An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Home : News : Article View
NEWS | April 18, 2024

Army Guard Elevates Disaster Response with UAS Training

By National Guard Bureau Office of Public Affairs

REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. – In preparation for the direst of days on the homeland front, a dozen Citizen-Soldiers recently enhanced their technical acumen on unmanned aviation systems after completing a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers qualification course.

The training helps ensure the Army National Guard members from Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and high-yield Explosive response teams can safely and effectively operate UAS in the National Airspace System.  

While Soldiers are familiar with deploying the platforms after hurricanes and wildfires, the training represents a new Army Guard aviation paradigm: unmanned aircraft as an enabler of CBRNE incident response efforts.

“It will provide real-time, livestreaming digital video and employ onboard sensors to relay its surrounding environmental conditions over a dedicated network,” said Army Maj. Kyle McGaha, a CBRNE operations lead with the National Guard Bureau who attended the training.

He said UAS are crucial to expedite “the planning to conduct primary and secondary searches for ambulatory and non-ambulatory victims” while helping to ensure Guard members can safely perform tasks in contaminated environments. 

“These platforms mitigate the need to put our Soldiers in harm’s way, like radiological exposure, for example, while conducting site assessments,” McGaha said. “Larger aircraft can be used for missions such as personnel evacuation.”

The Army Guard members trained on quadcopters, a prelude to using R80D SkyRaider aerial systems in real situations. The training covered regulations and coordination with local authorities for airspace approval.

“Our training method is derived from Army aviation and Federal Aviation Administration handbooks and [emphasizes] hands-on tasks to produce mission-ready crew members ’out of the gate,’” said Chris Kernan, an aviation program manager with the Army engineers. 

National Guard officials said CBRNE teams, as part of a larger homeland response force, respond to incidents within six hours, conducting “command and control, search and extraction, mass casualty decontamination, and medical stabilization to save lives and mitigate human suffering.”

For Sgt. 1st Class Horacio Morfin, a planning noncommissioned officer with the California Army National Guard’s 185th Military Police Battalion, 49th Military Police Brigade, the training served as an indoctrination into the increasingly important world of unmanned aircraft.

“The main takeaway from this course is that this is just the beginning of our training,” Morfin said. “To master piloting these UAS, we have to stay current on flight hours and [operational] planning while learning about payloads and software required for these systems.”

Ryan Strange, a course instructor, said collaborating and ultimately integrating with the Army Guard is sure to pay off dividends when the time comes. 

“Providing this course to our National Guard Soldiers is a testament to our commitment to excellence, unity and shared responsibility for the protection of this nation,” Strange said.


William Farrow, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville, contributed to this report.



Related Articles
Kenneth C. McNeill, a senior executive service member and the chief information officer of the National Guard Bureau, speaks to Project Theia officials and other interested parties during a discussion at the Pentagon Feb., 2, 2023. Named after the Greek goddess of sight, Theia centralizes video data, then applies Artificial Intelligence solutions to increase situational awareness among those responding to natural or man-made disasters.
Guard Employs AI to Battle Wildfires, Improve Disaster Response
By Master Sgt. Erich Smith, | April 8, 2024
ARLINGTON, Va. - Inside the bustling confines of an operations center, National Guard members quickly assemble information from multiple sources, piecing together the “big picture” from ground and air personnel as they fight...

Air Force Staff Sgt. Javin Delgado, an electronic warfare specialist with the Hawaii Air National Guard’s 154th Wing, prepares to calibrate electronic warfare equipment as Senior Airman Oscar Mendoza, a space systems operator with the 148th Space Operations Squadron, looks on during Vulcan Guard Bolt 6, Ramstein Air Base, Germany, March 27, 2024. Though not part of the mission planning portion of the space-focused exercise, Delgado and Mendoza showcased EW assets to Vulcan Guard participants and distinguished visitors.
National Guard-led Space Exercise Helps Build Programs for NATO Partners
By Air Force Master Sgt. Erich B.Smith, | April 8, 2024
RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany – About 50 members of the Air National Guard and Romanian and Polish Armed Forces focused on space as a warfighting domain during exercise Vulcan Guard Bolt 6 at NATO’s Allied Air Command in late...

U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Giselle Wilz, director of staff with the National Guard Bureau, signs the 2024 National Guard Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month proclamation as Chief Master Sgt. Kelly Hoffses, the senior enlisted advisor to the director of staff, looks on during a ceremony at the Herbert R. Temple Army National Guard Readiness Center, Arlington Hall Station, in Arlington, Virginia, April 1, 2024. The proclamation marks the Guard's continuing commitment to accountability, working to end sexual assault and harassment,  and providing care and support to victims.
National Guard Continues Work to Eradicate Sexual Assault, Harassment
By Sgt. 1st Class Jon Soucy, | April 3, 2024
ARLINGTON, Va. — The National Guard continues to take action to prevent sexual assault and harassment within its ranks, provide victim care and support, and foster a culture to eradicate sexual assault and sexual harassment,...