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Schoolhouse opens to qualify unmanned system operators

US Marine Corps News

By Cpl. Mark Garcia | I Marine Expeditionary Force | June 20, 2013

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. -- Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems have become a vital aspect in the ever changing battlefield. A newly opened schoolhouse aboard Camp Pendleton will qualify Marines as system operators.

A team from the Navy and Marine Corps Small Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System Program Office officially opened Training and Logistics Support Activity-West, only the second schoolhouse of its kind in the country, June 18.

The TALSA provides Marines with a central location where they can receive Group I Small Unmanned Aircraft System training on new equipment and sustainment training.

The courses will last five to 10 days and upon graduation, students will be certified as SUAS operators, fully prepared to provide their unit with intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) using a RQ-11B Raven, RQ-12A Wasp and RQ-20 Puma.

The unmanned systems are lightweight aircraft that are hand launched and can be controlled from the ground or follow preset coordinates.

“The TALSAs were created to provide the training required to operate a SUAS, as well as support units in maintaining operator currency, advise them on SUAS integration and provide subject matter expert support,” said Maj. Gary Shill, deputy leader of Group 1 UAS integrated product team. “The opening of the TALSA-West signifies the importance the Marine Corps has placed on SUASs and specifically the ISR capabilities that Group 1 assets provide to the Marine Air Ground Task Force. The TALSA plays a large role in providing the Marine Corps that capability with a standardized program of instruction that meets Marine Corps requirements.”

TALSA-East was the first schoolhouse opened in August of 2012 aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., and has trained more than 350 sailors and Marines. With the ability to train 12 students at a time, TALSA-West will work to certify more qualified SUAS operators.

“This is a major ISR asset for whoever is using it,” said Dean McCoy, a UAS commodity management specialist. “SUAS is huge. It’s the way we’re going to be doing business on the battlefield from here on out.”

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