The big question on everyone’s mind, but rarely on their tongue, is how U.S. Army aviation will support ongoing and expanded combat operations in southwest Asia.
As U.S. troops are increased in Iraq by 21,500, to more than 150,000, aviation support needs will increase proportionally. As the Army vice chief of staff (and aviator himself), Gen. Richard Cody, told the Quad A gathering in May, the Army "will end up with four combat aviation brigades overlapping in Iraq, as well as one in Afghanistan." That’s half of the service’s combat aviation assets. "That is a concern for me. That’s why I need the ARH built — yesterday."
The Army needs more than ARH, though. Aviation units are already stretched thin, with those not in theater having their aircraft tied up in training or refit and refurbishment. Those in theater are running at record operational rates, which leaves little margin to provide more support to ground troops.
Asked how they will satisfy what seems like impossible demands for their services, the Army aviation leaders response seems to be, "We’ll just get it done."