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The Army Driver and Operator Standardization Program: Meeting the New Requirements

The Army Driver and Operator Standardization Program: Meeting the New Requirements

The Army Driver and Operator Standardization Program

 

WALT BECKMAN
Directorate of Assessments and Prevention
Ground Division
U.S. Army Combat Readiness Center
Fort Rucker, Alabama

 

The Army completed an extensive rewrite of Army Regulation (AR) 600-55 and released it in September 2019. It was chock-full of changes. This article focuses on a few of the key changes to the driver or operator training program. Most importantly, AR 600-55 now requires a master driver manager at the brigade level, a master driver at the battalion level and a license instructor/license examiner at the company level. It clearly defines the role and responsibilities of each noncommissioned officer (NCO) involved in the driver selection, training, testing and licensing process. It also clarifies the training requirements for some of the nonstandard or commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) items in the Army inventory.

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 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. License instructors will use training materials and tools developed and/or approved by TRADOC. These tools include training circulars (TCs) available at https://armypubs.army.mil/default.aspx; training support packages available at https://rdl.train.army.mil; computer-based training devices, simulators and the other materials made available through the Unit Training Assistance Program at https://utap.army.mil/home.aspx.

Driver/operator training includes all vehicle systems to include the COTS items frequently purchased for nonstandard missions. These vehicles include, but are not limited to, M-Gators, the side-by-side MRZR, the MULE, ATVs and tactical motorcycles. Commands that procure COTS items must develop internal training and certification programs to promote safety and operator proficiency. COTS items include any nonstandard mechanical or ground support items defined in paragraph 7-1 of AR 600-55, civilian trailers and civilian all-terrain-type vehicles. Training programs will be developed using the equipment operating instructions and the manufacturer’s operator’s manual.

Training programs for COTS items include —

  1. Introduction to equipment characteristics, limitations, operation, safety and operator’s manual instructions.
  2. Successful completion of a written exam prior to issuance of a learner’s permit.
  3. Hands-on training, to include maintenance and operation in a range of conditions.
  4. A training validation/performance road test that includes a preventive maintenance checks and services hands-on test, vehicle control test, and training validation/performance road test.

Some key benefits to the changes in AR 600-55 include:

  • Streamlined and scalable to any Army organization (TOE or TDA)
  • Clarifies roles and responsibilities
  • Aligns master driver responsibility with the S3/operations section
  • Empowers commanders to select the best NCOs
  • Assists commanders with visualizing their organization’s training glide path
  • Framework makes the license process crystal clear
  • Reduces likeliness of falsified licenses by removing the single source of failure
  • Removes strain off the master driver by decentralizing training and empowering NCOs to instruct and examine operators at the company level
Conclusion

As indicated, the changes to AR 600-55 were extensive, so pull it off the shelf and make sure you are working on meeting the new requirements. Driver selection and operator training, testing and proper licensing are instrumental for the safety of our Soldiers and the success of the Army mission.

 

 

  • 17 March 2021
  • Author: USACRC Editor
  • Number of views: 15404
  • Comments: 0
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