JUST IN: U.S. Military Training to Counter Drone Threats

By Allyson Park

U.S. Army

With drones and air defense playing a large role in the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine, the key to the United States’ modern air defense strategy is ensuring that every warfighter is sufficiently trained to respond to UAS threats, Army leaders said.

“The [UAS] threat is growing, and it’s going to impact every soldier,” Army Sergeant Major Demetrius Johnson, senior enlisted advisor to the Joint Counter-small Unmanned Aerial Systems Office, or JCO, said at a panel hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies Nov. 14. “It’s going to become a basic soldier requirement to be able to identify, report and — in some cases — react to the threat.”

Ensuring the preparedness of warfighters for the ever-evolving UAS threat will require thorough training both implemented across all forces and specialized for the different forces, a formidable task, he noted.

“In order to synchronize all those efforts, you got to have leaders that are trained as well. And that’s where the Joint Counter-UAS University at Fort Sill comes into play,” Johnson said. “It’s the best step in the right direction to ensure that we are able to train every warfighter on the threat to be able to respond.”

The Joint Counter-UAS University, scheduled to achieve full operational capability in fiscal year 2024, started its first course on Oct. 16 at the Fires Center of Excellence in Fort Sill, Oklahoma. Through online and in-person programming for warfighters and planners, the university will integrate counter-UAS training in various exercises for all services.

The biggest challenge in counter-UAS is addressing today’s threats while simultaneously looking forward to tomorrow’s threats, said Major General Sean Gainey, director of the JCO Office.

“So what we’ve constructed is built to be able to [allow] the services to leverage it at their level ... [integrating] it into their [basic] training, but we are establishing the [program of instruction] that will help all the other services move forward,” he said. “We have to be able to train an element of the force now. And so that's why our courses are focused on the operators course, and the planners course.”

The Joint Counter-UAS University is intended to serve as the foundation or stepping stone for services to integrate specialized C-UAS training into their own basic training, he added.

“This Joint Counter-UAS University is not the end all be all,” Gainey said. “It’s taking that first step addressing a problem today, but allowing the services to come in and then scale it to get after and move towards tomorrow to where you have to be at a space where you’re gonna have to address these problems.”

While the launch of the university is considered a step in the right direction, there is still a long way to go, Johnson said.

“The [Department of Defense] and the Army all still have work to do as far as developing the doctrine, developing missional central task lists that are going to bridge the gap and employ these capabilities together,” he said. “So, we still have some work to do as far as developing that doctrine and how these systems are gonna be integrated into larger systems and be able to do combined arms maneuver and things of that nature.”


Topics: Aviation, Robotics and Autonomous Systems

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