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CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Marines here are testing themselves to see if they have the drive to steer their way through a war zone.

That’s drive — as in getting behind the wheel of a Humvee and putting it through its paces on a skills course designed to re-create conditions in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Marines preparing to augment an embedded training team in Afghanistan recently became the first here to use the newly built Advanced Motor Vehicle Operators Course in the Central Training Area.

According to a Marine Corps press release, the course is designed to lower the number of accidents downrange caused by driver error. It also familiarizes the Marines with the capabilities of their Humvees.

“This training will save Marine lives,” Gunnery Sgt. Cory Signorelli, the staff noncommissioned officer in charge of Division Licensing Schools, 3rd Marine Division, was quoted in the release.

“It shows just what these vehicles can do and gives Marines confidence when they are behind the wheel,” he said. “We have the gas chamber to give Marines confidence in their gas masks — this is what will give them confidence in Humvees.”

There may be similar courses on other Marine bases, but the new course on Okinawa features more obstacles drawn from the experience of Humvee operators who have returned from the war zones, according to the release. The course has 13 obstacles, with at least one more being designed.

The first team of 10 drivers acted as test subjects to develop standard operating procedures for the course, the release stated.

Before drivers maneuver the course, they conduct a walk-through with an instructor who briefs them on the techniques they should use to safely approach obstacles. They then get behind the wheels of the armored Humvees and attempt to overcome the steep climbs, riverbeds and large potholes.

Signorelli said many of the obstructions are similar to what Marines may encounter in Afghanistan.

“With this training, they will have the poise to safely maneuver them,” he said.

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