Soldiers gain logistical skill for the Army, possible trade skill
Sgt. Erik Thurman,
15th Sustainment Bde. Public Affairs:
A mobile training team from the 593rd Sustainment Brigade, 13th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 21st Cargo Transportation Company, traveled to Fort Bliss from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., to train Soldiers assigned to the 15th Sustainment Brigade to operate the Kalmar Rough Terrain Container Handler, or RT-240, during a course conducted at the Lt. Robert F. Auger Rail Deployment Facility at East Fort Bliss June 18 through 28.
The RT-240 is a tactical vehicle designed to lift and maneuver international standardized shipping containers, which is a common method the Army uses to transport equipment from installation to installation or even overseas to combat zones.
“The reason for the MTT is because the Army is trying to save money,” said Sgt. Edward Depta, a truck driver assigned to the 21st CTC and part of the team of instructors visiting Fort Bliss. “To have the civilian Kalmar instructors come out costs between $10K and $16K.”
Depta said that by the Army utilizing military instructors, it not only saves money but keeps the training focused on a military mindset, which is something only military instructors can do and supports the concept of Army subject-matter experts sharing their knowledge.
Though Soldiers began training in the classroom, their training became hands-on almost immediately. Sgt. Dwaun Brown, an instructor assigned to the 21st CTC, said the maximum lift capacity of the RT-240 is 53,000 pounds, and it is used to transport 20- and 40-foot containers that can contain millions of dollars worth of equipment – anything from medical supplies to ammunition. He said the RT-240 can move containers off railway systems, trucks and aircraft.
“It is a dangerous piece of equipment,” Brown said. “But as long as its handled right – following the proper techniques – they will get really good and be able to make a safe and quick lift while saving time and money by being proficient and efficient.”
Brown said the training is also something Soldiers can take with them after leaving the military. The RT-240 is similar to a piece of equipment often called the Terex Container Handler, which is the most commonly used piece of equipment at international ports where commercial containers are maneuvered.
“[Operators] make big money,” said Brown. “I’m thinking about one day going over there myself.”
“I was surprised because it’s almost as easy as operating a fork lift,” said Spc. Shawn Curtis, a Soldier assigned to the 15th Sustainment Bde. Curtis said he never operated the RT-240 before attending the course. On the first day he and other Soldiers learned to perform safety checks prior to using the vehicle and by the end of the course were using the equipment to load several containers on and off trucks, stacking those containers three high and maneuvering the vehicles across uneven terrain, an ability that sets the RT-240 apart from the Terex.
With Fort Bliss serving as a major power-projection installation in the United States, the need for having the ability to move equipment efficiently is key. Brown said that with the 593rd Sustainment Bde., 13th CSSB and 21st CTC instructors having the chance to travel to Fort Bliss from JBLM to train the 15th Sus. Bde. Soldiers, means that whether equipment is coming in by railhead or by truck, those Soldiers will be prepared to accept the tasks themselves and perform the duties without the added expense of having civilian contractors do it, which saves the Army money.
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