The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have been tough on the men and women of our armed services! We have suffered casualties, multiple long deployments and families have sacrificed too with impacts on spouse employment, child care help from a spouse, missed /holidays/birthdays/anniversaries, etc. But often we forget about the equipment that is used to fight and protect our combatants.
AH-64 – See below for photo credit The desert environment has been particularly hard on all the services’ equipment and will need to be taken care in an austere budget time frame. From ground transportation vehicles, to helicopters, other aircraft, weapons and ground equipment like generators the toll has been heavy. Extended flying hours, on the road hours, weapon usage, run time on generators and more have left our equipment (that provides our fighting force an edge) with down time and repair needs. In some cases, equipment needs to be replaced completely. To do less America is to say, I do not support my service members’ safety but I want you on forefront without the right equipment.
Maj Gen Tony Cucolo See below for photo credit
The DoD Blogger Roundtable met with Army Major General Tony Cucolo to discuss the equipment issues for all three Army components: Active, National Guard and Reserve. General Cucolo is the Director of Force Development and is responsible for updating and maintaining Army equipment. He brought his team to discuss the status of Army equipment and how the Army was responding to this need. The general made one thing clear: The Army staff at the Pentagon is involved and cares! They are combat veterans and have a “passion and desire to get things done right”. Some have children that are deployed now too!
That idea made this father/grandfather think twice about the staff and how they would make sure the equipment was properly cared for and ordered. Of course, having been a pilot for 30 years with ties to Army Aviation (graduated from Ft Rucker Air Force helicopter class in 1972) I was concerned about the wear and tear on their helicopters. The dust and grime wear out bearings, rotor blades and electronics in the aircraft. There is no way to avoid it during combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. In addition, many of the combat loads are at maximum gross weight or even exceed it and the frame of the aircraft could be damaged as well. Not to mention a “bad landing” now and then in extreme conditions.
CH-47F See below for photo creditThe general and Mr Bill Pardue, the Deputy Division Chief for the G-8 Force Development Directorate’s Aviation Division and a retired Army aviator responded to my question on how they were taking care of the aircraft requirements. Speaking of the budget for 2013 (which starts this October) the pace for modernization of equipment is steady. The budget reductions have impacted this process by delaying repairs and modernization. But the Army is purchasing new airframes, bringing aircraft back from combat zones for resetting (repair and analysis of component wear and tear) and finally, looking even deeper for airframe cracks! This is critical for continued use of these aircraft and the safety of those that fly them and those involved in the combat operations and exercises.
The general did mention that the OH-58 Kiowa which is the oldest airframe is highest on the priority list for care. In addition, the UH-60 and CH-47 aircraft fleets are being upgraded to newer model numbers (M and F, respectively) and the AH-64 Apaches will have upgrades to Block 3.
The team did go on to explain upgrades and issues with equipment that were not in my realm of experience but if you would like to listen to the entire Roundtable please go to DoDLive/ArmyLive. A big thank you is owed to General Cucolo and his staff for taking the time to talk openly about their challenges and requirements with the Roundtable. We also have some very interesting Roundtable discussions about hot DoD issues at MilitaryAvenue if they would interest you.
Photo Credits: US Army Photo Credit: PEO Aviation
Apache attack helicopters will soon field a new high-tech Ground Fire Acquisition System, or GFAS.
Photo Credits: Major General Cucolo, US Army
Photo Credits: Kelly Patrice Pate
The new Chinook, the CH-47F, lifts a Humvee as part of an operational test conducted at Fort Campbell, Ky.byColonel KonTuesday, April 17, 2012Email ThisBlogThis!Share to TwitterShare to FacebookShare to PinterestMilitary Life:2013 DoD Budget,Army,aviation,Col K,DoD Roundtable,DoDLive