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Combat aviation brigade first from Fort Drum to deploy to Afghanistan this year

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General Atomics Aeronautics
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Gray Eagle drones like this one will be deployed to Afghanistan as part of Operation Resolute Support

A small group of soldiers from Fort Drum’s 10th Combat Aviation Brigade will be the first from Fort Drum to deploy to Afghanistan this year. The unit will operate new Gray Eagle drones as part of the new mission in that country.  

Only ten units in the Army can  operate these drones. Fort Drum's Delta Company is one of them.  Major Josh Jacques  is a spokesmen for Fort Drum.  He says the Gray Eagles will act as the eyes for ground troops in Afghanistan.

“They would be able to provide information from overhead. They can do convey protection, they can do IED protection as well from the air. They can provide close air support and some of them are fitted with weapon delivery systems, ” Jacques said.

Gray Eagles can also perform precision air strikes, like the one that killed a former Taliban commander in Afghanistan Monday. But there's no specific information on what the company's exact mission will be.

Major Jacques said drones will be operated from U.S. bases in Afghanistan. This summer, nine Gray eagles and over 100 soldiers   were added to the Delta company. The growth of the drone program came during the same months Fort Drum dissolved its 3rd combat brigade and cut soldiers.

At the end of last year, Congress approved 27 million dollars for a hangar for Gray eagle drones.

There will be a ceremony later this morning to mark the upcoming deployment of Delta Company.