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NEWS | Oct. 17, 2022

Deployed Massachusetts Guardsman Wins Innovation Competition

By Sgt. 1st Class Laura Berry, Massachusetts National Guard Public Affairs

TAMPA, Fla. – Massachusetts Army National Guard Sgt. Mickey Reeve won first place out of five finalists in the inaugural Innovation Oasis competition at Central Command Oct. 14 for developing a counter-unmanned aerial surveillance trainer.

Reeve, an infantryman with Bravo Company, 182nd Infantry, flew to Tampa from Saudi Arabia, where he is deployed, to present his idea to a panel of military and tech industry leaders.

Gen. Michael Kurilla, commander of U.S. Central Command, said the innovation oasis program is about building a culture of innovation across all of CENTCOM and finding those great ideas in a squad, ship or aircraft hangar.

“We want to unlock, embrace, and then uplift those ideas and then implement them across the entire organization,” Kurilla said.

Reeve’s idea came from his experience on deployment.

“I am assigned to the base’s Counter–Unmanned Aircraft Systems (C-UAS) team,” said Reeve. “I noticed that we did not have great training tools to enable us to train for the threats that we may face. So, I started developing a software idea that would enable us to make our own training scenarios to bridge this gap in training assets at our disposal.”

While deployed in Saudi Arabia, Reeve operates several CUAS systems as a member of the 378th Air Expeditionary Wing.

“Some bases have several counter-UAS systems,” he said. “There is currently no good way to run complex, varied, and realistic training scenarios across every C-UAS system. This limits the quality of training teams can achieve and limits a leader’s ability to fail in a training environment utilizing all assets at their disposal.”

Reeve created software that provides a common operating picture across all systems, allowing a team to train together in a simulated engagement. The modular platform enables teams to emulate their environment and create their own training scenarios.

“I thought nobody is better equipped to provide realistic and effective training scenarios than the C-UAS operators themselves,” Reeve said.

He calls his software the Interim Platform Agnostic Counter-Unmanned Aircraft System Trainer. The program can emulate C-UAS systems, enabling teams to train their battle drills, reaction times and communications.

“My ideal outcome would be that every base with C-UAS systems has comprehensive training software that will provide a critical asset for their training,” he said. “This will increase the efficacy of our teams and leaders and lead to lives saved and base integrity maintained.”

Reeve said he has spent over 100 hours over almost two months on the idea.

“Initially, I was just developing this as a tool for the C-UAS team on my base,“ he said. “But then I saw flyers for the CENTCOM innovation oasis, so I decided to pitch this idea to CENTCOM.”

Reeve joined Charlie Company, 1-182nd Infantry, Massachusetts National Guard in 2017, transferring to Bravo Company, 1-182nd Infantry, in October 2021. Before deploying to Saudi Arabia, he worked full-time with the Massachusetts National Guard’s Military Funeral Honors program.

“I have a huge interest in space launch and propulsion engineering, macroeconomic theory, and whatever other project I find myself getting too deep into, as is usually the case,” he said.

For his innovation, Reeve was awarded the Distinguished Meritorious Service Medal.

“I want to recognize my leadership for the incredible amounts of support that they have shown and my Soldiers who continue to do incredible things in this emerging field of warfare,” said Reeve.