KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa — Pacific Air Force mechanics soon will learn how to fix and handle MRAPs — or Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles — as part of a new training course offered at Kadena Air Base.

Three instructors with the Pacific Air Forces Transportation Training Center underwent a 40-hour training course this week to become certified to teach courses in MRAP mechanics.

Those courses will allow Pacific mechanics to train at a central location in a more timely and cost-effective manner before deploying downrange, said Air Force Tech. Sgt. Thomas Mattern, who trained the new instructors.

Students will train on the MRAP the center received in December, he said.

Prior to the Pacific course, airmen preparing to deploy to Iraq or Afghanistan were trained at the MRAP University at Red River Army Depot in Texarkana, Texas. Mattern received the MRAP training there in April.

"We now have the capability of teaching mechanics how to diagnose problems properly, knowing how to fix those problems and being comfortable doing it," Mattern said.

Once certified, instructors can teach the mechanics course at other Pacific bases with MRAPs, Mattern said. Andersen Air Force Base in Guam has three MRAPs, and Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii has one, Mattern said.

Each course is to include a three-hour driving portion so that mechanics can familiarize themselves with how the vehicle rides, Air Force Master Sgt. Charles Lakin said.

Part of MRAP maintenance lies in understanding the sounds and handling of the vehicle, like when the transmission is supposed to shift, and paying attention to the clicking sounds of a door or vibrations during a test drive.

"There’s potential life-saving here. It’s getting a vehicle back into service and getting it fixed quickly," he said.

Students must pass a test — to include a series of hands-on exercises — in order to receive certification, Mattern and Lakin said.

Allan Bourbina, the training center’s director, said instructors will solicit feedback from mechanics who have deployed and serviced MRAPs to determine areas the course should focus on.

Marines and soldiers who work on MRAPs will serve as guest instructors during the course, he said.

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