In order to meet the Army's dwell-time goal, the service will add a new combat aviation brigade.
"That's coming out of resources we already have; we are still wrestling with where that's going to go, where that's going to stand up," said Maj. Gen. James O. Barclay III, commanding general of the Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker, Ala.
"That will help some in the fight," he said. "That's one of the small steps we are taking as we are trying to align and ensure with all (components) that we can meet and try to get at what General Casey's goal is: one to two."
Barclay spoke to an audience of Army aviation and defense aviation industry professionals during the Association of the United States Army's Institute of Land Warfare Army Aviation Symposium and Exposition, Jan. 5-7 in Arlington, Va.
The Army now has 11 active-duty CABs and the reserve components have eight. Barclay said meeting Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. George W. Casey's goal of 24 months home for every 12 months deployed is difficult with the current number of CABs, and the current demand for eight CABs to support Iraq and Afghanistan.
Barclay also said continued development and employment of the Army Force Generation model will help Army aviation meet the goal of keeping Soldiers home for longer.
Since the onset of combat in Afghanistan and also in Iraq, Army aviation has racked up more than 3.5 million flight hours, Barclay said.
"That ought to say a lot about what we have been able to do with our aviation forces and the fleets and the airframes -- but more importantly what the Soldiers and the aviators and maintainers have been able to do in about the last eight years that we have been at war," Barclay said.
The general added that not all the aviation hours were manned aviation, but in fact include those from unmanned aerial systems as well -- and not all flown by aviators.
"I think that's one of the things that's important to note, is that the UAS has become a more important aspect of what we do every day and it has become more integrated into the war fight," he said. "Most of those hours are controlled by your brigade combat teams and fires brigades. Those are the units that are utilizing them and flying and getting the benefit from those platforms."
Despite plans to withdraw from Iraq, Barclay said he doesn't expect the number of hours flown by Army aviation to decrease.
"As we look at the drawdown in Iraq we are not seeing as many aviation units on the drawdown chart as we are seeing some of the other units on the drawdown chart," Barclay said. "If you look at those operations tempos -- in the 50 to 60 hours every month on the different types of airframes -- we don't see it coming down right now."
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