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A Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle belonging to Marine Wing Support Squadron 271, from Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C., rolls through the hills of the Combat Center's Combat Vehicle Operators Course Aug. 5, 2011.

Photo by Lance Cpl. D. J. Wu

Marines put combat driving skills to test

2 Sep 2011 | Lance Cpl. D. J. Wu

Larger, heavier combat operation vehicles help keep Marines safe from improvised explosive device blasts, but their bulk also makes them more difficult to maneuver.

This was a challenge the Marines with Marine Wing Support Squadron 271 strove to overcome when they took on the Combat Center’s Combat Vehicle Operators Course Aug. 5, 2011.

Since 2008, these Marines have usually honed their skills at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C.’s paved driving course, which was constructed in October of that year.

The Combat Center’s nine-mile serpentine dirt track presented difficulties the Marines had never faced at their home station. The CVOC here consists of winding curves in rock and sand, as well as steep inclines that put strain on both the vehicles and operators alike.

“At Cherry Point, it’s all flat and it’s asphalt, it’s nothing like when you’re [trying to drive] in country” said Lance Cpl. Elizabeth Deanes, a motor transport operator for MWSS-271. “[At the Combat Center] you have the challenges of sand and hills and not being able to see over them.”

Prior to taking on the course, the Marines participated in a combat simulation trainer for convoy driving to prepare themselves for the real life course.

The course simulates a typical convoy mission outlined by the convoy commander beforehand.

The Marines learned driving skills vital in operating their vehicles in the rocky and sandy terrain of Afghanistan and how their vehicles will stand up to those conditions.

“The course brought them out of their comfort zone,” said 1st Lt. Diana Guadamuz, the MWSS-271 commander. “It's important for the drivers to know the limitations of their vehicles in this kind of terrain.”

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