Army pulls Apache from National Guard units

 

300px-Apache_helicopter_in_flight

 

http://www.military.com/daily-news/2014/04/19/army-pulling-helos-from-national-guard.html

 

According to the US Army Drawdown and Restructuring report, National Guard Attack Helicopter Aviation units will lose their AH-64 Apache. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the AH-64, it is the replacement for the AH-1 Huey Cobra gunship from the Vietnam era. The AH-64 is the first truly dedicated weapons platform not just a helicopter with weapon systems added to it. It is highly maneuverable, has a climb rate faster than commercial jets, carries all kinds of toys and can lay down a serious amount of firepower on target and with precision. I heard a saying about the AH-64 once, “Apache, when you care enough to send the very best”.

AH63 with Hellfires

Here’s the section within the US Army Drawdown and Restructuring report that states the restructuring of aviation assets and the somewhat lame excuse for doing so.

 

Details of Aviation Brigade Restructuring

 

Additional details of this proposed restructuring include the following:

Eliminating three airframes/fleets; reorganize and re-mission remaining aircraft

to increase capacity to support combatant commanders, preserve readiness, cut

costs, and increase support available to Governors [for Army National Guard].

 

Consolidate all AH-64 Apache attack helicopters in the Active Component

[eliminates all AH-64 Apaches from Army National Guard]; along with

unmanned aerial vehicles, these AH-64s will be employed in armed scout

role as two models of the OH-58 Kiowa helicopters [currently serving as

armed scouts] will be eliminated.

 

Transfer nearly all of active and half of Army National Guard LUH-72

Lakota light utility helicopters to the U.S. Army Aviation Center at Ft.

Rucker, AL to serve as the new training helicopter and eliminate the current

training helicopter (Jet Ranger).

 

Transfer 111 UH-60 Blackhawk utility helicopters from the Active

Component to the Army National Guard.

 

The Army contends this will free up funds to modernize Army aviation, improve Army pilot training, and better meet the operational demand for Army aviation. In terms National Guard aviation, the Army notes transferring 111 UH-60 Blackhawks to the National Guard will enhance the lift capability immediately available to governors, which could be beneficial for disaster relief/homeland defense operations.’

 

And here’s the National Guard objections to this restructure:

 

National Guard Association Objections to the Army’s Aviation

Restructuring Proposal

 

In its advocacy role for the Army National Guard, the National Guard Association noted its objections to the Army’s proposal:

 

By taking all AH-64s from the National Guard, they will lose attack and aerial

reconnaissance capabilities.

 

Elimination of AH-64s also means the loss of some of the Total Army’s most

experienced Apache pilots and maintainers.

 

Eliminating AH-64s also eliminates a place for Active Component pilots and

maintainers to serve should they leave active service.’

 

Looking at the wording, several things stand out. Here’s one that just screams wtf:

 

“…these AH-64s will be employed in armed scout role as two models of the OH-58 Kiowa helicopters [currently serving as armed scouts] will be eliminated.”

 

 

For those of us who have worked with the AH-64 and the OH-58 Kiowa Scout, we know that while the AH-64 is a total badass weapons platform it is not in any sense of the word a scout aircraft. The sound footprint made by the AH-64 is something that can be heard from a long ways off unlike the OH-58. The AH-64 is an Attack Helicopter hence the ‘AH’ designation. The OH-58 is an Observation Helicopter, the ‘OH’ designation. This report has to have been written by some serious bean counters who have never stepped foot on a flight line. To actually think that the AH-64 Apache could be used as a scout aircraft with its thundering roar and screaming engines is totally ludicrous. The combination of the AH-64 working with the OH-58 is a proven scout/predator (not UAV Predator) team. To send in the AH-64 alone to act as its own scout does not work. The OH-58 is a quieter helicopter that can sneak in and ‘paint’ the targets for the AH-64 and remain on station to verify target saturation while the Apache sits back and lobs smart missiles at the threat. Note the mention that the National Guard will no longer be flying UAVs either.

Iraqi Freedom

 

Here’s another total face palm and wtf:

 

Transfer nearly all of active and half of Army National Guard LUH-72

Lakota light utility helicopters to the U.S. Army Aviation Center at Ft.

Rucker, AL to serve as the new training helicopter and eliminate the current

training helicopter (Jet Ranger).

The LUH-72 and the UH-60 is what replaced the old UH-1 Huey with the LUH-72 taking on more of a utility outfielder role when the UH-60 wasn’t available. The Jet Ranger is the commercial name is for the OH-58 Kiowa. From the wording of the report it appears that the OH-58 will no longer be in the military inventory in any configuration although its a proven scout asset that works exceptionally well with the AH-64 and is the training aircraft commonly used. I’ll admit, the Jet Ranger airframe has been around for a very long time, but its still a good fit for the military as a scout and trainer.

1-uh-72a-lakota

 

Here’s one I truly love:

 

“…transferring 111 UH-60 Blackhawks to the National Guard will enhance

the lift capability immediately available to governors, which could be beneficial for disaster relief/homeland defense operations.”

 

Not only is Big Army stripping the AH-64 from National Guard units, but they’re pawning off UH-60 Black Hawks in an attempt to make up for it. Note that there is no mention of MH-60 or MH-60L DAPs (Direct Action Penetrator) being provided to National Guard units that were formerly attack helicopter aviation units.

ride HM60 DAP

 

By supplying former attack helicopter units with plain, ‘vanilla’ Black Hawks, those units will no longer be designated as attack helicopter squadrons. That means more restructuring for the National Guard and presumably at a cost that the states will have to absorb not the DOD. The pilots should be able to transition to the UH-60 with no real issues. But, what about the addition of a flight engineer? According to the DOD requirements, the UH-60 requires two pilots and a flight engineer. That means the states need to come up the cost of training someone to fill the flight engineer slot. What about the existing National Guard facilities that were built for the attack helicopter squadrons? The AH-64 is smaller than the UH-60 so some of those facilities will probably need to be renovated or new facilities built to fit the UH-60. Again, at state expense.

MH60 front view wth mission pods

 

The best part is the loss of experienced attack helicopter pilots and maintenance support personnel (maintainers) that are in the Guard. Some of the active duty pilots who for whatever reason, leave Big Army, tend to gravitate towards National Guard units. The same can be said for aviation mechanics that were formerly active duty. An example of this would be a soldier or pilot who does 4-6 years or more of active duty and reaches the ‘glass ceiling’ meaning that while they have the time in grade, the rank, the experience, and the promotion points, there is no promotable slot for them to go into. Instead of languishing there, they get out of active duty and enlist in the National Guard where they put those years of training and experience to use thereby retaining a pool of highly skilled personnel. By eliminating those positions in the Guard, the active duty personnel with those skill sets have no place to go. There goes your ‘highly capable reserve component’.

To further drive home the need to maintain those aviation assets within the National Guard, here’s a statement from Defense Secretary Hagel:

Guardsmen and Reservists performed well in Iraq and Afghanistan. We could not have achieved what we did in either place without them.

 

Then he goes on to say this:

 

But experience shows that specialties requiring greater collective training to achieve combat proficiency and service integration should reside in the full-time force, where these capabilities will be more ready and available to commanders. What best serves our national security is when Guard and Reserve units complement the active force.”

Service Integration? Isn’t that what he just said previously with this statement:

 

Guardsmen and Reservists performed well in Iraq and Afghanistan. We could not have achieved what we did in either place without them.

 

And finally he hits the nail on the head:

 

In making these difficult decisions on the Guard and Reserves, we affirmed the value of a highly capable reserve component, while keeping the focus on how our military can best meet future demands given fiscal constraints. We made choices based on strategic priorities, clear facts, unbiased analysis, and fiscal realities… and with the bottom line focus on how best we can defend the United States.

 

He states ‘highly capable reserve component’ but cuts the AH-64 from highly capable National Guard components. The Army Reserve has already lost their attack helicopter squadrons. How do you retain a highly capable reserve component when you’re literally gutting the aforementioned reserve component?

 

I just love the unbiased analysis part. If it was unbiased then he and all the others who compiled this drawdown and restructure report about removing these air assets from highly capable reserve components would know that the maintenance and safety records of those units surpasses the active duty units by a factor of 10 or more.

 

To address the section, “…with the bottom line focus on how best we can defend the United States,” how about we stop deploying National Guard units overseas? That way, in the event of a major event, be it man-made or natural, we have personnel here at home that can rapidly respond. Anyone remember Hurricane Katrina? The majority of the Louisiana National Guard was deployed to SWA (Iraq/Afghanistan) when Katrina hit and several NG units from other states had to be called in. Some of those units came from as far away as Utah.

Bottom line, we’ll be seeing a lot more soldiers looking for work in the civilian sector when all this restructuring starts to really hit. There won’t be any equivalent National Guard or Reserve units for them to transition to.

Don’t get me started on the RIF lists for captains and majors, that’s coming or is already here and the last time that was activated was the 1970’s.

Overall, what we’re seeing is a bad decision made by people who have never had to depend on sling wing air assets to bail their ass out when they’re deep in a world of shit.

For more information on this and other future restructuring, see this link which will take you to a 33 page PDF:

http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/R42493.pdf

 

Here’s a link to the SECDEF’s speech about the FY 2015 Budget:

http://www.defense.gov/Speeches/Speech.aspx?SpeechID=1831

 

Below is a 3 page document about the One Team – One Fight program that the Pentagon instituted some years back. The author for the below piece was not listed but it it was written by an obvious senior RC (Reserve Component) pilot who points out some real world facts.

The case for keeping the AH-64 Apache in the National Guard

 

“One Team One Fight”

 

During more than 12 years of combat prosecuting the War on Terror, the Active Army senior leadership at the Pentagon have used the phrase “One Team – One Fight” to describe the relationship between the Active Component (AC – Active Duty Army) and the Reserve Component (RC – Army National Guard and Army Reserve). The term was designed and used as a unifying phrase to bring together all aspects of total Army power to defend the nation. It was meant to represent the training and equipment both AC and RC units and Soldiers received, indicating they are similar and of like standard. This description was also used out of necessity – almost 50% of the Total Army is RC troops. Twelve years of persistent combat operations across two theaters could never have been accomplished without these Citizen-Soldiers. How quickly this unifying theme is abandoned when budgets tighten and the two theaters wind down to only a small presence that may remain in Afghanistan.

 

For all but the last 75 years of our nation’s history we maintained a small standing Army and held the real military power in the militia (RC). At the beginning of WWII, more than a dozen nations had larger standing armies than that of the USA. Until that time the nation could neither afford nor did they trust a large, standing Army. This is a part of the constitutional concept of separation of powers and allows the people to hold the real power and decision-making authority in this country. Clearly, we as a nation raised the Army we needed to defeat tyranny in WWII and then kept it out of a desire to maintain the balance of power during the Cold War. The Army began to downsize in the 1990s as the Cold War ended, but these changes were set aside after 9/11. Now in the face of the Budget Control Act (Sequestration) and the winding down of combat operations in Afghanistan, changes must continue to be made within the Total Army. The question is: can the Pentagon make a decision that is in the best interest of national defense and still shrink its own budget?

 

Two relevant facts must drive this decision process. First, we must spend less on defense; the nation cannot afford to spend at the rate it has over the past 12 years. Second, the world is still a dangerous place for America. Despite 12 years battling terrorism, enemies remain that threaten our peace and prosperity. So how do we as a nation achieve two apparently conflicting goals: shrink spending and maintain military capability? The answer for the Army lies in large part with our historical precedence of NOT maintaining a large, standing Army but instead relying on a strong Reserve Component. Over the past dozen years of war, the National Guard and Army Reserve have changed from a strategic reserve to an operational reserve. They have proven they can be part-time, Citizen- Soldiers but still be capable of deploying and successfully completing their mission alongside Active-Duty Soldiers.

 

Many of the Senior National Guard leaders within the states, The Adjutants General (TAG), have made proposals that would maintain the overall size and capability of the Total Army by adjusting down the size of the AC and increasing the size of the RC. The size of the pie stays the same (Total Army capability) by shrinking the size of the expensive slices and increasing the size of the inexpensive slices. For example an AC Combat Aviation Brigade (CAB) costs $666 million per year while an RC CAB costs only $204 million per year. These National Guard, two-star generals have the solution for the apparently conflicting goals of maintaining national defense while saving significant money in the defense budget.

 

The question is: Will the Pentagon listen to the National Guard TAGs? Not if the Army Aviation Restructuring plan is an indicator. This plan would create a new type of Aviation Brigade found only in the National Guard equipped only with Utility and MEDEVAC aircraft for use in domestic operations and selected overseas deployments.

 

The National Guard has proven that it is fully capable of responding to large-scale, natural disasters or civil disturbances with its current force structure of Combat Arms and Service and Support units. However, the Pentagon wants to transfer all Combat Aviation Brigade headquarters and eight Attack Reconnaissance Battalions equipped with Apache helicopters (192 aircraft) from the National Guard to the Active Duty. They have already taken the only two Apache battalions from the Army Reserve. Why are they trying to fundamentally alter the nature of this relationship between the AC and RC, at least within the Army Aviation Force? Their proposal will abandon some of the hard-earned gains in operational capabilities by transferring Combat Aviation equipment and force structure away from the National Guard to the Active Duty. This would diminish the real value of the Guard—its dual role with only one relatively inexpensive price tag. It can be deployed overseas in its federal role to defend the nation as well as meet its state mission when called upon by the governor to respond to crisis at home.

 

The National Guard has proven that it is fully capable of responding to large-scale, natural disasters or civil disturbances with its current force structure of Combat Arms and Service and Support units. However, the Pentagon wants to transfer all Combat Aviation Brigade headquarters and eight Attack Reconnaissance Battalions equipped with Apache helicopters (192 aircraft) from the National Guard to the Active Duty. They have already taken the only two Apache battalions from the Army Reserve. Why are they trying to fundamentally alter the nature of this relationship between the AC and RC, at least within the Army Aviation Force? Their proposal will abandon some of the hard-earned gains in operational capabilities by transferring Combat Aviation equipment and force structure away from the National Guard to the Active Duty. This would diminish the real value of the Guard—its dual role with only one relatively inexpensive price tag. It can be deployed overseas in its federal role to defend the nation as well as meet its state mission when called upon by the governor to respond to crisis at home.

 

Rather than create two types of aviation force structure, the Pentagon should restructure the AC to be a smaller, more flexible, rapidly responding force. They should be self-sustaining in a short-term, expeditionary scenario anywhere in the world as they deal with a military crisis. The AC can then either resolve the situation and return home or establish a stable theatre that can receive and utilize the real staying power of the nation’s military strength, the Citizen-Soldier. The AC should have every type unit, equipment and capability, a truly self-contained force. If a particular unit is only found in the RC, i.e. a water purification unit such as the case back in Desert Shield/Desert Storm, this is the wrong answer. The AC needs every tool available to meet its mission immediately. Likewise, the RC should have every type unit and capability. Without this structure we have no affordable military staying power. This was proven during the last 12 years of persistent conflict. Even at the height of our military spending it took the RC to meet the mission.

 

The AC could not have conducted 12 years of combat alone. I deployed to Afghanistan as an AH-64D Apache pilot with the Utah Army National Guard. In my experience, it truly took One Team to prosecute One Fight. Making across-the-board cuts to both the AC and RC, along with pulling the Combat Aviation out of the Army National Guard, reduces overall national defense capability. This large loss of capability will provide some fiscal savings, but greater savings can be realized while still maintaining capability in the National Guard. We can also remain within constitutional intent and comply with Federal Law with a strong National Guard. Look to our past to solve a problem for our future. We can have military capability and also save billions in the defense budget. The answer to maintaining a strong national defense, while reducing budgets, rests with the Citizen-Soldiers in the National Guard.

 

 

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