CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait --
Since the beginning of the current war in Iraq, a herculean effort has been put into combating the weaknesses and safety issues of the original M998P1 humvee. The outcome of those efforts is a "souped-up," 12,000 pound up-armored beast known as the M1151.
According to HEAT instructor, Army Sgt. Kelvin Johnson of Winnsboro, S.C., statistics found that members of the armed forces are at a high risk of losing their lives in roll over accidents with 81 percent of these deaths being the turret gunners.
These statistics, coupled with the fact that any loss of life whether accidental or as a result of negligence is unacceptable, and have led to the Department of Defense to mandate that all service members be HEAT qualified.
The HEAT class saw the Marines and sailors of the 22nd MEU(SOC) go through an hour of training that covered the features of the humvee, water egress, maintenance, safety, and finally a practical application in the simulator.
"It felt disturbingly realistic,"said Private First Class David Tetteh, a Miami, Fla. resident from Combat Logistics Battalion 22. "Even though I feel prepared for it now, I hope I never have to have a front row seat when a humvee rolls over."
Having been involved in a roll over incident before, Sgt. James Wood, with CLB-22, motor transportation section, thinks the training was great and invaluable for him and his Marines.
"I wish I had this training earlier,"said Wood. "Even though we walked away from the accident unscathed, what I have learned here today would have helped a lot."
The 22nd MEU(SOC) consists of its Ground Combat Element, Battalion Landing Team, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment; Aviation Combat Element, Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 261 (Reinforced); Logistics Combat Element, Combat Logistics Battalion 22; and its Command Element. Led by Col. Doug Stilwell, the 22nd MEU(SOC) is in Kuwait conducting sustainment training as part of a scheduled deployment.