Dude, where’s my advocacy?

Patrick Egan

For most of 2010 the grass roots went fallow. However, the grass is looking a littlegreener coming out of spring and into conference season 2011. We’re hearing averitable plethora of good news… more and more about changes that are coming toregulation the NPRM, new efforts being started, added to, shaped, and carved on. Iwish I could sum up a concerted effort and another optimistic spring, but there arefar too many interests at play. Let’s say that this is more of an opinion piece or “howI see it,” than news and should serve as a warning that there will shortly be more ofmy subtle remonstrations to endure.

What happened in 2010, and where’s all the good news?

Well, last year I was busy doing my part for what I like to call the “Shooting”Overseas Contingency Operation. However, I have recently resigned my position insupport of OEF-A. The question has been asked, why had I gone silent on advocacy?I wasn’t really silent, just had more to due with the simple time economics of rapidlyfielding ISR systems into Afghanistan. I initially tried to keep on the advocacytrail, but it became apparent early on that there was no support for advocacywhile standing up a program, so I was only rapid fielding. It wasn’t solely theeffort that induced my rotating out, as family was the larger consideration. By theway, we all have even more respect, appreciation and admiration for the familieswho’ve had to (and will), endure multiple deployments. I also found it increasinglydifficult to tolerate the privations associated with being stationed in Yumastan(term of endearment that I have coined for Yuma, AZ).

There are several colorful comparisons that have been made between Yuma and some of the more exotic spotsin South Asia and the Middle East. However, I will not air them here, as they arebetter left to be considered and contemplated over a cold adult beverage. On theupside, it was an excellent opportunity to work with some real professionals and Iam proud to have been a part of something that has and will continue to, save thelives of Americans and our coalition allies. As time permits, I hope to share a few ofmy insights on the attributes of the Persistent Ground Surveillance System (PGSS),giving wide berth to the notion of OPSEC as we don’t want to give the bad guys anyleverage against those behind the Hesco’s.

The bright side of this chapter ending is that it frees up time to relight the torchof advocacy allowing for the continuing pursuit of solutions to head us outof the regulatory doldrums. The goal remains to be eliminating barriers andfinding opportunities for the use of UAS by small business, academia and localmunicipalities. Some have recommended a fresh organization that can take anew look at what is viewed as a contemporary situation. I am reminded that theRCAPA has been pigeon holed as the real estate photography guys, and to that I say,whatever! I will still operate under the banner of the RCAPA as the history of theassociations work defines a different reality. Bringing new blood and orgs into themix isn’t a bad thing but we have to be careful that the hubris not induce a series ofself-inflicted injuries or pyrrhic victories we will suffer for years to come.

In the upcoming weeks/months those that frequent the sUAS news will get the chance to read the documentation and correspondence that illustrates theRCAPA’s raison d’etre, supporting the little guy. Thus sUAS news will act as theonline repository for the RCAPA generated documentation as it pertains to theintegration effort mostly hitherto unseen. If past interaction is any indication thedocumentation may pique or cause discomfort to some, but also inspire others toask why, or even get involved in blunting the double standard.

We will start with a series of documents that bring into question current FAA UASpolicy and brings the procedures (or lack there of) for the policy clarification ofFebruary 2007. Not to be missed as it brings several issues to light and asks for accountability.

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