In 2016, the Islamic State learned to employ small unmanned aerial systems (sUAS) on the battlefield. By early 2017 the Islamic State was dropping grenades on coalition troops almost every day, sometimes flying as many as twelve drones at once. Gen. Raymond Thomas, the Commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, called small drones “the most daunting threat” his operators faced on the battlefield.
I wrote an article about the threat, which drew the attention of the Defense Innovation Unit: Experimental (DIUx, now DIU). They hired me to work as a UAS/C-UAS subject matter expert. Recognizing the need for quality red teaming, I pitched the creation of a UAS red team in June 2017. I was approved with a budget of $5,000 and warnings that it probably wouldn’t work.
Rogue Squadron was born. Over the next two years, my colleague Navy LT Ryan Beall and I scaled the team. As a phenomenal group of young engineers and hackers came together, Rogue Squadron became one of the most effective UAS/C-UAS teams in the world. Our mission evolved from red teaming into rapid capability development. We provided support to more than 200 organizations across the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Interior, the Department of Justice, and allied partners.
Rogue Squadron accomplishments include:
- Introduction of DevOps and CI/CD to C-UAS
- Direct delivery of new software capabilities to U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Syria in less than 24 hours
- Development and operations of a cloud-based C-UAS network
- Direct support to U.S. Special Operations forces across all the services
- Assistance with the standup of Short Range Reconnaissance (SRR), an Army program to build trusted quadcopters
- Assistance with a major U.S. policy effort to prevent foreign monopolies and ensure a healthy, robust sUAS industry
- The largest detection network for drone incursions in the Department of Defense
In March 2020 we led Rogue Squadron through an acquisition by the Defense Digital Service (DDS).