By Zachary Mott
88th Readiness Division
Preparing for war is a serious business. For the Soldiers of the U.S. Army Reserve’s 459th Transportation Company, that business brought them to the hills of the driver’s training course here, April 30, 2021.
“We are working with initial driver’s training to educate young Soldiers and some of our NCOs on how to maneuver these types of extremely large trucks through this terrain to set them up for what will be a most likely case scenario when transporting this in real life,” said Capt. John Wahman, commander, 459th Trans. Co. “You’re not always going to have perfect roads in a combat environment.”
Most of the Soldiers of the Joliet, Ill.-based 459th Trans. Co. are licensed drivers who need to complete a skills evaluation ride to ensure they are still able to operate the palletized load system trucks and light medium tactical vehicles the unit employs to accomplish its mission.
“At the end of the day the infantry has rifles, we have trucks and our job is to drive and drive well and get equipment to locations safely and effectively. What we’re doing out here today is training for that very mission,” Wahman said.
With COVID training limitations moving to the rearview, the 459th Trans. Co., is preparing for its upcoming annual training exercise here. Ensuring the Soldiers are able to safely accomplish those tasks is a priority for the unit’s senior enlisted leader.
“The most I hope for them to gain is basic operations of each vehicle that they get behind the wheel of as well as incorporate the safety measures that are required, to make sure the senior drivers emphasize that,” said 1st Sgt. Monte Andrews, senior enlisted leader, 459th Trans. Co. “Safety first and to know their vehicles well to be able to detect any kind of anomalies in the sound of the engine, the operation of the crane and the equipment that goes with it.”
For newer Soldiers like Pfc. Jordan Bey, a truck driver with the 459th Trans. Co., this training provided her an opportunity to gain experience and comfortability with the vehicles.
“I think it’s a good training because it shows you what situations you could be in,” Bey said. “You have to watch your speed going up the hills. Some people get timid and not go down a hill. Sometimes you have to brake at certain times.”
Following the adage that tough training makes tougher Soldiers, the off-road obstacle course offered a variety of terrain impediments to challenge the drivers.
“The business of the Army is to go to war, the business of a transportation company is to make sure goods and equipment get to a forward site. By driving on unpaved roads it does give the Soldiers a better feel of the kind of roads and conditions they would be subjected to if we had to go to war or in a warzone,” Andrews said.