NEWS | Feb. 25, 2020

Rise of the Machines

By Tech. Sgt. Adam Rodgers 36th Security Forces Squadron

ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam -- Near dawn, it hovers 500 feet in the air. Its low hum is inaudible to those on the ground beneath it. Silently it watches, waiting for the tropical sun to rise above the horizon. The first rays of light are broadcast over Pacific waves, and touch the shell covered beaches. The small mechanical object, still hovering in place, rotates to capture sights of jungle and cliff face. Picture—perfect. The object is what the military calls a Small Unmanned Aircraft System, or SUAS, more commonly known to the public as a drone.

Commercial drones are a popular hobby for aviation enthusiasts and novices alike. They are also widely sought after gifts; and Guam’s natural beauty enables a drone operator a chance to capture that epic sunrise, sunset, or action footage in ways not possible to the general public in previous years. Drone usage has increased on Guam in the last couple of years in both the recreational and commercial areas. However, the public should be aware of limitations in flying. It is against U.S. federal law to fly drones and model aircraft within five miles of military installations and civilian airports. Further information on guidelines for flying drones for business or recreational use can be found on the Federal Aviation Administration’s website, https://www.faa.gov/uas/ Airmap and Uavforecast are mobile apps which are great sources drone pilots can use: https://www.airmap.com/ and https://www.uavforecast.com/

It isn’t just the off limits areas for drones that concern Andersen Air Force Base Security Forces; but the potential for what those drones can do. In Arizona, a recreational drone operator wanting the perfect action shot of a wild fire wound up interfering with fire fighter operations. Saudi Arabian oil facilities were the target of a recent terrorist attack. The terrorists used drones. However, if any of these machines rise on Andersen they may face their own judgment day. The 36th Security Forces Squadron is asking for the base populace to help them detect, deter, and defeat drone incursions on Andersen Air Force Base. The first way you can help is remember you are not permitted to fly drones on base. Violators may be subject to Uniform Code of Military Justice punishment, and possibly have their drone impounded by Security Forces. If anyone sees a drone flying on base (to include Northwest Field, and/or off base sites operated by mission partners of the 36th Wing) call the Law Enforcement Desk at 366-2910.

To say something if you see something, call Security Forces and report a DRONE: Detect, Report, Observe, Note, Eliminate/Exploit. Detecting a drone may happen in your day to day activities, just stay alert. When you Report, stay on the phone and DO NOT hang up. Observe the direction of travel, description of the drone (how many rotors, does it have wings, what color is it, what is its estimated size, etc.) and what is it doing/how is it flying (is it just hovering, is it actively in motion going in multiple directions, is it just moving on a vertical or horizontal axis). Take Note of any special features, colors, lights and if you see any cameras or if it is carrying anything. To Eliminate and Exploit maintain your distance and take necessary precautions to stay safe, do not approach it. If it lands, relay the location to Security Forces and follow the directions they give you. Your vigilance in the genesis of this new spectrum may be Team Andersen’s salvation. The below smart card may assist you in passing information to the BDOC.