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Embedded Trainer Teams sharpen rough terrain driving skills

By Cpl. Michael S. Cifuentes, | | February 6, 2008

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There’s not much that can stand in the way of U.S. Marines nowadays.

 Walls, buildings and even complex terrain haven’t been much of a match for Marines lately. In fact, Marines are still honing their field skills to overcome these obstacles more conveniently and effectively.

 From Feb. 1–6, 2008, Marines and sailors with Embedded Trainer Teams conducted training operations in the mountainous terrain of Hawthorne, Nev., and enhanced their driving capabilities in up-armored humvees.

 The teams were trained in driving techniques that allows them to maximize the capabilities of their combat-ready humvees in unforgiving mountainous terrain so they can carry out missions and operations in their upcoming deployment to Afghanistan.

 Keith Whitlow, lead driving instructor with Back Country Driving School, and his group of instructors taught the Marines these vital driving techniques on terrain aboard Hawthorne Army Depot’s training grounds.

 “From what I’m told this area is very similar to the terrain in Afghanistan,” said Whitlow. “We’re showing the Marines how they can maneuver through steep inclines and declines with comfort. They need to know the capabilities of the humvees so they can maintain control of where they’re going during [combat] operations when they’re in Afghanistan’s hills.”

 The teams, made up of Marines and sailors serving with 3rd Marine Division, are training to become military advisors for the Afghan National Army. They’re tasked with mentoring, training and assisting the Afghan soldiers during combat operations so they can become a self-efficient military force.

 “Since we’ll mostly be conducting convoy operations, it’s crucial we learn and understand the capabilities of the vehicle,” said Lt. Col. Anthony Terlizzi, the officer-in-charge of ETT 4-3. “This is the best humvee training we’ve ever received.”

 The lessons included breaking, throttle modulation, maneuvering over rocks, humps, ditches and washes, and steep ascents and descents.

 “We are the best qualified driving instructors for these humvees,” said Whitlow. “We know the machines inside and out. We’re basically teaching the Marines the week points and the strong points of the humvees. Our job is to familiarize them with off-road driving the proper way.”

 Marines spent three days on this training course driving all around Hawthorne’s mountains. At 6,000 feet elevation, they climbed steep hills most four-wheel-drive trucks can’t handle, said Whitlow.

 And, for training purposes, the teams intentionally caused a humvee to get stuck. The instructors taught lessons on vehicle recovery by properly using cables to tow out the humvees.

 “The lessons were very valuable,” said Terlizzi, a native of Melbourne, Australia. “We got a lot of hands-on training and lessons on preventative maintenance. The Marines were really able to learn and understand everything they showed us. I think we’re ready to go.”


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