CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq – -- The Marines of Truck Company, I Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group, learned the challenges of using a heavier vehicle, when they took the up-armored humvee (UAH) through a rough terrain obstacle course here.
During the course, some Marines found out that staying under 25 miles per hour was never so easy - otherwise they would have flipped, rolled, crashed or been unable to avoid some other type of disaster.
“The purpose of this course is to familiarize Marines with driving the UAH on rough terrain,” said Master Sgt. Mario J. Marin, operations chief, Truck Company.
In order to pass through the course with personnel and vehicle intact, the operator of the vehicle must be familiar with the capabilities of the UAH and the way it reacts to inclines, declines, sharp turns, and obstacles.
The obstacle course familiarizes the driver with the vehicle, and prepares him for the next two portions of the course.
“We are utilizing the crawl-walk-run ethos in this familiarization course,” said Marin.
The crawling portion of the test is the obstacle course, which consists of obstacles that range from tiny bumps to the formidable “Mount Suribachi,”- a 25-foot-tall hill with a steep decline.
“The young Marines aren’t going to know what to do when they get to an obstacle, and that’s what this course is for,” Marin said. “Of course, we’ll have another Marine in the humvee who does.”
The walking portion is a half-mile track where service members can practice immediate action drills, what to do if there is an improvised explosive device attack, or setting up security perimeters when a convoy must stop.
This is a big part of the course, since every Marine needs to know the immediate action drills, not just operators, and not just motor transport, Marin said.
The final portion of the course is a two-and-a-half-mile road that runs along the east wall of the camp where immediate action drills and basic convoy tactics are practiced.
The last two portions of the test can be run at night to practice convoys with night-vision goggles, but the obstacle course would be too dangerous to go through in the dark, Marin said.
The night runs are especially important, since most convoys take place during the night, Marin said.
Marin said that it was just as important for those who do not drive the UAH often to come and drive through the course, because “you never know when you’ll have to operate a vehicle under rough circumstances.”
Lance Cpl. Joseph A. Garcia, a motor transport operator for Truck Company, ran through the obstacle course twice and had a great time as he learned the traits of the UAH.
“(The course) is pretty fun. Normally you don’t do this outside the wire, and it familiarized me with the UAH, rough terrain, mud pits, and tight places,” Garcia said.
Garcia said anybody who drives a humvee or might drive one in the future should have to take this course, he said.
“You could run into any of these problems outside the wire, and then you’d be in trouble,” Garcia said.
Col. George H. Bristol, commanding officer, I Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group, also rode through the obstacle course and was impressed by the amount of training it quickly gives Marines.
“We need to train for mobility, and the UAH is our vehicle of movement,” Bristol said. “We can’t do too much of this type of training. Running Marines through this is going to save lives, but most importantly, we’re going to accomplish missions.”