JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. – Fourteen Soldiers assigned to the 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd ID, conducted certification training using the RQ-11 Raven Unmanned Aerial Vehicle on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington on Jan. 29, 2015.
The Raven Certification Course, which lasted two weeks, allowed the “Lancer” Brigade's new operators to learn the capabilities of the Raven such as target acquisition, security capabilities and methods of reconnaissance.
Spc. Thomas Geno, infantryman, Company C, 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, prepares to throw an RQ-11 Raven Unmanned Aerial Vehicle on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., Jan. 29, 2015. Geno, a native of St. Louis, was one of 14 “Lancer” Soldiers to qualify during the two-week Raven Certification Course. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Andrew Porch, 28th Public Affairs Detachment)
“I have never flown one before,” said Spc. Keenen Owens, infantryman, Company C, 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment, 2-2 SBCT. “This is my first time and after this week of flying, it is going really good. It's good information for us and good ways to use the Raven as reconnaissance.”
The Raven plays a key role in the safety of Soldiers on the frontline.
“It's important to have Raven operators out on the battlefield so we can be used as a force multiplier,” said Staff Sgt. Perrin Snipes, master raven trainer and a member of Company B, 2-1 Inf. “It really takes our guys off the ground and makes it safer in a lot of scenarios.”
For the Soldiers conducting the training, the ability to be the eye in the sky means a lot to them.
“If we go on a mission, we can throw the Raven up in the air and get a better understanding of what we are going up against,” said Spc. Thomas Geno, infantryman, Company C, 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment, 2-2 SBCT.
The Raven is not just meant to be used at the brigade level either.
“What really makes it special in my eyes is that it's used down at the company level, said Snipes, a native of Alpine, Texas. “It can be used at the platoon level, company or battalion.”
Snipes went on to say what way he thinks the Raven is most useful while conducting combat operations.
“One of the biggest things, in my opinion, is being able to fly from inside a truck,” said Snipes. “Especially with the last wars we have been fighting and the IED threats that we had.”
For the Soldiers who have never used it in combat operations, they know the time might come one day.
“This could save a lot of lives,” said Owens, a native of Sacramento, California. “Both for people on the ground and the people that we are trying to save. It will keep us knowledgeable as far as what we are coming up against and who's coming at us.”
Flying a Raven is something a lot of Soldiers will never get to do during their time in the Army.
“This is a great break from the normal duty day,” said Geno, a native of St. Louis, Missouri. “Normally we would be doing weapon maintenance, going to the range, going out and qualifying and shooting, and learning our Warrior Task and Battle Drills. You get to see what else the Army has to offer.”
Geno went on to talk about the bigger picture of the training.
“Being out here and seeing new things, I get a better knowledge of what training the Army can provide and a better understanding of what I can be for the Army as a Soldier,” said Geno.
Soldiers appreciated the chance to attend the training and will return to their units with knowledge very few other Soldiers will hold.
“I'm thankful for my unit sending me here,” said Geno. “I feel like I was one of the most motivated Soldiers in my company and my platoon. I feel I will be able to go back and use what I learned here to help my fellow Soldiers.”
By U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Andrew Porch
Provided through DVIDS
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