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A Marine with Combat Logistics Battalion 2, 2nd Marine Logistics Group backs up a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle during a licensing course aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., April 25, 2012. The week-long course took place at the Motor Vehicle Incidental Drivers School in order to license Marines in the operation of multiple tactical vehicles. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Katherine M. Solano)

Photo by Cpl. Katherine M. Solano

Vehicle licensing expands Marines’ abilities

27 Apr 2012 | Cpl. Katherine M. Solano

Approximately 20 Marines with Combat Logistics Battalion 2, 2nd Marine Logistics Group drove a combined 3,000 miles in multiple tactical vehicles over the course of a week.

The Motor Vehicle Incidental Drivers School was conducted aboard Camp Lejuene, N.C., April 23-27 and covered both day and night training, which gave the Marines the experience and confidence needed to be licensed in the respective vehicles.

During the week they learned the ins and outs of three prevalent Marine Corps vehicles: the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle, the MRAP All-Terrain vehicle and the Humvee.

The student drivers had to pass a vision and a written test before getting behind the wheel.  The instructors deemed them physically and emotionally able to operate tons of pounds of machinery.

“We start from the basics because we get [everyone, including] Marines who have never drove anything before,” said Master Sgt. Nathan Caldwell, the director at MVIDS.  “Then all of a sudden they are jumping in a six-and-a-half ton vehicle and driving it down the street, so our first concern is safety.  If a Marine is not comfortable with the vehicle, then they don’t stay here.”

Caldwell continued by explaining his instructors have his full confidence in determining which of the students are eligible to advance to the driving portion of the course. 

“All of the [instructors] here have deployed once, twice, maybe three times, and they all have combat experience,” the Punta Gorda, Fla., native continued.  “So if those Marines feel as if the [student] does not belong in a vehicle, and it’s a safety issue, then they’re done.  They go home and, [I find] someone else who can drive.”

One of the current students from Transportation Support Company, CLB-2 described some course complexities.

“The MRAP is actually kind of a challenge because there are a lot of blindspots,” said Cpl. Rossivellis Gurung, a radio operator with TS Co.

Another obstacle comes from the military occupational specialities held by many of the students.  Some of them are motor transportation operators and are familiar with the vehicles, and they just took the course to update or increase their license coverage.  The other students, however, come from all specialties, many of which do not involve vehicles.  Driving the huge vehicle is a feat in itself, but learning about what’s under the hood, how to maintain the vehicles, and all of the safety hazards and precautions is all new information to them.

Gurung, a Worcester, Mass., native, said learning all of the new skills and knowledge is challenging but fun, especially when it’s not part of a Marine’s daily duties.

The importance of licensing non-Motor T operators stems from possibilities when a driver may be unable to operate the vehicle anymore and needs another Marine to take over.  The mission comes to an unacceptable halt if no one in the vehicle has a valid license or any sort of behind-the-wheel experience.

Gurung and another student, Cpl. Raffaele Disilvestro, a radio operator with CLB-2, both said they looked forward to getting their licenses in order to be more of an asset on any upcoming deployments or operations.

Disilvestro, originally of Wantagh, N.Y., said it was particularly important for him since he is the radio operator for the battalion commander.  He stated he wanted to be able to help out more and have a more diverse skill set. 

The newly-licensed Marines with CLB-2 are capable of not only doing their jobs well, but are able to get to where the job needs to get done.

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