Story by Staff Sgt. Ruth Pagan
FORT CARSON, Colo. – Soldiers from the Unmanned Aerial System Platoon, Company A, 2nd Special Troops Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, recertified on Unmanned Aerial Vehicles at Fort Carson’s Camp Red Devil, Sept. 24 through Oct. 5.
‘Drones’ are an effective tool in today’s Army arsenal and Civilian Aeronautic Air Instructors, who led the recertification, ensured the Soldiers were properly trained on all of the updated systems and equipment that came out while the unit was deployed.
When the UAS platoon returned from deployment a few months ago, they turned in all their equipment for service and updates to AAI as part of the reset.
“The equipment went through their systems and if there were any new updates, then they added them to the UAV and they re-serviced all the aircraft, ground shelters and antennas,” said Staff Sgt. Benjamin Harvey, unmanned aerial vehicle operator, Company A, 2nd STB, 2nd BCT. “Anything that’s broken, they fix it and get it back to us.”
Now that all of their equipment is up-to-date, the soldiers had to recertify.
The civilian instructors informed the soldiers of any changes to the rules and regulations that govern UAVs and how to comply with them, said Harvey.
“The software updates are the most changing aspect of the UAV so they make sure we understand it,” he added.
The first week of training is classroom instruction and the second week is field training on launching, recovering and flying the UAVs.
There are no tests required to certify, but soldiers must prove their proficiency by meeting certain steps and performing certain actions.
“Soldiers must successfully show competence in the different aspects of the flight: launch, recover and flight,” Harvey said.
For new soldiers, this is an opportunity to get hands-on-training and implement it in actual flight time.
“To actually be here with my unit working, launching ‘birds’ and doing my job, it means a lot,” said Pfc. Ryan Golden, unmanned aircraft systems repairer, Company A, 2nd STB.
Not only are civilians instructing, but recently redeployed Soldiers are helping new soldiers with lessons learned downrange.
“The training I’m getting from the experienced people who came from downrange is so useful,” Golden said. “I’m learning so much; there is a lot to take in.”
This training is not only beneficial to new soldiers, but veterans as well.
“This is kind of like riding a bike, you don’t forget it, but you do get very rusty,” Harvey said. “So being able to come out and get hands on the equipment is good.”
“In our job, you have to stay current because things are always changing and this is one of the ways we stay current,” said Spc. Nolan Barr, unmanned aerial vehicle operator, Company A.
Not only are soldiers receiving their recertification training, but the platoon benefits as well.
“Since we’ve redeployed, there has been a lot of changes to our platoon with people leaving and others coming in, so this has been a good opportunity to see how everyone works together,” Harvey said. “It’s nice to see that a lot of our new people are very knowledgeable and everyone seems to be adjusting real well to the new teams.”
This has been the first opportunity the platoon has been able to work together on the equipment since redeploying.
“We came together fairly quickly,” Golden said. “We had a few months before our equipment came back to get to know each other and get trained up, so once the equipment got here, we hit the ground running.”