Riding Dirty Marine Special Operations Command Train on All-terrain Vehicles
Marines Special Operations Command PAO

Story by Cpl. Richard Blumenstein


MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. – Imagine a job that not only allows you to take a few days off to drive all-terrain vehicles down muddy trails, through brush and over logs, but requires it.

A handful of Marines with Marine Special Operations Advisor Group, U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command, spent Feb. 18-20, getting wet and dirty at Landing Zone Robin, during the MARSOC ATV course.

MARSOC operators deploy to areas all over the world with a variety of terrains ranging from desolate waste lands to thick jungles. ATVs provide a lightweight mode of transportation that is able to negotiate difficult terrains, making it a perfect vehicle to support the operators’ missions.

“The ATVs can handle any terrain,” said Sgt. Donald Hutchinson, the courses lead instructor, with MSOSG. “Operators use them in areas where humvees are not accessible.”

The course, run by Marine Special Operation Support Group, centers on teaching Marines how to safely drive an ATV through rough terrain. Marines who pass the course receive a U.S. Government Motor Vehicle Operator’s Identification Card that allows them to operate ATVs.

“We try and get them out on terrain similar to what they may face in real world situations,” Hutchinson said.

The first day of the course covers the basic safety rules for the ATV, as well as its characteristics. They also train on basic operator maintenance, according to Hutchinson.

“It’s basically the stuff they need to know to keep it running on a day to day basis,” Hutchinson said.

The following two days of the course are what all the Marines look forward to, hands on training with ATVs.

The Marines conduct a series of driving exercises with the ATVs including driving in figure-eights, over logs, and through brush.

“We start at the simplest circle turns and then we slowly progress to the more difficult techniques to make them comfortable and confident with handling the ATVs,” Hutchinson said.

The Marines conduct the driving exercises to gain familiarity with handling the vehicles safely. The exercises force the Marines to handle sharp turns, negotiate obstacles and ride on inclines.

“Without the basic ATV safety training a rider could get seriously hurt,” said Staff Sgt. Michael Eirls, the motor transportation operations chief, with MSOSG. “It’s easy to get on and go, but to negotiate obstacles they need to know how to drive safely.”

Most Marines in the course said their ability to handle an ATV has greatly improved, and they feel confident handling the vehicle.

“This course has really given me a good grasp on how to handle an ATV,” said Sgt. Bradley Smith, an operator, with MSOAG.

During the most recent course, light rain showers throughout the week turned the ground at Landing Zone Robin into mud. This provided the Marines with a wet and dirty experience during the course.

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