News: 386th Airmen learn to tame the Cougar
Story by Staff Sgt. Thomas Doscher
Members of the 386th Expeditionary Logistic Readiness Squadron and 386th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron are learning the ins and outs of the Cougar Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle.
Force Protection, the company that produces the six-wheeled vehicles, sent instructors to the Rock to teach three-day classes for Airmen who may one day sit in a Cougar's driver's seat.
"The MRAP is one of the newer vehicles that we're being introduced to," said Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Bruce, 386th ELRS. "Everyone in vehicle ops, we've all done convoys before, so this is an introduction to one of the vehicles we can utilize when on convoys."
Force Protection has taught three classes and will teach their final one next week.
"This class is compressed into three days," said Jeff Elliott, Force Protection MRAP instructor. "It's five days back in the States. We teach them how to operate it safely, how to operate the equipment inside, how to steer properly, what to do in an emergency, off-road driving and operational maintenance."
Elliott said it was important that Airmen be taught to drive the 42,000-pound vehicle safely.
"Although the Cougar has a lower center of gravity, all MRAPs are subject to rollovers because of the sheer weight that's added to them because of the ballistic protection on the vehicle," he said.
"It's like driving a semi-truck," said MRAP student Tech. Sgt. Kyle Capehart, 386th ESFS. "Weighs the same, and it's just as large."
While it may be large and heavy, Sergeant Capehart said the protection the Cougar offers is unmatched.
"You could shoot a .50 caliber bullet straight at the windshield and it barely dings it," the Huntsville, Ala., native said. "Huge explosions might break some of the exterior stuff, axles, tires and whatnot, but the interior is perfectly safe."
Elliott recommended the training for anyone who may find themselves in an MRAP, even if only as a passenger.
"If you could be around one, you should go through it," he said. "Even if just for the safety aspect of it and how to handle it in an emergency."
Sergeant Bruce agreed, saying knowing how to operate the vehicle could keep his fellow Airmen safe.
"Anything that's going to help save your life or your comrades' lives is worth it," he said.