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Transport Marines embrace mud, grime

4 Sep 2013 | Cpl. Adam Miller

CAMP HANSEN, Okinawa - The advanced training of Marines is a requirement in most military occupational specialties. However, the associated temporary additional duty often requires Marines to be absent from their normal duties and units for extended periods of time. One resourceful group has solved this challenge and in doing so is saving precious TAD dollars.

Motor transport Marines underwent military occupational specialty re-designation training Aug. 16 at Camp Hansen.

For the past three years, motor transport Marines in the Pacific have been taking part in an ongoing program that allows the top ten percent of basic motor vehicle operators to be re-designated as vehicle recovery operators upon successful completion of the VRO course. This is done without sending the Marines stateside, as all the training is done on-island.

“Instead of sending 24 Marines back to the schoolhouse at Fort Leonard Wood, two instructors came to Okinawa to teach the vehicle recovery operator’s course,” said Sgt. Charles R. Thompson, a vehicle recovery course instructor with the Marine Corps detachment at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. “By doing this, it has saved the Marine Corps (a lot of money) so far.”

At the schoolhouse, the course typically takes a few months to complete, but by having the instructors come to Okinawa they are able to conduct a condensed curriculum.

The practical application training is important because in this particular occupation Marines are required to recover the military’s tactical vehicles under a variety of circumstances, according to Thompson. For example, having a scenario taking place in mud and water creates a challenging training evolution, which, when properly overcome, builds their confidence.

The course reiterates to its students the importance of how their new job skills factor into mission readiness and mission accomplishment.

“Total accountability of personnel and equipment is important because without it, the Marine Corps would not function properly,” said Master Gunnery Sgt. Gilberto J. Rivera, motor transport maintenance chief for III Marine Expeditionary Force. “There is a shortage of vehicle recovery operators currently, so having a course like this, taught outside of the schoolhouse, is really beneficial not just to the Marine forces in Okinawa, but also the (entire) Marine Corps.”

During the training, the instructors implement ways to drive-home the necessity of accountability.

“The instructors are always bringing up the importance of accountability,” said Lance Cpl. Nathan E. Craig, a motor vehicle operator and student in the VRO course with Truck Company, Headquarters Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, III MEF. “It’s not just about accountability of Marines, but tools and equipment as well because they are vital to (mission accomplishment).”

The best training scenarios are often those that are most realistic, according to Thompson.

“So far this training evolution has been good for the Marines in the course,” said Thompson. “But I think what is really great about it is that everyone has kept a good attitude even though they have been working so hard.”

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