Military News

Thursday, August 20, 2015

AFCEC drives new training to USAFE

by Airman 1st Class Tryphena Mayhugh
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

8/17/2015 - RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany -- The Air Force Civil Engineer Center held a Tractor Trailer Training, or 3T, program for civil engineer pavements and equipment operators from Aug. 3 through 14 here.

This is the first time the course is being taught in U.S. Air Forces in Europe and is designed to improve the skills of an Air Force tractor trailer operator and provide the equivalent training of a civilian commercial tractor trailer driver.

"Hosting the first class in USAFE is crucial to taking the program to the next level," said Senior Master Sgt. Eric Johnson, AFCEC pavements and equipment force development manager. "We are working with the Army's Soldier for Life in hopes that this same course will be available to all Department of Defense members in USAFE to enhance the safety of all DOD tractor trailer operators, as well as ease the transition process upon separation."

Prior to being taught in USAFE, the training was only offered at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania and Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Georgia. So any Airmen stationed overseas would have to be flown back to the U.S. to receive this training.

Both of the operating locations in the U.S. have received accreditation from the Professional Truck Driver Institute, making the AFCEC the only uniformed school, and one of 57 civilian schools, in the U.S. to hold this accreditation. The course being taught in USAFE is currently going through the accreditation process, which should be completed in the spring of 2016.

"Before this course, Airmen had a couple days during technical school where they were taught tractor trailer procedures, and then it was up to their unit to train them once they got to their first duty station," said Master Sgt. Lex Abrams, 622nd Civil Engineer Group Expeditionary Combat Support Training and Certification Center pavement and equipment program lead instructor. "There wasn't a set curriculum for training, so there wasn't a way to be sure that the units were meeting certain criteria. Now, the course meets the civilian standards and ensures that everyone coming through it is taught the same level of training."

The program is comprised of 160 hours of training overall. Prior to taking the course, students are required to complete an in-depth online training course which covers tractor trailer general knowledge, safety, the trucking industry and more. Then they participate in 80 hours of in-residence training at the training location. An average of 58 of the in-residence hours is used for behind-the-wheel training.

The 3T program is scheduled to be held quarterly with four students per class and teaches Class A vehicle general knowledge, vehicle inspections, shifting proficiency, advanced backing maneuvers and over-the-road operating skills.

It differs from the courses taught in the U.S. in that it includes a crash course to ensure students know how to follow German road signs and trains them for both European and U.S. specification tractor trailer vehicles.

"Having this class available in USAFE is important because it ensures Airmen are properly trained, they are safe and knowledgeable drivers and are prepared to drive any type of tractor trailer vehicle they come upon," said Abrams.

Many Airmen who take the course already have some knowledge of how to drive a tractor trailer vehicle, but the class offers more in-depth training.

"When I first started in this course I didn't even know how to attempt the method of double clutching, and that was a skill I gained by taking this class," said Senior Airman Jerhl Haymon, 786th Civil Engineer Squadron heavy equipment operator. "I believe this course is a must have, especially for first-term Airmen. You gain a lifelong skill."

Upon graduation, an Airman will receive a certificate with the PTDI seal of training, proving the Airman's level of skill with a tractor trailer.

"Since a student will graduate with a certificate of training, a potential employer knows they were properly trained, and it makes the student more marketable," said Abrams. "In our career field, we receive a lot of training that isn't easily transferred to the civilian sector because companies are always looking for a certificate. We are setting up these Airmen for success once they decide to transition out of the Air Force."

Through the AFCEC 3T program, Airmen can gain the knowledge and skills needed to improve their career, whether it's in the Air Force or as a civilian.

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