Soldier earns ‘Ace of Syria’ nickname after downing 6 drones

Spc. Dylan Green recently took an air defense course at Fort Drum, New York.
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Spc. Dylan Green, 10th Mountain Division air defense and nighthawk operator, earned the nickname "Ace of Syria" for shooting down six drones attacking the forward operating base in Syria he was assigned to defend. Air Force photo by Photo by Tech. Sgt. Christopher Jacobs, Army Photo by Staff Sgt. Jeff Daniel.

A 10th Mountain Division soldier earned the nickname “Ace of Syria” after shooting down six drones during attacks a forward operating base he was assigned to defend in the northeastern part of the country.

Army Spc. Dylan Green, an infantryman with the 10th Mountain’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team, earned the “ace” moniker after his fifth confirmed kill of a one-way drone, according to an Army press release.

“The sergeant major told me that I had five kills and said I was an ace,” said Green, at a forward operating base in northeastern Syria.

Green, a forward area air defense and nighthawk operator, said he had “no idea what to expect” when he got to Syria. He had attended an air defense course at Fort Drum which included practice and real-world simulations with drone equipment. The Houston Texas native was chosen by his unit leadership to attend Fort Drum’s air defense course despite his only three years in the Army and no deployments.

Green was assigned to the Combined Special Operations Joint Task Force – Levant, according to the Army. He was awarded an Army Achievement Medal with “C” Device in December by Commander of U.S. Central Command, Gen. Michael Kurilla.

U.S. Army Gen. Michael Kurilla, commander of the U.S. Central Command, presents an Army Achievement Medal with “C” Device to Spc. Dylan A. Green, a forward area air defense and nighthawk operator on Dec. 14, 2023. Green was awarded the ARCAM for shooting down six drones. Photo by U.S. Army Reserve Jeffrey Daniel.

“I fell back on my training and all the practice,” Green said. “If you just do the right thing and stick to your training, then you can grow a lot.”

Green received more training once he arrived in northeastern Syria “to counter specific threats in the area,” according to the release.

Soldiers like Green assigned to posts in Syria have found themselves on the cutting edge of anti-drone fights since last October. A drone strike that month resulted in close to 20 cases of Traumatic Brain Injuries among Americans at Al Asad Air Base in Iraq and a base on the Jordan-Syria border known as Tower 22. Another Iraq attack at al-Harir airbase in Erbil left a pilot with the 82nd Airborne critically injured with catastrophic injuries.
The Pentagon has confirmed over 100 subsequent drone attacks on U.S. troops in the region, including one on Jan. 28 which killed three National Guard soldiers at an American base known as Tower 22 in northeast Jordan. The installation is near the Al Tanf garrison which sits just across the border in Syria, where other U.S. troops are based.

The U.S. military has been slowly building up its training and education on drone systems and methods to counter them following the proliferation of drones on the battlefield in the Ukraine-Russia war and attacks on U.S. troops in the Red Sea. Since November, U.S. Navy assets in the Middle East have been fighting off Uncrewed Aerial Systems, UAS, from Iranian-backed militias almost weekly. In March, American, British and French forces shot down 28 one-way attack drones launched by Houthi forces from Yemen. 

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The Army has added electronic warfare training to some of the earliest lessons in recruit training and soldiers from the 82nd Airborne are even dropping munitions from drones, taking a page right out of lessons learned from Ukraine.

On Monday, the Pentagon shot down another drone near the al-Tanf base but on the Syria side “out of an abundance of caution.”

The Army is also investing in commercially made anti-drone systems like the Coyote munitions, “a ground-launched, radar-guided interceptor, with kinetic and non-kinetic variants, that integrates into fixed site-low, slow, small-unmanned aircraft system integrated defeat systems and mobile-slow, small-unmanned aircraft system integrated defeat systems.”

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