U.S. Army Europe crews fly unmanned vehicles alongside Romanian counterparts

By Sgt. Charles D. Crail, 172nd Infantry Brigade Public Affairs
July 8, 2010

Spc. Norman Grimm, a crew chief with the 504th Military Intelligence Company from Grafenwoehr, Germany (left), answers questions about the Shadow unmanned aerial vehicle for senior officers of the Romanian Land Forces, at the Babadag Training Area, Romania, July 5. Romanian and U.S. Army Europe UAV crews are working side by side during Operation Saber Dawn, part of the 2010 Joint Task Force-East rotation designed to bolster partnerships and regional security cooperation. (Photo by Sgt. Charles D. Crail)
Spc. Norman Grimm, a crew chief with the 504th Military Intelligence Company from Grafenwoehr, Germany (left), answers questions about the Shadow unmanned aerial vehicle for senior officers of the Romanian Land Forces, at the Babadag Training Area, Romania, July 5. Romanian and U.S. Army Europe UAV crews are working side by side during Operation Saber Dawn, part of the 2010 Joint Task Force-East rotation designed to bolster partnerships and regional security cooperation. (Photo by Sgt. Charles D. Crail)

BABADAG TRAINING AREA, Romania -- With a growling engine like an angry chainsaw a Shadow is catapulted into the air above hills overlooking the Black Sea.

The Shadow is there because Soldiers of the 504th Military Intelligence Company are here, participating in Operation Saber Dawn, part of this year's Task Force-East training rotation, demonstrating the capabilities the Shadow unmanned aerial vehicle provides America's European allies.

“This is my first time meeting this system,” said Romanian Land Forces Lt. Col. Sava Claudio, commander of the 20th Infantry Battalion, 2nd Infantry Brigade. “This system is a real intelligence capability multiplier. I am very impressed with the Shadow’s day and night capabilities.”

“The biggest advantage the UAV provides for the battalion commander is deep threat capability,” said Chief Warrant Officer Marc Schubert, a UAV technician with the 504th. “The Shadow provides eyes on the target at all times and nearly real-time intelligence.”

This is the first time the 172nd has deployed UAV aircraft to eastern Europe for training, brigade officials said. The 2010 TF-E rotation marks the fourth iteration of the annual bilateral training program designed to bring Romanian, Bulgarian and U.S. forces together to facilitate strategic partnerships and promote regional security.

Romanian and U.S. Army UAV crews are working side by side throughout the training exercise. The Romanian crews have experience employing a version of the Shadow similar to that flown by American forces.

“The Romanian UAV crews are very proficient,” said 1st Lt. Todd Flores, a platoon leader with the 504th, speaking about his experiences working with Romanian crews in Iraq. “The product they can produce with the aircraft is very high quality. I would gladly serve with their Shadow crews again in theater.”

The 504th is part of U.S. Army Europe's 172nd Infantry Brigade, based in Grafenwoehr, Germany.