'Truck rodeo' tests driving skills in three-day logistics training event
U.S. and South Korean logistics troops are wrapping up a three-day training event that tested basic skills needed for moving supplies by truck or helicopter.
The session was designed to enhance their ability to prepare equipment for airlift, maneuver trucks through tricky spaces, fire weapons, use maps to cross urban areas and meet physical fitness standards.
Called the Theater-wide Military Logistics Partnership Challenge and Competition, it took place in Taegu at Camp Walker and the Walker Army Heliport, and in Waegwan at Camp Carroll’s firing and map-reading ranges.
Beginning Tuesday, it drew 30 U.S. and 30 South Korean troops from around the peninsula. They were divided into six teams — each with five Americans and five Koreans — that competed in various tests.
“Every unit is sending their soldiers to win, and motivate them,” said Spc. Jun Woo-yong, a South Korean-born U.S. soldier serving as an orderly room clerk with the 25th Transportation Battalion at Yongsan Garrison.
The objective is to get U.S. and South Korean troops working together on tasks both would need in battle.
“We try to simulate the things we may have to do in actual wartime, things that we would have to be able to do together,” said Maj. Jamal Wigglesworth, chief of the G-3 exercise division at Camp Henry’s 19th Theater Support Command.
A major phase is the “truck rodeo,” consisting of several events in which troops use trucks with and without trailers.
In one called “diminished clearance,” drivers maneuver their vehicles through a space that gets progressively more narrow. They must keep the truck “in continuous motion” without touching stationary objects. The serpentine, another challenge, calls for the driver to get in and out of tight spaces without stopping — except to change direction.
“You kind of zigzag through cones going forward, and then you do the same thing in reverse,” Wigglesworth said.
Other truck rodeo events include parallel parking, and pulling up to, but not beyond, “stop lines” like those a driver might encounter at a marked crosswalk.
In the sling-load event, teams must “speed-walk” 10 yards to a vehicle that’s been rigged for helicopter airlift but has five deficiencies that participants must detect in five minutes.
Points are awarded in each event, and an overall winner will emerge Thursday.
“And we recognize the [top three teams] with medallions,” said Wigglesworth, adding that participation certificates signed by Maj. Gen. Jeanette K. Edmunds, the 19th TSC commander, would be handed out to all competitors.
Staff Sgt. Dan Plants said he volunteered for the competition to seek “different training … change of pace, something new.” He’s the motor-pool shop foreman with Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 702nd Main Support Battalion, part of the 2nd Infantry Division at Camp Casey.
“There’s a couple of NCOs that are on my team and there’s a couple of soldiers,” Plants said Tuesday. “For the NCOs, it’s sharpening their skills, and for the soldiers, it’s learning new things, so everybody wins.”
Plants, who served in Afghanistan from December 2002 to July 2003, knows firsthand the value of sling-loading and driving skills.
“When I was in Afghanistan … all the streets were real tight and narrow and you had to be a real good driver to maneuver around there. Your driving skills have to be sharpened, they have to be good,” he said.
“We did a lot [of sling-loading] in Afghanistan … Whenever the Humvee would go down and I was the mechanic on the ground [and] there was nothing I could do for it, we had to sling-load it out and have another Humvee sling-loaded in to replace it.”