KANDAHAR AIR FIELD, Afghanistan -- The 401st Army Field Support Battalion-Afghanistan's Combat Aviation Brigade Logistics Support Team Chief visited the Shadow team and launched an unmanned aerial system here, Oct. 12.
Maj. Katarina Dlugosz, 1st CAB BLST chief, 401st AFSBn-Afghanistan spent the morning with the government-owned and contractor-operated Shadow team to learn more about the aircraft they use and how they maximize its potential.
"As a BLST we are the interface between the unit and the Army Materiel Enterprise," Dlugosz said. "One of the most important aspects of my position is building relationships and letting the warfighter know what we can provide as an arm of AMC and what we can do to support them."
On a remote flight line, Dlugosz had an opportunity to get hands-on experience with the RG7 Bravo aircraft, including pre-flight inspection, flight-path plotting, and visual system setup while working with expert Shadow team technicians and operators.
"It was very nice for the Shadow unit to take the time to show me the UAS capabilities and what support they provide to ground units," Dlugosz said. "I was familiar with Shadows because we had a Shadow platoon in my last unit, but we also had some challenges utilizing them."
Frank Jentink, senior flight crew operator, Textron Systems, walked Dlugosz through every step of the process -- from arriving at the flight line, to getting the aircraft in the sky, to getting it back on the ground safely.
"The battlefield is getting incredibly technical," Jentink said. "The more advanced we get with the technology, the more of a strain things like logistics become.
"So, working with the LARs and other DoD civilians and also the BLSTs on the military side is really pivotal to being successful regardless of what the mission is asking of everyone. Logistics is the key to keeping everything running."
The RG7 Bravo aircraft is used for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance in this air-space. It can capture large-area scans, route scans for route clearance teams and help to develop customized maps much more cost-effectively than satellite imaging.
Recently, the Shadow team was able to spot improvised explosive device placers in the act of rigging the explosives, said Jentink.
"We were able to work with multiple platforms and provide the military with direct eyes-on support and non-stop coverage," Jentink said. "Having these eyes in the sky is definitely important and it's making an impact for the warfighter. It takes little bit of the edge off knowing that the routes that they're on actually are clean of IEDs."
The BLST provides reachback capability to U.S. Army Materiel Command enablers, ensuring the tactical level is sustained and supported.
"I am not the subject matter expert, the logistics assistance representatives are," Dlugosz said. "But just putting a face with a name can be helpful and facilitate a unit reaching out if and when they do require assistance.
"This can be even more important when you have a contractor performing a function that an Army unit usually provides. There might be instances where contractors' requirements are not prioritized, but they are supporting units outside the wire every day just as a Shadow platoon would."
The BLST is tailorable and scalable based on mission requirements at home stations and forward locations. BLST responsibilities include but are not limited to; providing LAR support; assisting in coordination of acquisition, logistics and technology assistance; providing technical support reachback capability; and assisting with the Automated Reset Management Tool.