By Lt. Col. Cynthia KingSeptember 3, 2019
FORT BLISS, Texas - Flexibility and mobility are key components to successful military operations. During deployment training to support Operation Spartan Shield, Soldiers who primarily drive the M1 Abrams Main Battle Tank in the 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team have been conducting driver training using the MaxxPro Mine Resistance Ambush Protected (MRAP) and Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV).
On August 31, 2019, U.S. Soldiers, assigned to Bravo Company, 1-252 Armor Regiment, 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team, North Carolina National Guard, held the vehicle familiarization and driver training in areas near Fort Bliss, Texas. The hot dry conditions in the region are similar to what they might experience while deployed to the Middle East.
"While we are primarily a tank unit, this training with the MRAP and JLTV will increase our flexibility and mobility on the missions we conduct," said 1st. Lt. Steven Chelton, platoon leader, 2nd platoon, Bravo Company, 1-252 Armor Regiment, 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team, North Carolina National Guard.
For many of the Soldiers, it was their first time driving the MRAP and JLTV, which was recently fielded as an upgrade to the Humvee.
"I had never driven this vehicle (JLTV) before and I really like it," said U.S. Army Spc. Jamaree Torain, a tank gunner in Bravo Company, 1-252 Armor Regiment. He added it felt similar to driving a Humvee but with more power and easier handling.
U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Matthew Griffin, a tank commander in Bravo Company, 1-252 Armor Regiment, said that he noticed an improvement in the suspension and turning radius in the MaxxPro MRAP from the previous models he's driven. This deployment will be his second, having previously deployed to Iraq.
"It's good not to be predictable in our routes," said U.S. Army Sgt. Daniel Tallen, a tank gunner in Bravo Company, 1-252 Armor Regiment. "Using these vehicles in addition to the M1 tanks provides us more opportunities to get around."
The Soldiers attending the driver training noted that the configurations in the vehicles were similar to commercial vehicles, with components where they expected them to be located. They also shared they appreciated there was air conditioning in the vehicles, which they were not accustomed to while riding in the M1 Abrams tank.
"Morale is high and the Soldiers are enjoying this opportunity to drive these vehicles," said Chelton. "They are looking forward to getting on the ground to begin conducting operations."
The 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team is comprised of Soldiers from the North Carolina, South Carolina, Ohio and West Virginia National Guard.