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A soldier from 1st Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment defends Ubensdorf after it came under attack by Troop B, 1st Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment during exercises on Thursday.

A soldier from 1st Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment defends Ubensdorf after it came under attack by Troop B, 1st Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment during exercises on Thursday. (Seth Robson / S&S)

A soldier from 1st Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment defends Ubensdorf after it came under attack by Troop B, 1st Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment during exercises on Thursday.

A soldier from 1st Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment defends Ubensdorf after it came under attack by Troop B, 1st Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment during exercises on Thursday. (Seth Robson / S&S)

Tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles from Troop B, 1st Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment got stuck trying to breach this wire obstacle during exercises at Ubensdorf on Thursday after the lead vehicle was disabled by a rocket propelled grenade.

Tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles from Troop B, 1st Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment got stuck trying to breach this wire obstacle during exercises at Ubensdorf on Thursday after the lead vehicle was disabled by a rocket propelled grenade. (Seth Robson / S&S)

A soldier from Troop B, 1st Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment advances on Ubensdorf during the Iron Storm exercise on Thursday. The unit will be getting Shadow UAVs as part of transformation that began with the departure of the Kiowa helicopters.

A soldier from Troop B, 1st Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment advances on Ubensdorf during the Iron Storm exercise on Thursday. The unit will be getting Shadow UAVs as part of transformation that began with the departure of the Kiowa helicopters. (Seth Robson / S&S)

A team of Op For soldiers from 1st Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment prepares to defend Ubensdorf from an attack by Troop B, 1st Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment during exercises on Thursday.

A team of Op For soldiers from 1st Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment prepares to defend Ubensdorf from an attack by Troop B, 1st Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment during exercises on Thursday. (Seth Robson / S&S)

HOHENFELS, Germany — Unmanned Aerial Vehicles joined 1st Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment for the Iron Storm exercise here last week, giving troops a taste of the future.

Lt. Col. John A. Peeler, the 1-1 commander, said the Shadow UAVs that worked with his unit during the exercise were from the 501st Military Intelligence Battalion, which is preparing to deploy to Iraq later this year.

The 1-1 will eventually receive its own Shadow UAVs as part of transformation that began with the departure of its Kiowa helicopters last summer, he said.

Other Army Cavalry units are going through similar transformations. For example, in South Korea, the 4th Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment also recently lost its Kiowas and is waiting for UAVs. The 1-1 will not receive its own UAVs until after the unit returns to the United States with the 1st Armored Division, Peeler said.

The UAVs are equipped with cameras and a range of sensors that allow them to monitor the battlefield from distance. Soldiers pilot the aircraft from ground stations transported by Humvee.

Peeler said the 501st UAVs performed well during Iron Storm, even flying in clouds and rain, to spot enemy targets and allow commanders to coordinate precision fire from 1st AD artillery.

However, on Thursday there was so much mud at Hohenfels’ Short Takeoff and Landing airstrip that the UAVs were grounded. So 1-1 used a computer simulated “virtual UAV” to gather data for an attack on Ubensdorf, a mock town inside the training area.

Maj. Daniel Davis, the 1-1 executive officer, said the goal of the Ubensdorf operation was to take back the town from “enemy” troops that had infiltrated and occupied many of the buildings. The enemy was heavily armed but had to be removed without harming the town’s civilian population, he said.

The virtual UAV, as with the actual ones, enabled 1-1 to scout areas without endangering soldiers, Davis said.

It was particularly useful in the lead-up to the attack on the town, Davis said.

“It helped us in the area around Ubensdorf. They had T-80 tanks and BMPs (armored personnel carriers) that we were able to find using the UAV,” he said.

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Seth Robson is a Tokyo-based reporter who has been with Stars and Stripes since 2003. He has been stationed in Japan, South Korea and Germany, with frequent assignments to Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, Australia and the Philippines.

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