FORWARD OPERATING BASE SHARANA, Afghanistan – A 14-foot unseen guardian patrols eastern Afghanistan day and night, searching for the enemies that would wreak havoc on the country. The Shadow unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) has cameras that function as aerial eyes for the 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division.
These UAVs are controlled from the ground by a small group of Paratroopers from the 425th Brigade Special Troops Battalion.
“We do everything from battle damage assessment to convoy route clearance, but our main missions over here is to provide situational awareness for battlefield commanders,” said Chief Warrant Officer Nicholas Jones, a UAV technician who is also serving as the Platoon Leader.
In the three months the UAV Platoon has been operating, Jones said there have been several instances where the Shadow has provided the necessary advantage for mission accomplishment.
“The Baki Kheyl District Center called and said they were receiving fire. We immediately scanned over to them, found the guys firing at them, and followed them all the way back to their safe house,” said Jones.
Sgt. 1st Class Sean Bolin, a UAV operator, told a similar success story.
“A couple weeks ago, the FOB (Sharana) came under a mortar attack. We spotted some guys to the north, and used the UAV to positively identify them and stay on them, so the commanders can pick them up or put fire on them.”
Regardless of the challenges, the UAV platoon works around the clock to assure that the Soldiers of 4-25th are protected. From the operators that fly the aircraft and observe the footage, to the maintainers who keep them up and running, the brigade can rest assured that overhead a Shadow floats, providing security and support.