HELENA – If you think you’ve had a rough day on the job, think about hanging upside down in a five-point harness in an over-turned vehicle.
And you need to get out.
That’s just one of the challenges facing a team of Montana National Guard troops preparing for over-seas deployment.
“You train like you fight,” says Chief Warrant Officer 2 Ryan Schock of Kalispell.
During a training exercise this week, members of the 495th Combat Service Sustainment Battalion were turned upside down and sideways in a mock Mine Resistant Ambush Protect Vehicle (MRAP), mounted on large gimbles.
MRAPs are designed to take a punch and protect the troops inside.
“Today we’re doing roll over training to simulate a roll over,” says CW2 Schock.
“So we’ll be ready few anything like that scenario if it happened like that in-country.”
Groups of soldiers strap themselves into seats with five-point harnesses. After a careful check by Schock, the hatches are shut and the gimbles begin to roll.
The 69 members of the 495the are in the middle of a 21-day training cycle.
“Get them familiar with being in that situation and be able to react to the equipment that’s inside and operate all of it to exit the vehicle,” says Schock.
The troops are preparing to deploy later this year to Central Asia. Their job: Coordinate combat logistics for war fighters on the front.
“All their food, their water, ammunition,” says Captain Dan Bushnell, Commander of the 495th CSSB.
“Anything that they need to continue to sustain a fight.”
Training like this helps these citizen soldiers learn to communicate. Once the mock MRAP comes to rest, the troops are trained to check for a hatch that will open, and then tell the other soldiers where they can exit the vehicle.
They need to work as a team under combat conditions. In this case, getting out of an MRAP that’s either on it’s side or on it’s top, while strapped into their seats.
“And repeat as necessary until they have a muscle memory,” says Captain Bushnell. “Which means they can do it without much thought.”
“If you conduct training that is similar to what you may encounter in a battle field, your response mechanism is better,” says Schock.
The training will intensify as the troops prepare for their pre-deployment mission early this Spring at Fort Hood, Texas.
Captain Bushnell says he’s pleased with how the troops are training is coming together.
“I’m very confident at the end of this they are going to be ready to go.”