Photo Information

Staff Sgt. Juan-Ricardo Ortega, an infantry unit leader with Marine Corps Security Forces Battalion, inspects an unmanned aerial vehicle after a landing during a UAV training course aboard Camp Pendleton, Calif., Jan. 31, 2014. The UAV course is two weeks long and focuses on familiarizing Marines and sailors with the equipment primarily through practical application.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Keenan Zelazoski

Eyes in the sky: 1st MLG Marine trains with UAVs

12 Feb 2014 | Lance Cpl. Keenan Zelazoski 1st Marine Logistics Group

Part of being a Marine is finding ways to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of your unit, so most units have training noncommissioned officers that find beneficial courses and classes for their subordinates and peers. 

One little-known course available to Marines is the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle course. Sgt. Cynthia Zermeno, training noncommissioned officer with 1st Medical Battalion, Combat Logistics Regiment 15, 1st Marine Logistics Group, recently participated in one of the UAV courses aboard Camp Pendleton, Calif., Jan. 30, 2014.

The purpose of this training is to familiarize Marines and sailors with the knowledge and equipment necessary to operate a UAV. The drones are remote controlled and are used for general surveillance and reconnaissance. 

“Not many people know about these courses,” said Zermeno, a Torrance, Calif., native. “As the training NCO, I want to find out what types of courses are available for my Marines and how each course can benefit them, and this one would be useful for everyone.”

Throughout the first three days of this course, students learn how to work with the systems that control the UAVs. They learn vital skills such as plotting a course and how to launch and land the systems. After they learn the basics, they start practical application. Flying the drones is an art that requires practice. 

“A lot of people in a logistics unit might not see the benefits of these skills,” said Bill Peek, the senior instructor for the Remote Audio Visual Engagement Network course. “The capabilities of a UAV are limited only to battery life and your imagination.” said Peek. 

With a UAV, Marines and sailors conducting convoy operations can silently observe potential hazards up to a few miles away on their planned route prior to leaving friendly lines. During the course, students also train to do covert operations and silent surveillance.

“Battle damage assessment is important as well,” said Peek. “Being able to get eyes on an objective, without actually having to send a person into a dangerous area that you don’t know much about, is a huge asset to have in an expeditionary environment.”

Marines prepare for the worst case scenario, said Zermeno. Often times, Marines will encounter unexpected situations while deployed, and this training provides an additional life-saving skill to take with them overseas.

1st Marine Logistics Group