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    Soldier Borne Sensor Soars Over West Point

    Soldier Borne Sensor Soars Over West Point

    Photo By Justin Sweet | Cadet Carlos Vaquero, a third year USMA cadet selected to pilot the Soldier Borne...... read more read more



    Story by Justin Sweet 

    PEO Soldier

    West Point Academy, NY – The Soldier Borne Sensor (SBS) took flight during the United States Military Academy (USMA) at West Point Cadet Leader Development Training (CLDT) over a two-week period in July 2021. Product Manager Soldier Maneuver Sensors (PdM SMS) provided two SBS systems and training to the cadets selected to pilot the unmanned aerial systems, nicknamed Black Hornet, in support of a platoon sized attack and defense during the Department of Military Instruction led event.
    CLDT is a Cadet Summer Training (CST) program offered to second and third year West Point cadets to train, mentor and assess basic leadership skills. The 1,400+ cadets learn effective communication and tactical decision making skills in a series of military training scenarios including attacks, defenses, and ambushes.
    “I’m flying the Black Hornet in support of a platoon sized attack,” said Carlos Vaquero, a second year USMA cadet selected to pilot the SBS. “It’s really fascinating because it's the only time that cadets will get to do this kind of peer on peer training. Both sides are equal in size and have the same capabilities and equipment, including full gun teams, fire support, and technology. My counterpart is piloting the drone in support of the defense”
    The CLDT cadets were divided into platoon sized units reflecting the Army’s small unit structure. They are then sent through the various training scenarios, called lanes, with different cadets taking leadership roles, such as Platoon Leader (PL) and assigned different support elements depending on the training scenario. The PL is then responsible for planning, coordinating, and executing their mission just as they would in the Army.
    “The cadets are learning a lot of lessons and getting a ton of experience because it’s on them to conduct the attack and they can be as creative as they want to be with the assets they have,” said Vaquero. “So far the PLs have had me fly the SBS to conduct route reconnaissance, inspect enemy defenses, and provide surveillance around our position.”
    The SBS is an unmanned aerial system consisting of two drones, one day and one night, carried at the squad level to provide short reconnaissance and surveillance missions at a moment’s notice. The drone’s video is transmitted wirelessly to the display unit to allow Soldiers to see into danger areas and dead space without exposing themselves to the enemy.
    “The SBS is a great tool and can be deployed at all stages of an operation, whether sitting at an OP [observation post] or in a firefight,” said Vaquero. “It facilitates and maintains situational awareness of the battlefield.”
    The cadets utilized the SBS in various ways to conduct their mission and found the asset to be extremely useful.
    “I've been using it mostly for reconnaissance, seeing where enemy movement avenues of approach might be located,” said McKensey Cope, a third year USMA cadet selected to pilot the SBS. “I would definitely use the Black Hornet as an Army leader. Drones are relatively new to the Army and this experience sort of broadens my eyes into what the future battlefield could look like and how useful drones can be in those situations.”
    Although it is common to see PEO Soldier training Soldiers on new equipment at the various Army Specialized Schools throughout the US, this is the first time the Army acquisition unit has participated in CST and provide training at such an amateur level and continue tackling the Army’s modernization effort.
    “This event provided us [PdM SMS] the opportunity to demonstrate the cutting-edge technology Soldiers are currently using in the field to the future leaders of the Army,” said Maj. John Dibble III, PdM SMS assistant product manager and West Point Academy graduate. “The more exposure the cadets get with this type of equipment the more likely they will understand and utilize the capabilities they provide.”
    Too often, newly fielded equipment is stored in the unit’s armory, rarely making its way to the field because it is seen as more of a liability than an asset. Unit leaders often fear the reprimands of losing or breaking expensive equipment over the enhanced capabilities it brings their Soldiers.
    “We want to give cadets hands-on experience with the SBS because it will instill them with a higher level of confidence in the equipment,” said Dibble. “As future leaders, they will determine whether the equipment is actually put to use so it’s imperative they fully understand the capabilities and advantages this kind of technology brings to the battlefield.
    The SBS has already been fielded to the majority of the Army infantry and scout units and is continually under development to increase capabilities and integration with other PEO Soldier technologies. However these capabilities only enhance the Soldiers if they are allowed to use the equipment to train and fight.
    “It can be sort of scary to have something expensive that you could lose or break, so I like that we've been encouraged to remember that this is expendable,” said Cope. “Expensive, but expendable, and that you should want to use it more than you should want to protect it. I think that's really important and will go a long way as far as cultural change in modernizing our Soldiers in the future.”



    Date Taken: 08.12.2021
    Date Posted: 08.12.2021 12:42
    Story ID: 402921
    Location: WEST POINT, NY, US 

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    Downloads: 3