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U.S. Army Sgt. Jeremy Keenan, a Troy, N.Y. native, rolls the "Shadow" out of the hangar to its flightline at Forward Operating Base Warhorse, Iraq. Keenan serves with A Company, 3rd Special Troops Battalion, 4th Infantry Division. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Mark Wojciechowski
Unmanned Shadow Watches From Above
By U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Mark Wojciechowski / 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

BAQUBAH, Iraq, Jan. 23, 2006  – Troops on the ground in Iraq face many risks - the insurgents and anti-Iraqi forces are devious when it comes to placing improvised explosive devices and hiding weapons caches.

It always helps to have an extra set of eyes watching over the streets of Iraq. The Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Platoon of A Company, 3rd Special Troops Battalion, 4th Infantry Division from Fort Carson, Colo., provides the eyes in the sky.

The platoon maintains and operates the "Shadow" unmanned aerial vehicle.

Their mission is to fly route reconnaissance and surveillance, providing intelligence reports for commanders of the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team.

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Brian Ward, the platoon sergeant of the Shadow platoon and a Lebanon, Pa., native, said the soldiers conducting ground patrols like it when the Shadow is soaring above them.

The insurgents know that when the shadow is in the air, they are being watched. This leads to fewer incidents.

Spotting improvised explosive devices and following insurgents as they try to hide is all part of the Shadow's mission and it has been a success.

Two weeks ago, the Shadow spotted two 155mm rounds emplaced as a roadside bomb.

Providing early warning of troubled areas is what this platoon does and does well.

See Caption.
U.S. Army Pfc. Mark Trombly, a native of Worcester, Mass., conducts a walk around inspection of the Shadow unmanned aerial vehicle. Trombly is serving with A Company, 3rd Special Troops Battalion, 4th Infantry Division near Baqubah, Iraq. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Mark Wojciechowski

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Robert L. Lilly, a Beckley, W.Va. native, is a section leader in the platoon and responsible for deciding who will fly and what missions.

"They love the mission. It's a great job. We get to fly airplanes and help people while we are doing it," said Lilly.

Spotting improvised explosive devices is not the only thing the Shadow's camera can do – it is can spot disturbances in the dirt where a weapons cache may be buried or follow a high value targets as they move about.

The Shadow platoon enjoys their job knowing that they can spot troubled areas before the ground troops roll upon them, endangering their lives.

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