With concerns over steep defense cuts looming, Fort Rucker’s deputy commanding general reassured local residents Thursday that the post will continue to produce high-quality combat aviators.
Col. Douglas Gabram, speaking to attendees of the local chapter of the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual kickoff breakfast at the Dothan Civic Center, said Army aviation has several issues to address, with the defense budget ranking high on the list.
U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker Commander Maj. Gen. Kevin Mangum is currently in Washington, D.C., discussing the budget, Gabram said.
Still, Gabram remains confident any cuts will not harm aviation training.
“Fort Rucker will continue to produce the most proficient aviators,” he said, noting aviation owes that to the more than 2,000 soldiers who lost their lives in Afghanistan.
“Army aviation is heavily committed across the world, especially Afghanistan,” Gabram said. “The Afghans are trying to stand on their feet. We want to do right by Afghanistan. We’ve just got to help them.”
Moving forward, Gabram said the use of unmanned and manned aircraft in combination on missions is “the wave of the future” and has been “a lethal weapon on the battlefield.”
Gabram also thanked members of the Fort Rucker/Wiregrass Chapter of AUSA for their support of soldiers and families. The local chapter provides scholarships for soldiers’ families, amongst other activities.
“(AUSA members) truly care and are great Americans,” Gabram said.