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Army news service (April 26, 2005): Harvey examines aviation transformation, new CRC.

FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Secretary of the Army Francis Harvey praised units at Fort Rucker, Ala., for improving training and introducing initiatives to keep soldiers safe while performing their duties.

Harvey visited the installation April 26, receiving briefings on Army aviation transformation and the strides being made by the Combat Readiness Center to keep soldiers informed and safe.

Army Aviation

"We are a huge contributor to the battlefield," Brig. Gen. E. J. Sinclair, Fort Rucker commanding general, told Harvey. With flight paths covering an area the size of South Carolina, Fort Rucker has trained more than 58,000 U.S. and 460 foreign aviators on what has become the busiest airfield worldwide.

Sinclair went on to tell the secretary how Army transformation and changing battlefield scenarios have prompted adaptations in gunnery tactics, proficiency requirements, and maneuvering flight. He said that there have been many warfighting initiatives introduced within the last year that have resulted in positive feedback from the field.

"All the stuff we buy, all the equipment we field--[our success] really comes down to the soldier," Sinclair said. "There are so many great stories and great soldiers in our units."

The secretary echoed that sentiment during a speech he gave that evening at the National Defense Industrial Association seminar in Atlanta as he highlighted the resilience of soldiers like Blackhawk pilot Maj. Tammy Duckworth. Although she was seriously wounded while flying in Iraq and ended up losing both of her legs, she safely landed her disabled aircraft, saving the lives of her crew.

The secretary told the audience that Duckworth wants to continue serving as a pilot and had told him that "no Iraqi with a [rocket-propelled grenade] is going to dictate how I live my life."

"Though the [U.S.] Army is very busy, it is still the best in the world, and it is primarily the best because of the courageous men and women who proudly wear the uniform of the American soldier." Harvey told the audience.

After touring Rucker's Seneff Aviation Warfighting Simulation Center and aviation combined arms tactical trainer, where he fired a missile from the cockpit of a simulated Apache, the secretary voiced his approval of the technologies used to familiarize new pilots with equipment before they fly real aircraft.

"I'm very impressed with the training and hours that aviation soldiers put in," he said.

Combat Readiness

Before leaving the installation, Harvey met with staff members at the Combat Readiness Center, formerly known as the U.S. Army Safety Center, where he received updates on improvements being made to enhance soldier safety.

Brig. Gen. Joseph Smith, CRC director, told the secretary that regardless of how the Army loses a soldier, whether in combat or by accident, CRC staff want to know why and how. He said their mission is to reduce the number of casualties across the Army.

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The center is focused on soldier safety through investigations and predictive analysis of losses, so the Army can better manage risk and improve combat readiness. CRC has developed a Web site, complete with risk assessment tools and modern safety messages, to drive the message home to soldiers.

"We understand this technology is the future," said Smith. "We're about messaging, tools, and education."

The secretary told employees at the center that he appreciated their efforts in taking care of soldiers.

"I think what you're doing is very important," he said. "The safety and well-being of our soldiers is my No. 1 concern."

Staff Sgt. Carmen L Burgess, USA
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Title Annotation:In the News
Author:Burgess, Carmen L.
Publication:Defense AT & L
Date:Sep 1, 2005
Words:583
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