TRZEBIEN, Poland -- Unmanned Aerial Vehicle aviators with Delta Company, 1st Engineer Battalion, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division flew training missions with the RQ-7 Shadow at Camp Trzebien, Poland April 5, 2019.

The Soldiers from Delta company have been training all week, launching and flying the RQ-7s, otherwise known as Shadows, to certify on the aviation systems.

Spc. Christopher McCoy, an Unmanned Aircraft Systems Repairer with the 1st Eng. Bat. was one of the soldiers being evaluated that day.

"I've been doing training all week, doing launch after launch, trying to find my deficiencies and correct them," said Spc. McCoy. "Today is my evaluation. Today will determine if I become a crew chief or not."

As an essential part of his career progression in the field of UAVs, becoming crew chief would mean that he will be in command of the flight mission when a UAV asset is requested.

"A crew chief is in charge and he has a crew of two people," said McCoy. "When he receives a UAV request, his crew is responsible for getting the bird up in the air by the time it is needed."

As part of his evaluation, Spc. McCoy needs to know the process of launching an aircraft from start to finish. This includes multiple maintenance and preflight checks, and leading his crew while they prepare radios, set up the launcher, and push the aircraft out, explained Spc. McCoy.

The ability to rapidly launch and operate the Shadow improves the effectiveness and survivability of units in the battlefield.

"It definitely saves lives," said McCoy. "It lets our troops on the ground get eyes where they can't see. It also helps with communications over radios."

Spc. McCoy and his crew are prepared to operate the Shadow aircraft, providing U.S. and allied forces with surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities that enable them to succeed at multinational exercises, and keep them ready to respond to any crisis.

The Devil Brigade is part of more than 6,000 U.S. regionally-allocated Soldiers in Germany, Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Romania, on a nine-month rotation, in support of Atlantic Resolve.