Army Training:

Improvements Are Needed in 5-Ton Truck Driver Training and Supervision

GAO-01-436: Published: Apr 11, 2001. Publicly Released: Apr 11, 2001.

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Instructor shortages are affecting the quality and quantity of Army truck driver training. Fort Leonard Wood, which trains about 90 percent of truck drivers, is especially affected by the instructor shortage. The result is that student drivers are not fully trained in all aspects of the instruction program when they graduate. If formal schools had enough instructors, they would presumably be able to teach the entire instruction program. The student imbalance between the schools at Fort Leonard Wood and Fort Bliss creates an ineffective use of resources. If the annual student load were more equally distributed between the two schools, student graduates from Fort Leonard Wood might receive more complete training. The formal schools are not adhering to the instruction program, which calls for some training with trucks carrying cargo. Furthermore, no training is provided on how to pull equipment. Similarly, students are not being trained to drive under different weather and surface conditions. Because annual check rides and sustainment are not always being performed, unsafe driving habits may go undetected. Although performing and recording check rides and sustainment may be time-consuming, these procedures can save lives. The Army Safety Center's accident database could be used to identify trends that may show the need for greater training emphasis in certain driving maneuvers. A periodic analysis of the database could assist school officials, instructors, and supervisors to adjust instruction programs or mentor drivers. However, such analysis would be more useful if information in the database were complete.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Army concurred with the recommendation. The Army Safety Center implemented an Accident Reporting Automated System (ARAS) that will not allow the user (the person submitting an accident report) to submit an accident report unless all the fields are properly filled in.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should direct the Commander of the Army Safety Center to ensure that all information fields in accident reports are properly filled in.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Army concurred with the recommendation. According to the Army Safety Center, applicable warning stickers were issued to all military components owning M939 5-ton trucks. A safety bulletin was also published and mailed army-wide. On ensuing assignments the Army has witnessed, where possible, this sticker in M939s not retro-fitted with anti-lock brake systems. However, it should be noted that the Army is replacing this fleet of vehicles with a newer truck fleet known as the FMTV. By 2006, virtually all of the M939 fleet will be deadlined.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should issue instructions to all applicable major army commands to require that warning stickers indicating speed restrictions be prominently displayed in the cabs of all M939 trucks not equipped with anti-skid brake systems.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  3. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The Army concurred with the recommendation. However, according to the office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics, no action has been taken on this recommendation. The focus is and has been on 1) building towards Operation Iraqi Freedom and sustaining that effort; and 2) reshaping force structure for better response to future contingency operations.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should issue instructions to all applicable major army commands to require adherence to Army regulations on check rides and sustainment training of licensed truck drivers.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Army concurred with the recommendation. This recommendation and the previous one were accomplished by the adding of simulators to the training programs. They are used to teach students how to drive in adverse conditions, with a load in the cargo hold behind the cab, as well as pulling a load. GAO witnessed these simulators and they are capable of creating "real world" situations without endangering equipment or human life. At course completion students are tested, where possible, in these and other driving proficiencies. The army allocated funding for about 80 simulators. Ft Leonard Wood will receive 45, Ft Bliss 3-4, and the rest will be distributed to Army units with core concentrations of 88M truck drivers. Estimated completion date is unknown but more than 40 are already on-line.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should direct the Commander of the Training and Doctrine Command to consider using simulators at the two formal schools to safely teach known training shortfalls such as driving under hazardous conditions, with the understanding that simulators not be used to replace hands-on driving conducted under less risky conditions.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Army concurred with the recommendation. This recommendation and the next one were accomplished by the adding of simulators to the training programs. They are used to teach students how to drive in adverse conditions, with a load in the cargo hold behind the cab, as well as pulling a load. GAO witnessed these simulators and they are capable of creating "real world" situations without endangering equipment or human life. At course completion students are tested, where possible, in these and other driving proficiencies.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should direct the Commander of the Training and Doctrine Command to enforce the instruction program used by the two formal schools to ensure that students receive hands-on training in driving trucks loaded with cargo and also modify the program to include driving when pulling equipment--two essential skills in performing the primary mission of the 5-ton tactical fleet.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  6. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The Army concurred with the recommendation. However, the near to long term goal of the Army is to fold the Ft Bliss (FB) training school into the Ft Leonard Wood (FLW) training school so that all training is conducted at FLW. Thus, GAO's recommendation to more evenly balance the two student loads will be accomplished slightly different than the way the recommendation was stated in the report.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should direct the Commander of the Training and Doctrine Command to balance the student load between the two schools by bringing the Fort Bliss school up to fuller capacity or increasing the number of classes annually taught there, thereby reducing the student load and associated problems created by such at Fort Leonard Wood.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  7. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Army concurred with the recommendation. According to 5 Army personnel (4 military and 1 civilian), the staffing levels for the 88M driver training course will expand in 2004 to add 50 more military trainers and a yet-to-be-determined # of civilian trainers. Funding of $1.2 million/year has been allocated for this purpose. After GAO's report, the training program immediately added 40 temporary instructors until the new TDA is issued that permanently adds the extra military and civilian instructors.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should direct the Commander of the Training and Doctrine Command to review and modify, as needed, instructor levels for the formal training programs to ensure that the programs are adequately staffed to teach the anticipated class size.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  8. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Army concurred with the recommendation. The Army Safety Center reviews accident reports for anomalies and trends. When such are discovered, they issue Army-wide safety bulletins identifying the problem as-well-as inputing the information into various on-line automated systems accessible by all installations. They also implemented a new RMIS automated system that allows for branch safety offices to conduct their own trend and other analyses.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should direct the Commander of the Army Safety Center to periodically review accident data for the presence of trends or anomalies for the purposes of informing trainers and supervisors of any information that may help them perform their duties or help improve safety.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

 

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