19 August 2009
Common Sense? There's no such thing.
From the Soldier side: Over the last few decades I've learned a few things. Even though I've been a civilian cop for 30 years and a soldier on and off since 1974, I still learn something new every day. What still amazes me is the lack of something that some of us mistakenly think everybody was issued--- that's common sense. I've come to the conclusion that there is no such thing. At least, not everybody has it, so it is therefore not common.
The other thing I've learned about how to survive as a cop and a soldier is it takes training--- good, well thought out, relevant, common sense training. Opps...there's that word "common sense".... which if we all agree is not common.
My last posting was about Jeeps and how they could roll over so easy. The Jeep was narrow, light and became top heavy when loaded with more than 100 lbs of anything. The Humvee was supposed to solve that problem.
When my old National Guard unit first got Humvees in the early 90's, I became a driving instructor for them. I am also a police driving instructor. I have found that if you train smart people on how to properly drive a vehicle, and they act like adults, you lower the chance of a crash. (There is no such thing as a vehicle accident...they're almost all caused by a driver.)
So, does this sound like common sense so far? Take a vehicle that you're going to have soldiers or cops drive, and train them on how it works...drive it in all kinds of areas, take it to the limits and train how to avoid it doing bad things.
Well, before we went to Iraq, the unit I was with decided that they needed to train soldiers on how to drive a Humvee. I thought it was good idea. Here's where they failed...and almost got a friend killed.
There are several different configurations of the military Humvee. The basic cargo model, the M998, has canvas tops and doors. It can come in a 2 door (with cargo bed) or 4 door (smaller cargo area) set up. The canvas will not stop things flying through the air, like bullets and bombs. It weighs about 6,000 lbs. It is normally aspirated with a 3 speed automatic.
The Up Armored version is the M1114. It can stop small arms fire and small bombs. It has a turbo charger, overdrive automatic and an improved suspension...and weighs over 12,000 lbs. Then when you add a gun, gunner and other crap, it gets even heavier.
At Ft Lewis our brilliant folks trained the troops on the lighter Humvee. The drivers training consisted of driving around a flat dirt road for about 15 minutes. No training on the heavy armored Humvee.
When you take a fully Up Armored M1114 with gun, crew, spare ammo etc and get it up to speed...maybe 65 MPH, then come to a turn in the highway in Iraq, and the turn is in a ditch...and the poorly trained kid driving the Humvee hasn't been taught to slow to almost a stop before making a turn in this situation...the vehicle will roll over.
Now think about this...in the gun turret is a young soldier standing up (Steve), holding onto the machine gun. He has no idea that the vehicle is going to roll over, but he's hanging onto the gun to keep from flying out of the truck.
By the time the vehicle is listing over at 90 degrees, the momentum is too great for the gunner to duck back into the truck. You know about an object in motion tends to stay in motion...etc.
The truck continues 180 degrees and rolls onto it's top. Crushing the head and face of the gunner.
We got an e-mail later that day telling us that the gunner was going to die.
He didn't. He still comes to drills, but is still not 100% OK.
If they had trained the driver properly, that Humvee should have not rolled over.
So, now guess what they did to "fix" this training problem while we were in Iraq. They had us all take a driver safety class....on line. There's no friggen way you can learn how to drive anything by taking a test online. You need to train the troops on the equipment with hands on.
See what I mean about Common Sense? If it's not issued, it will not be around when you need it most.