By Sgt. Vincent ByrdSeptember 7, 2012
DONA ANA, N.M. - Soldiers with 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, conducted Unmanned Aircraft System crew member evaluation training at a training area near Fort Bliss, Texas, Aug. 28. In order to stay qualified as an operator of the RQ-11 Raven unmanned aircraft, the crew members must log more than 150 hours of flight time per month.
Currently 2nd Brigade has 32 qualified Raven operators, all of whom must recertify every 150 days with simulation training in order to stay current in their military occupational specialty. "This is what right looks like," said Staff Sgt. Brian Phillips, a forward observer in 1st Battalion, 35th Armor Regiment, 2nd HBCT, and 1st AD, speaking about the professionalism of the training. "This training ensures that all of the pilots are current with their flight certification," he said.
The amount of training they receive throughout the year, as well as the training conducted during the semi-annual Network Integration Evaluations, sharpens their flight skills considerably, said Phillips.
During NIE, the Raven is used for surveillance, reconnaissance, and counterintelligence missions, replicating very closely its uses during combat and real-life scenarios.
"It's a great tool for the whole Army," said Spc. Patrick Christopher, a cannon crew member in B Battery, 4th Battalion, and 27th Field Artillery Regiment. "Its capabilities are tremendous; it's a recon tool, counterintelligence tool and it helps during calls for fire," said Christopher.
The UAV can be used as another set of eyes during security operations as well as for scouting terrain, Christopher said.
The versatility of this lightweight tool, combined with an extensive amount of high-quality training results in an invaluable team of 2nd Brigade, 1st Armored Division, soldiers who enhance situational awareness on the battlefield by bringing comprehensive communication capabilities and visual data that is impossible to attain by individual troops on the ground.