apacheart

“To be honest, we feel betrayed.”

That’s what one National Guard gunship pilot told me when I asked him about the Army’s plan to strip the Guard of all its AH-64 Apache attack helicopters. That plan — still awaiting approval by President Obama before he includes it in his budget request for fiscal year 2015 — is just one part of a radical overhaul that includes complex downsizing and reshuffling of the Army’s entire helicopter force.

All told, the Army is losing 898 helicopters, 215 of them (24 percent) from the Guard. Driven by the cold realities of budget cuts, the plan has stirred fiery emotions that push the Army leadership and the National Guard community closer to all-out political war.

“Here’s the issue: The Army has to pay a $79 billon bill over the next five years,” Army Chief of Staff, Gen. Ray Odierno said this morning. “I can’t afford all the fleets of aircraft I have right now. We can’t afford them.…It is impossible under the budget that we’ve been given.”

Speaking at an Association of the US Army breakfast, the visibly agitated Odierno was taking his second “Guard vs. Army” question in a row — “The National Guard is the Army,” he’d hotly told the first reporter to ask — and the normally good-natured general cut me off mid-question to give the impassioned response above.

“This is about affordability,” Odierno went on. “That’s the issue. People want to make it into something that it isn’t,” he went on. “This is about not having the money to sustain the fleets we have now, so we have to make some tough decisions…. That doesn’t mean we think it’s the right way necessarily but it’s the best way forward” — the best way, in other words, that the Army can afford.

The Army wants to move the Guard’s Apaches to active-duty scout squadrons to replace the helicopters those units are losing, the OH-58 Kiowas. Lighter, nimbler, and cheaper to operate than the Apache, the beloved Kiowa is also much more vulnerable because of its lighter armament and armor. It entered first service in 1968, almost half a century ago and Army officials have decided they cannot afford either to keep upgrading the Kiowa or to develop a replacement, so they want to retire it completely over the next five years. (The Army move is similar to one that the Air Force is considering, retiring the entire A-10 Warthog fleet to save an estimated $3.7 billion. That move has attracted furious opposition as well for different reasons.)

“It was going to be putting new shoes on an old horse for $10 billion,” said Army Lt. Gen. Kevin Mangum of the Kiowa upgrade plan. “By the way, we don’t have that ten billion dollars.” As for replacing the Kiowa with a new Armed Aerial Scout — just one of the high-priority Army programs now put on indefinite hold — “that would be a $16 billion bill.”

So the Army decided on a radical measure: replace Kiowas altogether with a mix of the most advanced Apache model, the AH-6E Guardian, coordinating via wireless networks with Grey Eagle drones. In fact, a 2010 Army study said this “manned-unmanned teaming” was the best way to do reconnaissance without building an all-new scout helicopter: Apache plus drones meets 80 percent of the requirements, Mangum said, while an upgraded Kiowa meets only 50 percent and the current Kiowa less than 20 percent.

“If we left it up purely to the budgeteers, it would really be ugly,” said Mangum, speaking to AUSA’s annual aviation symposium last week. Under the default plan, he said, “we were going to keep old aircraft and give up new.” Instead of being passive “victims” of cuts that took a proportional “salami slice” out of every program, he said, the Army “seized the opportunity” to reshape the force by retiring its oldest aircraft en masse.

“If we sat and waited and took the salami slice, we would break everything,” said Maj. Gen. Lynn Collyar, chief of the Army’s Aviation and Missile Command (AMCOM), speaking at the same conference. Instead, he told me one-on-one afterwards, the Army has seized its destiny in its own hands “instead of being dragged to the future.”

For many in the National Guard community, however, the Apache plan is the latest in a string of insults that have the two components of the Army in what look like the early skirmishes of a nasty civil war.

“Our Apache pilots, they’ll have no jobs. They’ll have to either retrain or get out, and an awful lot of them will just get out,” John Goheen, chief spokesman for the powerful National Guard Association of the United States (NGAUS) told me last week.

He spoke as budget negotiations inside the Pentagon reached the boiling point and NGAUS broke with months of self-restraint and publicly berated Gen. Odierno for “disparaging” the Guard.

But Goheen told me that it’s not just the Guard’s budget, size, and honor that are at stake. The Guard and Reserves historically serve as a cheap way to keep some of the nation’s most experienced veterans on retainer, a catchpool for experienced soldiers who want to leave the grueling life of active duty but still continue to serve. Now, Goheen said, “when Apache pilots and maintainers leave the active component, where can they go to serve?”

“Most of us went to flight school with a specific goal, that being to fly the Apache,” the Guard pilot said of his unit. ”The effect on morale is very significant [because] people work very hard toward and make many sacrifices in their personal and professional lives so that they can be a part of this elite force.”

“[That's] not to say that we wouldn’t be willing to fly another airframe,” the pilot went on. In contrast to Goheen, the pilot said his most experienced colleagues — the ones with the fewest years left before they qualify for retirement benefits — would stay in the Guard and just retrain for other jobs.

Under the Army plan, the Guard would get additional UH-60 Black Hawks to make up for some — not all — of the helicopters it has to retire or give away, for a net loss of 215 aircraft. But the Black Hawk is a “utility” helicopter, essentially a transport. While it sometimes carries troops straight into battle and covers their landing with machinegun fire, it’s not a gunship. With the Guard losing both its Apaches and its Kiowas, it will have nothing but transport helicopters. For pilots used to shooting stuff, the job just ain’t the same.

“Most of us have deployed once, twice, or even three times in the previous 12-14 years, and served alongside active-duty [soldiers] throughout these deployments,” the Guard pilot said. “To be honest, we feel betrayed by what we thought were our brethren. What in the hell happened to ‘One Team One Fight?’”

“We were all blindsided by the active-duty proposal,” he said, “and we’re trying to understand why the active duty [leadership] is willing to go to this extreme.”

Army leaders make clear they really don’t want to do this. “As much as possible, we want the Guard and the US Army Reserve to look the same as the active component,” Odierno said this morning. “Will there be exceptions? Yes.” The Guard having no Apaches is one of them.

But why? “Our Guard Apaches, they’ve done wonderful work,” Lt. Gen. Mangum said at last week’s conference, “[but] the challenge really becomes their level of readiness and accessibility…..When we need Apaches now, we need Apaches now, and the train up time required, the mobilization time required for the [Guard] Apaches, is really the the issue.”

“Readiness and accessibility” is the Army leadership’s mantra whenever they’re asked why something needs to be in the active-duty force rather than the reserves and Guard. Readiness depends on how much time and money Guard troops get to train. Accessibility refers to how often, how quickly, and how long they can be called up for active duty. Plug these factors into Army computer models and you’ll get the justification for the current mix of forces. But garbage in means garbage out, and the Army leadership’s analysis starts with some debatable assumptions.

“We modeled this force against a 12-year scenario,” said Lt. Gen. Mangum. “The issue comes down to how often we can turn our reserve component formations — because we’re not just talking about a year or two year or three year [or even a] four year cycle.”

In plain English, what Mangum means is that the Army isn’t just looking at how many Guard units it can mobilize to respond to a particular crisis. Instead, it’s looking at how to sustain a steady level of forces on active duty for more than a decade. That requires putting each unit through a cycle: mobilize, deploy, come home, return to civilian life for a while — then mobilize and deploy again.

“Over a 12-year period for these citizen-soldiers, expecting them to do deployment after deployment after deployment” is just too much, Mangum told reporters after his public remarks.

That’s the grueling grind required of the Guard over the last 12 years for Afghanistan and Iraq. But it may be irrelevant to the needs of the next war. If the fighting lasts “only” a year or two — and there’s little appetite in the nation for another long conflict — then what matters isn’t how many times you can deploy each Guard unit over 12 years, it’s how many units you can deploy once.

The assumptions about timelines — short war or long, sudden crisis or slow build-up — also underlie what kind of readiness you think you need. If everything’s over in two months, Guard combat brigades just can’t get there on time, because they need a minimum of 50 days to mobilize and train up, so your entire ground combat force has to be active-duty. (Air Guard units and specialized Army Guard units can spin up much faster). Conversely, if the war lasts 12 years, you can keep Guard units at a low level of readiness because you’ll have plenty of time to train them up for their turn in the deployment cycle. For anything in between, however, you can benefit from more readiness in the Guard.

How much readiness? With the current budget cuts imposed by sequestration over fiscal years 2016 to 2019, “there’s about a 25 percent reduction in training across the Army,” Mangum said. That brings active-duty helicopter units down to 10.7 flight hours per crew per month, he said, barely enough to maintain “company-level collective proficiency” in complex maneuvers involving half a dozen helicopters or more at once. “In our reserve component force,” he said, “it’s about six hours per crew per month, which equates to right at crew-level proficiency” — that is, the ability to fly one aircraft by itself.

In fact, Maj. Gen. Collyar told me, a helicopter that doesn’t fly enough can develop expensive problems, just like a car that sits too long in the garage. “There’s a lot of these things that if you don’t fly ‘em, they cost you more than if you fly ‘em routinely,” he said. In Guard units, “they don’t fly ‘em enough to keep the maintenance cost down….There are a lot lower hours but the cost per flight hour is a lot more.”

But six flight hours a month for Guard crews versus 10.7 for active duty aren’t numbers that came down from Heaven at Mount Sinai, carved in tablets of stone: Couldn’t the Army just choose to fund more flight hours for the Guard?

“We can give ‘em more hours, but are there people available to employ those hours?” Mangum replied. The issue isn’t just funding but the Guard’s capacity to absorb it. There are only so many hours a month you can ask part-time troops to fly, just as there are only so many times you can call them up over a 12-year period.

But those limits, again, are not set in stone. “That’s not Army aviation policy, that comes out of OSD policy,” Mangum told me, referring to the Office of the Secretary of Defense. “If those policies change, that’s a different game.”

In fact, many Guard troops already spend more time working for their units — sometimes without pay — than the 39 days a year that is formally required. That’s especially true for soldiers with complex and perishable skills like flying helicopters.

“Most aviators and mechanics train over 100 days a year, in some cases, up to 135 days a year,” the Guard Apache pilot told me. “And for most Guard aviators, this is in addition to their full-time civilian jobs.” What’s more, because so many of these pilots spent years on active duty before joining the Guard, they are older, more mature, and more experienced than many pilots in active-duty units.

In fact, Guard advocates cite figures (which we can’t confirm) that active-duty units have crashed 12 Apaches due to “pilot error” over the last five years, while Guard units have lost none. Some of this is simply because the active-duty force flies more, but some of it they attribute to less good pilots. That, of course, is an argument that riles active-duty troops as much as the “well, you only train 39 days a year” arguments infuriate the Guard.

So there’s a hot debate over the cold facts, and both sides have much at stake, from self-esteem to budget share. While budget pressures forced the Army to make hard choices, they were still choices, not inevitabilities. And even if those specific choices are approved by Sec. Chuck Hagel and the White House, the president’s budget request still has to run the gantlet of Capitol Hill.

That’s why the Army leadership keeps hammering home the message that everyone is hurting — active, reserve, and Guard — and that they’re asking the Guard to suffer a relatively small share of the collective pain. The Guard is losing 215 helicopters to the active component’s 683. The Guard and Reserve are losing 15 percent of their combat aviation brigades, the active component 23 percent.

“We can’t afford our current fleet so we have to make adjustments — and the majority of the adjustments are going to happen in our active-component aviation units,” Odierno said this morning.

Nor, the Chief of Staff insisted, does he have anything but respect for the Guard, despite NGAUS saying his public remarks have been “disparag[ing], disrespectful and simply not true.” Full-time regular soldiers and part-time citizen soldiers have fought side by side since the Revolutionary War, when Washington’s Continental Army reinforced but also depended on the militia. (Of course, there have been tensions between the two at least that long as well). The active-duty Army and the Army National Guard need each other, and the nation needs then both, Odierno said:  ”Each is different, each does different things, but they are both critical.”

Comments

  • ycplum

    I think the problem is more fundamental. Our national policy is not properly defined and our global strategic plans (and foreign policy) are not realistic at best and schizophrenic at worse. As a result, our force structure and budget is all over the place with unrealistic expectations. Coupled with a disfunctional Congress, this mad scramble is the results.

    • SS BdM Fuhress ‘Savannah

      You think you’ve seen mad. Wait til the public hits the stores and the regular staples aint there. This Greed upon the planet we have created cannot be corrected.

  • TerryTee

    It sounds like the Active Duty Forces (Air Force & Army) want to De-fang the States Guard units by taking away all their offensive firepower. It looks like there is much more going on here than meets the eye.

    • Gary Church

      No…..attack helicopters have proven to be next to useless. Armor guys knew this back in the 80′s. Tankers were always targeting cobras with the main gun on field exercises; ridiculously easy to shoot down a helicopter with a beehive type round. They are just too slow. That’s the truth but it would be bad business to admit it.
      That said helicopters are irreplaceable for inserting or extracting people into or out of any situation. I have hoisted people off sinking boats on dark and stormy nights and it does not get much harder than that (unless you are being shot at).

      The only thing gunships are good for is murdering those who cannot shoot back. The Israeli’s invented the art of aerial assassination using surplus cobras firing tow missiles back in the 80′s. Now we use drones.

      • SS BdM Fuhress ‘Savannah

        I thought in Desert Storm the Apache’s took out Saddam’s tanks from 25 miles away. Not that Saddam’s tanks had a chance against a Abrams either.

        • wikipedia

          max range of the AGM-114 Hellfire missile is 8k, or about 5 miles.

          • SS BdM Fuhress ‘Savannah

            Thank you, I will have to try and figure where I picked up that 25 miles at now.

      • Zabilde

        Useless against armor? Tell that to all the Iraqi tanks destroyed by Apache’s in Desert Storm and OIF.

        • Gary Church

          Iraq had worthless sensors for fighting at night. Next time it will be different- you better believe it. And the M-1′s did a much better job at destroying enemy armor. Also the instances where Apaches were put out of action by small arms fire were not publicized anymore than the failure of the Patriot missiles to down a single scud. Attack helicopters were never a good idea; a waste of resources.

      • Apollo Simmonds

        While the M494 APERS beehive round had a time fuse that would allow it to travel up to 4.4k, the round, once burst would have a lethal range of only about 300m. While possible, it’s highly improbable that you are going to lead a target, the right amount, set the fuse at the right time, and pull the trigger at the right instant to put the helicopter in the kill zone. I suppose if one hovered over an enemy tank it could happen. In contrast, a hellfire ( the older ones) have a range of 8K. Almost twice the range of a APERS round. Oh, and gun pilots are taught to use the weapons range to keep it a one sided fight. Before you reply consider this. I have also conducted a MEDEVAC rescue hoist. In the Pechwar valley in AFG. the southern wall of the valley was alive with gunfire, the same gunfire that wounded the young ranger I was there to save. The wall had been hit with bombs from fighters but the cave networks were great cover from fighter attack. One thing saved my bacon and allowed me to rescue that ranger. It was two Apache gunships that were able to get eye level with the enemy in the caves and keep them off of me long enough to save that young man. The fighters that day were completely ineffective.

        • Gary Church

          No, it was actually pretty easy to target them. They are flying pick-up trucks and tankers can shoot. It is a great story. Thanks. But it does not change anything I said.

          • Gary Church

            I am always amazed at the ignorance of most people about how modern weapons work. Even the first tow missiles back in the early 80′s cold hit an oil can on the back of a junk vehicle target from 2 miles away. I have seen it with my own two eyes so don’t go there. Present day missiles and guns systems are incredibly accurate. Any modern tank can, while bouncing over rough terrain at 40 mph, can get a first round hit on another tank doing the same thing a couple miles away in complete darkness with a stiff wind blowing. And I have seen that also; well, hitting targets not other tanks back in the early 80′s. Yes, helicopters are sitting ducks for any contemporary guided or precision weapon. You better believe it.

          • Adam

            Gary Church Your lack of comprehension on modern day equipment is laughable…. It seems like your an old washed up tanker who probably got the boot in the 90s or didn’t make the cut for flight school and now have a personal grudge with attack aviation… Have you ever heard of ASE or read anything on tactics of attack helicopters? Or the AGM114L with an equipped longbow with a FCR? Or maybe the capabilities of a AH64E with UAV? AH do not sit in a battle positions and shoot bad guys like your only experience you probably ever had at a gunnery in the 80s. Am I correct to assume all this because in every comment you have made on here, you are obviously assuming things yourself and dating yourself to the 80/90s. Quit being a armchair quarterback and contribute something intelligent instead of demeaning Army aviation and senior NCOs and Warrant Officers of which you obviously have a inferiority complex with…

          • Gary Church

            “Quit being a armchair quarterback and contribute something intelligent instead of demeaning Army aviation”

            I am not demeaning aviation Adam. I was not even a tanker, I was a commo jerk and worked on tanks for a couple years. Yes, I am old and dated and trying to be intelligent here. I can try. As for the senior NCO’s and Warrants- they can kiss my ass.

          • Gary Church

            Ooops…..grudge.

          • Jeffrey Buss

            Bitter, party of one.

          • Jeffrey Buss

            Standing Ovation Adam

          • Gary Church

            After saying that, it is true a main gun can only elevate so high, so it is not that easy. You got me.

        • Gary Church
        • Gary Church

          Actually, having thought about it, you are probably right. Attack helicopters are nice to have if you are doing what you are doing. Good job on the hoist Apollo.

    • Curtis Conway

      I agree TerryTee. A strong central federal government wanting to take power in times of distress would use such a move to the maximum effect.

      • Gary Church

        What are you talking about? This conspiracy theory trash does not belong on this site. Take your uniform off if you are going to post this garbage. A strong federal government IS in charge in a time of distress you idiot. That is how it is supposed to work. I saw what the national guard did in the virgin islands after hurricane Hugo in 89; they started looting and kidnapping people. It took federal marshals to restore order. FEDERAL. Do not even pretend our government is the enemy. This kind of stupidity is what is dividing our country.

      • TerryTee

        Yes they would, like getting rid of a lot of Flag Officers in the last 16 months ???

        • Curtis Conway

          Some forget that the federal government is a creature of the states, not the other way around, as much as they would like. Have you ever noticed that the New federalist are not tolerant of other points of view at all? I guess that is why they needed the 14,000 select fire weapons and 2 billion rounds (purchased by Homeland Security) of ammunition for federal executive departments across the country. Every one of those weapons should go strait to the US Coast Guard.

          • Gary Church

            “-the federal government is a creature of the states, not the other way around-”

            One nation; you do not seem to understand those two words. And I apologize for calling you an idiot. I lost my temper. Why did I lose my temper? You would not understand. By the way, the Coast Guard is part of the Homeland Security. jeez.

        • CZ

          You must have had second thoughts about this supposed conspiracy after the Washington post investigative report on misbehavior among generals/admirals in the last two years.

  • Elihu Root

    As opposed to an Apache, a Black Hawk is also a lot more helpful to a Governor in the event of an emergency. Guard UH-60 pilots often get to do their real-world mission every day, gaining increased proficiency in the process.
    So why would the Guard want Apaches over Black Hawks? Jobs. It takes a full-time army of mil-techs and AGRs to sustain the Guard, especially in the aviation community. Add in Additional Flight Training Periods and the mendacity of the “one third the cost” argument is obvious.
    Here’s the reality: we need to get our fiscal house in order and everyone is going to feel the pain. Whether you’re on active duty, a retiree, a civilian, a contractor, a tech, or trying to enroll your kids into Head Start, you are going to take a hit. The Guard shouldn’t be exempt from pulling its share.

    • SS BdM Fuhress ‘Savannah

      Greed of the American System means that fiscal house made of dollar bills has a date with a Good Wind blowing.

    • Zabilde

      We do need to get our fiscal house in order and the facts stand that a Guard Aviation Brigade costs a third of what an Active duty one does per year. Has far more experience and much lower accident rates. No a state doesn’t have much need for an Apache, but the National Guard is not only a state asset but is part of the total Army as a less costly reserve of troops and equipment.

      • Elihu Root

        Add in the AFTPs, mil-techs, AGRs, the cost of multiple AASFs…and your “costs a third” argument is questionable.
        As far as accident rates go: there is a special place in hell for the astroturf PR agency that continues to spread this misleading statistic. It is unbelievable that certain former leaders are so willing to trample on the memories of our brothers and sisters. I can only hope the Army maintains the high ground on this one before it gets uglier.

  • SS BdM Fuhress ‘Savannah

    The Guard could replace the Apache with that lawn chair , fuel tank and ram jet rotor I think. Saw that advertised in a catalog. Or they could go with the copter that uses a couple of chain saw motors. Not sure if either one could carry a Hellfire missile or a chain gun. For homeland defense can’t see that anyway. I think a Abrams and one of the old Wart Hogs or a little Piper cub carrying Napalm could do the trick on the ‘we the people’ out here once we wake up and see the future that is coming.

  • John

    All this talk about the Guard loosing aircraft and jobs. I still do not hear any conversation or talk about the Kiowa pilots and maintainers loosing their jobs and that there is no plan for the Kiowa crews or maintainers. Is the Army’s plan to get rid of these personnel as a means of reducing the force. If so this is a disgrace.

    • Gary Church

      John, I have to ask how old the airframes are and what purpose they serve. I am a helicopter guy and love them but they are not that useful in a high threat environment. They are good for rescues with a hoist (a helicopter without a hoist is a damn shame) and sling loading equipment around and of course carrying people. But besides sending them in for medevacs of critically wounded or forces that are cut-off it is not practical to expend them because they will get shot down in large numbers against anything like ZSU type guns or MANPADS. The huey was as throw-away as it gets but blackhawks and chinooks are not so expendable. IMO attack helicopters were always just the army upset about the air force. A whole lot of money down the drain over the last half century for petty inter-service rivalry.

      • Zabilde

        A kiowa is more agile and while not able to take damage like an Apache is still able to carry a not harmless load of weapons. It’s a capable multi-purpose bird and should no more be tossed out than the Warthogs should. And do they really NEED to be upgraded? For airworthiness reasons yes, but beyond that not really. They excell in the scout role, and can also serve as light ground support craft.

        John makes a very good, point. Not only should the Guard not lose the Apache’s, but this need to retire the Kiowa’s is also highly suspect.

        • Gary Church

          Well, thanks for completely ignoring my post but replying to me anyway. Next time just post a comment instead of replying thank you.

        • Jeffrey Buss

          Suspect? Kiowas are all 40+ year old airframes. You obviously spend more time blogging than doing real research.

          • Zabilde

            Age of airframe is not that big of a deal. With maintenance they can keep flying for years to come. Or are they falling out of the sky due to age?

          • Jeffrey Buss

            Yes, maintenance can keep them flying. BUT the man-hour cost starts to climb tremendously. That is not just a dollar figure. Time is a critical resource that a commander can’t make more of. As more maintenance is required, less aircraft are available on a given day. This is why deployed aircraft are periodically put through a stateside reset program. The intent is to get that airframe’s man-hours per flight hour ratio in order. Doesn’t always work that way, but that’s the intent. After a number of years and total flight hours, it becomes more difficult to control that ratio and resets aren’t enough. They need a full blown service life extension or retirement.

        • Jeffrey Buss

          I do agree with your other point about needing the scouts and how they do their mission. The Army doesn’t need an upgrade, it needs a new airframe. Off the shelf and rapid fielding would be preferable. The real issue this administration needs to face is that they are trying to rob the DoD to pay for expanding social programs. Its the ’70s all over again. I was young then but I did pay attention to the news.

      • Apollo Simmonds

        Come over here to combat, walk the ground. When you can explain the difference between RPK and PKM fire you’ll understand how irrelevant your comments are. Understand the way forces are employed. There is a reason we don’t send in the cooks to set up chow halls before the fighting starts. There is an order to things. Bring to the table a gun with better reach than the enemy is a great way to start; but eventually you have to downsize. When you are taking fire from a single building in a village of otherwise innocent people, 500lb bombs and strafing gun runs kill innocent people. Helicopters bring the fight down to a smaller and more personal level. When you’re getting shot at, more accurate and more personal fire support is exactly what you want. ZSU’s and heavy missile environments are treated differently. The threat is reduced before helicopters are exposed. Different threat environments require different tactics. Different tactics are made options by different tools available to solve the problem. There are only a few fighters to cover thousands of ground forces. There simply aren’t enough to cover the force. Find someone who knows how weird bullets sound coming at you and you might hear a story of how one time, a fighter blew something up. You will certainly hear lots of stories about how a helicopter gunship saved their bacon.

        • Gary Church

          I am a little old for combat and you may be too young to understand anything except where you are right now. I did not put you there; you did. Those billions of dollars of gunships may have saved some lives (or maybe it was just a good story to tell) but that is not the whole story.

          • Gary Church

            I am sorry- I meant those billions of dollars of attack helicopters that are only good for one thing. A gunship is a real helicopter (good for many things) with weapons. You might not like it, the attack pilots might not like it, Boeing might not like it, but that’s how it is.

          • Apollo Simmonds

            We’ll I’m almost 40 and I’ve been over here nearly four years total. I have a pretty good grasp on it. The apaches definitely scares the guacamole out of the bad guys. On the other question, as a pilot, look at tabbed data for 12000 ft pa at 22000 lbs for a hawk. 10 deg c.

          • Gary Church

            The Hinds scared them until we gave them stingers. God bless all the spooks keeping MANPADS out of their hands.

        • Gary Church

          http://www.americanspecialops.com/photos/night-stalkers/mh-60l-dap.php

          Here is your gunship Apollo; if it is good enough for the night stalkers I hope it is good enough for you. We do not need dedicated attack helicopters and never did; it’s about the money.

          • Apollo Simmonds

            Well, Kudos to you sir, I never expected a level answer. Most people in comment sections just want to freak out. While that thing is incredibly sexy, It’s a flying weight restriction. Having seen them dance under goggles, I agree that they’re awesome. However, in the current fight, once you used some performance data to see what all that weight really does, they’re pretty restricted. Even the pretty air force ones can’t reach some of the rescues here. Another thing to consider. Guess who supports most SOF missions over here….. the AH-64

          • Gary Church

            Maybe you can enlighten me on this Apollo because I am guessing, but I notice most of the losses are Chinooks; is that because they are better at altitude in the mountains and are thus where the action is? Or just bigger targets. And I also note it seems the Apaches crash frequently but do not get shot down.

          • Gary Church

            Being in the Coast Guard I never did a single mountain rescue. All sea level. So……..you got me again. But looking at the airframes does the Blackhawk with just ESS and weapons systems have that much worse alt performance than the Apache? Does not seem like the cabin-bigger airframe structural weight would make that much of a difference but like I said- I know little about thin air helicopter missions except that they are dangerous as hell.

          • Gary Church

            Perhaps I need to clarify my position on this if anyone besides us is reading; I am considering the resources expended on dedicated attack helicopters versus gunships (general purpose helicopters with weapons fitted). If the attack helos and gunships are not going to be able to survive in a high threat battlefield and can only be used in COIN-like scenarios when the enemy does not have anything really effective to shoot back with, then what does that mean?
            To me it means that the gunship can do all the things the attack helicopter cannot do behind the battle area and can also be expended on medevacs more readily. The downside is that the gunship in the COIN-like scenario IS second best to the attack helicopter. I really hate it when people use the term “trade-off” when discussing such life and death matters but life is not fair sometimes and having a couple Blackhawks instead of an Apache may save more lives and win more battles in the long run. And of course this argument IS irrelevant to someone who is in a war zone and wants an attack helicopter when he needs one.

          • Jeffrey Buss

            Gary, kudos to you for your Coast Guard experience. Attack helicopters can survive in a high threat environment using much different tactics. Tactics that are not viable to the DAP birds in SOF Aviation and other “gunships.”

          • Gary Church

            Never mind Apollo. I guess we do not need to discuss this unclass. Sorry.

            Regards, Gary

          • Jeffrey Buss

            Apollo, as a retired Apache pilot, I couldn’t have said it better. Not to slight SOF Aviators, they do tremendous work with aircraft tailored for their special missions.

        • Gary Church

          Probably not good for me to be arguing with you for the sake of arguing. Good luck over there. If you need Apaches then I hope they are there for you.

      • Jeffrey Buss

        You may be a “helicopter guy” but your USCG point of view is showing loud and clear. This is not a inter-service rivalry. You seem to be trying to extrapolate your USCG experience and training into areas that your knowledge base just doesn’t cover. I would never try to tell a USCG Jayhawk crew how to fly hundreds of miles offshore in some of the worst weather any of us can imagine. Just thinking about it makes me suck up seat cushion. All I can do is accept that they do it and do it well. I hope that they are there to do their mission when my dream yacht sinks. Just like all those grunts hope that my Attack Helicopter, Army and Marine, brethren are there when they need them.

  • Gus

    This only reveals that the Guard doesn’t view themselves as part of the overall Army. They are a separate – and politically powerful – military service. The Guard usually gets what they want from Congress, except so far they have not been able to disband the Army Reserve despite numerous attempts. If the CSA wants to reshuffle assets and spread budget cuts across the board, let him. That’s his job. The Army is losing one third of it’s combat brigades. Surely the Guard can lose these helos in the force reduction!

    • Zabilde

      No we do view ourselves as part of the overall Army. One that should maintain all combat aspects as the active component. We are a reserve, if you remove a system from the reserve components you have no reserves to call on. It’s the active component that does not view the Guard as part of the overall Army.

      If this happens the overall Army will lose centuries of combined experience in every guard unit they strip of Apache’s. The average Active Duty pilot does 8 to 12 years and then bails. The Guard currently picks up many of those most experience pilots and retains them for the good of the nation. But if there are no Guard Apache units to transition to most of them will get out, rather than go through the hassle of re-certifying for a new airframe. They mostly won’t be able to anyway because the Blackhawk slots will be already filled by Blackhawk pilots transitioning to the Guard. Se even if the current Guard Apache pilots are willing to transition (most will do their best in order to get their retirement and to keep flying) to Blackhawks and do so, that only keeps the skills and knowledge in the service for the time being. But in the future the military will train Apache pilots only to lose them and all the money it cost to train them in the first place.

      If these cuts actually happen, then the cuts must be balanced across all three components of the Army. Guard Reserve and Active. No component should be entirely stripped of an asset it currently has, but should lose an equal portion. Reduce the number of birds in a aviation Brigade, cut a brigade from the guard and one from the AC or what ever needs to be cut, but trim both equally.

      • Gary Church

        “-most of them
        will get out, rather than go through the hassle of re-certifying for a
        new airframe. They mostly won’t be able to anyway because the Blackhawk
        slots will be already filled by Blackhawk pilots transitioning to the
        Guard.”

        Then I guess they will have to find something else to do with their weekends.

      • Elihu Root

        “No component should be entirely stripped of an asset it currently has, but should lose an equal portion…”
        So by that, I take it you’re advocating for more cuts to the Guard. You must have missed this part of the article: “The Guard is losing 215 helicopters to the active component’s 683. The Guard and Reserve are losing 15 percent of their combat aviation brigades, the active component 23 percent.”

        Total Force has always been predicated on interoperability, not interchangeability. How many Airborne BCTs are in the Guard? How many WMD CSTs are there on active duty? Soon, the Guard will have every Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, active duty will have none.
        Next you’re going to tell me we need to put ICBMs and submarines in the Guard because active duty has them too.

  • Rod

    “leave the grueling life of active duty…” Ha. ARNG and USAR life is more grueling: It is two full time jobs.

    • Gary Church

      Would you like some cheese with that whine?

  • Rod

    PS: “Big brother” cannot stomach the fact that “little brother” can do the same job at a more economical cost and often with a higher degree of skill. “Big brother” is always trying to pick “little brother’s” pockets for resources too using the rational that he is active duty so he needs it more. Well, “horse hockey”.

    • Gary Church

      I guess “little brother” needs a good slap up the side of the head to remind him he can always go active and solve the problem instead of cry about it.

      • mike zesiger

        The ignorance in your comments is astounding to say the least. If it was that easy to just go active duty as you suggest do you really think there would be this much debate? Trust me, it’s not that easy. I tried, I talked to hrc and was told that they can’t take any pilots right now. Thank you for your baseless opinions however. This ” little brother” would welcome the opportunity for “big brother” to try and slap me on the side of the head and impose his will and half assed wisdom.

        • Gary Church

          Sure. Real weekend warrior. Yes, I am taunting you. If you can’t take a joke…..

          • Gary Church

            And I wrote the second thought comment after I taunted you. When someone throws an invitation to a slapfest out there then they are obviously serious and playtime is over. No more half-ass sarcasm from me. You got me.

        • Gary Church

          On second thought, you are right. It is a serious subject to the people involved and perhaps my comments are inappropriate. I will say no more on this.

  • Rod

    “When we need Apaches now, we need Apaches now, and the train up time required, the mobilization time required for the [Guard] Apaches, is really the the issue.”
    – Well, seems to me that “big brother” determines how long it will take for “little brother” to “train up” and then complains about why little brother is so slow.

  • Rod

    “six flight hours a month for Guard crews versus 10.7 for active duty”. Wow. A) both numbers are paltry, and B) the AC’s added 4.7 hours does not add up to a massively more proficient AC pilot/crew.

  • Landsnark

    The NG feeling like their peepee isn’t big enough? The state’s need utility helicopters to accomplish there other mission, Apache’s may look cool flying overhead or sitting on a display, but they aren’t that useful when you need to rescue people in a tragedy or drop off their supplies. But why should they concern themselves with accomplishing their mission when they can cry about the CSA being mean to them.

  • sailndayz

    No problem, let the Army Guard take all the A-10s that the USAF doesn’t want. Voila! Jobs for all the former Apache pilots in the new Army Guard A-10 Squadrons. We can support Odierno and all win.

    • Landsnark

      Taking helicopter pilots and make them fixed wing pilots? Sure, should take about 10-15 minutes of training, tops.

      • sailndayz

        I’m certain of you being facetious, however train up time should be reasonable and help provide the Guard Close Air Support

        • Landsnark

          And then you need to transfer them all to the Air Guard (different organization than the Army National Guard), then you need to get the Air Force to pay for an A10 that they are already trying to get rid of.

          • sailndayz

            Oh ,oh, your Blue suit is showing. Why the Air Guard? The Army Guard is perfectly capable of flying fixed wing.

          • Landsnark

            You really don’t know what you are talking about. You may want to do some research before you talk about things that are illegal for the Army to do, having A10s is a no-no for the Army, active, reserve and the guard.

      • Jeffrey Buss

        There would be training cost but a number of Apache and Cobra pilots transferred to the Air Force in the ’90s. I know a few personally. By all indications they are quite adept at the mission. Attack Helicopter experience translates very well.

  • Jim Bob

    Duh. Train the Apache pilots on the new machines/new technologies together with recruiting new pilots. Throwing babies with bathwater is not necessary here. Sometimes I wonder about the intelligence of having a separate National Guard. Geez. Get along and stop fighting the inevitable!

    • Gary Church

      The Blackhawk and Chinook are not perfect but they are the useful players here. I agree with Jim Bob. Transition the attack pilots to a different airframe. A Blackhawk can carry missiles when needed.

      • Bob

        …can carry missiles in a sling load, you mean.

        • Gary Church

          No, that’s not what I mean.

          • Gary Church

            If you are wondering where the targeting system is, I would guess this configuration is relying on a grunt several miles away with a laser designator. The pilots point the nose in the right direction and fire when told to by the private. Or they just hung the stuff on there for a PR photo (more likely considering the orange flight suit).

          • Bob

            So there you go. Those Army Blackhawks units are not trained, organized, manned, nor equipped to fire Hellfire. Neat picture, though.

          • Gary Church

            Yeh- that’s alot of missiles Bob. Always wondered how many they could hang on an A-10 for a PR photo. Thirty or forty something probably. And now there is that griffin booger that is smaller and can glide in on folding wings from way far away. Some kind of dispenser in a C-130 and it could carry a hundred or so probably. In the Coast Guard they used to shut down two engines so they could search longer- Imagine a 130 orbiting above the overcast while a guy or gal with a laser designator on a hill massacres a small army. A cargo plane and a stick with a fancy flashlight on it and you can do alot of damage; as long as the people you are blowing up don’t have anything to shoot back. The world is changing.

  • John Adams

    Having been in the guard and regular Army for nearly 30 years, this all comes down to National Guard trying to protect their unionized state technicians and AGRs lucrative paying jobs. They are right about the difficulty of them finding jobs after the fact because many of them have been given jobs in the guard based on friendship and guard politics.

    • Gary Church

      Good ole boy clubs have always been the greatest threat to an effective national defense. I hate cliques with a passion after having gone up against them so many times. Senior NCO’s and Warrant Officers are some of the most toxic and useless individuals I have ever had the misfortune to be subordinate to. At least the Officers will leave you alone while they torment each other. Damn all the bad ones and bless the few good ones.

    • Damien

      That statement I do agree with 100%
      Rhode Island is the model of WHO YOU KNOW & NOT, WHAT YOU KNOW, in order to either get a Town, City, State or Technicians Job for the Guard.

  • John

    The guard is more Highly train then it ever been. If we look at history, after ww2, the army down size dramatically, then we enter the Korean war…we sent the guard to fight a battle that they never learn to do, many of them never knew how to correctly carry a rifle or simply battle drills. Is history repeating itself??

  • CommonSense033

    More consolidation of power. Guard units are more beholden to states, not FedGod. Can’t have them with gunships.

  • JustAl

    It’s simple.

    The National Guard are less reliable when it comes to firing on US citizens, at least that is what the leftists in DC think. Obama does not want the National Guard to have the ability to defend the people. . . against HIM.

  • Damien

    The next thing to go will be the M-1 Abrams Tanks, Then the Artillery, Then Any & ALL SF or Special Operations Troops.

    These moves are being done to make the Guard weaker & unable to defend the state’s civilians of the state they belong to.

    The Government wants troops that WILL fire on civilians without question.

  • Col. Phillip Marstellar

    All pointing towards the new world order takeover!!! They don’t want the guard or reserves defending we the people!! Its clear that this despotic admin. Is destroying this country every single day the man uses his pen and phone to weaken or destroy our country!! Ck out agenda 21…,all a huge concerted effort to disarm any form of repelling a government of tyranny. And no I don’t wear a tin foil hat and am not paranoid. Anyone with half a brain can see the writing on the wall.

  • Timothy Kramer

    Firstly, I am in the NG. DoD is the hand that feeds the active army and about 85%+ of the army national guards annual budget. The AD and the NG both have critical missions that are (or should I say should be, because they’re not) mutually supporting. Before the NG goes biting the hand that feeds it, we need to realize our mission, which SHOULD BE symbiotic to AD, should not be a predominantly kinetic/combat ready force. We have/are/and always should be a defense for the homeland. Which SHOULD BE a point of pride and SHOULD BE the locus of efforts when selecting missions for the national guard to accomplish ie cyber warfare, border patrol, search and rescue, civil disputes, disaster relief! The fact that these are not the locus of effort is deteriorating our national defense apparatus greatly. The truth is the national guard has never learned to be the national guard, and SHOULD stop getting butt hurt when we lose federal dollars for METLs that SHOULD not even be our METL. Conversely, AD needs to stop using the NG as a GD work horse. I realize these are unpopular opinions, but I think the represent an ideal total force (the should be).

  • M&S

    Ridiculous.
    The OH-58D, particularly without the mess of the MMS, is probably a 1/3rd the cost of the AH-64 to CPFH operate. Old or no, the Kiowa isn’t an overloaded combat platform which has to run at 120% of rated just to beats the air to submission sufficient to takeoff on it’s existing rotor system and runs combat scout missions like a flying tank.
    The AH-64E does -nothing- to fix this or justify it’s own monstrous costs, except to force the budget situation even further into desperate measures territory.
    Indeed, the original MQ-1 had a 1,000 dollar per flight hour CPFH and would be an easy system for both services to run in total replacement of ALL manned scouts, simply because they are intended for remote operations which means the actual assets (and maintenance/spares tails) can be centralized and shared between several states. Yet as this would theoretically allow the Guard to meet fixed hourly limits per month while contributing to a combat-pool of shared-between-states assets, to retain a _significant_ drone force, at high overall utilization rates, it is not being done as a real budget savings measure.
    No, The Guard is being detoothed because something big and awful is coming to America and it likely has to do with Globalization and OWG which is directly and inherently incompatible with a Free Nation ruled by Constitution.
    If there are significant combat force components available to the individual States, they will use them to secede or fight the central government, looking to depose it.
    Sequestration isn’t sufficient to even /begin/ to contribute to this nation’s massive debt problems. Nor does it compare even mildly to the savings inherent to capping social welfare and closing our borders to further ‘Dreamers’ looking to become beneficiaries thereof.
    What Sequestration does is put just enough of a hoop snare around the armed forces recapitalization and retaining effort boots to make it unwelcome place to the warfighters who will bail out early, from actives -and- reserves, seeing as they have no combat arm future in staying a full 10-15 years in the former only to turn into CS/CSS shoe shiners in the latter.
    We are being set up and we don’t even read between the lines enough to question the ‘official position’ being propaganda fed to us.