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Air Force receives training on small, unmanned aerial systems at Fort Bliss

  • Published
  • By Jonathan LeBlanc
  • Fort Bliss Bugle
Over the course of 50 days, eight students from Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico, have learned how to operate the RQ-11B Raven DDL for future use downrange. 

John “JC” Chambers, program manager, small, unmanned aerial systems, 1st Special Operations Security Forces Squadron, Air Force Special Operations Command, Hurlburt Field, Florida, was very excited to see his program become formal training. 

“This is the first mission qualification training for the Air Force Security Forces,” Chambers said. “Up until now the mission qualification training has been up to each individual, with no formal qualification training program in the Air Force.” 

After the eight students complete the mission qualification training, leaders will fully integrate the program as a formal small, unmanned aerial systems training program for the Air Force Desert Defender Ground Combat Readiness Training Center here. 

The training encompasses simulated, real-time tactical training for use of the RQ-11B Raven DDL platform. This platform will allow them to conduct missions remotely and potentially save lives. 

Tech Sgt. Andrew Cox, noncommissioned officer, small, unmanned aerial systems, Desert Defender training center, said he is happy about the progression of the students. 

“It’s great to see them progress from barely being able to throw a plane in the air to executing a mission without hesita- tion,” Cox said. “It’s great that we can bring them up to par with what their abilities should be. That way they are able perform at a higher level.” 

One of the students, Airman 1st Class Jedidiah Burlando, a security forces journeyman, said he learned a lot during the training. 

“It’s been a huge learning experience. We have people in- structing us with years of knowledge and experience,” Burlando said. “Just learning about the capabilities of the Raven, and how to deploy them – this is stuff we had no idea we could do. It’s just amazing.” 

That’s not all Burlando learned. 

“I’m the lowest ranking out of the eight, and learning how to effectively communicate with leadership regarding the Raven’s capabilities, and what we can offer them to help the mission, has been a great experience,” Burlando said. 

This program would not have been able to take flight with- out a combined effort from military and civilian personnel. Leaders brought Scott Stevens, senior UAS evaluator, Desert Defender training center, and Dennis Rodriguez, SUAS evaluator, Desert Defender training center, onto the team as subject matter experts in their respective fields. 

“This is exciting because essentially we are saving lives,” Stevens said.