Members of Task Force Hurricane, 1st Battalion, 124th Infantry Regiment, are conducting unmanned aerial vehicle training with members of the Kenya Defense Forces Sept. 8-24, 2016, at a training center in Kenya.
KDF Military Intelligence Battalion members received basic training on assembly, disassembly, repair, and preventative maintenance for the AeroVironment RQ-11 Raven as those topics relate to basic mission planning and advanced flight plans.
The two-week training not only helped to continue fostering multinational relationships within the Horn of Africa, but it also gave the KDF additional knowledge and a new capability on the battlefield, said U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Charles Lewellen, 1/124th Inf. Rgt. and noncommissioned officer in charge of the Raven training.
“This (training) is going to help them survey the battlefield to be able to see what their obstacles are and what they can do through African Union Mission in Somalia in order to combat terrorism throughout the Horn of Africa,” said U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Charles Wirks, 1/124 Inf. Rgt. and Raven master trainer.
The class of approximately 40 KDF soldiers came with various levels of UAV experience, but they all valued the instructors’ knowledge and experience with the Raven to help them in future real world situations.
“Using the experience the trainers have passed to us as students, we look forward to getting as much (knowledge) as we can from them so that we can be more capable,” said KDF Cpl. Geoffrey, Military Intelligence Battalion. “The lessons gave us the experience to integrate into our standard operating procedures to become better prepared and better pilots.”
The course provided classroom lessons on basic care and assembly on the Raven, computer programs used in flight, how to tactfully employ it, and flying lessons. The students flew the Raven for daytime and nighttime practice as well.
“Our teams are trained to support the companies in combat. They provide reconnaissance and surveillance, so it’s good we have the platforms to be able to see (what is ahead),” said KDF Senior Sgt. Kasyoka. “We have that eye to see the other side and it’s good to provide that (imagery) to the commander to make a decisive action. This is why we feel it’s very important to have this training.”
At the end of the day, the training comes to show CJTF-HOA’s continuing commitment to support AMISOM troop contributing countries. The instructors were able to pass on their knowledge to the students, and in return the students kept the instructors on their toes with advanced technical questions during the classes, said Lewellen.
“The students have been very receptive and came wanting to learn more,” Wirks said. “During the training we get to see them face to face, see where their concerns are and they see how we operate with the systems. It’s great to have an open communication with them.”
As a troop contributing country to AMISOM, the KDF will now be able to take lessons learned from the Raven training and apply them in the defense force’s continued efforts to counter terrorism throughout the Horn of Africa, Lewellen said.
“The experience has been incredible and we realize there is so much (to learn) about the UAVs,” Kasyoka said. “The UAVs are the future, it’s the eye in the sky for the commander on the ground. It’s a good experience and fun too.”