JOHNSTON, Iowa — The Iowa Ordnance Training Center at Camp Dodge has received three Joint Light Tactical Vehicles, a new series of military vehicles designed for survivability and tactical mobility.
The first JLTVs were distributed to U.S. Army units in 2016. The IOTC received its first vehicle in January 2023, and two additional vehicles in June 2023.
The IOTC provides hands-on maintenance training for active duty, Reserve and National Guard Soldiers across the country. They offer a variety of sustainment and skill qualification courses, including the seven-week 91B wheeled vehicle mechanic transition course which now includes a dedicated week of instruction on the JLTV.
Sgt. 1st Class Bradley Meyer is an instructor at the IOTC and received operator and maintenance level training on the JLTV at Oshkosh, the vehicle manufacturer in Wisconsin. He then returned to Iowa to train other instructors in preparation for future courses.
“The capability of this truck is far beyond anything that we’ve had,” said Meyer. “It’s fun, it’s exciting to see.”
The introduction of the technologically advanced JLTV into the Army and other U.S. armed forces, including the Marine Corps, is just one indicator of the large-scale modernization efforts taking place throughout the Department of Defense. The vehicle will be operated in addition to the Humvee, or High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle, which the Army has used in training and combat since the 1970s. The Humvee proved to be vulnerable to IED attacks during the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars.
The U.S. Army’s Combat Support and Combat Services Support office said the Humvee is suited for its original purpose as a light utility truck and provides useful payload and mobility, but “was never intended to be a combat vehicle.”
“Adding the protection Soldiers needed [armor] in today’s full-spectrum threat environments to a Humvee substantially degraded its mobility, and in some cases eliminated its payload capacity,” said Scott Davis, a representative of the CS & CSS.
That’s where the JLTV comes in. Weighing in at around 13,800 pounds — depending on configuration — the vehicle sports a futuristic exterior with advanced computer technology integrated throughout its structure that makes it uniquely capable to handle heavy loads and protect service members from outside attacks. The computer systems also allow most troubleshooting to be done inside the vehicle using touch screen displays, streamlining daily maintenance for operators.
“The time of a paper book doesn’t exist anymore,” said Meyer. “We’re to the point where operator level preventative maintenance and troubleshooting is all electronic and integrates into the truck. We can talk to the truck and the truck can talk to us. It’s far more advanced than any other wheeled vehicle in our fleet.”
Meyer represented the IOTC at the Iowa National Guard’s Camp Dodge Summer Concert Series on June 29, where the public had the opportunity to get a close-up look at the new vehicle.
The JLTV’s powerful suspension system, viewpoint cameras, automatic fire extinguisher and heated windshield were just some of the features highlighted as people took turns climbing into the driver’s seat.
Meyer pointed out that as with all new equipment fielded in the military, there will be challenges and learning curves. Teaching Soldiers how to operate a complex, computer-based vehicle like the JLTV will take time. So far, the IOTC has hosted two 91B courses with instruction on the JLTV since acquiring the vehicles this year, and he hopes his students take away one key lesson:
“Seven weeks isn’t long enough to make Soldiers into expert mechanics,” said Meyer. “So, one of the things I really strive to hammer home is you have to be a lifelong learner. My challenge to them is to take the skills that we talked about in class and continue to research, study and practice them.”