Army Reserve Soldiers beat HEAT, step past first validation exercise

By 1st Lt. Marcus Matthews-Marion | 300th Sustainment Brigade | Sept. 19, 2018

FORT HOOD, Texas — Imagine being locked in a 2-ton box with more than 45 pounds of armor strapped to you. Now imagine that box doing combat rolls down the side of a sheer mountain.

That’s what the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMW) Egress Assistance Training validation the 300th Sustainment Brigade completed Monday at North Fort Hood was intended to simulate.

“It was hot and everyone was disoriented,” Staff Sgt. Jared Alvarado said. “It took a lot of communication because as a TC I had to ensure my team was calm and embraced the suck.”

The HEAT, a machine consisting of a replica HMMWV cab connected to motors that rotate it sideways 360 degrees and upside down 720 degrees, helps Soldiers practice exiting a rolled over vehicle. Soldiers participating in the rollover training wore full protective gear and were secured in a sitting position using seatbelts before the simulation started.

While Soldiers like Alvarado have never had to invoke the training in real life situations, others in the unit have seen in up close and personal. Between 2003 and 2006, more than 132 Soldiers were injured and 116 died in HMMWV rollover accidents during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

It is one of the main reasons the United States Army emphasizes annual training on the behemoth. That is especially so for those scheduled to deploy to areas far from American shores.

“Studies show since the implementation of egress training, gunner injuries have decreased 80 percent,” said Sgt. 1st Class Eric Armel, one of the four validation evaluators. “That’s pretty significant.”

He and his team have validated more than 1,500 active duty, Army Reserve, and National Guard Soldiers since March — a mere six months ago.

“Less injuries results in more Soldiers in the fight,” Armel continued. “More Soldiers mean more support and more rounds down range. More support and more rounds down range mean less bad guys. It’s that simple.”

The 4th Expeditionary Sustainment Command’s 300th SB, in a pre-mobilization stage at Fort Hood, is scheduled to deploy to Southeast Asia in support of U.S. Central Command sometime between mid-October and early December. It is a logistics unit based in Grand Prairie that provides ammunition, food, fuel, water and, other support and features Soldiers from throughout the state and the nation.