By PFC. SHAWN DENHAM, 101st Sustainment Brigade, Fort CampbellMarch 25, 2010
FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. - Turning a flipped vehicle as large as the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected transport is a difficult job for inexperienced mechanics.
So a six-man Mobile Training Team from Fort Jackson's 187th Ordnance Battalion met Soldiers of the 129th Combat Support Sustainment Battalion, 101st Sustainment Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, to teach them how to recover a flipped MRAP.
"There's a general misconception that we can't recover MRAPs. It's the biggest learning curve we have to overcome," said Sgt. 1st Class Douglas Holloway, senior instructor with Fort Jackson's 187th Ordnance Battalion.
The 187th is home to one of three Wheeled Vehicle Recovery Courses in TRADOC. The 12-day course given at Fort Campbell encompassed 84 hours of classroom and hands-on training and mimics what is taught at Fort Jackson.
The concept of the class was simple: Provide a hands-on approach to learning vehicle recovery. Flip an MRAP in a training environment, and then use either a Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck or Medium Tactical Vehicle wrecker to pull it right-side up. Both of these methods were being taught, said Holloway.
Holloway said the training was important because of the safety MRAPs provide Soldiers in combat zones. The rough terrain of Afghanistan and insurgent attacks can stop an MRAP. Their size and weight make the recovery process very difficult, he said.
"We actually train for wheel recovery. We train mechanics on how to recover damaged vehicles and get them back into the fight," Holloway said.
Holloway said the Army wanted to develop a recovery vehicle specifically for the MRAP. The training program teaches Soldiers how to use existing vehicles to recover MRAPs, he said.
The training team hooked cables and chains to multiple stationary points in order to stabilize the flipped MRAP. The Soldiers assisted in the recovery process as the wench on the wrecker lifted the MRAP upright.
Sgt. Maj. Jennifer Love, noncommissioned officer in charge of Support Operations Battalion, 101st Sustainment Brigade, 101st Airborne Division said the Soldiers taking the course would become teachers themselves in their own units.
"This is 'train the trainers.' These things happen in combat and we need to be ready for recovery," she said.
"In civilian terms, we're the Army's version of AAA on the battlefield," said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Cleveland Witherspoon, who is director of the recovery course and head of Fort Jackson's Mobile Training Team.
"We teach an additional skill the average Soldier doesn't learn in Advanced Individual Training. Our main function is to teach the students how to roll the MRAP back over if they're in a combat zone," Witherspoon said.
Witherspoon said this form of training was different than previous methods. This class sent six or seven instructors to different locations to teach multiple students. The old classes brought multiple students to one location. This method is much more effective, he said.