Ramping up for recovery operations
Lt. Col. Aaron L. Dorf,
3rd Bn. (Engineer), 364th Regt., 5th Armored Bde., Div. West:
MCGREGOR RANGE, N.M. – Recovering a rolled tactical vehicle is a complex task, and one that requires formal training using realistic scenarios before deployment in order to build the proficiency necessary to execute it in combat.
As part of their post-mobilization training, every unit assigned as route clearance receives dedicated mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicle recovery training on the route-clearance equipment they will use in theater. During the Fundamentals of Route Clearance training block instructed by 3rd Battalion (Engineer), 364th Regiment (Task Force Rampant), 5th Armored Brigade, Division West, each reserve-component unit conducts a series of drills aimed at developing proficiency on self and assisted recovery operations.
During the training, joint warfighter units receive vehicle familiarization on the RG-31, Buffalo and Husky route-clearance vehicles, and learn how to conduct a thorough set of preventive maintenance checks and services before operating any of the equipment. They are formally instructed how to cage brakes and must demonstrate proficiency before any self or assisted recovery operation. With the brakes caged, the Soldiers conduct tow bar recovery operations using a self-recovery method.
“I like that the instructors didn’t hold our hand through every step,” said Sgt. Cham Rhodes, a mechanic with the 870th Engineer Company, a mobilized unit from the Florida Army National Guard. “They let us figure out how to solve the problem and brought it to a new level in order to accomplish the mission.”
The next series of recovery drills were aimed at employing the company’s field maintenance team. These drills were focused on engaging the qualified recovery specialists on the proper use and employment of the M984 Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck wrecker and M916/M870 tractor and lowboy trailer system.
“[This is] a very, very good class,” said Spc. David Reid, with the 151st Engineer Co. (Sapper), a mobilized unit from the North Carolina Army National Guard. “We definitely need a lot more stick time – recovery operations [are] an important part of our job, and it is imperative that we learn these processes.”
As part of the assisted-recovery mission, the unit’s field maintenance team was tasked to recover a disabled RG-31 MRAP vehicle that had rolled and was lying on its side. The field maintenance team learned how to position the wrecker, hook up chains and use the boom crane to right the vehicle. Once righted, they used the wrecker to tow and load the RG-31 body onto a lowboy trailer and haul it to a simulated maintenance yard at a nearby forward operating base. To accomplish this, Soldiers were instructed on proper winching procedures and how to correctly secure the disabled vehicle, using chains and binders. Additionally, using the M916/870 system provided operators saddle time driving and maneuvering on dirt roads under a heavy load.
“Recovering a battle-damaged vehicle requires practical problem-solving skills,” said Master Sgt. Warner Stadler, the senior recovery trainer with TF Rampant. “Every situation the recovery crew encounters in theater is different.”
As a special trainer from the Texas Army National Guard, Stadler applied lessons from Afghanistan in 2011 to help prepare these deploying joint warfighters.
“The crew first has to look at the damaged equipment, the terrain and the available recovery assets,” said Stadler. “They must consider the available options and select the course of action that shows the most potential for success.”
To ensure realism and maximal training value, trainers present recovery teams with a mission and a scenario and let them figure out how to solve the problem.
“We guide them through the process as needed but usually stand back and observe and only step in if there is a safety issue or risk of equipment damage,” said Capt. Jose Lopez, the lane officer in charge.
“This was one of the most thorough blocks of recovery training that I have received,” said Staff Sgt. Justin Detter, with the 151st Engineer Co. (Sapper). “I was able to train my Soldiers and will be able to increase our recovery speed proficiency and execute more safely.”
Immediately after the FORC training lanes, the engineer companies moved into the field portion of their deployment training and were expected to apply the principles they learned during these drills for the culminating training exercise that replicates their mission in theater.
Short URL: http://fbmonitor.com/?p=14369