Hidden away in Training Area 244 is a complex of buildings used by Company D, 554th Engineer Battalion, during Advanced Individual Training for Construction Equipment Repairers earning the Military Occupational Skill 91L, or 1341 for Marines.
About 826 Soldiers and Marines are scheduled to attend this eight-week long Interservice Training Review Organization course throughout the 2018 fiscal year. During the course they are taught basic theories of operation for multiple parts of vehicles.
“What we’re teaching them is the foundation that is going to make them successful when they get to their unit,” said Sgt. 1st Class Joshua Watson, 91L Course senior instructor. “When they get to their unit they will get on-the-job training, and that’s when they’re going to learn how to be a mechanic.”
Kenneth Henry, maintenance training chief, said with the many different systems and types of equipment currently being used, it is not feasible for students to leave the course as subject matter experts, rather they leave in what he refers to as “apprentice status.”
He explained the course is broken down into eight annexes: Shop Operations; Basic Electricity; Engines 1; Engines 2; Hydraulics; Power Trains; Brakes; and Scheduled Services.
Watson elaborated on the corriculum.
“We break down every part of an engine and every part of their daily life in a motor pool, starting with how a motor pool runs, how it operates, and the basic forms and regulations they would use,” he said.
“Then we move them into fundamentals of basic electricity, engines, powertrains, hydraulics and brakes,” he said. “We go more in-depth with that and let them get their hands on those systems so they can better understand them, which will allow them to be better mechanics once they get to their units and they get that hands-on training.”
The class is constantly evolving to include the latest technology.
“It’s more computerized now with more industry software,” Henry said.
Watson added, “we’re trying to grow with the civilian sector as that is where the equipment comes from. As the (companies) grow they’re putting more technology into the systems, into the vehicles.”
“As mechanics here in the military, we have to grow with that, as well. We’re not just doing something as simple as rebuilding an engine anymore, now we’re trouble shooting back-up cameras on bucket loaders,” Watson said. “There are so many little things that you can’t see with your eye that they’re going to have to use the computer systems to diagnose the problem.”
Upon completion, Soldiers can be stationed with a variety of different units at installations across the world, which is one of the reasons Henry and Watson said it’s one of the best MOSs in the Army.
“It’s one of the better MOSs to get into,” Henry said. “You can get out of the military and go straight out and get a job.
“There’s nowhere in the United States, or otherwise, that you’re not going to need a construction equipment repairer. Everywhere you go, this job will follow you and you can take it and be successful, whether you decide to stay in the military and make it a career or you transfer out. It’s a phenomenal skill to have, both in the military and out,” he said.