a green-top or whatever --

Brig. Gen. Hackett: Sandy?

A: Let me --

Q: -- something --

A: We can provide all those details to you so you --

Q: But I mean --

A: -- (inaudible) -- antiquated.

Brig. Gen. Hackett: But let me go again so that no one leaves here confused too much at the end-state.

The current modernization strategy has the Comanche, because you mentioned that overall, the acquisition objective of the Comanche has not been modified whatsoever, from 1213. And at the end state of FY '23-24, when the procurement objective is supposed to be met, it will still remain at 1213.

Now, there are decision points along the way, as we move and evolve into this new force structure, that our senior leadership will have to tackle, as to what we do in the interim. But there is no change on the objective end-state for the Comanche.

Q: How old is the CH-47, and why isn't it being replaced?

Brig. Gen. Hackett: Okay, CH-47? The CH-47 is probably one of our best aircraft on the battlefield because it has had interim upgrades of what we call P-3I, product improvement points, along the way. Even though it's an older air frame, which you know, sir, started back in Vietnam, there has been a progressive program instituted by the PEO, General Snider and others, to ensure that, as new engines or more powerful engines have been needed, we have gone on and done that. As new transmissions and upgraded basic structure requirements have been required, we have implemented those. And that is allowing us to then use the CH-47F as our modernized platform, with an end-state of having a fully digitized capability and a glass cockpit.

So if you want to take a model, which we can provide you details on, of how it should be, the CH-47 is that model.

Q: Is it more cost-effective than, for instance, purchasing V- 22? And is the Army considering the V-22 as an option?

Brig. Gen. Hackett: Right now, sir, I believe that the V-22 is still an option. I don't know of anything that's changed that. But as far as relating that to as a cost differential, I would tell you that the CH-47F program, if we stay on that path, which is the one the senior leadership is looking for prior to going to a future transport rotorcraft, it is more cost-effective do it that way.

Q: One last question on the CH-47. If you recapitalize the CH-47 and you continue to modernize and upgrade it, how long now will this airframe be flying? I mean, what's the end date? Does it fly up until the next -- middle of the century here?

Brig. Gen. Hackett: What I said, when I was talking about those interim decisions, as we get out to that end state of our objective force, the future transport rotorcraft, which we're working very closely with other services in trying to define what those characteristics are, will be what replaces the improved combat -- or cargo helicopter, the CH-47F. We are looking to try to have that come on, as far as technology allows and funding allows, about the time that our CH-47s will be reaching their basic end state as far as longevity.

Q: When is that?

Brig. Gen. Hackett: That's around the 2012 to 2015 time frame is what we're looking for for a future transport rotorcraft. But that does not say that if we don't change in mid-stream we can also alter -- if the future transport rotorcraft -- to make sure we got this -- if it doesn't have the technology, if we don't have the funding to reach that end state, individual improvements of the CH-47 will give that longevity to go further past the requirement for the future transport rotorcraft. So we have a couple of options here.

Q: How did you find the money to buy a total of 1,213 Comanches?

Brig. Gen. Hackett: What did you say?

Q: Where did you find the money to fund --

Q: (Off mike.)

Lt. Col. Garman: Okay. It is currently funded in the president's budget. We have it funded in the '02 to '07 POM, and we have the funding stream identified in the EPP.

Q: (Off mike) -- plan?

Brig. Gen. Hackett: For the 1,213 Comanche plan.

Q: What about the -- (off mike) --

(Cross talk.)

Brig. Gen. Hackett: Wait a minute. Slow down.

Q: How about the total funding? Price?

Brig. Gen. Hackett: We're not going to get into total cost.

Q: Why not?

(Cross talk.)

Brig. Gen. Hackett: We can provide that to them later on?

STAFF: Yes -- (off mike).

Lt. Col. Garman: Okay.

Q: Is that 47 billion or something?

(Cross talk.)

Brig. Gen. Hackett: I don't have the budgetary figures in front of me, but you asked me, "Is it fully funded?" Yes. You asked me, "Are we still reaching 1,213?" Yes.

Q: What was sacrificed in order to make that --

Brig. Gen. Hackett: There were no sacrifices.

Q: You're not buying all 743 remanufactured Apaches, for example.

Lt. Col. Garman: That's a different question.

Q: Okay. And why are we buying 243 remanufactured --

Brig. Gen. Hackett: We have not -- we are still in the development. As we go through this transition process, there is a portion of a recap program that we have for the Alpha model and for the Long Bow Apache that you know about. And those decisions on exactly what that total procurement end-state will be are still being assessed.

Q: Under this plan -- just to be clear, under this plan, would all Apaches be upgraded to Apache Long Bow, or would you move to an all-Long Bow fleet? Is that --

(Cross talk.)

Lt. Col. Garman: I will talk to two different things on that.

Q: Mike.

Lt. Col. Garman: It's on. It's supposed to be on there. They tell me it's supposed to work, anyway.

There's really two parts to that question. First of all, we know that we have a changed force structure, okay? So if you say what used to be the requirement, certainly that was based upon a force structure. Our force structure is now changed, and there are some decisions being made about that right now. So, first of all, our force structure is changed. So as we look at what is the total requirement at the end state of filling this force to 100 percent of this requirement, which happens when Comanche's fielded, that number is different than 743, okay? And I will tell you that I -- I can't tell you what that number is now, because there are still some decisions being made as we go through this process. However, we know what the requirement is going to be based upon, which is our straight-out force structure.

The next question is, to answer that, is if that requirement is less than the entire 743 fleet -- that's being analyzed right now.

The vice chief of staff has directed a working group that over the next few weeks will be determining in depth the reliability, sustainability plan for the entire aviation fleet. And the Apache fleet, Alpha and Delta, is part of that plan, looking very hard at what the new requirement is, and then making a very cognitive decision based on the war fight, based upon cost effectiveness and analysis, et cetera, on what the exact right numbers are.

Q: I think I understand that. That's all -- right. He asked a simple question.

Brig. Gen. Hackett: Right.

Q: When you get to the end state, no matter how many Apaches you end up having in the force --

Lt. Col. Garman: That's correct. They will be pure Delta models.

Q: -- are they going to be all Longbow models?

Brig. Gen. Hackett: That's correct. That's where we --

Q: They will be. That's a yes.

Lt. Col. Garman: Correct. It's certainly the intent from everything that I understand is when we get to our fully fielded force, it will be a pure fleet, Delta models and Comanches.

Q: Is the fire control radar in all of them?

Lt. Col. Garman: No. That's never been the plan, to have -- well, last year we talked about that, and you're right, because they had said 530, 500, and there was 30 aircraft with that. No, not with all radars.

Q: One more simple question: the Comanche. I take it from what I see here that it looks like it's being envisioned largely as a reconnaissance-surveillance aircraft as opposed to an attack. Is there an attack role for the Comanche in the future, or is it basically going to be reconnaissance --

Brig. Gen. Hackett: The Comanche fulfills the armed reconnaissance mission as a priority. It can move into the attack role if required. But that's not the intent of where it's going to fit on the new operational construct on the battlefield. Armed reconnaissance is going to be its primary mission.

Now, let me tell you a little bit something about the Comanche that people don't dwell on that I'd like to kind of dwell on a little bit. The fact of the Comanche is not the fact that it can carry Hellfire missiles, or 2.75 rockets, or the cannon, it's the fact that the mission equipment package that it has on board will allow it to introduce itself early into a theater of operations when other assets are not available, national assets, for intel, JSTARS, downfeed for imaging and processing, and can give that commander, the task force commander, who is going to now follow in with his forces, a capability of gaining that valuable intelligence on the battlefield without being discovered.

That's the power of the Comanche. And with that ability, you give the Joint Task Force ground commander the ability to now have a platform that can provide him the information that he needs to make those critical decisions as he introduces those forces.

I'm getting a time cut -- (cross talk).

Q: Is there an unfunded requirement associated with the overall modernization plan? And if so, how big is it?

Col. McHale: I can address that.

As the General said earlier, the plan itself is addressed in the '01-'05 POM and it's also going to be looked at and addressed in the '02-'07 POM. I say "address" because what we're looking at right now on the aviation plan is transforming the fleet, modernizing the Guard, divesting the legacy system, recapitalizing the fleet, and modernization on some of the areas.

The exact unfunded requirement of this program has not been decided yet because the Army process we have been looking -- as you probably know to some extent -- we've been looking very much on aviation, how do we need to structure this, how do we need to look at this? There is a time when individual systems will be competed across the Army, and the Army itself has not made the decision upon all of its priorities on its systems. So I will tell you that there is a -- we have a very large task -- the aviation funding program is pretty well set right now. We're going to be competed, and the Army has not made the decision on exactly how much it will fund and how much in this POM and how much it will structure to be carried on into future years.

Q: So wait a minute. You're saying you don't have a ballpark estimate of how much over you are, how much this big, unfunded chunk is for the entire transformation, which we had all understood was going to partly be coming out of your hide, and now it's not? So whose hide is it coming out of it?

Col. McHale: No, I think there is going to be part of it coming out of the aviation hide, and I think that the Army itself will address those. But the reality is, is that those decisions, the final decisions, honestly have not been made. So --

Brig. Gen. Hackett: And will it be addressed in the '02-'07 POM.

Let me add one other thing, because this is something that's on your mind. There is a task force, that has been stood up by the vice chief of staff, that's looking at the overall readiness and sustainment of the entire aviation fleet. That's ongoing as we speak. And we owe a report back to the vice chief of staff on those issues very shortly. I believe that we want to assume that out of that task force there will be coming some issues that need to be resolved, maybe in the '02 to '07 POM.

So all the definition you all are looking for is not really there until we assess the overall fleet. Now that's the first time we've done that in a long while, as you know. Some of impact of what we come up with in the task force will affect the '02 to '07 POMs and those decisions in aviation. So I could tell you something now, and I'd turn right around in several weeks and tell you something different. I'd rather not do that.

Q: General, could you just step back and take a look at the big picture for a minute, because you said at the beginning this is a good news story.

Brig. Gen. Hackett: Yes, it is.

Q: But there's a lot of people look at Army aviation and they're not seeing a lot of good news. They see that the Cobra fleet can't be maintained, it's not providing the level of training for Guard units. The Apaches have been grounded by a series of problems. You've got Vietnam-era aircraft still all throughout the inventory. And they look at it and they say it's an aviation situation in crisis. Can you comment on that -- he broad overall?

Brig. Gen. Hackett: The broad overall I will comment, and then I'd like to let Tim talk a little bit about the Apache, and then I'd like to close it with what we see in the future and how we're trying to address this.

If you noticed, the reason that we say it's a good news story is we have all now come to the conclusion that we, as an Army, cannot continue on on the path that we have been as related to aviation readiness and sustainment issues. The AH-64, as you know, has had some problems, and we're addressing those problems because primary to our ethos is the safety of our crews. We always err on the safe side. We grounded the UH-1s to do just that. We grounded the AH-1s to do just that -- to err on the safe side. The grounding of the AH-1s and UH-1s basically promulgated the acceleration of the retirement of those legacy aircraft.

And that's why we have taken action in the leadership of the Army to do just that. We're getting rid of the AH-1s that are not flying in the National Guard and did not have a wartime mission. We're getting rid of the UH-1s, the legacy fleet that we talked about. We're taking action to do that.

We're also modernizing the National Guard and Reserve, something that hasn't been done up to this point in time, and they would tell you -- they'd be first to tell you that that's the way we should have been doing it all along.

So I think if you look at this, you see some proactive measures being undertaken, and we are looking at the readiness and sustainment of our entire fleet. I think you should give us a chance to work through some of those issues -- you're seeing progress -- and then come back with us in about six months and see if some of the things that we have tried to do have made a difference and changed the way that we're thought about.

Q: General?

Brig. Gen. Hackett: Yes?

Q: Could you just --

Q: (Off mike) --

(Cross talk.)

Lt. Col. Garman: I just want to add on to that. I've really got to totally disagree with the initial premise that you made that we are -- that the branch or the Army aviation is in crisis. It's not in crisis. We have the most powerful, fully fielded, largest, flown-on- a-daily-basis-all-over- the-world fleet supporting the Army outright. I mean, it's not flowed real well, but the bottom line is, our aviation, Army aviation, is actively supporting the ground forces throughout the world.

Are there some issues which we have got to address? Yes, there absolutely are, and they are immediate issues, they are near-term issues, mid- and far-term issues. And we know what those are, and we're addressing them.

So I really don't agree with the fact that we're in crisis. Crisis is you don't have a clue what's going on, and you don't have a plan.

Q: Can you just explain what those issues are? And could you say -- you said that -- (off mike) -- or we can't continue on the path we have been. Could you describe what that path was? We understand where you're going, but where is it that you're coming from, and what are the issues that you're facing -- (off mike)?

Brig. Gen. Hackett: Okay, let me just start off with the fact that what Pat said is absolutely correct. But as issues have been developed or issues surface within our fleet, there's been a proactive capability --

Q: I don't follow on the helicopters --

Brig. Gen. Hackett: Okay.

Q: -- what issues are you talking about?

Brig. Gen. Hackett: Okay --

Q: I know about the Kosovo Apaches, but could you just explain what those are?

Brig. Gen. Hackett: Okay, let's start off with the Task Force Hawk issues that were brought up. Are you familiar with those issues?

Q: Yes.

Brig. Gen. Hackett: We have formed a task force -- we've had a task force in place to address all of those. We've already made investments in the critical programs that will alleviate some of those lessons learned, so that the next time we deploy the Task Force Hawk type operations, we won't have those issues facing us.

Q: (Off mike) -- which they were ready to fly?

Brig. Gen. Hackett: Mainly the readiness issues as it related to pilots training and some of the systems issues as it related to the aircraft systems and hardware that they had to work with.

Secondly, in the maintenance and sustainment area you all have talked about the safety of flight that you've seen surface on the Apache and some of the other air fleets. We have a very proactive aviation safety action plan that any time those come up we react to those with quick leadership to either resolve the issue, find out why it's occurred, and make sure that we do the proper actions, or we restrict those aircraft from flight until we can do so.

The final thing that we've done is we've taken a holistic look at the aviation force structure and manning, and we have made the recommendation to our senior leadership that this transformation strategy nests itself inside of the Army transformation strategy and will give our operational forces a more capable and operational aviation fleet.

So I think by taking those three and showing you that we have been proactive in this measure I think is a part of the process that we want to show you. Okay?

Staff: We're out of time. We're out of time.

Brig. Gen. Hackett: Okay.

Q: General, can I ask you, one thing on the issue of crisis, though? I mean, you've got a --

Brig. Gen. Hackett: (Off mike) -- we'll take that, sir, but we're out of time.

Staff: We're out of time, so --

(Cross talk.)

Brig. Gen. Hackett: We'll take your question, sir, but we're out of time. We have to get -- (off mike).

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