by Master Sgt. Matt Hecht
New Jersey National Guard
January 18, 2018
Eleven New Jersey National Guard Soldiers were students in a ten-day Unmanned Aerial System Operator’s Course led by master instructors from the 254th Regional Training Institute during October 2018. The Soldiers became familiarized with the RQ-11B Raven, a hand-launched remote controlled aircraft.
The Raven, like all of the tools in the U.S. Army arsenal, is designed to be a force multiplier on the battlefield.
“For the infantry guy, the Raven takes the Private out of the picture,” said Sgt. 1st Class Travis Lovell, the Raven course manager. “Pretty much, it’s saving lives, because you can put a Raven out instead of walking ahead. I can tell if an ambush is coming up or if there’s an improvised explosive device.”
Soldiers participating in the course had several days in the classroom learning fundamentals, followed by simulator time, practice launches, and cap stoning with a ruck march onto the ranges for tactical Raven application.
Staff Sgt. Cyrus Manahan, a Soldier with the 328th Military Police Company, believes that Ravens and systems like it are going to be more common throughout the Army.
“The military is going with these UAV’s and unmanned aircraft, so it’s important for Soldiers to be familiar with these systems,” said Manahan. “This is where the battlefield is going.”
Most of the Soldiers in the class were military police, and stated that the Raven would be very well suited to provide convoy security, patrol over watch, and base defense operations.
“As MP’s, it’s really important for us to use recognizance tools so we lose less Soldiers,” said Spc. Ashley Johnson. “The different payloads, like infrared, give us some amazing capabilities to see at night.”
2nd Lt. Fatima Agilar, a platoon leader with the 328th Military Police Company, wanted to learn about the Raven to assist her troops.
“Being a platoon leader, I’m going to have to know how to conduct reconnaissance with my guys,” said Agilar. “I want to bring what I learn here back to my unit, so they at least understand the equipment.”
The students praised the Regional Training Institute instructors for their passion and expertise with the Raven.
“It’s very rewarding passing on our knowledge to the new troops,” said Lovell. “Giving back, sharing our experiences, what we’ve been through. That’s what it’s all about.”