Driver Maintenance Course
Cpl MacLeod and Tpr Neufeld
A Squadron, Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians), recently finished running both the Tracked Light Armoured Vehicle (TLAV) and Leopard 2 Driver courses that ran from 18 February – 16 March 2015. These courses saw 10 newly qualified TLAV drivers and 30 Leopard 2A4 drivers, split between both A and B Squadrons. Exciting times for the Regiment as new blood and eager minds are dispersed between the two Sabre Squadrons!
There were many challenges from the outset of the courses including revisions to the lesson plans to cover the upgrades that the vehicles have gone through. The course staff was always more than capable of making up for any lack of teaching points, tools, or equipment simply with explanations and the verbal passage of information. One of the benefits to running the courses in-house was the diversity of candidates loaded onto the each course. This included experienced Armoured Crewmen, Signallers, and a Maintainer which helped those new to the Regiment. Something to note was the help of our Maintainer course mate Cpl Stephen, who was able to supplement maintenance based lessons with helpful tips due to his knowledge of vehicle maintenance. His willingness to show, as well as let the other students do the task and get reasonable hands on experience, were a very useful addition to course.
The course tempo was very high, marked by continuous driving and concurrent activity. Coordinated background maintenance allowed the new drivers to experience first-hand the pride and hard work that goes into keeping the tanks and TLAVs running and operational. From changing road wheels and breaking track to pulling entire packs – the almost qualified candidates were getting a taste of what being an Armoured Crewman is all about.
Day and night driving was not all sunshine and lollypops, from central hydraulic issues to daisy chain recovery, the candidates had to learn to be resourceful and overcome real-time challenges. From broken bones to the safe operation of a sledgehammer, comradery and perseverance were the undertones throughout. Teamwork, creative thinking, and being proactive were just a few of the traits paramount to everyone’s success.
During the driving portions practical opportunities presented themselves to conduct vehicle recovery as both TLAVs and Leopard 2s on course broke down and required extraction. The course gained a valuable lesson on maintenance we would otherwise not have had the chance to do. Because of this, there was a multitude of events that took place, not least the opportunity to meet a number of the maintainers who all helped us further learn about the vehicles. Students new to the Regiment became more familiar with the different sections of the Harvey and Richardson buildings including the tool crib and maintenance lines as we moved from one to the other in order to affect repairs on the vehicle.
Despite the high tempo of the course, there was still time for fun! After days of tearing up the soft muddy ground of the driving circuit, the vehicles made their way to the wash racks. Imagine black heavy mud, thick enough to be clay, embedded within each track and clinging to every square inch of the hulls. Hours of crawling under and climbing atop the vehicles through the thick mud and dirty water left many faces covered in grime and earth. It was clear at the wash racks who amongst the group channeled their inner tanker from those faces left clean and rosy cheeked. Blood, sweat, broken bones, fatigue, and windburn only encouraged and empowered the armoured spirit.
Forty young men and women are on the brink of their careers, for some, it has been a long desired dream made reality. It is important to remember every new Crewman is a blank slate. First impressions are made in an instant and we are all defined by our hard work, personal pride and motivation. A message to new Crewmen, prove yourself to your Troop, be proud of what you have accomplished and believe in what you can achieve in the future.