By Sgt. 1st Class Alan Moore, 2nd AAB, 1st Inf. Div., USD-CApril 27, 2011
BAGHDAD, April 27, 2011 -- Soldiers with the 299th "Lifeline" Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, United States Division - Center conducted training on the Heavy Equipment Transport Trailer with members of the 9th Iraqi Army Division at Camp Taji, Iraq, from April 11-20, 2011.
Ten Iraqi soldiers of various ranks, selected for their prior performance by Iraqi Army, or IA, Brig. Gen. Mohmmud of the 9th IA Div., attended the class, which was designed as a "train-the-trainer" course, meaning that the students of this course would be expected to be able to pass on their knowledge to other Iraqi soldiers.
The experiences and knowledge base of the students was diverse, with some of them having more than 20 years of driving experience, while others only had a few months of experience.
The first day of training covered the basics, such as the characteristics of the Heavy Equipment Transport Trailer, or HETT, and how it operates. The Lifeline Battalion instructors provided a hands-on demonstration, identifying the vehicle's components and showing how to perform proper preventative maintenance checks and services. Additionally, they reviewed the procedures of how to change tires, lower and raise the spare tire and couple and uncouple the trailer.
With the basics out of the way, the training over the following days consisted of lectures followed by hands-on exercises. The 9th IA Div. soldiers received instructions on how to operate the auxiliary pump unit, use the controls to raise and lower the trailer and manually steer the wheels.
Under the supervision of Staff Sgt. Brandon Curtis, a master driver with the 299th Brigade Support Battalion, the students drove with the trailer on improved and unimproved roads, navigating a course during both day and night hours.
"When it came to hands-on and driving portions, it showed that they were paying attention in class," Curtis said. "They were great students. It's too bad all of them could not receive an award for 'top student' because they all are deserving of it."
Throughout all of the training, the instructors emphasized safety while operating the HETTs. They addressed the hazards related to speed and practiced escape procedures in the event of a rollover accident. The students learned to operate the vehicle in different terrain, such as loose sand.
The final day of training involved the loading and unloading of an M1A2 Abrams Main Battle Tank onto the HETT. Students conducted tie-down procedures and winching operations, successfully completing various scenarios including one that covered moving a disabled tank.
Lt. Col. Dale Farrand and Command Sgt. Maj. Franklin Jordan, the commander and command sergeant major of the 299th Brigade Support Battalion, attended the graduation April 20, 2011.
"Receiving this training on HETTs is a giant step toward the modernization of the Iraqi Army," Farrand said. "Coupled with the training they received on the M1A2 Abrams, they now have the ability to not only employ, but relocate and recover tanks on the battlefield."
Farrand paid tribute to the work ethic and discipline of the 9th IA Div. soldiers who took the course.
"We look forward to the next opportunity to train this group of professionals on a complex piece of equipment," he said. "They are great students, eager to learn."
Curtis was sure that the students would be capable in their new role as teachers.
"I have full confidence that they will do great things when it comes to teaching their soldiers on the HETT system," he said. "If asked to teach (another group of IA soldiers), I would."