News: UAS teams enhance skills through field training
Story by Spc. Brian Smith-Dutton
FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. – The Tactical Unmanned Aerial Systems operators and maintainers assigned to TUAS platoon, 3rd Special Troops Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team “Rakkasans,” 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), have spent several weeks in the field to advance their capabilities as the UAS asset for the Rakkasans.
“This is our third week out here for our field exercise,” said Spc. John Alexander, a TUAS operator assigned to the TUAS Platoon, “This field exercise was designed to increase our readiness level by incorporating combat mission simulations.”
The TUAS platoon is training vigorously to get their operational readiness to the highest level.
“The goal is to have everyone in the platoon at readiness level,” said Sgt. 1st Class Jason Bochert, platoon sergeant for the Tactical Unmanned Aerial System platoon. “Readiness level one means you know all the tactics, techniques and procedures to flying the aircraft and are proficient at it.”
Alexander explains further.
“We start off at readiness level three, which is the bottom,” said Alexander. “As we progress, we get tested by the Instructor Operator before being considered for a higher readiness level.”
Readiness levels are necessary as the UAS system is heavily relied upon when the unit is deployed.
“The TUAS is a huge asset to the brigade. We are the only UAS platoon supporting the brigade,” said Bochert. “We are able to do route reconnaissance, find bad people, conduct battle damage assessments and much more.”
“It’s very interesting when it all comes together,” said Sgt. William Hubers, a TUAS maintainer assigned to the TUAS Platoon. “We have our operators flying the UAS which is feeding what we see down to the guys on the ground which is a major asset to help with mission success.”
While providing ground forces the tactical advantage of a bird’s eye view of potential dangers in front of them, the UAS has a marked advantage over traditional aviation assets.
UASs are controlled by personnel on the ground.
“Try putting a pilot in the air for eight hours without food, water or the use of a bathroom,” said Hubers. “We can do that and all this equipment needs is some fuel and oil.”
“It’s also about the cost factor and the highest cost we deal with is the cost of human life,” Hubers continues. “If you go unmanned you subtract that issue completely.”
These factors keep the Rakkasan TAUS platoon motivated to train and all agree, field time is the best way to ensure mission readiness and increased capabilities.
“For us to actually train in our job, we have to be in the field,” said Hubers. “We can’t practice this in a classroom or outside the barracks because our training requires us to have the UASs out which then requires us to have an air strip to use them.”
Even though they spend much of their time in the field, soldiers within the platoon say they would not choose any other job if given the opportunity.
“This is my first job within the army and it’s pretty awesome,” said Alexander. “The amount of knowledge I’ve learned is intense and the job itself is extraordinary.”
“It’s a great job,” said Hubers. “There is a lot of potential for the future, this is just the beginning and to be at the beginning and looking forward is a great feeling.”
The TUAS platoon is set to conduct multiple training exercises out in the field in the upcoming months to adequately utilize their time and resources.
“We have more training to come, from platoon training to battalion training,” said Bochert. “We will continue to train as we fight so that we can support our fellow Rakkasans on our next rendezvous with destiny.”
With numerous field training exercises ahead, the Soldiers of the TUAS platoon show excitement and eagerness to train and learn more within their career field to enhance their abilities and strengthen the Rakkasans even further.