CAMP KINSER, Okinawa, Japan -- A hungry squad of grunts without ammunition sit in the field waiting for a delivery that is already 30 minutes late. Approximately 200 miles away, a driver and an assistant driver, both clad in flak and Kevlar, climb into a Humvee loaded down with beans and bullets. The driver lets off the emergency break and puts his shellback in gear; the “A-driver” adjusts the passenger-side-mirror and the two hit the hardtop bound for delivery.
In a situation like this, the driver and passenger cannot cut corners to make up for lost time. They are still required to follow the III Maine Expeditionary Force rules and regulations order for tactical vehicles, according to Sgt. Curt Harris, operations chief for Motor Transportation Headquarters Company, Headquarters and Service Battalion, 3rd Force Service Support Group.
“Anytime a driver takes a Humvee or 7-ton off base, they have to wear a flak and helmet and be buckled-up,” said the Newark, N.J., native. “An A-driver must also accompany them and do the same; that’s the rules. If they’re just staying (on paved roads) on base, then they don’t have to wear the gear but still have on the safety belts.”
Harris said an assistant must always accompany the driver. Their purpose is to act as a ground guide to ensure safe parking.
Other tactical vehicle safety regulations include: applying e-brake and putting chock-block under wheels when parked, ensuring load is secure and verifying eight hours of sleep prior to departure.
Drivers and A-drivers are not the only ones subject to the rules of tactical vehicle operation. Passengers in back of tactical vehicles, such as 7-tons, must be seated with flak and Kevlar.
There are some other preliminaries that must be tended to before drivers and passengers are permitted to leave the motor pool.
Drivers must read and fill out an “operational risk management checklist” and “vehicle operator’s mission brief” and then have them signed off by a dispatch noncommissioned officer prior to leaving the motor pool. Both require initials by criteria such as: headlights on during all operations and cargo description and quantity.
“I’m glad we take all the safety precautions we do,” said 19-year-old Lance Cpl. Hector Peraza-Vega, vehicle operator for Motor Transport Hq Co., H &S Bn., 3rd FSSG and Redwood City, Ca., native. “The rules are there to keep the equipment and Marines safe.”