96th Transportation Company soldiers design driver’s course

U.S. Army/ Spc. Ann Marie White - Sgt. 1st Class Michelle Cunningham leads from the front as the instructors from the 96th Transportation Company, 553rd Combat Sustainment Battalion, stand alongside one of their Heavy Equipment Transport tractor-trailers at a 4th Sustainment Brigade motor pool last month at Fort Hood.

By Sgt. 1st Class Erick Ritterby

4th Sustainment Brigade public affairs

The largest ground vehicle in the Army's Transportation Corps is used to haul the U.S. military's heaviest loads. But that armored tractor-trailer doesn't drive itself. That job belongs to soldiers known as "88 Mikes."

The Heavy Equipment Transport, or HET, is the primary tool for the 96th Transportation Company, which is one of the few heavy transportation companies in the Army.

The 96th Transportation Company is called "Heavy Truck" by its soldiers and it falls under the 553rd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 4th Sustainment Brigade, at Fort Hood.

Army truck drivers say that being assigned to a HET company is a prestigious job because there are so few of those units in the active force.

"We are a combat multiplier for the Army because of our ability to transport heavy pieces of equipment over long distances," said Sgt. 1st Class Michelle Cunningham, the truckmaster for the 96th.

The experienced drivers from the 96th Transportation Company are using their knowledge from those six deployments to help train other 88 Mikes across the Army who are preparing for combat operations.

"We used meticulous practice to create a unique program," Cunningham said. "The training gives soldiers and their units the skills required to safely operate the HET on the most dangerous roads in the world."

A team of 26 soldiers, including six master drivers from the company, designed the training program. Those troops also serve as instructors for the course.

The program is a combination of classroom instruction and hands-on interaction with the HET to help familiarize soldiers with the equipment.

"Our NCOs provide the expertise that new soldiers need to drive the HET in combat," she said. "We are all certified to conduct this HET training."

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