'Lifeliners' prep Soldiers, vehicles for Afghanistan winter hazards
By Sgt. Sinthia RosarioOctober 31, 2013
BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (Oct. 31, 2013) -- As winter sets in throughout eastern Afghanistan, the cold weather will bring slippery ice covered roads that can put Soldier's driving skills to the test if they are not prepared for these types of conditions.
Task Force Lifeliner Soldiers are taking the steps necessary to prepare for the icy winter ahead by learning how to prepare their colossal vehicles and themselves for the Afghanistan winter. Veteran Task Force Lifeliner mechanics prepared a thorough training curriculum for these drivers, knowing what's right around the corner in the mountainous regions.
"Last deployment my driver encountered some black ice and before he knew it he was already sideways. By the time he actually hit the pavement, that truck had nowhere to go but to roll over," recalled Sgt. Andrew J. Newcomb, mechanic shop foreman for Task Force Lifeliner.
The Soldiers received a class on what to expect; then they learn hands-on how to apply chains to their vehicles. This training is imperative for the Soldier as they continue to execute sustainment and retrograde operation missions, throughout the harsh Afghan winter.
"Handling characteristics are going to change immensely," said Newcomb, a native of Orfordville, Wis. "Everything gets slippery. Everything just does not handle the same."
The highly trained mechanics ensure each driver leaves the training with the confidence and knowledge on how to operate safely in winter conditions.
"The roads, they are already hard enough to drive on as it is, but with the snow it's going to be a lot more treacherous. Keep it smooth, keep it steady and do what I gotta do to keep my guys safe," said Task Force Lifeliner Pvt. Maleke F.M. Seaward, a driver with the command security team.
"I think it's very important safety, safety for everything," Seaward said. "I have a lot of people I have to take care of when I'm driving. Gotta make sure that I'm safe, make sure all my people are safe so we can go home and see our families, daughters, wives, husbands."
Newcomb emphasized the importance for these Soldiers to learn to place the snow tire chains and how to drive in the winter. He said they will eventually encounter these conditions and when they do, they are going to have to react. The conducted training better prepares these Soldiers for the missions ahead when these conditions become there new daily reality.
"The key points I picked up really from these guys to stay safe don't panic, keep everything smooth, slow is smooth, smooth is fast and basically just keep eyes on the road and be very vigilant," said Seaward, a native of Luray, Va.