Blog > September 2020

Driver Training Improves Readiness for Infantry Battalion

Driver Training Improves Readiness for Infantry Battalion

SPC Jesse Fugate, a mechanic assigned to India Company, 429th Brigade Sustainment Battalion, teaches Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 149th Infantry, about preventive maintenance checks and services on a light utility truck at Harold L. Disney Training Center, Artemus, Kentucky, on July 30, 2020.
(Photo by SGT Alan Royalty.)

ARTEMUS, Kentucky – Army National Guard Soldiers from India Company, 429th Brigade Sustainment Battalion, the logistical support company for 1st Battalion, 149th Infantry, hosted driver training at Harold L. Disney Training Center July 28-30.

Selected members from all Kentucky National Guard companies within the battalion were invited during their annual training as the 1-149th continues to cross-train Soldier skills amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The driver training comprises three phases. First, Soldiers must complete technical training and pass a written exam. Next, and before they get behind the wheel, they learn to conduct preventive maintenance checks and services on their vehicles. In the last phase, students apply what they learned. Participants practice day- and night-time driving to simulate a variety of tactical tasks and prepare them for combat or other training missions.

Sergeant (SGT) Jared Hinkle, master driver instructor with India Company, oversaw the training. SGT Hinkle has conducted driver training for more than a year and comes to the Kentucky Guard with a first-responder background. As a civilian, SGT Hinkle is a firefighter and teaches recruits how to drive fire engines.

“These are not like your normal civilian vehicles,” SGT Hinkle says of the various military vehicles used during training. “They are a lot stronger and a lot heavier. Most of these new Soldiers have not driven anything heavier than their own personal car or truck.”

The heavy vehicles included the Light Medium Tactical Vehicle (LMTV), High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV, or Humvee), Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck (HEMTT) with Load Handling System (LHS), and HEMTT Fueler truck.

Private First Class (PFC) Cheyenne Ramirez, also an instructor with India Company, is confident in the instructors and the training provided. Navigating behind the wheel of a large truck can feel intimidating to young Soldiers, so this training builds the confidence to accomplish their mission.

“A lot of our 88M Soldiers (truck drivers) do this on the civilian side, so we came to this with a lot of combined civilian and military experience,” says PFC Ramirez.

India Company provides logistical support to 1-149th, which tactically operates within the 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team from the Virginia Army National Guard. The company measures its effectiveness in the readiness and performance of the Units it supports.

The platoon leader for India Company, Second Lieutenant (2LT) Rachel Hardin, says Soldiers cross-trained on multiple jobs become more versatile and can contribute to a wider range of tasks involved in mission readiness.

“Soldiers confident in driving and not afraid to volunteer to move or service a vehicle helps everyone out,” says 2LT Hardin. “There are a lot of Soldiers out there leaning on us for support in a variety of ways. Providing drivers’ training is a way we know we are adding value to their training and contributing to future missions, indirectly, and at all echelons.”

The Army National Guard gives you the opportunity to pursue a civilian career while serving part-time in your home State, so your family is always close by. With positions in more than 130 career fields, you can find your perfect fit. Check out the job board for more information on available careers, and contact a local recruiter to learn more.

From an original article by SGT Alan Royalty, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, which appeared in the news section of in August 2020.

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