Spartans log more than unmanned aircraft system 5,000 flight hours during deployment

KANDAHAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan — Sol­diers with the 3rd Brigade Com­bat Team (Task Force Spar­tan), 10th Moun­tain Divi­sion, have been tak­ing the lead in oper­a­tions, both on the ground and in the air, in south­ern Afghanistan for more than 11 months.

Sol­diers in the Unmanned Aer­i­al Sur­veil­lance Pla­toon, B Com­pa­ny, 3rd Brigade Spe­cial Troops Bat­tal­ion, 3rd Brigade Com­bat Team, 10th Moun­tain Divi­sion, stand with their air­craft at For­ward Oper­at­ing Base Pasab, Afghanistan. The pla­toon recent­ly sur­passed 5,000 flight hours.
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The Unmanned Aer­i­al Sur­veil­lance, or UAS, Pla­toon of B Com­pa­ny, 3rd Brigade Spe­cial Troops Bat­tal­ion, is set­ting the exam­ple for all oth­er UAS pla­toons in Kan­da­har Province with more than 5,000 accu­mu­lat­ed flight hours.

“The TF Spar­tan UAS Pla­toon cur­rent­ly holds the record in flights and com­bat hours in the Region­al Com­mand-South area of oper­a­tions,” said War­rant Offi­cer Mary­lyn Payano, UAS Pla­toon leader. “The Sol­diers hit the ground run­ning and will not stop until the mis­sion is com­plete. From April 2011 until now, the Shad­ow Pla­toon flew a total of 5,060 com­bat hours sup­port­ing a total of 1,170 brigade- and bat­tal­ion-lev­el mis­sions in sup­port of Task Force Spar­tan.”

The UAS Pla­toon has been func­tion­ing at full capac­i­ty through­out the deploy­ment, despite the fact that it has not always had a full staff.

The pla­toon pro­vides the brigade with 22 hours a day of real cov­er­age with only 10 air­craft oper­a­tors and four RQ-7B Shad­ow-200 sys­tems.

“We pret­ty much do it all. We pro­vide full-motion video or still pho­tos,” said Sgt. 1st Class Dominick Simione, UAS Pla­toon sergeant.

The cov­er­age that the UAS Pla­toon can pro­vide to com­man­ders is crit­i­cal to the suc­cess of Sol­diers on the ground, so it is always in high demand. The Shad­ow pro­vides units on the ground the advan­tage of an aer­i­al view of ene­my activ­i­ty and the abil­i­ty to mon­i­tor insur­gent actions with­out risk­ing Sol­diers or resources.

“It was quite a chal­lenge to be able to uphold the brigade’s demands, but this pla­toon was up for the chal­lenge and pushed for­ward,” Payano said.

The UAS Pla­toon flies the air­craft TF Spar­tan requires on an almost dai­ly basis. The only rea­son the Shad­ow drone will not fly is inclement weath­er. The Sol­diers work tire­less­ly to help mon­i­tor the bat­tle­field in almost every oper­a­tion that has been con­duct­ed for the past 11 months.

It is an operator’s job to fly the air­craft and mon­i­tor the bat­tle­field for TF Spar­tan, but the pla­toon also has UAS main­tain­ers who work to keep the equip­ment mis­sion ready at all times.

“Every­body has to do their part, so I am just hap­py to do my part,” said Spc. Daniel Burt, a UAS main­tain­er in B Com­pa­ny, 3rd BSTB.

TF Spar­tan UAS Pla­toon mem­bers are cur­rent­ly train­ing their replace­ments from 82nd Air­borne Divi­sion, but they will con­tin­ue to fly their air­craft until the unit rede­ploys to Fort Drum, N.Y.

U.S. Army

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