1LT Stephen Kramer

Name: Stephen Kramer
1st Lieutenant
Current Duty Station:
Deployed to Iraq

11th Aviation Command

The 11th Aviation Command, based at Fort Knox, consists of 148 Army Reserve Soldiers and civilians including 48 senior full time staff members (Active Guard Reserve) and 13 Civilian Military Technicians grade GS-7 to GS-13.  The command is responsible for peacetime management of more than 4,000 Aviation Reserve Soldiers to include one brigade headquarters consisting of four aviation battalions and four other aviation battalion direct reporting units located throughout 14 states. 

The 11th Aviation Command (AC) is also responsible for managing the training and employment of AH-64 Apache Longbow Attack Helicopters, UH-60 Blackhawk Assault Helicopters, CH-47 Chinook Medium Lift Helicopters, C-12 and a UC-35 fixed wing aircraft throughout United States.  During deployment, the headquarters will function as a Theater Aviation Command.

The command provides Air Traffic Services (ATS), Airfield Management, Aeromedical Evacuation, Combat Aviation Brigade Reinforcement, Theater Aviation Support, and coordination of aviation staging and onward movement in order to support Corps, Army or Joint operations.  The 11th AC has two missions, which function's as both a war fighting headquarters and as a Functional Command (FC).  As a war fighting command, the 11th AC provides command, control, staff planning, and supervision for two Aviation Brigades and one Air Traffic Service Battalion.  As a FC the 11th AC provides command and control for all Army Reserve Aviation.

What I’m doing here

As the Current Operations OIC, I am responsible to ensure that my cell accomplishes its duties.  These duties include: Publishing and distributing OPORDs, WARNOs, and FRAGOs; Distributing the 11th AC TACSOP and GARSOP; Coordinating the employment of air assets within the 11th AC AOR; Serving as the JOSAC coordinator; compiling monthly reports tracking flying hours, Additional Drill Assembly (ADA) usage, Additional Flight Training Period (AFTP) usage, and Unit Status Reports (USRs).

This is a very busy job with a steep learning curve, quite possibly the most challenging staff position for someone with no prior staff experience.  But there are huge payoffs for accepting this position.  I have been able to interact on a regular basis with Operations sections (S-3s) of all of our subordinate units and have gained volumes of knowledge.  This knowledge stretches from the differences of how an AH-64 battalion conducts training compared to a CH-47 battalion, to how the Army Reserve can conduct training according to regulations, to rules and regulations for how the Army conducts its day to day operations.

I have gained some excellent training opportunities as a result of this position.  I have been able to attend the Joint Air Operations Command and Control (JAOC2) Course at Hurlburt Field, FL.  This is a course I encourage everyone should try to attend, as you will get to interact with members of the other branches of our military, and learn how our Air Force, Navy, Marines, SPECOPS, and Army all work together in a Campaign Theater.  If anyone has an interest in serving in a Joint Operation position, this course is a very good starting point.

As an aviator, it is difficult as a staff officer to fly as often as you would in a “line” unit.  However, it doesn’t mean the flying stops completely.  I haven’t been able to fly as much as I would love to, but I am currently flying the C-12 Huron (which is a Beechcraft KingAir 200) and am projected to start flying the newest version of the UH-60 (the much acclaimed M model) Blackhawk this fall. 

Overall, I love serving the Army.  I keep an open mind to accept any assignment in order to learn from it.  Through that mindset, here is just a sampling of what I have gained: a commercial pilot’s license for helicopters and airplanes, extensive knowledge of Army Regulations and doctrine, lessons learned for my personal development, skill badges, additional skill identifiers, and life-long friends all over the world.