13-Oct-2021 Source: US Navy
The Naval Helicopter Association (NHA) completed its first in-person symposium at the Viejas Resort, Oct. 6-9, 2021, after pandemic precautions led the organization to cancel its symposium last year. The event, which included two full days of programming, centered on Naval Aviation’s bold vision for rotary wing aviation in the years ahead with the forward-looking theme, “Force of the Future.”
The NHA Symposium featured leaders from around Naval Aviation providing information to the Naval Aviation corps and discussing the powerful capabilities required for the rotary wing community to maintain maritime superiority in the coming years.
On Oct.8—the second and final day of programming—seven leaders from units across the fleet participated in the Commodore and Commander, Air Group (CAG) panel. They discussed future changes to mission sets and capabilities in the rotary wing community, then answered questions from junior officers in the audience.
“Small unit leadership is in our DNA,” said Capt. Brannon Bickel, Commodore, Helicopter Maritime Strike Wing, Pacific. “We go out in detachments and carry out the full functions of a squadron. This expeditionary model that we operate in builds the small-unit leadership we need to carry out the missions of tomorrow.”
The panel members spoke about new concepts and capabilities initiated at the squadron level to validate capabilities needed for the future fight.
“We are out there on San Clemente Island flying to FARPs [forward arming and refueling points], testing concepts like forward V-22 refueling, and launching sonobuoys from Hueys,” said Bickel. “Those are some of the initiatives we are doing to prepare to operate in a contested, distributed environment.”
The capstone event of the final day of programming was the Flag Panel moderated by retired Rear Adm. Daniel Fillion, the incoming National Chairman for the NHA. Panel participants included Vice Adm. Kenneth Whitesell, Commander, Naval Air Forces/Commander, Naval Air Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet; Vice Adm. Jeffrey Hughes, Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Warfighting Development, N7; Rear Adm. Scott Jones, Commander, Naval Air Force Reserve/ Deputy Commander, Naval Air Forces/ Deputy Commander, Naval Air Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet; Rear Adm. Alvin Holsey, Commander, Navy Personnel Command/Deputy Chief of Naval Personnel; Rear Adm. Andrew Loiselle, Director, Air Warfare Division, N98; Rear Adm. Shoshana Chatfield, President, Naval War College; Rear Adm. John Gumbleton, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Budget/Director, Fiscal Management Division, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations; and Rear Adm. Max McCoy, Commander, Naval Aviation Warfare Development Center.
The admirals each shared their visions for the future of Naval Aviation and their efforts to bring manned-unmanned teaming capabilities to the fleet.
“Make no mistake … this is a Navy fight,” said Whitesell. “It’s great power competition. We are on a defined trajectory to use manned-unmanned teaming on our expeditionary platforms, LHA platforms and carrier platforms to win in a contested environment.”
The admirals also discussed unmanned integration and programming, diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives in Naval Aviation, and joint service integration in Distributed Maritime Operations.
Other events during the second day of programming included a “Captains of Industry panel,” a “Junior Officer Call” with Whitesell, also known as the Navy’s “Air Boss,” and a final reception to close the symposium.
The previous day, Adm. Bill Lescher, Vice Chief of Naval Operations, helped kick off the symposium’s panels and briefs as the keynote speaker. More information about his presentation and other events from the first day of programming can be found at https://www.navy.mil/Press-Office/News-Stories/Article/2805404/vcno-opens-nha-symposium-with-call-to-accelerate-force-modernization/
For additional information and coverage of the NHA Symposium, follow the NAE on Facebook @NAEready and on Twitter @NAE_Readiness.
The NHA Symposium is an annual event run by the NHA—an independent, nonprofit organization supporting the development and use of naval vertical lift aircraft in the United States Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.
The Naval Aviation Enterprise is a collaborative warfighting partnership where Naval Aviation leaders leverage their assigned authorities to deliberate and resolve interdependent issues across the whole of Naval Aviation to provide combat ready naval air forces to the fleet.