Soldiers Train to Counter Growing Drone Threat

Soldiers Train to Counter Growing Drone Threat

two soldiers training to shoot down drones with a Stinger
Photo by: U.S. Army/Spc. Kevin Reece

Lessons on drone warfare are being taken from the battlefields of Ukraine and infused into exercises at the Army’s combat training centers, Army Secretary Christine Wormuth said.

In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Wormuth, who testified alongside Army Chief of Staff Gen. Randy George, said the Army is “aggressively collecting lessons learned from what we’re seeing in Ukraine across the board.”

Unmanned aerial systems have proliferated on both sides of Russia’s war on Ukraine, delivering deadly munitions and revealing fighting positions, columns of tanks and other activities with remote cameras.

Wormuth said during the April 18 hearing that on a recent visit to the Grafenwoehr Training Area in  Germany, she observed U.S. soldiers training with Ukrainian soldiers and felt that “our soldiers might have been learning more from them than they were learning from us” in terms of what modern warfare looks and feels like.

At the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California, and the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Johnson, Louisiana, formerly known as Fort Polk, opposing forces are creating aerial dilemmas for brigades training against them in scenarios taken directly from lessons learned in Ukraine.

“They are attacking our brigades that are in the box with drones and with drone swarms,” Wormuth said, using the term that describes the training areas of the installations. “So, we are already testing our brigades against the kinds of things that we’re seeing in Ukraine, and it is causing them to adjust their tactics, techniques and procedures.”

The aerial threats have prompted units to use more camouflage, reduce their physical footprints and electromagnetic signatures and move their command posts more frequently, she said.

In response to the heightened aerial activity in Ukraine and the Middle East, the Army plans to increase unmanned aerial reconnaissance capabilities while producing and modernizing other manned and unmanned aerial platforms, Douglas Bush, assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology, said March 6 in testimony before the House Armed Services Committee.

“Army aviation is a decisive capability in domain interdependence, operating in the nexus between the air, ground and maritime domains,” Bush said.