Long-distance trucking added to Army Reserve toolbox

Article / July 20, 2017 / Project number: 17-0194

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By Steven Fouchard, Army Public Affairs

Toronto, Ontario — A new Canadian Army Reserve (CA Res) training program not only offers members the opportunity to develop valuable new skills, but also promises financial savings to the Army as a whole.

The effort is just one part of the Canadian Army (CA)’s Strengthening the Army Reserve (StAR) initiative, which seeks to improve how the CA Res does its work and to integrate it more closely with the Regular Force.

Two members of 32 Service Battalion (32 Svc Bn), a Toronto-based Reserve unit that provides logistical and operational support to Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) combat elements, recently completed specialized training in transport trucking. They, said 32 Svc Bn’s Commanding Officer Lieutenant-Colonel David DeVries are just the first of many Reservists who will undergo the training, which had previously only been available to Regular Force troops.

One of those drivers, 32 Svc Bn’s Corporal Shawn Brown, validated the training this past summer when he made two trips from Toronto to Wainwright, Alberta. There, he picked up equipment that had been used during Exercise MAPLE RESOLVE and returned it to 4th Canadian Division Support Base Petawawa.

Cpl Brown, who has served as a Reservist for the past six years, said learning the ins and outs of long-distance trucking has expanded the skills he developed previously operating Medium Support Vehicle Systems (MSVS).

“It actually was a big change,” he said. “Distance is a big one. Also knowing about the truck. There’s a lot more in tractor trailers that you need to know than driving MSVS.”

Each leg of the trip took approximately three days, which included mandatory rest periods.

“You’re allowed 14 hours on duty,” Cpl Brown explained. “The first trip was anywhere between eight to 11 hours of driving with breaks in between – every four hours I rest for a half hour or an hour.”

The financial benefits of training Reservists to do this kind of work have also been demonstrated by Cpl Brown’s task, LCol DeVries noted. The movement of military equipment is the responsibility of the National Payload Coordination Centre, he explained. Currently, due to limited resources, transport is often outsourced to civilian contractors and having more Reservists qualified to perform those tasks will have several positive spinoffs.

“We’re providing the service for less cost than commercial,” LCol DeVries said. “We’re demonstrating that Reservists have a viable compatibility with the Regular Force.”

The ultimate aim, he added, is to have 24 fully-qualified drivers in place by 2020.

Though a Regular Force member will train the initial batch of Reservist truckers, LCol DeVries said the longer-term plan is to move Reservists into the role once they have enough hours on the road to meet qualifications.

“Not only is the training for Reservists, it’s going to be done by Reservists.”

The six-week tractor trailer course, LCol DeVries explained is “much more rigorous” than equivalent civilian training, potentially making Reservists more attractive to civilian employers. After completing the required hours on the road, candidates take a ‘check ride’ with a different instructor to ensure they are meeting standards.

Candidates are drawn from the Mobile Support Equipment Operator (MSE Op) trade. MSE Ops, who are trained to operate and perform maintenance on a variety of vehicles, are currently in high demand within the CAF.

“We’re giving them the tractor trailer training as an occupational specialty,” said LCol DeVries.

Change in organizations as large as the CA can be slow but LCol DeVries said the trucking training initiative got a boost with the recent release of the federal government’s long-term defence policy document.

“One of the things it mentioned was increased combat service support capability. So this rapidly went from being a pilot to a capability that is already being developed. Now that we’ve proven that we have a couple of drivers who can do it we’re getting a lot of attention and a lot of support to make it happen. It’s very exciting.”

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Looking for a great full time career? The Canadian Armed Forces is hiring. Check out the opportunities here: https://www.canada.ca/en/department-national-defence/campaigns/in-demand-jobs.html

And remember, you could also serve part time: one night a week and one weekend a month, with the Canadian Army Reserve.

To join the Army Reserve, start by dropping by the local armoury in your community or region. If you are looking for a particular trade, you must join a unit that offers that type of work.

Browse this listing of Reserve units to find one near you: http://www.army.forces.gc.ca/en/reserve/index.page#unit

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