3/4 ABCT conducts first Shadow flights in Europe

RQ-7B Shadow unmanned aerial system operators from Company D, 588th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, prepare to launch the brigade's first UAS flight in Europe at Grafenwoehr Training Area, Germany, March 3, 2017. D Co.'s UAS platoon is integrating its capabilities with fire-support elements from the brigade's 1st Battalion, 66th Armor Regiment, to gear up for major multinational exercises planned for this spring as part of Atlantic Resolve. 1 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – RQ-7B Shadow unmanned aerial system operators from Company D, 588th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, prepare to launch the brigade’s first UAS flight in Europe at Grafenwoehr Training Area, Germany, March 3, 2017. D Co.’s UAS platoon is integrating its capabilities with fire-support elements from the brigade’s 1st Battalion, 66th Armor Regiment, to gear up for major multinational exercises planned for this spring as part of Atlantic Resolve. (Photo Credit: 3rd ABCT, 4th Inf. Div.) VIEW ORIGINAL RQ-7B Shadow unmanned aerial system operators from Company D, 588th Brigade Engineer Battalion, and fire support and targeting soldiers from 1st Battalion, 66th Armor Regiment, both units of 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, standing with the brigade's first Shadow launched in Europe at Grafenwoehr Training Area, Germany, March 3, 2017. D Co.'s UAS platoon is integrating its capabilities with 1st Bn. to gear up for major multinational exercises planned for this spring as part of Atlantic Resolve. 2 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – RQ-7B Shadow unmanned aerial system operators from Company D, 588th Brigade Engineer Battalion, and fire support and targeting soldiers from 1st Battalion, 66th Armor Regiment, both units of 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, standing with the brigade’s first Shadow launched in Europe at Grafenwoehr Training Area, Germany, March 3, 2017. D Co.’s UAS platoon is integrating its capabilities with 1st Bn. to gear up for major multinational exercises planned for this spring as part of Atlantic Resolve. (Photo Credit: 3rd ABCT, 4th Inf. Div.) VIEW ORIGINAL

ZAGAN, Poland — For the first time since arriving to Europe in January, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division’s unmanned aerial system platoon launched its Shadows Friday at Grafenwoehr Training Area, Germany.

The flights by Company D, 588th Brigade Engineer Battalion, of the RQ-7B Shadow were part of cross-training being conducted with the brigade’s 1st Battalion, 66th Armor Regiment (“Iron Knights”).

“Our purpose out here is to support the brigade’s reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition (RSTA) objectives,” said 1st Lt. Andrew Rotolo, the UAS platoon leader. “We’re training to maintain flight currencies and combat readiness of our Soldiers, as we prepare for Atlantic Resolve multinational exercises Combined Resolve VIII, Saber Guardian 17, and Combined Resolve IX.”

The UAS platoon is using the next two months to integrate with 1st Bn., 66th Armor Regt., conducting targeting training with the Iron Knights’ fires cell and supporting live-fire exercises.

“This training will hopefully improve the versatility of the Shadow as it is used within the unit,” Rotolo said.

To achieve this, the UAS platoon is developing a training plan to allow the platoon to participate in the brigade’s major exercises planned for this spring.

“Those exercises will all have significant components of multinational interoperability to them that we’re preparing for,” Rotolo said.

Spc. Michael Himes, a UAS operator with Co. D, called the first day of flights on a new continent a great success. While the Shadow operators normally deal with windy conditions at their home station at Fort Carson, Colorado, Himes said weather conditions in Germany pose greater challenges due to winds and low visibility.

But that didn’t detract the UAS platoon on Friday.

“We were able to launch and land two aircrafts without any problems. The Grafenweohr Training Area poses its own set of challenges due to weather and involvement from other units, but we’ll continue as a platoon to be opportunistic as we take advantage of times we are able to fly,” Himes said.

Even with a different climate, the training is very similar to how the Soldiers train back home. But working as part of Atlantic Resolve allows for more opportunities to integrate UAS assets with the 3/4 ABCT’s combined-arms battalions as well as NATO forces, said Rotolo.

“Our proximity to 1-66 AR at Grafenwoehr, for example, allows us to more effectively cross-train with maneuvers in order to demonstrate the platform’s versatility within the brigade combat team. This will ultimately enhance our use as a combat multiplier and our effectiveness as a brigade-level asset, especially during multinational events,” he added.

The rest of Co. D, the brigade’s military intelligence company (MICO), has been headquartered in Zagan, Poland. But the UAS platoon was tasked with standing up flight operations in Germany, where much of the brigade will consolidate next month to prepare for Combined Resolve VIII.

“Our platoon’s ability to do this will pave the way for future operations to rapidly deploy across Europe and meet the intent of assurance and deterrence,” said Rotolo.

“The UAS capabilities could be gainfully employed in future operations through integrated training with our allied forces. This would enable our partners in Europe to gain confidence in our systems and learn how to seamlessly incorporate them in the fight should a global conflict occur,” he said.

Source: US Army (USAREUR)

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