Military Connection: New Drone Training Facility in Colorado


By Debbie Gregory.

The Colorado Army National Guard recently dedicated a new facility to train drone operators for real world missions.

Keeping up with warfare technology is at the forefront of the success of the U.S. military. But equipping our forces with the best strategies and tools is only half the battle. Training our Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Airmen, and members of the Coast Guard to use their resources is just as vital to military success. The new facility at Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora will provide that essential component for Colorado’s Army National Guard members who operate the RQ-7 Shadows.

RQ-7 Shadows are unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVS, commonly called drones) that carry out reconnaissance and surveillance missions, including battle damage assessment and target acquisition. The use of drones provides invaluable intelligence without putting American lives in harm’s way. Shadows and other UAVs serve as an eye in the sky for many ground operations, providing a picture of the battle that helps commanders make the most informed decisions for ground troops and air assets.

Because of the nature of the missions that Shadow operators carry out, training should include coordinating with ground forces and other elements. The new facility will provide drone operators with that type of training with classrooms, planning areas, maintenance bays and drone simulators.

Previous drone operator training has been primarily classroom-oriented, with only simulated ground forces coordination and other elements in realistic joint exercises on Buckley AFB. The new facility is geared to provide operators with the most holistic training curriculum, involving the real-world feel of their mission in a safe training environment.

The National Guard says that the new facility comes with a $4 million price tag.

In this age of budget cuts and sequestration, getting the funding to open new facilities is a difficult task. But it is imperative to the success of our armed forces that they get quality training and exercises as close to real world missions as possible.

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Military Connection: New Drone Training Facility in Colorado: By Debbie Gregory