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NEWS | Sept. 17, 2018

Vehicle operators learn to steer the next generation of drivers

By Sgt. 1st Class Jason Proseus 416th Theater Engineer Command

Soldiers from across the 416th Theater Engineer Command attended the Master Driver Train the Trainer course at Fort Knox, Kentucky, in an effort to make sure the Soldiers are properly trained and licensed to operate the heavy machinery in its inventory.

The decision to hold an unscheduled weeklong “train the Trainer” class came after a tragic Class “A” accident occured this past summer. According to the TEC safety office, this was the first on-duty accident that resulted in a death in over a decade.

The isolated incident that shook the 416th involved two Military Tactical Vehicles (MTV), wheeled vehicles classified as either a 2.5 ton or 5 ton based on their load capacity, and configured in many different ways to accommodate a mission.

“It’s a heavy piece of equipment. It weighs almost 21,000 pounds empty. It’s got right around 300 horse power. It can do a lot of damage.” Said Staff Sgt. Matthew Fisher, from the 304th Engineer Company, Lima Ohio.

The purpose of the class is to teach Soldiers the proper operating techniques, and how to do so with safety in mind. 

“It’s setting up a stronger foundation for them. To go back, and actually teach and observe and see what is wrong. So, we can get it fixed.” Explained Sgt. 1st Class Robert McKoy, a senior driver instructor from Detachment 1, 6th Battalion, 100th Regiment, 94th Training Division, Fort Knox.

The 416th TEC is an engineer unit, which has many massive pieces of equipment in its inventory. A Soldier could operate anything between a Humvee, a popular light-wheeled vehicle with a load capacity of one and a quarter ton (2,500 lbs.); all the way to a Light Equipment Transporter (LET) capable of hauling up to 113,000 lbs. with a loaded trailer. The LET, with trailer, can reach up to 100 feet long.

“A lot of Soldiers are intimidated by the larger pieces of equipment. They’re scared of it, and they don’t pay attention when they are intimidated. But, I think there needs to be a lot of focus on the initial operation of a piece of equipment, and they need to feel comfortable when they get into that piece of equipment,” said Sgt. 1st Class Steven Greene a senior driving instructor, Detachment 1, 6th Battalion 100th Regiment, 94th Training Division, Fort Knox.

The students aren’t new to operating equipment. They must have a military drivers license, be an experienced operator, and have been designated by their commander to take this class. They will take what they have learned, and use it to train their Soldiers to operate equipment.

“Basically, showing that, even with a noncommissioned officer in the passenger seat, they’ve continually shown they’ve got the abilities and capabilities to handle that vehicle properly, and they know the vehicle front to back, it shows more than anything.” said Sgt. Edward Lovan, a mechanic from the 688th Engineer Company, Harrison, Arkansas, who will take what his new experience back with him.

The main purpose of the class is to ensure each student knows what right looks like, and how to make sure their operators are doing the right thing.

“NCOs should be out there on the line, making sure everything is done correctly,” McKoy said.