The overarching goal of this project is to provide a strategic, operational framework for US Marine Corps Installations EAST (MCIEAST) that facilitates the integration of unmanned aircraft system (UAS) technology into present and future civilian-led management of natural resources. Specific objectives of the project are to: 1) develop and validate regional MCIEAST UAS protocols and provide a training pathway to professional remote pilot certification for installation personnel; 2) create and disseminate standardized UAS mission kits and training materials; and 3) integrate UAS technology through demonstrations that represent a range of applications for Department of Defense (DoD) natural resource management that exist across a broad range of installations.
While the advantages of integrating UAS technology into DoD management are clear, the pathway to a comprehensive approach to this adoption is a complex problem that requires 1) scientific expertise in DoD-relevant natural resources; 2) UAS-technical knowledge to capture data and transform it into useful information; and 3) the creation, integration, and implementation of DoD standards and protocols. Each project task proceeds with buy-in and approval of MCIEAST leadership that will ultimately institutionalize the approach for installations providing a clear path for UAS adoption and implementation. The project employs intensive training beyond the requirements for commercial UAS pilots integrating DoD level training, as well as the delivery of UAS kits and associated sensors. The courseware and protocols developed constitute a rigorous program for safe and effective UAS operation across military environmental management divisions. Building capabilities beyond classroom training, demonstrations that reflect a range of DoD natural resource challenges introduce real-world flying considerations, as well as data collection and use.
This project will increase accessibility of UAS technology for MCIEAST natural resource managers, across a broad range of sites by: 1) increasing the skill level and knowledge base of new UAS pilots, 2) providing integration into range and airspace control systems, 3) equipping DoD land managers with skills and tools for UAS data processing, and 4) providing commanders with a uniform, safe, and effective starting point for UAS use in natural resources that can be readily expanded to other areas. Demonstrating this deliberate framework to other DoD land managers beyond MCIEAST expands the application and provides exposure to UAS integration broadly across DoD.