years of distinguished service to our nation. His first assignment
was in England at Royal Air Force Base at Bentwaters. He flew
the A- 10 Warthog in what was, at the time, the largest fighter
wing of the United States Air Force.
He travelled throughout Europe and was deployed on a
permanent basis to Kunsan Air Base in South Korea twice
over seven years, including a stint as wing commander.
Sargeant would return to the Korean peninsula numerous times
throughout his career.
During Operation Desert Shield/Storm, North Korea’s “Great
Leader,” Kim Il-sung, was thumping his chest and rattling his
saber, and Sargeant was the operations officer in one of only
two operational F- 16 squadrons in South Korea (Osan AFB) at
Sargeant would also serve as
the Deputy Chief of Staff for
the United Nations Command
and U.S. Forces Korea at Yongsan
Army Garrison, South Korea.
More recently, he deployed
briefly in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (aka,
Afghanistan) and became the first Air Force general officer
deployed on the ground in Iraq during an 18-month tour in
Sargeant’s impressive military career spanned more than
three decades, and he answered our nation’s call during some
of the most profound affairs of the late 20th and early 21st
centuries. Our discussions also yielded fascinating insights on
the future of aerial warfare.
Asked about the expanding role of unmanned aerial vehicles, Sargeant noted that UAV have already replaced manned
aircraft in many of the traditional reconnaissance, surveillance, and intelligence missions. However, he was quick to
point out that these unmanned aerial vehicles are still flown
and maintained by people from the ground. (The Air Force
generally prefers the term “Unmanned Aerial Vehicles”, or
UAV, over “drones” because the latter doesn’t do justice to the
vital human element.)
In June of 2012, Sargeant retired from the U.S. Air Force
with the rank of Major General and used his extensive leadership experience to become the Chief Executive Officer of
Marvin Test Solutions (MTS) and Vice President for Strategic
Development for The Marvin Group.
In that role, Sargeant focuses
on modernizing armament test
equipment for legacy aircraft
(like the F- 22) and ensuring the
Joint Strike Fighter is ready for
operational test and evaluation.
But for all his success in the private sector, Sargeant has
never forgot his service to our nation. The former General
reflected back on his military career:
“The thing I liked most was meeting challenging missions
with outstanding people. There was an ever-present positive
attitude. The level of responsibility for the people and the
mission, and the friendships you make in service, go hand in
Tom Freund, ECN Reader
1) What role will unmanned aerial systems
play in America’s future warfighting arsenal?
UAS will gradually deploy in incremental
levels of autonomy, performing either:
(a) single-unit, long-endurance missions
with or without remote-control center
coordination, or b) multiple-unit, coordinated operations with or
without manned aircraft
The key here is deploying a long-term, evolutionary, ongoing
program focused on achieving verifiable application of autono-
mous functions and effective sensor packages.
2) Will UAS ever completely replace manned aircraft?
No. Although more autonomous functions will be gradually
deployed in UAS, manned aircraft will always play a key role in
providing coordination and support to UAS.
It was a wonderful opportunity to go lead and
learn about the other warfighting communities
beyond the ones I had flown in.
The key here is deploying a long-term, evolu-
tionary, ongoing program focused on achieving
verifiable application of autonomous functions
and effective sensor packages.