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'Warhorse' Soldiers recertify UAV

October 10, 2012

By Story and photos by Staff Sgt. Ruth Pagán

FORT CARSON, Colo. -- Soldiers from the Unmanned Aerial System Platoon, Company A, 2nd Special Troops Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, participated in recertification training on the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle at Fort Carson's Camp Red Devil, Sept. 24 thru Oct. 5.

The civilian Aeronautic Air Instructors ensured that Soldiers were properly trained on all of the updated systems and equipment that have come out while the unit was deployed.

When the UAS platoon returned from deployment a few months ago, they turned in all their equipment to AAI as part of the reset.

"The equipment went through their systems and if there were any new updates, then they add 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 are getting recertification training.

"The civilians come out to make sure anything (different in the) rules and regulations that govern what we do so we understand what has changed 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."

The two-week long training is split: the first week 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.

"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 what they have learned 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 the 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 are receiving their recertification training, but there are added benefits for the platoon.

"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.

"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."

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