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Panel to screen hundreds of Kiowa pilots

Jun. 7, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
Pilots of the Kiowa Warrior face a review June 23.
Pilots of the Kiowa Warrior face a review June 23. (Sgt. 1st Class Eric Pahon/Army)
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The Army will evaluate about 800 pilots for potential retraining as the service prepares to eliminate the OH-58 Kiowa Warrior helicopter from its inventory.

The panel, which will convene the week of June 23 at Human Resources Command, will study the records of about 800 aviators in the ranks of warrant officer 1 to chief warrant officer 4 with a primary military occupational specialty of 152D (OH-58 pilot).

“What we’ve done is set up a holistic process to evaluate the potential in these officers and allow us to prioritize officers for retraining into other aircraft or other fields,” said CW4 Christopher Brown, the assignment officer at HRC for this population of warrant officers.

Brown, who holds the 152D MOS, also will be looked at by the panel, he said.

Commissioned officers and CW5s will be handled separately on a case-by-case basis.

“This panel is not any sort of [selective early retirement board] or a way to control or shape the force,” Brown said. “The fear is, with a message like this, it’s misinterpreted that we’re trying to shape the force. That is not the intent. The intent is to identify quality officers and retrain them to continue the mission.”

The Army’s aviation restructuring initiative calls for the Army to divest its fleet of the OH-58 and use the AH-64 Apache to fill the Kiowa’s reconnaissance and scout role.

It would pull Apaches from the National Guard inventory to fill the gap, and the Army will in turn provide the Guard with UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters.

There are a number of options available to Kiowa pilots, Brown said.

They could retrain to fly the Apache or another airframe. They could look at becoming part of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, or be instructors at the Army’s Aviation Center of Excellence at Fort Rucker, Alabama. They could retrain to fly fixed-wing or unmanned aircraft, or even transfer to a different branch entirely, he said.

Where these officers end up, however, will not be determined by this panel, Brown said.

“It won’t dictate which officers are transitioned to which airframe,” he said. “It just gives us a way to prioritize which officers, based on their potential for continued service and their competence, should be retrained. We want to make sure we retain the right officers and transition the right officers at the right time.”

Here’s what you need to know about the upcoming panel:

■ Led by a colonel, the panel will have six senior warrant officers representing the combat aviation brigades, HRC and the Aviation Center of Excellence.

■ Warrant officers will be evaluated against their peers, so the panel will compare a CW2 against other CW2s and so on, Brown said.

■ Warrant officers who are trained and qualified to fly multiple types of aircraft will not be evaluated by the panel.

■ Officers selected for retraining or transition will have the option to accept or decline, Brown said.

“It’s going to be completely voluntary for the officer to accept the transitions,” he said.

Officers can retire if they’re eligible. They also can remain in the 152D MOS and seek a non-airframe specific assignment, such as an instructor at the schoolhouse.

Officers who retrain on a different rotary wing airframe incur a three-year active duty service obligation, Brown said.

■ Officers who are not eligible for a transition will be retained as a 152D until retirement or separation.

They are encouraged to provide their preference to HRC by June 30, according to the military personnel message outlining the panel.

“The officer’s preference will be considered, but the needs of the Army will be the ultimate determining factor for aircraft transition,” the MILPER states.

■ Affected officers are encouraged to update their Officer Record Brief and their official photo through their unit S-1 or personnel shop.

■ Warrant officers may send correspondence to the panel president. Individual letters should only include material important when considering an officer’s records, according to the MILPER message.

Letters should be addressed to President, FY14 Warrant Officer Primary Aircraft Transition Potential Panel, WO1, CW2, CW3, CW4 with 152D primary MOS, Army Competitive Category, Attn: AHRC-PDV-S, 1600 Spearhead Division Avenue, Fort Knox, KY 40122-5407.

They also can be emailed to usarmy.knox.hrc.mbx.tagd-board-ac-officer@mail.mil.

Letters must arrive before the panel convenes in order to be considered.

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