Fort Bragg general takes on role guiding Army aviation
The Fayetteville Observer
Kevin W. Mangum departed Fort Rucker, Ala., as a newly minted Army aviator on Nov. 1, 1983. He returned Aug. 10 as a two-star general to take command of the U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence.
"It has been a while since I've been at Fort Rucker," Mangum said. "As the son of an Army aviator, it is absolutely humbling to have the opportunity to orchestrate where our branch is heading and how we are going to develop our leaders in the future. I'm fired up about it."
His father flew Huey helicopters during the Vietnam War and was involved in the early development of the Black Hawk. Mangum has flown the highly advanced special operations version of the Black Hawk helicopter.
The son started flying helicopters in the mid-1980s as the Army was establishing aviation as a separate career field, on par with infantry and artillery. He got in on the ground floor with the development of special operations aviation - high-risk, low-level, nighttime missions.
Mangum returns to Fort Rucker after serving as the first commander of the provisional U.S. Army Special Operations Aviation Command at Fort Bragg.
At the Army post in southeast Alabama, he will be the head of the headquarters for U.S. Army aviation.
"It's a two-prong role," Mangum said. "It's leader development and pilot and operator training. The other part is to serve as the proponent to look at what the branch needs in those areas . across the board - where we are now and where we need to take it in the future."
The center has oversight of Army aviation's doctrine, organization, training, materiel, logistics, facilities and personnel.
"Broadly, the vision is to maintain Army aviation as the relevant force that it is today," Mangum said. "Based on our current conflicts, Army aviation has never been in greater demand."
Mangum goes to Fort Rucker at a time when the U.S. military is facing deep budget cuts that may go even deeper if Congress does not call off further mandatory reductions that are scheduled to start Jan. 2.
"We need to clearly identify what we need to keep our aircraft maintained and ready to do their mission," he said. "As resource constraints will dictate, we need to look at the world with laser focus to discriminate 'desirements' and requirements to make sure we are getting readiness and capability that does value."
The center will be involved in the discussion of how the Army replaces its Apache and Black Hawk helicopters, which will be worn out by 2030, he said.
The center also plays a role in the development of remotely piloted aircraft and training the people who fly and maintain them. Some of the training is done at other installations.
At Fort Bragg, Mangum was the newest member of Army aviation's "six pack," the senior leaders of Army aviation. Members include the commanding general of U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence at Fort Rucker, Ala.; the Army aviation program executive officer, Redstone Arsenal, Ala.; the commanding general of Aviation and Missile Life Cycle Command, Huntsville, Ala.; the director of Army Aviation at the Pentagon; the associate director of the Army Aviation Technical Directorate at Fort Eustis, Va.; and the commander of U.S. Army Special Operations Aviation Command at Fort Bragg
In a sense, he has gone from the newest member of the six pack to the leader of the pack.
"The issue and challenge is to harmonize all of that," Mangum said. "I think that will be my role. I'm a member of the six pack, I guess - the conductor, in short."
Military editor Henry Cuningham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 486-3585.