For many students, and even grown adults, the idea of going to school or work and playing video games all day with their peers might be a dream come true.
That just describes a good day of training for 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade pilots at Simmons Army Airfield.
The 3rd Battalion, 82nd General Support Aviation Battalion has spent the last few weeks getting back to basic Army aviation doctrine as they practiced tactical platoon air assault missions in the Aviation Combined Arms Tactical Trainer at the Southeastern Regional Simulation Complex.
Unlike most simulators, which are dedicated to representing a single aircraft, the modular rooms in the AVCATT can be reconfigured to represent different aircraft and act as a collective trainer for larger missions.
“The AVCATT gives us a chance to practice our contingency and emergency procedures while also allowing us to fly in formation like we would during an actual mission,” said 1st Lt. Benjamin Wise, who took on the role of air mission commander during the training.
Wise, who flies the CH-47 Chinook helicopter, and other 3rd Bn., 82nd GSAB pilots spent several days preparing for the mission. During the exercise they transported 115 notional troops across the forward line of troops and then flew artillery guns to them via slingload.
“This is training at the leadership level,” said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Carlos Legoas, 3-82 GSAB tactical operations officer. “We want the pilots to learn how to plan and what decisions to make in different situations.”
While they are experts at flying in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, conventional planning and decision-making is new to many of these pilots.
“Most of my platoon is very practiced in Afghanistan, where planning can be done on an accelerated timeline due to our air superiority and known flight routes,” Wise said. “This training is helping us to learn how to properly plan a conventional air assault down to the second.”
Many new pilots have been understandably focused on succeeding in Afghanistan where Army aviation doctrine has been tailored to meet the needs of an asymmetrical environment the troops have had a number of years to study. Going back to raw doctrine and starting from scratch is an important part of creating a better rounded and responsive aviation force.
“Some folks have never done it. Some folks haven’t done it in more than 10 years,” said Lt. Col. William Braman, 3-82 GSAB commander. “But, no matter what division we are working for or who we are fighting alongside, the only thing we have in common is doctrine.”