By Maj. Brent Mangum
19th Special Forces Group (Airborne), Utah Army National Guard
A redeployment ceremony was held for the Tactical Unmanned Aerial System (TUAS) Platoon, 19th Special Forces Group (Airborne), at the Aaron Butler Readiness Center, Camp Williams, Utah, June 24, 2021.
This marks the third deployment for the 19th SFG(A)’s TUAS platoon since it was organized in 2010. The TUAS platoon deployed from July 2020 to January 2021. The platoon started flying just two days after hitting the ground and flew a total of 249 combat sorties in support of Special Operations Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve.
“You guys provided a capability that is absolutely invaluable; something incredibly important to senior decision makers. The service you provided undoubtedly saved lives,” said Brig. Gen. Tyler B. Smith, the assistant adjutant general of the Utah National Guard. After a pause, he asked, “I hope you all adhered to my counsel before you left. What was it? Do you remember?” One of the Soldiers responded, “Write things down.” Smith nodded and added, “Yes, that’s right. Write things down, document your service. Your posterity will appreciate it.”
The TUAS platoon’s intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions filled knowledge gaps in areas like terrorist smuggling operations and state and non-state actor subversion operations. With over 1,700 flight hours, they provided material which analysts then used in more than 125 intelligence information reports (IIRs). Those IIRs were then consumed by various U.S. government intelligence agencies, including U.S. Space Command, U.S. Special Operations Command, and the Office of the Secretary of Defense.
“Before you left, I told you to take care of the name and reputation of the 19th Special Forces Group (Airborne), and you absolutely did, “said Col. Paul Peters, commander of the 19th SFG(A). “Whether you know it or not, you were affecting strategic matters—helping senior leaders who make globally important decisions.” Then, to the Soldiers’ families, Peters said, “Thank you for what you’ve done. Family support is a big deal. Your support allowed them to make a difference at a strategic level.”
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