by CAPT Matt Butkis, CW5 Scott Brusuelas, and MAJ Ron Pendleton
The mission of the Joint Combat Assessment Team (JCAT) has evolved from combat damage collection in Southeast Asia in the 1960s to the collection in Southwest Asia over the last 15 years. In November 2016, the Joint Requirements Oversight Council (JROC) approved the Doctrine, Organization, Training, Materiel, Leadership and Education, Personnel, Facilities, and Policy (DOTmLPF-P) Change Recommendation (DCR) for Air Combat Damage Reporting (ACDR). The DCR approval formalizes the ACDR process for training, personnel assignment, and reporting requirements “across the full range of military operations” for support to “assist in identifying threats to task force air operations.” The approval pushes forward further commonality in executing the JCAT mission across the Services and sets the stage for the JCAT “Next-Gen.” The JCAT mission is evolving to include (much like the current Aviation Shoot Down Assessment Team [ASDAT] model) being capable of deploying a rapid reaction team. The DCR approval solidifies the requirement to mobilize and deploy folks for larger-scale operations, as seen during Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, in conjunction with a Request for Forces (RFF). Additionally, the DCR approval helps to secure a broader means of data collection by rebasing data storage and maintenance with the Intelligence community for use in developing tactics and improving the survivability of our aircraft and aircrews.
JCAT continues to collect combat damage data in theater using JCAT-trained and deployed U.S. Air Force depot liaison engineers and Army Aviation Mission Survivability Officers (AMSOs). These active duty Air Force engineers operate downrange on a rotating basis, supporting the collection of combat battle damage for Air Force maintenance units and assisting with aircraft repairs that exceed the published tech order limits. Combat Aviation Brigade (CAB) AMSOs collect combat damage while deployed to assist JCAT’s collection and assessment efforts. Additional depot liaison engineers and CAB personnel are attending the 2017 Joint Combat Assessor training curriculum to support JCAT data collection during upcoming deployments.
The Army Component of the JCAT hosted the 2017 Phase 1 of the Joint Combat Assessor training at the Army Aviation Center of Excellence in Fort Rucker, AL, the week of 23 January. This one-week training event is the first of two courses that qualify a JCAT Officer to assess combat damaged aircraft. This year’s class trained nine Air Force and nine Navy officers (pictured in Figure 1) assigned to JCAT, as well as seven members of the Army’s 16th CAB. Phase 1 training focused on weapons and warhead effects, combat damage data collection, and casualty information collection. This training prepares the students for their Phase 2 training conducted at the Naval Air Warfare Center (NAWC) in China Lake, CA, where they will conduct combat assessment scenarios on aircraft test articles.
In December 2016, Navy JCAT bid farewell to CAPT David Storr, as he completed his tour as Commanding Officer (CO) of the Navy Reserve In-Service Engineering and Logistics (NR ISEL) unit. CAPT Storr has been a longstanding member of the Navy JCAT, influencing the JCAT community with his leadership and expertise. He had been instrumental to the successful deployment of personnel forward while embedded with the 3d Marine Aircraft Wing (MAW) and provided exceptional leadership as the unit’s CO. CAPT Matt “Marty” Butkis has taken the helm of NR ISEL, based at Naval Air Station in Patuxent River, MD, as well as the Navy JCAT membership. CAPT Butkis brings a wealth of knowledge and experience (including 28 years of active duty and Reserve service), having served as an Aviation Maintenance Duty Officer (AMDO) with the Navy since 1989. His most recent deployment was with the 3d MAW as the Officer-in-Charge (OIC), Forward Deployed Combat Repair at Camp Bastion, Afghanistan.
Additionally, both detachments of the unit saw changes of charge. CDR Sean Neally relieved CDR Chad Runyon as the OIC of Detachment A, based at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, OH, and CDR Joe Toth relieved CAPT Jon Rugg as the OIC of Detachment B, at Naval Air Weapons Station in China Lake, CA. CDR Neally and CDR Toth have both deployed forward as part of the JCAT mission and have a wide range of active and Reserve experience.
In addition, the Air Force JCAT officially welcomes CPT Dan Adducchio to the team. CPT Adducchio comes to the team from the 123d AW out of Louisville, KY. He has an extensive background in aircraft system failure analysis, has contributed to a number of Air Force Safety Investigation boards, and builds the team’s expertise with more than 12 years of aircraft maintenance experience.
Likewise, in February 2017, the Army component of JCAT bid farewell to CW4 Mitch Villafania. CW4 Villafania served with the ASDAT since 2015 and has been reassigned as the AMSO, 2d CAB, Korea. As a recent graduate of the AH-64 Aircraft Qualification Course (AQC), CW4 Villafania will take the 2d CAB to the next level with the knowledge he gained during his assignment with JCAT, his skills as an OH-58D aviator, his audacity as Cavalryman, and his experience as an AMSO.
Significant changes have occurred over the last quarter that will expand and solidify the JCAT mission. We bid a “Fair Winds and Following Seas” to all the outgoing members of the team as well as a “Welcome Aboard” to all the JCAT members joining us. And we charge these new members to maintain the tradition and level of expertise required to collect combat damage and improve the survivability of our aircrews and aircraft.