332ND AIR EXPEDITIONARY WING – Multiple agencies from the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing conduct an exercise in which they respond to an alert at the sight of an unmanned aerial system August 27, 2021, in an undisclosed location somewhere in Southwest Asia.
The exercise allowed Airmen from the 332nd Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron and 332nd Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron (Fire Department and Explosive Ordnance Disposal) to strengthen and refine defense against UAS platforms.
“The response for the exercise enables cross-function communication between agencies so that everyone witnesses each other’s actions,” said Staff Sgt. Martin Garland, 332nd Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron noncommissioned officer in charge of counter small unmanned aerial systems. “In doing this, it produces a team that can effectively arrive to an incident with knowledge of what information is relevant for a safe solution to an unsafe scene.”
As soon as the counter-small Unmanned Aerial Systems, a section within Security Forces, confirms a threat, all responding agencies are notified to include SFS, FD, and EOD.
“Once the threat has been confirmed hostile, operators take appropriate action in defeating the drone by using all of the sensors available to work the kill chain –detect, track, identify and defeat,” explained Garland.
EOD then takes the lead for further actions.
Our response is triggered upon the notification from Command post that the c-sUAS detachment has engaged with a UAS or its been discovered, explained Master Sgt. Warren Long, 332nd Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron explosive ordnance disposal flight chief.
EOD brings their reconnaissance equipment, an explosive detection robot helps identify and eliminate the threat. They run their own simulations within the exercise to introduce new approaches and work through potential outcomes for everyone to see.
“PowerPoints and single-unit training can only get you so far, and simulating other agencies doesn’t prepare you for the real thing,” said Long.
Units typically have their own exercises and simulations to hone their skills in case of a real-world emergency, but it is the inclusion of all responding agencies in a single exercise which provides a chance to see how every piece to the puzzle fits together.
With each unit having its own ops tempo and unique responsibilities outside of this exercise, timing these events is difficult but necessary, said Long.
With sUAS threats increasing across the AOR, 332nd AEW Airmen continue training to improve vigilance as they become a stronger joint force.
“Each unit now has a better understanding of the capabilities of the other responding units,” said Long. “With training, each unit can now rely on firsthand knowledge of events that transpired during this exercise.”