FORT WAINWRIGHT, AK, UNITED STATES
FORT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska – Units of the 16th Combat Aviation Brigade here received five of the Army’s newest All Terrain Lifter, Army System II telescopic forklifts after getting operator and maintainer training, April 1.
The ATLAS program began in 1998 with a 10,000 lb. capacity, variable reach, rough-terrain forklift and continued in 2010 with a production order for a second-generation machine. Designed with more versatility, its primary mission has remained the handling of all classes of supply while improving on the original vehicle’s capabilities.
Some of the major upgrades include updated drive train components, a narrower width for unrestricted transport requirements, additional operator diagnostics and improved reliability.
“The commanders identified critical equipment the brigade needed to perform its mission,” said Master Sgt. Christopher Lane, brigade motor sergeant, 16th CAB. “To get us to 100 percent on forklifts ‘Big Army’ sent us the newest system available, which will help the brigade in the long run.”
With a telescopic boom that can extend forward and upwards from the vehicle, the ATLAS II is also known as a telehandler – lifting and moving loads over obstacles, to and from places unreachable by a conventional forklift.
The immediate impact will be felt at the motor pool where the maintenance platoon has been using an M1084A1, a 5-ton truck with a crane on the back of its cargo bed, to load and unload parts and supplies. The crane is not designed to pick up pallets simply and easily with its system of straps, chains and slings – whereas the telehandler can reach into a truck or trailer in a gravel-and-ice-covered parking lot, remove containers or pallets and download the equipment directly at the worksite.
The ATLAS II will increase efficiency and improve safety for both the Soldier and cargo, according to Lane.
The 40-hour “train the trainer” sessions, one each for the operators and maintainers, supplemented book learning with hands-on application, tailoring course material to the experience and backgrounds of the students and enabling the Soldiers to train others.
“This was my first experience driving a forklift,” said Pfc. Christie M. Claudio, logistics specialist, 6th Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment, 16th CAB. “The training was very good,” she continued, speaking of the operator segment which emphasized “stick time” and familiarization with controls.
With so many units here deploying to or returning from overseas and the movement of containers that this implies, the forklift becomes a very important piece of equipment.
“I like the fact that we had a chance to prepare them for a real-world mission,” said Steve Shankland, training instructor for U.S. Army TACOM Life Cycle Management, which manages the program.
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