Soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, 13th Aviation Regiment — the Army’s unmanned aircraft training center — and Company A, 305th Military Intelligence Battalion, demonstrated a collaborative effort Nov. 4 – 8 in a first-ever joint culminating training exercise, or CTX. The initiative incorporated both units’ missions to develop cooperative training combining the 305th’s imagery analysts and the 2-13th’s unmanned aircraft systems, or UAS, operators in a simulated tactical environment.
At site Dagger on Nov. 4, 2-13th Soldiers set up their ground control station, used as a medium to communicate with the UAS, and its landing equipment. Nov. 6 – 7 were used as flight days. Joining the 2-13th Soldiers in their battalion-wide exercise on Nov. 6, Company A, 305th MI Bn. Soldiers participated by setting up their own equipment, which included satellites and cables which fed into the ground control station and the tactical ground station, a mobile vehicle capable of processing and distributing real time intelligence and surveillance information to intelligence analysts and commanders.
This is the first CTX scenario to involve the familiarization between the (35G) imagery analysts and UAS operators. According to Capt. Janmichael Guillermo, Company D, 2-13th Avn. Regt., the CTX involving Company A, 305th MI Bn. was in a “crawl phase,” meaning the exercise was more about explanation and demonstration. In this phase, Soldiers follow step-by-step instructions on what to do next. This phase differs from a “walk” phase where Soldiers will execute a task at a slow or practice pace, or a “run” phase where a task is performed at full speed as if real combat is taking place.
Sgt. 1st Class Anthony Beck agreed, the CTX was a crawl phase as well for the Company A, 305th geospatial intelligence imagery analysts, or 35Gs.
“For the [35G] community, this is a training event to get the Soldiers familiar with setting up the tactical ground station,” Beck said. “We spend more time than in the past as the initial steps to see how things look out here.”
Guillermo also explained that holding a joint CTX promotes familiarization between the UAS operator and the imagery analyst. While CTX participants were at the end of their training cycles, once deployed, these Soldiers would work side-by-side in combat.
“The joint CTX makes it a great event because they can see what their counterpart is doing before they get into theater,” said Staff Sgt. Miguel Ortiz, Company D, 2-13th Avn. Regt.
Chief Warrant Officer 4 Jeffery Jaggars, 305th MI Bn., 111th MI Brigade geospatial intelligence committee chief, described the CTX as “a perfect merger of integrated training.
“They’re going to work and deploy together so it’s a great opportunity to match them up here at the schoolhouse,” he added.
Another benefit of the CTX is the type of tactical ground station system used. Jaggars mentioned it was fielded here last February.
“A lot of the system is actually not out at every brigade in the Army now,” he said. “So our students may show up at their first duty station and actually train permanent party Soldiers on how to set up and establish communications and employ the system, so that’s [another] advantage for us to do this type of cross-level training here.”
While this CTX may be the first between the units, Chief Warrant Officer 4 Debra Harlow, Company D, 2-13th Avn. Regt. executive officer, is confident joint training exercises like this will continue in the future. She explained future joint exercises would advance to a “walk” or “run” phase.
“I believe our long-term goals together working with 305th [MI Bn.] will be to integrate an S2 (intelligence Soldier) and their analyst so we can get a little familiarization,” Harlow said. “Right now we’re in the ‘crawl phase’ of learning how to implement and be familiar with each other but hopefully next year, later in [Fiscal Year 2014], we can get some more assets into our CTX plan with the 305th [MI Bn.] and make it a more broad-spectrum training and familiarization … .”