FORT STEWART, Ga. - Soldiers from 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, Third Infantry Division, take to the skies as combat Soldiers throughout the "Spartan" Brigade learn to enhance their war fighting capabilities during the brigade's unmanned aerial vehicle training.

The training, which was held at Fort Stewart, certified various combat Soldiers on piloting and navigating the Raven surveillance UAV.

"Having Soldiers in a unit with the capability to pilot the Raven UAV is a force multiplier to any unit," said Staff Sgt. Ryn Haws, 229th Infantry, a Raven UAV piloting instructor.

"The Soldiers must complete a total of 80 hours of training to become certified Raven pilots, this includes 20 hours of classroom instruction and 60 hours of flight time," said Staff Sgt. Haws.

During the 60 hours of flight training, students must complete six key phases, covering everything from basic take-offs to landings; to more advanced skills such as lot level flying and silent or glided surveillance, said the Staff Sgt. "Some of the advanced skills Soldiers learn include covert surveillance operations. This requires the pilots to manually glide the Raven over the target area without the use of the Ravens motor. Once successfully passing the area the pilot must reengage the motor before the Raven reaches to low of an altitude. This is the key skill of the Raven pilot, since most of the guys using it will be combat Soldiers in the field, they will be able to provide up to date surveillance to their own team without needing outside air assets," said Staff Sgt. Haws.

Giving the troops on the ground air surveillance capability is key to mission success, said Sgt. Robert Maccoy, Co. A, 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry, 2nd HBCT.

"This is really great training," said Sgt. Maccoy, "…any platoon that has the ability to see the objective and survey the scene without relying on outside air assets allows for quick execution from the troops on the ground."

Normally troops would have to call in for air support for up-to-date surveillance of an area. However, with Soldiers within their own unit having the ability to provide the same asset; it becomes a key tool to not only keep Soldiers safe but to allow them to move onto targets quicker, said Sgt. Maccoy.

"It's all about what Soldiers can bring to the fight, and having this kind of tool is essential," said Sgt. Maccoy.