By Maj. Carson Petry (1st CAV)December 17, 2018
FORT HOOD, Tx.- During combat operations, the capability to analyze terrain, locate the array of forces on the battlefield in an unobtrusive manner, and provide real-time data utilizing a small unmanned aerial system, (SUAS) gives a tactical advantage to the commander.
Seventeen Soldier from the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, "Black Jack," 1st Cavalry Division occupied Elm Creek Assault Course to complete a two-week Raven Basic Operator's Course Dec. 12.
"Today, we're conducting the small unmanned aerial system (SUAS) basic operator's course," said Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Hranek,19D, platoon sergeant, 1-9 Cav. "This course will certify an operator to operate the unit's SUAS, the RQ-11 Raven."
The two-week course is a combination of classroom instruction and hand's on training in launching, maneuvering, and landing the SUAS.
"The Raven is used to conduct reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition, said Hranek. "This allows the commander to observe targets and conduct reconnaissance on objectives without putting our Soldiers on the ground. This provides a standoff distance for that commander's personnel."
Hranek said the course is not designed with high attrition in mind, but rather to help the commander's enablers understand what they need to do as an operator.
"We as the master trainers are here to help them," said Hranek. "At the end of the day, we're not going to send an operator back to the unit that does not know how to operate the system."
Hranek said the unit's MTOE determines the number of operators and how they are utilized but each SUAS gives the tactical commander eyes in the sky to locate, observe, and synchronize elements of combat power in order to destroy targets of opportunity, provide battle damage assessment, or utilize the system according to the commander's intent.
The basic course gives Soldiers the opportunity to become proficient with the system through small classroom and interactive instruction resulting in the operator's confidence and Raven's capabilities.
"It makes me a better asset for my platoon," said Pvt. Thrush Beazer, 19D, scout, 1-9 Cav. "Since I'm a dismount, it makes it easier for my commander to get our reconnaissance asset out there."
Beazer said the portability and high mobility of the system allows operation in congested areas, making it an asset to the commander on the ground.
Trainers from FORSCOM's Global Threat Mitigation Program (GTMP) were available to increase the student to instructor ratio thereby increasing the number of students allowed in the program to earn certification.
Joe O'dell from the GTMP specializes in counter UAS and small UAS and was asked to assist with the training before the brigade's training at the National Training Center (NTC). His mission is to get operators qualified and produce enough relevant Raven operators for effectiveness at NTC.
Beazer said the instructors taught very well, introducing the course material in depth while not making it too complicated.
"There is a lot of information to memorize, but once you get hands-on with the equipment, everything comes together, and it makes it a lot easier, said Pvt. Ethan Hartlief, 19D, scout, 1-9 Cav. "The most challenging thing for me was mapping out the coordinates before the launch."
Hartlief is excited to use the capability to map out land area from the sky and assist with a call for fire during the upcoming NTC rotation and gunnery and plans to continue his military education by graduating from Fort Benning's SUAS Master Trainer course.
Black Jack's Raven operators make a formidable SUAS team and will employ the system's capabilities during the brigade's National Training Center rotation early next year.