Learning to Drive Like a Marine Special Operator

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DoD Photo / Spc. Jesse LaMorte

U.S. Special Operations forces prepare to back a Lightweight Tactical All-Terrain Vehicle into a Chinook helicopter.

It was only two weeks ago we learned of the Army’s plans to buy 130 used cars to teach soldiers how to drive in danger zones with bigshots – like generals – in the backseat.

Now it turns out the Marines Corps Special Operations Command is looking to hire someone to teach its 1st Marine Special Operations Battalion how to drive…Marine trucks.

“MSOB is in receipt of a mission to deploy in the near future to an area that will require movement in a high threat, environment using tactical vehicles on a regular basis,” the contract solicitation says, apparently using official contracting language for Afghanistan. “During the mission analysis Team Leader validated the requirement to attend a high stress, tactical survival, mobile force protection course.”


Just what will they learn how to drive…better?

MRAP All-Terrain Vehicles, Ground Mobility Vehicles, and Lightweight Tactical All-Terrain Vehicles.

What are the Marines going to learn?

I.     Safety Procedures

II.     Critical MATV systems and components as designated.

III.    Off-Road Driving Techniques

IV.   Advanced Navigation Techniques (electronic systems failure)

V.    Technical Maneuver

VI.   Obstacle Route Planning and Negotiation

VII.  VSA (vehicle situational awareness)

VIII. Brake Throttle-Modulation (BTM)

IX.   Constant Torque Modulation (CTM)

X.    Lines of Attack

XI.   Ascending and Descending Slopes

XII.   Side Hills

XIII.  Side Slopes

XIV. Water Fording (If terrain permits)

XV.  Night Vision Goggle Driving Techniques and Procedures

XVI. Rock Obstacles

XVII. Wadi Traversing

XVIII. Extreme Obstacle Negotiation

XIX. Sand Obstacles including Negotiation of Sand Dunes

XX.  Self Vehicle Recovery

XXI. Assisted Vehicle Recovery

XXII. Roll-Over Extraction Vehicle Training

XXIII. Emergency Towing Techniques

XXIV. BDAR Kit Training

XXV. Kinetic Energy Rope Recovery

XXVI. Winching Techniques

XXVII. Advanced Field Repair

XXVIII. Convoy Driving Techniques

XXIX. Vehicle Systems Examination

XXX. Final Written Examination

XXXI. Individual certificate of training attendance

Where will the training take place?

Dugway Proving Ground, Utah.

When will it take place?

April 9-16, for some 30 Marines.

All this suggests the Marines have a contractor already in mind. After all, how many folks can drive these kinds of vehicles and ready such a course in three weeks? “Prior experience is required on these SOF vehicle varients IOT train MSOC,” the Marines say. Better make that a former-Marine contractor.

Further clues that the Marines really aren’t too interested in competition can be found in some of the not-so-helpful answers it has given to potential bidders (as published):

Q2.  Confirm the training location is Dugway Proving Ground, UT.  Will this be on a military base or surrounding location?

A2. On base.  This is a closed military base limited civilian access to base only with prior and extensive coordination with DPG security. Coordination needs to be conducted with Dugway Proving Grounds (DPG) IOT assess their training areas to find the right terrain to train the MSOC on and de-conflict the routes to and from the training areas to avoid active weapons/chemical/electronic testing areas.

Q3.  Are the Marine’s providing the route maps, or it is expected that we develop the routes for the classes?

A3.  The maps are not provided.

Q4.  If the company needs to coordinate with DPG for the areas for training, and routes to the areas to avoid any live fire/dud/chemical weapon training areas current or past.  If we are developing the routes, are there maps available and are there any areas off limits?

A4. Communicate with DPG.

Q5. To ensure we know the route and vehicle capabilities, would it be possible to arrive 2 days ahead of time to gain experience with the route?

A5.  Your ability to arrive early will be based on prior and extensive coordination with DPG.

Q9. Are the Marines supplying my team with the Night Vision equipment and providing us with an overview regarding the use of the equipment?

A9.  No NVG’s will be provided by Governemnt.

Q10.  Is there any equipment/gear that my team is prohibited from bringing?

A10.  Contact DPG for restricted items aboard base.

Q11.  Will USMC supply material for Vehicle Systems Examination?

A11. No

Q13.  What are the types and financial levels of insurance you require my company to provide?

A13.  You should have insurance to cover all accidents do to instructor negligence. Proof not required.

Q14.  If the Marine equipment is damaged, or someone (Marine or my crew) is hurt, is that covered by your insurance?

A14.  Marine’s are covered.  Your crew should be covered by your companies insurance.  The Government will not cover you.

Q15.  Please define “MATV” Systems.

A15.  Mine Resistant All Terrain Vehicle, please ensure you are familiar with this SOCOM platform before you bid on this contract.

Q16.  Are there any background checks required by the Marines for my team?  When do you need my team’s names and ID?

A16. You are responsible to get badges and access to DPG per their requirements. It is up to you to call a find out.

Q17.  When instructing off road classes, we typically have our vehicles plus a motorcycle. Are our vehicles and motorcycles permitted to assist in course training?

A17.  Coordinate with DPG.

Q19.  Please outline your payment terms.  ORE typically requires payment for students up front.  What are the standard payment terms for the Marines?

A19.  The Gov does not pay for anything up front. You will not get paid until the course is complete, you submit your payment through WAWF, and DFAS pays in about 30 days after acceptance.

Q23.  Will the MSOB assist in access to DPG as it is a closed facility?

A23.  No, the vendor needs to coordinate the access to DPG which is a closed military testing base.

Q24.  Will messing and accommodations be available for our use while on DPG (all instructors retired SOF)?

A24.  There is a commissary on base, and an Army lodge is available but may be booked.

Q26.  Is there a Government Cost range?

A26.  Submit your best and final price, no negotiations will take place.

Q27. Will there be electricity, Port-a-johns?

A27.  There are no electricity or Port-o-johns at the ranges. There is power and toilets at the company TOC building.

Q28.  Are there any special clearances required?

A28.  Yes there is an extensive clearance process that must be completed with DPG prior to being allowed on base.

Q29.  Who will be responsible to supply food and water?

A29.  The vendor needs to supply his own food and water.

Sounds like fun!