FORT CARSON, CO – In an effort to enhance driver’s abilities and safety, leaders from the Group Service Support Company, 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne), conducted a Centralized Driver Training course here Nov. 15-19.
The centralized driver’s academy is a program that is conducted by the Group Support Battalion to standardize the driver’s training throughout 10th SFG (A). Soldiers are instructed on basic control of the vehicle, local laws and regulations, as well as tactical driving to include convoy operations.
Upon completion of the in-class instruction, Soldiers are issued a learner’s permit so they can begin the basic skills and operations of a military vehicle. They are then given a graded test in accordance with 21-305-11 Training Circular.
“That’s regulated by the Army on what skills are needed to operate the vehicle safely,” said the Group Support Battalion master driver. “Those skills include: coming to a controlled stop at a high rate of speed, straight line backing to a known distance, making a right-hand turn and concluding with alley backing.”
All tests are conducted without a ground guide; however, each driver was under supervision by an instructor to ensure Soldiers were conducting safe movements.
“Conducting closed-circuit training allows Soldier to get behind the wheel without fear of doing any damage to the equipment and getting a feel of how to handle and drive the vehicle,” the master driver explained. “We needed an open environment where Soldiers are allowed the opportunity to make a mistake if they were to have one.”
Each Soldier is tested on maneuvering the M1151 HMMWV and the M1083 LMTV. Once they have completed the closed-circuit training, they must complete the license exam the following day.
“In that portion, they get in a vehicle with an instructor and drive a six-mile route,” explained the master driver. “There are turns and lane changes and everything else prescribed by the Army that they have to complete. We witness them doing it to ensure they are correct and safe.”
A Soldier must complete the test with a score of 80% to be considered a go. If a Soldier fails to meet the standards, they will be re-trained and then re-tested on that area.
“During the driving test, it’s a good time for the examiner to point out things that the Soldier may be doing wrong,” said the master driver. “We want them to understand what they are doing incorrect and ways to correct it or to do it better.”
Like many courses in the Army, safety is a top priority for the students and the course instructors. The instructors from the GSB stress that to the students throughout the course.
“Safety is the predominant factor throughout all the training,” the master driver said. “The safety regulation is quoted in every class. Anything we do with the vehicle is focused around safety and that’s what the whole program is about.”
In essence, the master driver explained that the course not only helps improve military driving but also their civilian vehicle driving.
“When I am going through the courses, I specifically point out items that will help them with their civilian driving,” he said. “I make the point that anyone can get behind the wheel of a vehicle, but it takes someone with situational awareness of everything going on around them to be a safe driver.”
The centralized driving academy is conducted on a quarterly basis throughout the Group. Soldiers can also be re-trained if needed.
“I’ve been here 18 months and I’ve only seen one accident by a Soldier who has attended this course,” said the master driver. “That same Soldier was in the class again being re-trained.”
The instructor feels that all courses are conducted thoroughly and detailed with information to ensure that Soldiers are performing safe acts while operating civilian or military vehicles.
“We had a tight rein on the command and control,” he said. “No one strayed left or right. We were supervising them and giving them detailed instructions.”