Manhatton: Humvee Combat Driving Scenarios

US Army Humvee and crew, US Army file photo.
US Army Humvee and crew, US Army file photo.

Our Mike Manhatton is in Kuwait covering the 4th Brigade Combat Team of the Third Infantry Division as they train for service on the front lines. Mike will be bringing you their stories on THE News, but in the meantime, he was able to email us this update.

Since the first day's training heavily involved learning to drive, and the basic hazards almost any of us can relate to, accidents, seatbelts, and yes, even your car slipping or rolling over (see: Manhatton: Humvee Rollover Training in Kuwait), it's time for an upgrade.

Fourth Brigade Combat Team soldiers are taking training to another level. The level they'll face on the streets of Iraq. Just as their insurgent enemies have.

For any success in Iraq, the troops are going to have to spend a lot of time on the streets, much of it driving. All the seatbelts and safety techniques in the world won't help if a suicide bomber can get in the middle of things. So this day in the desert, the driving gets a lot more interesting. After some theory and talking, it's into the Humvees. The mission, guard one as if it's a limo or other vehicle with a VIP inside. Commander, politician, or TV guy. Hey, I can dream, can't I?

Rolling down a sand road, a sport utility comes up on the back of the pack. Like NASCAR, he's trying to get to the front. Or anywhere else he can do damage. In the scenario, he could be just another crazy driver, or a suicide bomber bent on destruction.

The last Humvee in the convoy goes into blocking mode. Nothing outwardly aggressive, just blocking the way. Slowing down. Swerving to constantly keep that multi-ton military vehicle between the threat and the heart of the mission. They even go around traffic circles in the sand, simulating many of Baghdad's busy intersections. Imagine Savannah's squares without the trees or charm, and add in Sea Pines traffic times ten. Minus courtesy. So the blocking continues.

The next phase, another trainer waiting up the road has a few tricks up his sleeve. More accurately, a few flash bang explosives and smoke grenades at hand. As the convoy approaches, he starts tossing. An ear-ringing blast, then clouds of white smoke surrounding the convoy.

The soldiers know this part of the drill. The first time through, the Humvee hauling their VIP is hit, and dead in the road. To make sure the VIP doesn't share the same fate, they have to set up a secure zone, find a Humvee still ready to roll, then evacuate the VIP to it and get back on the road. They do, in seconds. Even before I can figure out who's doing what, they're outta there.

For another variation, they're pinned down. Nobody can move. So they have to secure a much larger area, and find a place, a safe place, to stash the VIP until the cavalry arrives. Or air support, or another patrol. It's a little more complicated, but the skill set is the same, and again, one training element building on another.

Speaking of building, making them safe and searching them is next on our training agenda, but it's after midnight in Kuwait, and I'm going to have to get some sleep. More to come, with the 4th BCT, soon!

Reported by: Mike Manhatton,