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News from the Oklahoma National Guard

NEWS | March 14, 2024

Future of drone defense takes flight at inaugural Oklahoma National Guard Counter-UAS Symposium

By Leanna Maschino, Oklahoma National Guard

OKLAHOMA CITY - The quote "This isn't a new weapon, it's a new world,” from the film “Oppenheimer”, set the tone for the inaugural Oklahoma National Guard Counter-Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Symposium at Oklahoma State University’s Hamm Institute for American Energy in Oklahoma City, March 12-13, 2024.

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VIDEO | 02:33 | Future of drone defense takes flight at inaugural Oklahoma National Guard Counter-UAS Symposium


The symposium addressed the evolving landscape of warfare and security challenges posed by UAS technology, including the integration of artificial intelligence, countering the UAS threat and countless other emerging advancements.

“We are undergoing a shift in military technology as significant as the development of the airplane during World War I,” said Maj. Gen. Thomas H. Mancino, adjutant general for Oklahoma. “Units are no longer able to freely maneuver without being detected, targeted and potentially destroyed.”

Referencing the war in Ukraine and other conflicts across the globe, Mancino mentioned the progression of drones beginning from reconnaissance operations, to first-person-view drones that can target individual service members, to future swarm and AI drone operations.

“Our equipment is not immune,” Mancino said, citing the recent destruction of military equipment within the past few weeks and imploring the need to speed up technological advancements within the military. “Backed by state funds, the Oklahoma National Guard can move faster in partnership with industry and academia to innovate.”

The OKNG's c-UAS initiative aims to train alongside civilian aerospace industry leaders and local partners to enhance mission readiness in aviation and aerospace technologies of the future. This provides our Guardsmen with innovative and future-focused training and experience to meet tomorrow’s challenges.

The symposium included key stakeholders, including agencies such as the Department of Defense, Federal Aviation Administration, National Guard Bureau, the Oklahoma Department of Commerce, Oklahoma State University’s Oklahoma Aerospace Institute for Research and Education, the Joint Counter Small UAS University at Fort Sill, and private-public companies, allowing those industry partners to discuss regulatory frameworks, technological advancements, and strategic approaches to counter-UAS operations.

“Together we can shine a light on these issues and begin the process of adapting our war fighting technology and tactics to the modern battlefield to protect our brave military members, fight and win,” Mancino said.

The symposium featured panels led by industry experts, showcasing cutting-edge technologies and tactics to detect, track, and neutralize unauthorized drones.

“Part of my job is to scare people, then we work together to solve problems,” said Jamey Jacob, Ph.D, P.E., executive director of OAIRE. “Since [the OKNG] has a dual-purpose mission, they can train for systems while at home, but they may get different systems that they're fielding when they're overseas. They may not know until a week before they go what systems they’re going to be required to use.

“Our goal is to provide them with that training upfront so they have not just a general understanding of the various systems and threats they might see, but some really specific training,” Jacob said.

Col. Shane Riley, director of military support for the OKNG, highlighted the significance of partnerships between government agencies, public and private sectors in safeguarding national security interests.

“We’ve been a highly deployed force over the years,” Riley said. “We see that counter-UAS and the UAS fight is a completely new and challenging environment, and I’m excited to have a crowd here today to interact and ask questions, share your knowledge and talk about how solutions come out of interactions like this to solve problems.”

As adversaries exploit drones for malicious purposes, it's crucial that the military stay ahead of the curve. Events like this symposium help foster collaboration and innovation, empowering us to effectively counter emerging threats.

“At its basic level, public-private partnerships demonstrate that we're stronger together--that we're all on the same team,” Jacob said. “We want to be able to achieve the same goals."

By bringing together diverse industry leaders, the event not only facilitated knowledge sharing but also laid the groundwork for enhanced coordination and response to evolving security challenges.

“I think the long-term impact of this is you're setting up the Oklahoma National Guard to be the national ‘National Guard’ leader,” Jacob said. “[The OKNG] is taking that leadership role to heart in terms of what can we do to really show and set the model for other National Guard units across the country.”

Video by Staff Sgt. Reece Heck
Future of drone defense takes flight at inaugural Oklahoma National Guard Counter-UAS Symposium
Oklahoma National Guard
March 12, 2024 | 2:33
Future of drone defense takes flight at inaugural Oklahoma National Guard Counter-UAS Symposium at Oklahoma State University’s Hamm Institute for American Energy in Oklahoma City, March 12-13, 2024. The symposium addressed the evolving landscape of warfare and security challenges posed by UAS technology, including the integration of artificial intelligence, countering the UAS threat and countless other emerging advancements. (Oklahoma National Guard video by Staff Sgt. Reece Heck

CG: Information:
Jamey Jacob, Ph.D., P.E.
Director, Oklahoma Aerospace Institute for Research & Education
(00:17-00:24)
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