Since I have begun this deployment, I have often commented about the challenges of working with our sister services, specifically the US Army. Today’s debacle revolved around proper licensing to drive the MRAP vehicles. Keep in mind; we have been driving these vehicles for several months now. Before I vent about today’s fiasco, I need to prepare the stage so you can laugh with me.
Initially at Fort Riley we attended 62 days of deployment training to prepare us for our current mission. We were issued armored Humvees and the requirement was to have a state driver’s license. We were given several hours of instruction and then required to drive the vehicle one lap around a grassy field. Later that night, we were issued night-vision goggles and gathered in a room. We were instructed to adjust our goggles and then got inside the Humvees. We drove up into the hills on a paved road. The driving portion lasted approximately 15 minutes. A few days later we got our Army driving licenses listing up-armored Humvees. We were also informed that we would probably drive MRAPs once we got into country, but none were available at the deployment training. Our instructor humored us by showing a PowerPoint presentation with pictures of the various models.
Once in country and in anticipation of being issued MRAPs, we sent several of our teammates to the MRAP course. The instruction consisted of 4 days of classroom instruction, PowerPoint charts to ad-nausea and about 15 minutes of actually driving the vehicle. I was informed that one hour of the course revolved around opening and closing of the hydraulic doors. Talk about job security for contractors who are paid 6 figures to teach this course. Anyhow, my teammates received certification for driving MRAPs.
After a painful wait for our MRAPs, we finally received them. Our ETT team along with most other ETT teams was ranked on the bottom of the priority list. Understandably priority went to the kinetic forces like the Marines, but other teams were given MRAPs and their missions never left the hard road. Meanwhile my team is driving through perilous dirt mountain roads in the middle of nowhere.
After being issued our MRAPs we were informed we couldn’t drive them anymore because we didn’t have the proper model of MRAP on our Army license. My response, “Are you serious?” For the most part the MRAP models are very similar with some minor differences. It’s like being told you can drive a Ford pick-up truck, but you aren’t qualified to drive a Chevy or a Dodge unless you go through additional instruction. It doesn’t matter you have been driving them all along. You are still required to attend another boring course and then demonstrate for 15 minutes you can drive another MRAP model.
Since my team is not one for willfully disobeying the rules, we made half a dozen phone calls to find a certified trainer for our type of MRAP. We will have to wait until the end of the month because the trainers are all being trained on the new M-ATV MRAP. I wonder will the Marines actually send their people to BAF to get qualified and certified on this new model. I doubt it, but for now my team will have to attend this training. We have one more problem to resolve. Since they don’t have this model readily available, I guess we will drive them to BAF so they can teach us how to drive them.
Our ETT Team leader departed today for a conference and in a few days will be basking in the warm temperatures in Florida for his 2-week vacation. In the interim, the Captain and I have the ship. Oh wait a minute, isn’t that a Navy term. I will have to be “re-blued” with the Air Force when I finish this deployment. I have injected Army, Marine, and Navy terminology into my vernacular. My peers will think I have gone off the deep end. “Roger, on vics at 0600 hrs. PMCS the vics, perform your PCCs and PCIs and then SP at 0700 hrs. Turn Dukes to run, let’s Oscar Mike.”
This afternoon while visiting the brigade office, I saw a cat sitting in a chair. Somehow he got inside the building and made itself at home. Some of the guys joked about it being the new XO.
Lastly, I made time to hang the dartboard today. The garrison commander likes to throw darts and he assisted me. Special thanks to Mrs Jan Erwin and her husband for sending this gift. It will be enjoyed by all the military personnel and contractors at the camp.