Soldier wins CENTCOM Competition

U.S. Army Sgt. Mickey Reeve presents his idea at the Innovation Oasis Competition. (Photo Courtesy of the United States Central Command)

Sgt. Mickey Reeve, an infantryman of Bravo Co, 182nd Infantry, Massachusetts Army National Guard, won first place out of five finalists in the Inaugural Innovation Oasis competition at Central Command (CENTCOM) in Tampa, Florida, Oct. 14, 2022, for developing Counter Unmanned Aerial Surveillance Trainer. 

He flew to Tampa from Saudi Arabia where he is deployed to present his idea to a panel of military and tech industry leaders. 

General Michael “Erik” Kurilla, commander of U.S. Central Command said the Innovation Oasis Competition is about building a culture of innovation across all of CENTCOM and finding those great ideas hidden from view inside a squad, ship or aircraft hangar.

“We want to unlock, embrace, and then uplift those ideas and then implement them across the entire organization,” said Kurilla.

Reeve’s innovative idea came from his experience on deployment where operates several CUAS systems as a member of the 378th Air Expeditionary Wing in Saudi Arabia. 

“I am assigned to the base’s Counter–Unmanned Aircraft Systems (C-UAS) team,” said Reeve. “I noticed that we did not have great training tools to enable us to train for the threats that we may face. So, I started developing a software idea that would enable us to make our own training scenarios to bridge this gap in training assets at our disposal.” 

“Some bases have several counter-UAS systems,” said Reeve. “There is currently no good way to run complex, varied, and realistic training scenarios across every C-UAS system. This limits the quality of training teams can achieve and limits a leader’s ability to fail in a training environment utilizing all assets at their disposal. So, I created a software solution that provides the capability of a common operating picture across all systems, allowing a team to train together in a simulated engagement. The tool is a modular platform that enables teams to closely emulate their environment and create their own training scenarios. I thought nobody is better equipped to provide realistic and effective training scenarios than the C-UAS operators themselves.” 

He calls his new software The Interim Platform Agnostic Counter-Unmanned Aircraft System Trainer (IMPACT). It is a program that can be used to emulate C-UAS systems. IMPACT bridges the critical gap of available training tools for CENTCOM C-UAS teams and provides the ability for teams to train their battle drills, reaction times, and communications through scenarios otherwise not possible in an operational environment. 

“My ideal outcome would be that every base with C-UAS systems has comprehensive training software that will provide a critical asset for their training,” said Reeve. “This will increase the efficacy of our teams and leaders and lead to lives saved and base integrity maintained.” 

Reeve said he has spent over 100 hours over the course of close to 2 months to get this idea to where it is now. 

“It was a considerable amount of time, but I had a submission deadline for the Innovation Oasis and a lot of work needed to be done to make that deadline,” said Reeve. “Initially, I was just developing this as a tool for the C-UAS team on my base. But then I saw flyers for the CENTCOM innovation oasis, so I decided to pitch this idea to CENTCOM. The idea has already grown and developed significantly from the date of my submission.” 

Reeve joined Charlie Company, 1-182nd Infantry, Massachusetts National Guard in 2017 and was transferred to Bravo Company, 1-182nd Infantry in October of 2021. He is currently deployed to Prince Sultan Air Base in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Prior to this deployment, he worked full-time with the Massachusetts National Guard’s Military Funeral Honors program (Honor Guard) as a regional manager. 

He really enjoys jazz, both as a musician and a listener and spends an hour or two a day practicing trumpet. He has used his talent to be a live bugler in his job with Military Funeral Honors. 

“I’m not all that great, but that is what the practice is for,” said Reeve. 

“I have a huge interest in space launch and propulsion engineering, macroeconomic theory, and whatever other project I find myself getting too deep into, as is usually the case,” said Reeve. 

He picked up programming in high school as a hobby to start developing skills for when he entered college, and briefly pursued software engineering in college before changing his degree to trajectory. 

Reeve was awarded the Distinguished Meritorious Service Medal for developing the Counter Unmanned Aerial Surveillance Trainer. 

“I want to recognize my leadership for the incredible amount of support that they have shown and my Soldiers who continue to do incredible things in this emerging field of warfare,” said Reeve. 

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