PHOENIX -- National Guard regulations dictate that all Guard personnel - regardless of duty status - must complete a motorcycle safety course in order to ride a motorcycle.

However, with no means to certify riders, how do soldiers meet this requirement'

Three Arizona non-commissioned officers answered this question with a solution.

Motorcycle enthusiasts Master Sgt. Max Hamlin, Sgt. 1st Class Dan Forseth and Sgt. 1st Class Ken Brockman recently facilitated the Arizona Army National Guard Motorcycle Safety Basic Rider Course at the Papago Military Reservation in Phoenix, Dec. 11.

The course is designed to provide an introduction to the fundamentals of safe, responsible motorcycling.

"A lot of soldiers return from deployments like Iraq and Afghanistan and feel invincible," said Hamlin, a military police officer. "They have money saved up and many of them buy motorcycles. This class is a way to reel them back in and get them to focus on safety."

Hamlin, Forseth and Brockman are members of the Bushmaster Riders, a motorcycle riding organization made up primarily of military members from the Arizona National Guard. It was during a ride together that they realized there was a need to educate soldiers and get them into compliance with the regulation.

They pitched the idea of a mentorship program to the Army Assistant Adjutant General and the State Safety Council, and they were off. The National Guard Bureau Safety Office sponsored the three of them as candidates to attend the Motorcycle Safety Foundation Rider Coach Course in Summersville, West Virginia. As Rider Coaches, they can now conduct the required training on post at no cost for the Soldiers of the Arizona National Guard.

The Basic Rider Course is divided into two phases: five hours of classroom instruction and 10 hours of on-motorcycle instruction.

"The course was very informative and helped develop confidence in my riding ability," said Command Sgt. Maj. Patrick Powers, command sergeant major of the 198th Regional Support Group based in Phoenix. "The motorcycle range portion of the class forces the Soldier to perform maneuvers that we normally would not practice in everyday riding. I noticed a big improvement in the riding abilities of all students by the end of the course."

As a leader of troops, Powers knows the importance of instilling a regiment of safety in Soldiers.

"Every measure we can take to mitigate risk to our Soldiers well-being is valuable," Powers said.

Hamlin said this class was a success and that they plan to organize another class later this year.

"The skills and knowledge acquired during this course could save your life," Powers said.

For more information on how to enroll in rider safety programs, contact your installation safety office.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16