Soldiers from Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) completed a 10-day RQ-11 Raven unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) operators qualification course at Chabelley Airfield, Djibouti, Oct.13, 2021, to increase the number of trained Raven operators within the command.
The Raven is a UAV system employed by CJTF-HOA for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. The course instructed Soldiers on how to operate the small hand-launched remote-controlled aircraft system and maintain it by fixing broken parts or performing emergency procedures.
“The main purpose of the Raven is to get eyes on a target or area of interest without actually sending people over there,” said Staff Sgt. Josh Fish, Raven master trainer, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1-102nd Infantry Regiment (Mountain), Task Force Iron Gray, CJTF-HOA. “It is small enough, quiet enough and can go a long distance, so it is a perfect addition to a team.”
With a wingspan of roughly four feet, the Raven’s entire kit can fit in the back of a humvee. The size and ease of operation offered by the Raven system makes it highly desirable to deploy for these missions, Fish said. The course allowed participants to familiarize and become more comfortable with the system.
“Every day I'm out here training with the Raven makes me more and more confident,” said Spc. Alexis Goebel, administrative specialist, 67th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade headquarters, CJTF-HOA, who had never flown a Raven prior to the course.
In addition to certifying new Raven operators, the course also provided the opportunity for Soldiers who were already qualified on the system to receive additional flight time to keep their certifications current.
“Training with the system is invaluable,” Fish said. “Nothing is more important to our training than the opportunity to be hands-on, flying and interacting with the Ravens.”
Soldiers can use this training in deployed, austere environments, or take the certification and skills back to their original teams and units. “While I most likely will not be using this in my position here on deployment, I may use it back home in the states,” Goebel said. “My occupational specialty is military police, so I took this course to further my skill set.”
CJTF-HOA is always looking to evolve its capabilities and scope to carry out its mission for stability and prosperity in East Africa. The Raven is a welcomed asset to accomplish this goal.