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Press Release | Oct. 15, 2022

U.S. Army Sergeant Develops Counter Unmanned Aerial System Trainer to Win CENTCOM’s First Innovation Oasis Competition


Oct. 15, 2022
Release Number 20221004-02

TAMPA, Fla. – CENTCOM awarded the Defense Meritorious Service Medal to U.S. Army Sgt. Mickey Reeve for winning the inaugural Innovation Oasis, an innovation contest held yesterday at the CENTCOM headquarters in Tampa. Reeve developed a counter-Unmanned Aerial System (c-UAS) training software that simulates every c-UAS system in the US military inventory and involves scenarios for any location on the globe and any UAS system available. Reeve, an infantryman assigned to the Prince Sultan Air Base in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, coded the software in his spare time on weekends. Reeve flew from Saudi Arabia to Tampa one day prior to compete in CENTCOM Innovation Oasis.

A panel of ten tech industry leaders and senior military officials, including Bob Smith, Chief Executive Officer of Blue Origin; Jim Reuter, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Associate Administrator; General Michael “Erik” Kurilla, commander of U.S. Central Command; and senior executives from Google and Microsoft, selected the champion. The other four finalists who pitched their ideas in the Shark Tank-style program on Friday were U.S. Army Capt. Matt Goyette, U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Stephen Larsen, U.S. Army Lt. Col. Ferdinand Bacomo, and U.S. Air Force Capt. Kendra Kirkland. These four finalists were recognized with the Joint Service Achievement Medal for their exceptional respective ideas that were also presented within the competition. The presentations ranged from policy-based solutions to high-tech innovations to a new organization for combat medics. The five Innovation Oasis finalists chosen to present their innovation were selected from more than 160 submissions that represented every U.S. sister service within every component of the command.

“For us, this program is about building a culture of innovation across all of CENTCOM,” said Kurilla. “It’s about finding those great ideas hidden from view inside a squad, trapped inside of a ship, locked down in a cubicle in one of our bases, or tucked away in an aircraft hangar. We want to unlock, embrace, and then uplift those ideas and then implement them across the entire organization.”

Each finalist had ten minutes to present their innovation, followed by 20 minutes of questions and answers from the panel. Each presenter was evaluated along a set of criteria that included originality of idea, scalability of concept, and the overall presentation. In addition to receiving the Distinguished Meritorious Service Medal, the winner of the first CENTCOM Innovation Oasis, was granted a four-day pass and will attend the military school of his choice during this calendar year and he will go on a media tour in New York City and Washington, DC next month.

“It was amazing just to come here to Tampa to represent my unit and present my idea,” Reeve said. "The unmanned aerial system is the improvised explosive device of today's fight. The winning innovation will support our troops in harm's way. Unmanned aerial systems are the primary threat to our forces and partners in the Middle East. The c-UAS Trainer will serve as a universal training system that will train our troops on shooting Unmanned Aerial Systems out of the sky before they harm our troops. “Sergeant Reeve identified a real need on the battlefield and developed a solution,” said Colonel Joe Buccino, CENTCOM spokesman. “Now, we’re going to
look to urgently implement this system across all our subordinate units.”