By Capt. Peter Smedberg (10th Mountain)July 31, 2014
FORT DRUM, NY -- The 10th Combat Aviation Brigade uncased its D Company, 10th Aviation Regiment guidon, marking the official activation of its MQ-1C Gray Eagle unmanned aerial system company during a ceremony July 23 on Wheeler-Sack Army Airfield.
D Company, 10th Aviation Regiment, 10th CAB, is one of only 15 MQ-1C Gray Eagle companies in the Army. The unit is charged with providing reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition support (RSTA) to ground forces.
The long-range, long-dwell Gray Eagle, a technologically advanced derivative of the MQ-1 Predator, is one of only two unmanned aerial systems in the Army's arsenal that is controlled by enlisted operators from a ground control station.
The Gray Eagle's presence on the battlefield is a force multiplier that has kept many service members out of harm's way.
"The human eye can only see really what's in front of it," said Staff Sgt. Matthew Allen, D Company standardization pilot. "With a capability like this, you have an opportunity to see a larger area so you can actually get a pinpoint idea of what is going on better than personnel on the ground."
The unit's activation comes during a period of Army downsizing and budget cuts, which speaks volumes for the insatiable demand for RSTA assets on the battlefield and the quality of support the MQ-1C Gray Eagle provides ground force commanders.
"I have great faith that in the days and months ahead, the Soldiers standing in this formation will follow the traditions of this great division and 10th CAB," said Col. Michael C. McCurry, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade commander.
"It makes you feel very relevant, very needed, participating in something that's very useful," said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Ryan J. Owen, the new company's executive officer.
Although the addition of an organic Gray Eagle company is new to the Falcon Brigade, Soldiers of 10th CAB are no strangers to the MQ-1C Gray Eagle after assuming command and control of the 1st Infantry Division and 1st Cavalry Division's Gray Eagle company during the brigade's most recent deployment to eastern Afghanistan.
Soldiers of D Company, 10th Aviation, 10th CAB, will begin operating the MQ-1C Gray Eagle over the Fort Drum ranges and training areas within the next two weeks. They are expected to move into a new $27 million hangar facility in 2017.