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Training Our Drivers to Standard

Training Our Drivers to Standard

Training Our Drivers to Standard

 

CHIEF WARRANT OFFICER 5 KENT SHEPHERD
101st Airborne Division, Air Assault
Fort Campbell, Kentucky

 

I was an 18-year-old private when I arrived at my first duty station at Camp Casey, South Korea. Shortly after reporting, my leadership sent me to the 40-hour driver training course managed by the installation. Several days after completing the first phase of the course, I learned my unit was about to depart on a training exercise. I also discovered we had a severe shortage of licensed operators.

In response to that shortage, my section leader brought me to the company master driver to complete the second phase of my licensing process. As we walked up to the gate of the motor pool, the weathered NCO looked at me and asked, “Well, can you drive?” My response was typical of an 18-year-old kid: “Of course I can drive, sergeant!” I couldn’t think of any other answer. After all, my first car was a 1968 Chrysler Newport, so I was accustomed to driving a “tank.” I had also just graduated advanced individual training at the top of my class, so I felt like I could conquer the world.

With a few quick swipes of his Skilcraft pen on my DA Form 348, I was licensed on the M998 HMMWV, M923 5-ton truck, M113A3 Armored Personnel Carrier and M88A1 Recovery Vehicle. The only vehicle in this group I was actually proficient with was the M88A1 because I spent two weeks driving it during the ASI-H8 recovery school at Fort Knox, Kentucky. I had no clue how to operate the rest of the vehicles, but my license clearly stated I was certified to the Army standard.

I am sure many of you reading this have witnessed similar experiences and can relate to how quickly Soldiers are licensed when there is an urgent training event or deployment. This was my first impression of the Army’s Driver Training Program; and throughout my 20-plus-year career, I have heard and seen similar abuses of the licensing process.

Over the years, I have spoken with Soldiers and leaders that told me how the qualifications on their DA Form 348 were pencil-whipped or falsified. These falsified licenses often occurred during a deployment or early in their careers and followed them to their next duty station. Unknown to leaders, Soldiers often report to their new unit with a DA Form 348 that states they are licensed according to the Army standard. However, the reality was quite different.

Proper licensing of drivers and operators is a time-consuming and challenging process that requires deliberate coordination prior to execution. Commanders at the brigade and battalion level must ensure that competent NCOs are appointed as the master driver within their organization. Company commanders must appoint a sufficient number of license instructors and license examiners to execute and certify training. Based on recent changes to Army Regulation (AR) 600-55, the following roles apply to the individuals that will manage driver and operator training programs:

Master driver manager

The master driver manager is an NCO in the rank of sergeant first class (or comparable civilian) that is the primary adviser to the brigade commander or civilian director (GS-15) for all facets of operator training. The master driver manager is the most experienced individual in the organization when it comes to operator training and licensing and is responsible for overseeing, validating and inspecting the licensing programs of subordinate organizations.

The master driver manager must —

  1. Be a graduate of the master driver course. This is a resident course instructed by the U.S. Army Transportation School at Fort Lee, Virginia, as well as U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC)-certified mobile training teams.
  2. Be certified by the commander (or director) and appointed in writing.
  3. Be assigned to a brigade staff in the operations/S3 section (directors of civilian organizations will determine the best individual to fill this role).
  4. Be a licensed operator. However, the master driver manager is a program manager for subordinate organizations and does not necessarily need to be licensed on all equipment in the organization.
Master driver

The master driver is an NCO in the rank of staff sergeant or above (or comparable civilian). The master driver is the primary adviser to the battalion commander or civilian division chief (GS-14 and above) and is responsible for licensing and training program execution. Duties include the facilitation of training by ensuring resources are coordinated, such as classrooms, driving facilities, road courses and simulators (where applicable), and the scheduling of required license instructors and license examiners to assist with Phase I training execution. The master driver provides quality assurance for Phase II and Phase III operator training programs and ensures all training and licensing is accomplished in accordance with AR 600-55.

The master driver must —

  1. Be a graduate of the master driver course. This course is instructed by the U.S. Army Transportation School and TRADOC-certified mobile training teams.
  2. Be certified by the commander (or division chief) and appointed in writing.
  3. Be assigned to the battalion staff in the operations/S3 section (directors of civilian organizations will determine the best individual to fill this role).
  4. Be a licensed operator. However, the master driver is a program manager and does not necessarily need to be licensed on all equipment in the organization.
  5. Coach, train and mentor all prospective license instructors and license examiners on operator selection, training, testing and licensing procedures.
License instructor

The license instructor is a vehicle or equipment subject matter expert (SME) who has been selected and appointed by the company commander or civilian branch chief to train prospective operators. License instructors are responsible for conducting Phase II equipment training, to include the classroom equipment introduction, and all hands-on training. Selecting the best license instructors available to conduct hands-on performance-oriented training is essential. Appendix F of AR 600-55 has an outline to assist in selecting license instructors and license examiners.

License instructors must —

  1. Be appointed in writing to train or instruct on an authorized type of vehicle or equipment.
  2. Successfully complete the license instructor and examiner distance learning course on the Army Learning Management System.
  3. Be an NCO (or comparable civilian). Exceptions to this requirement apply when a military occupational specialty (MOS)-trained enlisted Soldier is an SME on a piece of equipment. For instance, an E4/specialist 91C utilities equipment repairer may be the best-qualified individual to train operators on power generation equipment.
  4. Be licensed to operate the vehicle or equipment.
  5. Have technical knowledge and experience as outlined in Appendix F of AR 600-55.
  6. Be assigned to the organization that is conducting the training. Exceptions to this requirement only apply when an organization lacks subject matter expertise or during new equipment training (NET) and new equipment fielding.
License examiner

The license examiner is a vehicle or equipment SME who has been selected and appointed by the company commander or civilian branch chief to conduct examinations on prospective operators. License examiners are required to administer the Phase I: Initial Operator Training exam, Phase II: Equipment Training exam and the Phase III: Training Validation/Performance Road Test exam.

License examiners must ––

  1. Be appointed in writing as a license examiner for specific types of vehicles or equipment.
  2. Be an NCO (or comparable civilian).
  3. Have technical knowledge and experience as outlined in Appendix F of AR 600-55.
  4. Successfully complete the license instructor and examiner distance learning course on the Army Learning Management System.

Individuals may be appointed by the commander to be both a license instructor and license examiner. However, when feasible, the license examiner that administers written exams and road tests should not be the same individual that instructed the classroom or hands-on training. The practice of having different personnel administer examinations and road tests is to ensure training is completed to standard without bias.

Conclusion

Improper Soldier training and licensing is often overlooked until there is a mishap. Engaged leaders should understand driver training is imperative for Soldier safety, preserves the nation’s investment in our combat and tactical vehicles, and facilitates long-term mission accomplishment. Army vehicles are growing increasingly complex, and leaders have the express responsibility to ensure we have done everything possible to train our Soldiers to standard before issuing a license.

 

 

  • 28 March 2021
  • Author: USACRC Editor
  • Number of views: 1235
  • Comments: 0
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