Dave Gasho, Unmanned Aircraft Systems Customs and Border Patrol director of air operations at Libby Army Airfield, explains the capabilities and mission of CBPAca,!a,,cs UAS to Fort HuachucaAca,!a,,cs Warriors in Transition, May 14.

FORT HUACHUCA, Ariz. -- Five Soldiers in the Warrior Transition Unit, Fort Huachuca, were guests of the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Office of Air and Marine, Friday. They an up-close view of aircraft used to detect drug and human smuggling.

For the first time here, CBP A&M partnered with the non-profit Armed Forces Foundation to provide a day for the Warriors in Transition to experience first-hand their manned and unmanned aircraft systems at Libby Army Airfield on Fort Huachuca and at the Air Park in Tucson. While the AFF has worked with WTUs on other installations, this was the first time the organization coordinated an event on Fort Huachuca.

The Armed Forces Foundation is a national, non-profit organization dedicated to providing solace to members of the armed forces community during the times of greatest need to include providing living expenses, paying emergency airfare and hotel bills, making funeral arrangements and more according to www.armedforcesfoundation.org/.

As part of their mission, the Armed Forces FoundationAca,!a,,cs Career Counseling Program also provides information to the Warriors on how to transition from the military to a civilian career with agencies such as CBP. This field trip is one of many programs WTU Soldiers here attend as part of their recovery process and possible transition to civilian life.

WTU Soldiers here participate in one or two field trips per month. Each trip has a different purpose. This one focused on different potential careers with CBP.

Tom Faller, National Air and Marine director of CBP, who flew in from Washington D.C. specifically to meet with the Warriors, stated ,Aca,!A"Air and MarineAca,!a,,cs mission is to continue to protect the freedoms these veterans fought for. CBP A&M is the largest aviation and maritime law enforcement organization in the world, and they play an important part in homeland security efforts.Aca,!A?

Several other key officials involved in the program flew into Fort Huachuca to meet with WTU Soldiers here.

Faller personally shook the hand of each of the warriors, and presented them with a CBP A&M coin. He noted CBP A&M hires a number of veterans under special titles and authorities authorized by law, such as the VeteransAca,!a,,c Preference Program.

Though FridayAca,!a,,cs program focused, in part, on unmanned aircraft systems careers, Faller said people did not necessarily have to be familiar with UASs in order to become part of the program.

Aca,!A"We train the majority of our pilots. Only 15 percent come with UAS experience,Aca,!A? Faller said.
Any commercial pilot, either military or civilian trained, can apply for a UAS position with CBP through their Web site, www.cbp.gov. Many other positions are also available.
Established in 2005, the local CBP A&M currently has six UASs in their inventory and are in the process of obtaining a seventh.

At a cost of nearly $10 million, depending upon the system, the UAS is used daily along the U.S. border to counter terrorism and drug trafficking. CBP A&M are periodically called upon to assist in national emergencies to map damage and assist local officials, as was the case in the Red River Valley flooding and Hurricane Katrina.

Sgt. Raul Rodriguez-Penado, one of the Soldiers from the Warrior Transition Unit who participated in FridayAca,!a,,cs program, was pleased to see the UASs rather than hear about them in a briefing.

Aca,!A"This [the visit] was beneficial. We got to look at what theyAca,!a,,cre talking about [the aircraft],Aca,!A? he said.

As a recent arrival to the WTU, this was PenadoAca,!a,,cs first such event, and he appreciated the opportunity to learn about the types of jobs available as he had already had an interest in joining CBP.

Penado said they not only learned about UAS jobs but also about many different career options available whether they be in office work or a CBP crew.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16