The following commentary was submitted in response to the article, Global rotorcraft sales putting pressure on US Army training bandwidth.
As rotorcraft sales grow, the Army indeed has a capacity to surge in training.
It is important to note that there are established and accredited regional aviation training centers of excellence that reside within the Army National Guard, called Army aviation training sites (AATS). The AATS originated in the years that followed the Vietnam War to train and qualify the Army National Guard and Reserve, and international aircrew members on legacy aircraft. In the decades that have passed, the AATS have evolved into Total Army School System (TASS) accredited world-class facilities, with state of the art hangars and maintenance facilities, simulators, classrooms, dormitories, dining facilities and International Military Student Programs.
The Eastern Army Aviation Training Site (EAATS) located at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania, currently provides aircrew qualification courses for CH-47D/F Chinook, UH60A/L/M Blackhawk, and UH-72A Lakota aircraft. The Western Army Aviation Training Site (WAATS), Marana, Arizona, provides aircrew qualification courses for the UH-60A/L/M and the UH-72A Lakota. The WAATS had previously conducted AH-64D Apache training, but those courses were halted due to the Army’s Aviation Restructuring Initiative. However, the WAATS still has qualified instructors and the programs of instruction remain valid. Combined, the EAATS and WAATS have trained up to 1,000 international military students per year.
When nominally resourced, the EAATS and WAATS have a proven surge capability. In fact, during the height of on-going operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, the AATS provided a valuable service to the Army by assuming a significant amount of the Fort Rucker training bubble. As former Army aviators, and former Adjutants General for Pennsylvania and Arizona, with command responsibility for the EAATS and WAATS, we respectfully ask that Ms. Cataldo and General Farmen, both of whom commenting about bandwidth concerns, re-engage HQDA and ask for the ARNG to schedule EAATS and WAATS tours. We guarantee they will become repeat customers.
Jessica Wright is a retired major general, who served as the adjutant general for the Pennsylvania National Guard. David Rataczak is also a retired major general, having served as the adjutant general for the Arizona National Guard.