In September 2018, the U.S. Army announced the 4th Infantry Division's 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team would convert from a light infantry brigade to a Stryker brigade, starting in 2020.
As part of the start of the "WarHorse" brigade's transition, master drivers throughout the brigade completed a "train the trainer" Stryker Drivers Course Jan. 21-31, 2020, which was hosted by the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Inf. Div.
A master driver at a brigade- or battalion-level, according to the Army Driver and Operator Standardization Program regulation, "is the most experienced individual in the organization when it comes to operator training and is responsible for overseeing, validating and inspecting the training and licensing program for their organizations."
Master drivers from the 1st SBCT imparted their knowledge of the Stryker combat vehicle to the master drivers of 2nd IBCT during the course.
"Our mission here is to make sure the master drivers throughout (2nd IBCT) battalions are familiarized with the operations of the vehicle and understand how to work them properly," said Staff Sgt. Patrick M. Feeney, master driver 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, 1st SBCT. "We want to make sure they understand as much as they can so these master drivers can teach Soldiers from their battalions how to safely operate and maintain the vehicles."
The transition brought new challenges for the master drivers of 2nd IBCT, having to switch from High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles - more commonly known as Humvees - to Strykers.
"I think the biggest thing I learned is how the roles and responsibilities of the driver and truck commander (TC) have changed," said Sgt. Andrew Gonzalez, master driver, Charlie Company, 704th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd IBCT. "When you're driving (a Stryker), the visibility is lower so you have to depend on your TC a lot more."
To ensure Soldiers from 2nd IBCT understand how to overcome the challenges of operating a new vehicle, the 1st SBCT Soldiers stressed safety and maintenance during the course.
"You have to really pay attention to (the vehicles) during maintenance because there are a lot of moving pieces and these vehicles can break down fast and stop the mission," said Feeney. "These vehicles aren't top heavy or prone to rolling, but they can roll a lot easier than people think, so being safe is crucial."
Feeney added that the brigade collaboration would make the training successful.
"Teamwork between the brigades ... is very important because we can pass off our lessons learned to one another," he explained. "Some of us have taken these Strykers to multiple field training exercises so we know the capabilities and limitations of these vehicles."
Learning from another brigade was the best part, said Gonzalez.
"It's been great working with the (1SBCT) guys," he said.
"We know these guys have gone through training cycles with these vehicles and they are able to give us pointers, not solely on the
operations of the vehicle, but also on ... load plans and what to expect in certain terrain - (things) a manual can't tell you."
Throughout the course, the 2nd IBCT master drivers learned the ins and outs of the Stryker combat vehicle, and were licensed and certified to go back to their respective battalions - to teach and license future Stryker drivers.
"Everyone did a great job during the course and were keen about learning," said Feeney. "They are all very maintenance-focused and safety-driven, so I think they are going to do great and have a smooth conversion."