Enlisted Soldiers could fly these Little Birds as well as officers

There are a whole hell of a lot of smart people who cannot fly in today's U.S. military because they are considered part of the inferior-working "blue collar" enlisted class. Yet many could fly, if given the training. If enlisted people pass flight training, you could make them warrant officers--since the serious skills needed to fly will "mature" them for sure, but this is not necessary, just change our cultural assumptions. Regardless, there should be no WOC (Warrant Officer Course) "harassment package" to go to. What do we gain by throwing bunks and TA-50 out of barracks windows? What is the thing that is really childish? Yelling and screaming like an idiot at a harassment package school or not letting your BEST people fly military aircraft, regardless of their rank? Look at TF Hawk's problems getting skilled pilots into the Balkans. Consider how childish officers have been hot-rodding in their aircraft to date that has led to many avoidable fatal crashes?

1. Notice, the response of the bureaucracy is MORE GUARD RAILS not to fundamentally alter THOSE WHO ARE DRIVING. You cannot lead an organization to excellence and steer them away from going over cliffs with guard rails.

2. If those flying cannot be trusted, is it because they have over-inflated egos (Narcissistic Personality Disorder)? How did that happen? By them being officers? And/or is it the fact that every U.S. military branch has its pilots in a separate branch off to itself and able to feed egos without adult supervision?

3. Our speculation here is that what we need is to co-locate Army pilots with ground maneuver elements via trailers and to start having them come from the enlisted ranks.

4. We had better do something before we lose effective manned aviation due to an absurd UAV backlash against some manned pilot egomaniacs.

Military Confronts Reckless Air Crashes

By TED BRIDIS, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - A deadly aircraft accident in Afghanistan last summer is one of a series of exasperating crashes in the military that was blamed on recklessness, not enemy gunfire or faulty equipment, The Associated Press found.

Events that led to the crash unfolded as 11 marines packed into an Army Black Hawk helicopter in eastern Afghanistan asked for an exciting flight on an otherwise dull mission, demonstrating for visiting dignitaries how troops are sped into battle.

"Fly hard," the marines asked. The cockpit responded, "You asked for it."

Climbing and swooping, the Black Hawk pilot crested a 400-foot hill then deliberately nosed into a dive so steep and abrupt that everyone inside felt weightless. A wheel chock rose off the floor like a magician's prop and flew forward into the cockpit, jamming the controls.

In the horrific, tumbling crash that followed, a crew chief in the doorway died. Everyone else was injured. The $6 million helicopter was destroyed.

"Top Gun"-style flying, personified by Tom Cruise as a brash Navy pilot in Hollywood's 1986 film, presents the Pentagon with a dilemma: How to breed aggressive aviators in high-performance jets and helicopters capable of extraordinary maneuvers without endangering crews, passengers and aircraft.

The pilot in Afghanistan, Chief Warrant Officer 3 Darrin Raymond Rogers, 37, of Mililani, Hawaii, pleaded guilty last week at his court-martial to charges of negligent homicide, reckless endangerment, property destruction and failure to obey orders.

"I'm not a bad person," Rogers told the judge. He acknowledged that he was "trying to impress the guys in the back." Rogers was sentenced to 120 days without pay at Fort Leavenworth military prison in Kansas. He also must retire from the Army, but will retain his pension.

"There's a difference between aggressiveness and recklessness," said Richard A. Cody, a four-star general who holds the Army's No. 2 job. "We want them to be aggressive but also disciplined, so they don't get themselves in an envelope they can't get out of."

Some pilots bristle over challenges to how they fly, says a retired Marine Corps judge.

"Hot-dogging is not necessarily negligent," says Patrick McLain of Dallas, who presided at courts-martial. "You need a person who's bold and daring and courageous. It rubs against the grain to have this sort of nitpicking oversight. A very small minority would be in favor of scrupulous adherence to the voluminous rules about flying."

A retired marine fighter pilot, Kris Elliott of New Orleans, said: "Anybody who says they haven't hot-dogged as a pilot probably isn't being truthful."

In one case, a Naval Reserve pilot, Cmdr. Kevin Thomas Hagenstad of Marietta, Ga., ejected and survived a crash in rural Tennessee last year that investigators attributed to flying so low that his $40 million fighter jet struck power lines three miles from the Watts Bar nuclear plant.

Hagenstad, who broke his ankle, said he was "not at liberty to discuss this."

The Navy's top safety commander, Rear Admiral Dick Brooks, cited "blatant" rules violations by Hagenstad.

Reckless accidents, which happen every year, frustrate senior military commanders because these typically occur during training flights and are considered easily avoidable. Air Force crews are encouraged to announce, "Knock it off," when a pilot begins to fly unsafely.

"There will be repercussions," the head of Army aviation, Brigadier General E.J. Sinclair, said in an interview with the AP. "If someone goes out there and does that and it's observed, I usually hear about it from another pilot."

At the same time, Sinclair said, the Army is rewriting rules to specify which maneuvers are allowed and teaching pilots aggressive new aerial techniques that push helicopters closer to their engineering design limits.

"We make it very clear, this is not something you go out and do on your own," Sinclair said.

For training, the Army uses a dramatic cockpit video from the crash of an Apache attack helicopter at Fort Campbell, Ky. It shows the co-pilot yelling, "Yeehaw!" during one maneuver banned as unsafe by the Army.

The tape also shows the pilot and co-pilot debating whether they can fly safely between tall trees while traveling nearly 90 miles per hour at 16 feet above ground.

"Think I can make it in between there?" the pilot asks.

"Nope," the co-pilot answers.

"Oh, ye of little faith. Look how big that is," the pilot says.

Seconds later, the Apache's rotors struck a huge limb, shattering one blade as the pilot struggled to land safely. "C'mon, get it under control, Mark!" the co-pilot shouts. Both crew survived. The 1997 accident caused $1 million in damage.

Marine Lt. Gen. Mike Hough complained last summer in a memorandum to his aviation commanders: "We are killing more aircrew in training mishaps than during combat missions. ... I will not tolerate the blatant violations and lack of leadership I am seeing from our aviators."

Hough's tough message came weeks before a Hornet fighter crash in Quantico, Va., that the Navy blamed on "unacceptable" flying.

But serious criminal charges such as those against Rogers are unusual. Prosecuting pilots in public deeply divides military aviators, who more commonly face quiet administrative proceedings that include warnings and temporary grounding.

"As long as they don't embarrass the government or hurt anybody, they'll typically be counseled and that will be the end of it," said law professor Michael Noone at Catholic University. The retired Air Force colonel has prosecuted and defended pilots in crash investigations.

Investigators said the helicopter pilot who was court-martialed rejected an earlier request by marines for acrobatics during the flight. But he agreed to a second request and radioed, "Taking room to maneuver," after a demonstration for marine gen. James L. Jones, the supreme allied commander for Europe and commander of the U.S. European Command, was delayed 10 minutes, according to an Army report. Crew chief Daniel Lee Galvan, 30, died in the crash.

Rogers, a veteran pilot with a reputation in the 25th Infantry Division as an able flier, would not talk about the accident when the AP contacted him at home in Hawaii. He said his lawyer also would not comment.

Other Army pilots said such requests for acrobatics are common from passengers.

"I've been asked that; I always felt like I had to enforce the rules," said Herb Rodriguez of Clarksville, Tenn., a retired Black Hawk pilot who won the Distinguished Flying Cross for heroism in the Somalia deployment in 1993. "I was like a parent."

On a memorial Web site dedicated to her husband, the widow of Daniel Lee Galvan described her young children's grief and lying atop her husband's grave. She said she hoped Rogers "lives with the guilt of taking my beautiful angel away from his family."

"I just don't want this pilot to think he can do this again, to hurt anybody else," Sonya Galvan of Lubbock, Texas, told the AP before the court-martial in Hawaii.

"At some point or another," she said, "they need to make someone accountable."

Associated Press writer Jaymes Song contributed to this report from Hawaii.

Another aspect of enlisted pilots would be that they would enable us to mass-produce and maintain more helicopters for them to fly and this includes "RoboCobras" and U/MCAV-UAVs, too to get saturation battlefield effects to overwhelm enemy Surveillance Strike Systems (SSCs) as well as hunt down and destroy sub-national terrorists. More human effort is what we need here to create a viable Air Cavalry and less being "kicked in the teeth" for trying by the snobby officer types in control.

The problem of having NCOs be pilots is you would have too many people staying in the Army just to be Soldiers. This would create the dangerous situation of a permanent group of experienced pilots, Cavalry Troopers with a tradition of service with no bowing and scraping to the Yes-Man Courtiers (nothing to gain) and a warrior camaraderie that the current politically-correct Army has worked hard to eliminate. Then there's a serious drawback of Cav officers never having to be in the dirty part of the Cav............. Lets do it, but maybe make them spend a couple of years in a Ground Cav Squadron perhaps as FACs for attack helicopters or even as AFV unit commanders.

As far as the Cobra goes, I wasn't trying to imply they are better, just cheaper and easier to operate to overcome the Spinney "Death Spiral". I remember the Israelis felt the same way. They felt that no helicopter was truly safe over enemy territory in daylight because the ZSU-23 will bring either one down pretty quick--why we need to go to the RoboCobra concept. There is no denying the Apaches night capability is excellent with a trained crew. I didn't mean to sound so cynical, I do care about the pilots lives, but the cost of training and maintaining the Apache prohibites the creation of adequate air power mass in my view, and I've been brooding all day about how many light tanks you could buy if you eliminated some overly complex attack helicopter squadrons. I've also said for years that the Apache is useless without a very well-trained crew and excellent ground support. I have always felt that the more difficult it is to master the technical the less time spent in learning the tactical. It's my personal prejudice that Tactical is more important then Technical. The quote by Col. Boyd comes to mind;

"Machines don't fight wars, men fight wars, and they think!"

An Army Aviation expert adds:

"An interesting article, that grazes the larger issue of the officer/enlisted chasm and socio-economic strata. A few points;

- flying does require a bit of math, physics, and chemistry. hypothetically, college is supposed to provide that, but an awful lot of liberal arts majors get thru without one day of calculus, so that's no guarantee anymore. Instead of requiring a bachelors, what they *should* require is 4 semesters of calculus, 3 of physics, and 2 of chemistry. That would provide the academic background for what they need to learn in flight school. Enlisted without any college (or liberal arts types) would require 1-2 years of night school to get this curriculum in. Non-trivial, but would 'weed out the slackers' I guess. These classes could be taught on base, or done via videoconference or something.

- concerning 'mass-production' of helicopters and UAVs, the problem is not really a lack of pilots but rather 'gilding the lily' during the procurement process. 'Better is always the enemy of the good enough'. However, along with the top-drawer, kick-ass vehicle, there is a need for an affordable, reliable good performer for all of those low-intensity tasks. Rather than a $20M Apache, we could field twenty $1M MD-500s. the Apache is kind of a sore point, since it was only designed for one role; blunting a Soviet armored assault into western Europe and I believe it was designed to survive only for maybe two or three sorties.

Here's my math;

1000 Apaches (that was the original intent) carrying 16 Hellfires per sortie, assume 25% knockout rate, and maybe an average of three sorties. So 1000 times 4 times 3 gives 12,000 hits, maybe half being MBTs. that pretty much takes out the brunt of the Soviet armor, leaving the infantry and artillery to be handled by U.S. ground forces. Anyway, the Apache is a late 1970s design with early 1980s sensors and weapons integration designed to stop a specific threat with Reagan-era spending. We need to bring the procurement cycle back to a 10-year period.

- our mix of rotary-wing aviation assets is probably on the short side of the optimum in terms of force effectiveness. for example, a flight of 4 Apaches out on a plain might be targeted by half a dozen enemy AAA or SAM spots. Pretty much in a back-against-the-wall mode from the get-go. Now add maybe a dozen MD-500s with chain guns and some sort of 'fire-and-forget' ATGM; now the ground threats are in defensive mode. Perhaps the Army (and marines) need to acquire the USAF's 'total air superiority' attitude, in a way. Do not rest until they have the aviation assets to dominate the battlefield".

A veteran U.S. Army Paratrooper writes on how our NATO allies view the enlisted pilot issue:

"Hi, I read your piece on having enlisted pilots in the Army []. I totally agree! I was in the Army from 1987-1996. I served with the 3/325th Inf ABCT in Vicenza, Italy, and was deployed to northern Iraq from 24 April, 1991 to 17 July, 1991. We met up with the Spanish contingent to NATO and found out that their pilots who flew our platoon around were actually enlisted. Go figure!

Best regards,"

Greg Namin