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Spanish army
Ministry of Defence
Spanish army

Ejército de Tierra

Feature Articles

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Number: 63

Unavoidable path

 

Usually, in the training exercises planned in units,personnel and vehicles which compulsorily have to go past a path, there is a simulation,for instance, of an impact they have to deal with.

 

This way they can complete their preparation concerning the aspects they have to face.

 

 

 

The new garages respond to the bigger maintenance requirements of the BMR

The new garages respond to the bigger maintenance requirements of the BMR

It could be said that "Toledo" Batallion, the 2nd of the 3rd Infantry Regiment "Príncipe", of Siero (Asturias), is, for months, in one of these points. In its case, the path they have to overcome consists in transforming itself from a Light Infantry Unit to a Protected Infantry equiped with BMR. Its chief, Lieutenant Colonel Cuesta, has applied the slogan of the 7th Brigade "Galicia" -from the past honour, from the current pride- in order to try to achieve the identification of all the personnel with this new situation. "In the past we were light, and it was an honour, but now we are protected, and we are proud of that", explains. From his point of view, to have BMR is not a "step backwards", because they are dealing with vehicles with more years of service, but an "necessary intermediate step", which will help the unit to be ready for the arrival of the awaited 8x8.

The transformation of "Toledo" started being tangible with the arrival of one of these vehicles. It was in March of 2017 and, since that moment, the receptions have been taking place. The units coming from the arriving vehicles, almost all of them expected to arrive this year, have been twelve, distributed to cities such as Almería, Madrid, Valencia or Zaragoza.

This has been a complete issue for the responsible of Logistics, Captain Vecino, who had to coordinate with other units the transfer and his personnel for the escort, sometimes, simultaneously, in more than one place or in just a few days.

Drivers have been used for the transfers. At the beginning, they only had tens of members of rank troop with BMR licence. For that reason, and as necessary part of the transformation, they had to organize various driving courses, in order to raise staff and to cover the necessities in this post.

The students, after passing the theoretical test, they carry out, during three weeks and a half, a practical course at "Cabo Noval" base, which includes routes through the manoeuvres field, a land characterized by the rainy weather, tending to be very soft and muddy. These conditions increase the risk of stucking with the vehicle, specially if the drivers have not acquired much experience. For that reason, 1st Sergeant Bosch, who heads the courses, tends to leave this part of the test for the end, when the soldiers are more confident with themselves. Currently, the number of people who pass the courses can improve; in the Batallion it is estimated to have, in the end of the semester, more than 50 drivers with licence.

Soldier De Goya is expected to be inside this group. He has not acquired all the experience yet concerning the way BM turns as it has three axles with double direction, "it turns more than a truck"; soldier Suárez combines both, BMR and Lince lincences, necessary for the deployment in Lebanon with the unit in November. In the same way, "Toledo" wants to hold both efforts: the transformation and the preparation for the United Nations' mission, coming back to it after ten years.

 

 

The 3rd Company was the first one

which started to be provided with BMR

 

Among the BMR there is one which is in recovery, used in the practice sessions at the off-road track testing

Among the BMR there is one which is in recovery, used in the practice sessions at the off-road track testing

The requirement of the drivers for the BMR is covered thanks to the driving courses

The requirement of the drivers for the BMR is covered thanks to the driving courses.

The base company

The 3rd Company was the first one which started to be provided with BMR, because it was the chosen one for the transformation to base company of the Batallion in the instruction with the BMR. All the knowledge obtained by its members, will be useful when the transformation begins.

The 3rd Company reached the Initial Operative Capacity in an exercise at "El Teleno" (León) last year in September. Nowadays, it has been reached the Whole Operative Capatity with another exercise in the manoeuvres field of "Cabo Noval" base, Siero (Asturias), after months of intense work. The first to change was its chief, Captain Molinero, who has been his whole life working in light units, first in Mountain and afterwards in Light Infantry. "I had to study, to check manuals and to learn, because I could not see anything similar to this in the Academy", admits. Furthermore, in the company he only had two Non-commissioned officers with previous experience in BMR which supposed, almost, a start from the bottom, although step by step the personnel have been trained in the different necessary courses such as the one taken in The Infantry Academy about procedures of Mechanised/Armoured Infatry.

However, the response of the personnel has been good: "the excitement of starting something new", and it has given results. All of them have started to be aware about the advantages of these vehicles when dealing with displacements. "I think that the vehicle helps us more than it limits us"., states Sergeant Jurado, head of the command of one of the sections belonging to the 3rd Company. Amont other things, "bigger capacity and faster in displacements", although he admits that, at squad level, the training had to start from the most basic aspects: movements, safety and maintenance necessities are very different with the BMR. There has been some advantages such as the incorporation of new people "coming with a big motivation", points out Sergeant Vera, also chief of the section and their instructor with these aids since the beginning. With his experience in international missions as in Afghanistan, where he worked with Lince and RG-31, he knows that there are differences in between moving on foot or by vehicle, but that same experience proves that the adaptation is possible, even in a short period of time, like in their missions where they had to work with vehicles without equipments in national territory.

 

 

The new materiel has arised the amount of work and it has marked the aim consisting on putting them into practice

 

 

Managing the change

"Príncipe" Regiment has experienced these last three years two transformations. First, the one taking place in the 1st "San Quintín" Batallion, with the arrival of the MRAP (the RG-31 and the Lince) vehicles, and now, they are in the middle of the process of "Toledo" Batallion, equipped with BMR. It is obvious that this unit carried out the principal effort of the 7th "Galicia" Brigade when dealing with transformation.

Those changes do not only affect at materiel level, due to the arrival of new vehicles, but to all the spheres: logistical, tactical and psychological. That is why they wanted to put into practice "the management of the change", a concept which is always in business matters, which consists in designing a strategy to see the changes as opportunities for growing, improving and involving all the personnel of the organization.

Among those who can feel the advantages are, without any doubt, the specialists of the 2nd Maintenance Garage. They do it everytime they get into their new garages: modern, air-conditioned and with the last innovations; for instance, the management of residues such as engine oils. The building has been built up in less than a year, just opposite to the old one, which is still used for light vehicles and next to the forecouurt where most of the BMR are located; apart from that, hangars are being relocated and organized so that they can be placed under roof, together with an extension of the capacity of the utility room.

 

BMR vehicle of the 7th 'Galicia' Brigade

BMR vehicle of the 7th 'Galicia' Brigade.

The construction of this new garage has been necessary because BMR vehicles have other requirements concerning space and maintenance. "It is an old material, so it requires a lot of maintenance and reviews, although it is true that their repairs tend to be easier" says the chief of the maintenance garage, second Lieutenant Álvarez.

Even though the garage had people who knew the material, most of them has been into some updating sessions in order to refresh their contents; the experts teach the rest, like to Sergeant Betsabé, mechanical engineer who got out from the Academy seven months ago. Although there she was taught about everything related to the basic maintenance, manuals do not contain all the answers, so it is essential to acquire experience from people such as for example, from Brigade Mesa, who after serving 27 years has a huge experience.

The arrival of the new materiel, states the Brigade, has involved an increase of work, but also it has marked an aim to reach: "to make them work".

To do that, reviews have to be conducted in order to know exactly their state and to prepare them. This includes, among other things, to put the emblem of the Regiment instead of using the one which they brought when they came. Although it seems to be just a detail, it is necessary not to underrate the power that symbols have. To see the brand over the BMR contributes to internalize that they are dealing with something they own.