Yesterday was a fun day. We were very briefly introduced on the basics of driving an up Armored HMMWV and then were off to drive the trails. The 1151 Up Armored HMMWV (UAH) is very different than the smaller and lighter 998 cousins I knew 20 years ago. It is very heavy, weighing almost 6 tons dry and empty. The armor is very thick and weighs a lot. The turret is pretty robust as well. The ride is smooth, much like a 1960's Cadillac or Oldsmobile. Astonishingly this is the first HMMWV I have ever been in that has--- Air Conditioning!! times have certainly changed.
My classmates in the vehicle were pretty tame in their driving compared to me. I even got the dubious honor of throwing the highest plume of water after hitting the creek at a high rate of speed. My bunkmate was in the turret at the time, and was not as amused since he recieved a free rinsing.
The fire wardens were burning dry grass on the base as well, which gave an eery feeling. It also made our night drive more challenging. The vehicle in front of us blew a flat, but with the aluminum run flat within the tire it made it back to the motor pool fine.
Back at the motor pool we learned how to tow, fix a flat and check all fluid levels, and jump off a HMMWV with specialized battery cables.
The big fun part was the HEAT trainer. It is basically a rollover trainer to practice escape from a UAH that has tipped over. Evidently this is a common occurance with the top heavy turret. We got seat belted in and then the "ride" spun us around, much slower than any amusement ride. The procedure is to yell "rollover", but in truth I was laughing so hard I think I forgot. No injuries with my crew, but you could here rifles banging around as others were tipped with the occasional exclamation of "Ouch!". Hold on to those weapons. Orienting yourself, getting the seatbelt undone and actually opening the armored door upside down were the challenging parts.
The night drive was fun as well. The NVG's (night vision goggles)have progressed as well. Eventually they do get a little heavy on the neck and head after a few hours. It is described as driving while looking through a straw, although in actuality it is more like looking through the cardboard of a toilet paper roll than a straw. Our drives in blackout with the NVG's went very well. No accidents, no off road adventures. All in all good training that all who are going downrange should experience.
The day before was spent on IED awareness and a practical exercise in sweeping for IED's around vehicles.