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Retired Army Col. John F. Antal speaks to a group of aviation leaders about modern battlefield challenges May 1 at the Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Symposium at Fort Drum, New York. Within the 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, Soldiers of D Company, 1st Battalion, 10th Aviation Regiment, maintain and operate UASs such as the MQ-1C Gray Eagle. (U.S. Army Photo by Spc. Jamie Robinson)

10th Combat Aviation Brigade holds annual Unmanned Aircraft Systems Symposium 

Sgt. Brittany Washington

10th Combat Aviation Brigade

FORT DRUM, N.Y. (May 5, 2023) – The 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, 10th Mountain Division (LI) hosted the second annual Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Symposium, on Fort Drum, New York, this week. This five-day event brought together experts from across the division and the UAS community to discuss many topics related to these systems.

The symposium covered an array of subjects, including UAS operations, maintenance, aviation standardization, and safety. This allowed attendees from across the Department of Defense to participate in discussion panels, breakout groups, and ideation sessions to dive into the UAS subjects to gain a deeper understanding.

The 10th Mountain Division brought together Army leaders, stakeholders, subject-matter experts, and partners within the industry to find ways to help improve the Army’s UAS program. They did this by discussing their views on the current environment of processes, procedures, and their training plans within the UAS community.

Guest speakers included retired Army Col. John F. Antal, with a 30-year career as an armor and cavalry officer, and retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Robert S. Spalding III, who served 26 years as a B-2 Spirit stealth bomber and B-52 Stratofortress bomber pilot. They shared their experience and insights with attendees.

Chief Warrant Officer 4 Joshua Winkler, with the 10th CAB, spent many weeks planning this event to reach its fullest potential for all participants to leave with ideas and motivation.

“I think what makes this event different from others, and also so important for UAS, are the ideation sessions,” Winkler said. “These are discussions that flow into recommendations, which are then implemented immediately into training and local SOPs (standard operating procedures) to validate their efficacy. So, we’re not only bringing together the best minds in their respective realms of expertise for briefs, we also bring them in as advisors.”

Mike Goodwin, director of Global Military Sales and Strategy, Textron Systems, located in Huntsville, Alabama, was among the 150 attendees. Having worked in the UAS military community since 2008, he said he believes this symposium as an essential asset for building the future.

“Like myself, the aircraft manufacturers are getting to hear the problems and the good things firsthand,” Goodwin said. “It was invaluable for myself and my engineers to meet directly with Soldiers and hear what the future holds so we know what the Army will need in the future.”

Events like these allow participants to take this information and make improvements immediately, Winkler said, and having the knowledge base in the room that they do can help guide them when they are at dead ends, making solutions that have been validated by experts in the UAS community achievable.