Portland Soldiers participate in new MRAP training, prepare for Iraq roads
July 21, 2009
CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait - Soldiers from the Battery A, 2nd Battalion, 218th Field Artillery Regiment, 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team, an Army National Guard unit from Portland Ore., are participating in a special drivers training in Kuwait in advance of the unit's convoy security mission in Iraq.
The training is designed to get the Oregon Soldiers familiarized with vehicles which - due to their pressing need in Iraq and Afghanistan - are not readily available for training in the states.
The training was implemented by the 3d Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) in June and is intended to help reduce vehicle rollovers in Iraq.
"These MRAPs are a new ball-game for all of us," said Sgt. Brandon C. Christopherson, a driver with Btry. A, and a resident of The Dalles, Ore. "Everyone is doing a really good job learning them."
The training is broken into three phases and allows Soldiers to become familiar with the vehicle gradually. The final phase of training takes place on a 22-kilometer stretch of road outside Camp Buehring.
As part of the training, Btry. A is receiving instruction from the 3d ESC noncommissioned officers brought to Kuwait from throughout Iraq. Many of the NCOs conducting the training are in units completing missions very similar to what Soldiers of Btry. A will be doing.
Christopherson said the training is a good opportunity and will result in a smoother transition to the mission than what he experienced on his last deployment.
"It's a big confidence booster," Christopherson said about being able to train with MRAPs.
"I feel pretty comfortable so far with all the instruction they've given us," said Spc. Travis M. Brunner, a driver with Btry. A and a resident of Forest Grove, Ore. "The instructors have a lot of knowledge on it (the MRAP)."
While Brunner said he has experience driving large vehicles, he sees many of his fellow Soldiers benefiting from the training.
Overall, Christopherson said he believes his unit is ready to assume its mission in Iraq.
"We're practicing for the big game right here. Everyone's anticipating it. Everyone's excited," Christopherson said. "This unit is very confident in its abilities."