U.S. Army Attack Aviation in a Decisive Action Environment: History, Doctrine, and a Need for Doctrinal Refinement – Vietnam, Desert Storm, and Iraq War, Rotary Wing Attack, Technology and Sky Cavalry
The attack helicopter airframe and role evolved slowly, over time, to fulfill the missions of observation and reconnaissance, air escort, direct fire support, anti-tank, and deep attack, in support of ground elements from the platoon to the corps. More
This excellent report has been professionally converted for accurate flowing-text e-book format reproduction. The attack helicopter airframe and role evolved slowly, over time, to fulfill the missions of observation and reconnaissance, air escort, direct fire support, anti-tank, and deep attack, in support of ground elements from the platoon to the corps. This evolution was heavily influenced by technology and the Air Force's institutional territorialism. However, today's attack helicopter doctrine, heavily influenced by the Global War on Terror and the 11th Attack Helicopter Regiment's disastrous deep attack during Operation Iraqi Freedom, provides little description for attack aviation support to the division or corps. As a result, both ground and aviation commanders and planners have less doctrinal tools for employing attack helicopters at those levels. This is especially evident in the case of attack aviation support to a friendly unit in direct contact with an enemy force. Through an analysis of current doctrine and history from World War I to the present, this monograph will argue that rotary wing attack aviation can perform a variety of missions, but that attack aviation doctrine needs to be refined in two areas. First, attack aviation doctrine needs to address operations in support of the corps and division. Second, the aviation branch needs to further develop the attack mission in order to describe how commanders can better integrate attack helicopters with the ground scheme of maneuver.
Introduction * Section 1. Historical Analysis * The Rise of Airpower Theory and the Loss of the Air Corps * Rise of Army Aviation as Observers, Short-Range Transport, and MEDEVAC * Rise of the Sky Cavalry * The Vietnam Experience and the Rise of the Modern Attack Helicopter * The Effect of Technology, the Deep Attack Mission, and Operation Desert Storm * End of the Deep Attack and the 11th AHR Attack on the Medina Division * Section 2. Doctrinal Analysis * Section 3. Conclusion and Recommendations
In terms of manpower, by December 2011 the Army had contributed more than 1.5 million troop-years to operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. At that same time, more than 73% of all active component soldiers had deployed at least once to one of those operations with 34% of those soldiers having dedicated 25 months or more. Organizationally, the Army transformed its entire operating concept, switching from combined arms divisions to a modular brigade force. The new design divided the force into combined arms brigade combat teams (BCTs), modular support brigades, and functional brigades that could be rapidly trained, deployed, and attached to higher echelon headquarters to support overseas operations. In terms of thought, the Army developed a series of new doctrinal manuals and concepts to address the unique challenges brought on by more than a decade of sustained overseas operations. Some of the most significant doctrinal publications included: Field Manual (FM) 3-24, Counterinsurgency, an effort to fill a doctrinal gap and address the deteriorating situations in Iraq and Afghanistan; Army Regulation (AR) 525-29, Army Force Generation, a regulation that institutionalized force generation concepts necessary to support the overseas operations; and FM 3-04.111, Aviation Brigades, a doctrinal manual addressing the organizational and operational concepts unique to the new modular combat aviation brigades.
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