Driver’s training improves mission readiness for Infantry battalion

1st Battalion, 149th Infantry Soldiers take part in driver’s training during their annual training, July 30, 2020. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Alan Royalty)

By Sgt. Alan Royalty, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

ARTEMUS, Ky. — Soldiers from India Company, 429th Brigade Sustainment Battalion, the logistical support company for 1st Battalion, 149th Infantry, hosted driver’s training at Harold L. Disney Training Center in Artemus, Ky., July 28-30.

Selected members from all companies within the battalion were invited during their annual training as the 1-149th continues efforts to cross-train Soldier skills amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The driver’s training comprises three phases.

First, Soldiers must complete technical training and pass a written exam. Next, and before they get behind the wheel, they learn to conduct Preventative Maintenance Checks and Services (PMCS) on their vehicle. The last phase puts training to the test as students applied what they learned. Participants practiced day- and night-time driving to simulate a variety of tactical tasks and prepare them for combat or other training missions.

Sgt. Jared Hinkle, master driver instructor with India Company, oversaw the training. Hinkle has conducted driver’s training for more than a year and comes to the Kentucky Guard with a first-responder background. As a civilian, Hinkle is a firefighter and similarly teaches new recruits how to drive fire engines.

“These are not like your normal civilian vehicles,” Hinkle said of the various military vehicles used during training. “They are a lot stronger and a lot heavier. Most of these new Soldiers have not driven anything heavier than their own, personal car or truck.”

The heavy vehicles included the Light Medium Tactical Vehicle (LMTV), High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV; or Humvee), Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck (HEMTT) with Load Handling System (LHS), and HEMTT Fueler truck.

Spc. Jesse Fugate, a mechanic assigned to India Company, 429th Brigade Sustainment Battalion, teaches Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 149th Infantry about preventive maintenance checks and services on a light utility truck at Harold L. Disney Training Center, Artemus, Ky., July 30, 2020. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Alan Royalty)

Pfc. Cheyenne Ramirez, also an instructor with India Company, has a high level of confidence in the instructors and the training provided. Navigating behind the wheel of a large truck can feel intimidating to young Soldiers, so this training builds confidence needed to accomplish their mission.

“A lot of our 88M Soldiers (truck drivers) do this on the civilian side, so we came to this with a lot of combined civilian and military experience,” said Ramirez.

India Company provides logistical support to 1-149th which tactically operates within the 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team from the Virginia Army National Guard. The company measures its effectiveness in the readiness and performance of the units they support.

2nd Lt. Rachel Hardin, platoon leader for India Company, seeks to develop and reinforce value in the Soldiers they train. Those cross-trained on multiple jobs become more versatile and can directly contribute to a wider range of tasks involved in mission readiness.

“Soldiers confident in driving and not afraid to volunteer to move or service a vehicle helps everyone out,” said Hardin. “There’s a lot of Soldiers out there leaning on us for support in a variety of ways. Providing driver’s training is a way we know we are adding value to their training and contributing to future missions, indirectly, and at all echelons.”

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