McGREGOR RANGE, N.M. -- Noncommissioned officers from the 3rd Engineer Battalion, 364th Regiment, Task Force Rampant, 5th Armored Brigade, Division West, recently participated in a train-the-trainer course here for the HUSKY Vehicle Mounted Mine Detection Cause and Effect System trainer, known as the HMDS-CES.
The training system, which was tested and evaluated at Fort Bliss, Texas, last summer, uses a much less expensive radio frequency identification technology to simulate ground penetrating radar detection of buried threats. The HMDS-CES was designated as the primary trainer for units deploying for overseas contingency operations.
As part of their mission, Task Force Rampant trains Army Reserve and National Guard units that have route clearance missions in Afghanistan. Before being validated to deploy, Soldiers in these units must be able to demonstrate proficiency using the Husky and HMDS system.
The train-the-trainer course was taught by the Project Manager Counter Mine and Explosive Ordnance Disposal. During 40 hours of instruction, Task Force Rampant Soldiers were trained and certified as Husky operators on both live ground penetrating radar and its complimentary surrogate training system.
"For a first-time operator on the Husky, I was very impressed with this piece of equipment. As a combat engineer, I have full confidence on the equipment and know its capability and functions," said Staff Sgt. Darcy Toves, a Task Force Rampant observer controller/trainer. "With this training, I have the know-how to train joint warfighter Soldiers more proficiently and effectively."
Master Sgt. Warner Stadler, the battalion's senior trainer and master mechanic, arranged the training to ensure that combat engineer and maintainer observer controller/trainers were proficient on both the systems and the current tactics, techniques and procedures used in theater before the arrival of the next round of units due to train at McGregor Range in November and December.
"Operators, maintainers and leaders need to be very familiar with the capabilities and limitations of the live system in order to employ it correctly," said Stadler, a mobilized member of the Texas Army National Guard. "Lack of training, lost proficiency, and misunderstandings about the systems capabilities can result in disastrous IED strikes on the Husky or follow-on vehicles."
One of the challenges with training on the Husky is that it is a single operator vehicle; the instructor must wear a harness and tie onto the vehicle and coach the operator from the top hatch opening.
"The training provided a better understanding of what the Husky operator should be looking for, and helped us understand better ways for training the joint warfighter," said Staff Sgt. Kenyunus Andrews, Task Force Rampant.
Staff Sgt. Douglas Gries, an engineer trainer from a Reserve training battalion in Mesa, Ariz., was impressed with the system and found the training course informative.
"I now feel very comfortable driving the Husky and operating the HMDS-CES system," Gries said. "We gained proficiency with the central display unit, which operated the (ground penetrating radar), and how to set the timing with (global positioning system) and (radio frequency identification) tags. We learned the current (tactics, techniques and procedures) and methods to best train the system given the limitations due its size and configuration."
As part of the course, the battalion's maintenance teams were trained on troubleshooting malfunctions.
"Getting our maintenance observer-controller trainers trained on the system will pay dividends during the field exercises as part of the (reserve component) unit culminating training events," Stadler said. "With knowledge on the system, skills and special tools to diagnose faults, our mechanics are now able to diagnose malfunctions, order and replace parts. This should reduce the reliance on field serve representative support, especially when the program manager is not located at Fort Bliss. Additionally, it will ensure minimal downtime and allow the (joint warfighter) units to get maximum training value on this critical system prior to deployment."
There were definite benefits from the training course, said Sgt. 1st Class Joenar Abejohn, Task Force Rampant mechanic.
"We now have the knowledge and skills to keep these systems in operation and ensure the proper usage and employment during prolonged periods of operation," Abejohn said.