Fort Rucker, Army officials talk sequester with lawmakers
Predictability and flexibility.
That’s what top Fort Rucker and Army officials told members of Congress they need to ensure the future of Army aviation at a panel discussion held Tuesday on post.
Rep. Martha Roby, R-Montgomery, and Rep. Michael Turner, R-Ohio, met with military officials to discuss the impact of sequestration on Fort Rucker and Army aviation.
Sequestration refers to a series of mandatory cuts legislators agreed to enact if they were unable to agree upon a budget. The mandatory cuts were meant to encourage lawmakers to work toward passing a budget. They failed, and as a result, these automatic cuts went into effect in March.
Maj. Gen. Kevin Mangum, Fort Rucker commanding general, said the cuts had severely impacted the post’s mission of training new pilots. Mangum said the post has seen about $250 million in cuts over the past year and, as a result, fewer pilots are being trained.
Mangum said the post went from training 1,300 pilots last year to less than 1,200 this year and will train around 899 pilots next year.
“We’re not changing the standard, but we are changing the student load,” Mangum said.
Maj. Gen. William Crosby, Program Executive Officer, PEO-Aviation, told Roby and Turner that one of the most detrimental aspects of the sequester and federal budget wrangles was that it made it difficult to plan and to sign long-term contracts with contractors. Crosby said being unable to plan is counterproductive to actually saving money, as unexpected cuts led to expensive program changes and cancellations. Being unable to sign multi-year contracts robs the military of the ability to lock in cost savings through bargains from contractors, Crosby said.
Crosby told the lawmakers that military leaders need stability in the budgeting process and the flexibility to prioritize what cuts need to be made when funding reductions are necessary. Crosby said a steady revenue stream and the ability to plan is necessary to provide military contractors with the business they need to stay afloat and invest in further developments to provide the military with what it needs when it needs it.
When asked about flight simulator training, Mangum said about 38 percent of flight instruction occurs on flight simulators. These simulators take up only about 8 percent of the training budget, which Mangum said is an excellent return on investment.
Mangum also expressed excitement about the opportunities provided by pairing unmanned and manned aircraft. Mangum said a 60/40 split on manned and unmanned aircraft on missions appears to be the best formula.
Roby now sits on the House Appropriations Committee while Turner chairs the House Armed Services Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee.
Roby said a bill to stop the sequester for the military for two years had recently passed the House and has a good chance of passing the Senate.
To read this article on the publication's website, click here.