By T. Anthony BellDecember 18, 2013
FORT LEE, Va. (Dec. 18, 2013) -- The Ordnance School is continuing to fulfill the training requirements of Soldiers deployed in combat environments.
Providing training on the Army's newest recovery vehicle -- the Modular Catastrophic Recovery System -- is its latest effort to prepare Soldiers for tasks and missions they are likely to encounter in the field.
The Modular Catastrophic Recovery System, or MCRS, which is currently fielded only in Afghanistan, is a multi-component recovery system that has been used in Southwest Asia for several years. The Ordnance School implemented the MCRS module into the H8 Recovery Specialist Course, a three-week Additional Skill Identifier course, in October of 2012.
Gary Winter, chief of the Recovery Division in the school's Track, Metalworking and Recovery Department, said the course has trained roughly 400 students on the MCRS thus far, and he is enthusiastic about its training value.
"I feel the Soldiers who have trained on it can be combat multipliers for the combatant commander out there," said the former Soldier. "It's basically three systems combined into one. In my opinion, it (the MCRS) makes the job easier for Soldiers who are recovering damaged or catastrophically damaged vehicles when compared to traditional wreckers."
MCRS is comprised of a M983A4 Light Equipment Transporter, Fifth Wheel Towing and Recovery Device and Tilt Deck Recovery Trailer. It can recover and tow a variety of wheeled vehicles in a variety of situations, said Adam Jenkins, senior instructor.
"The strength of the system is its versatility," he said. "The fact is that it can tow many vehicles that others can't. It's not going to replace a wrecker, but it is an awesome recovery trailer that we can use as an asset to complement our existing wreckers (the M984 and M1089)."
MCRS was originally developed as a Stryker recovery vehicle. Its trailer can hold 35 tons, giving it the capability to handle many of the mine-resistant armor-protected vehicles, known as MRAPs, that are relatively new to the Army's vehicle inventory.
Because the armored wheeled vehicles play important roles in Afghanistan from a strategic standpoint, hands-on training with them is imperative during the course of study, which is weighted heavily around several scenarios, said Sgt. 1st Class Nelson Walker, an instructor/writer.
"The scenarios we use for the MCRS provide a full range of recovery capabilities for all wheeled vehicles to include both MRAP and Stryker," he said. "They include operating the Tilt Deck Recovery Trailer, sledding a catastrophically damaged vehicle onto the Tilt Deck Recovery Trailer and performing a 90-degree pull with the Fifth Wheel Towing and Recovery Device."
During a training day last week, teams of Soldiers endured cold, wet weather to arduously perform a myriad of tasks to secure a "catastrophic" MRAP (RG33) vehicle. Winter said students are generally enthusiastic about the training.
"When they come to MCRS training, they are very highly motivated," he said. "They want to be out in the field hands-on and don't want to be in the classroom. On the end of course surveys, they always ask for more time in the field and on that vehicle because they feel like they don't get enough time."
Those who have previously operated the vehicle and later receive training at the school are grateful, said Sgt. 1st Class John Durousseau, chief instructor.
"Those who are coming back from the theater appreciate the training they are getting here because there are a few things they didn't grasp until they got here," he said. "At the schoolhouse, all the processes are worked out by the book. We are honing their skills here and they are returning to theater using the equipment to its full capacity."
MCRS is currently being added to the unit equipment rolls, but has not been fielded Army-wide, said Winter. He added no dates have been announced for when a service-wide rollout is likely to occur. In the meantime, the course is set to graduate 300-500 students during the next fiscal year.