88ms: Not Just Truck Drivers
Farmen, Stephen E., Army
There is a myth that is still promulgated these days in some military circles that suggests 88Ms are just truck drivers. Military leaders and soldiers realize, as we sit at an inflection point for our Army and look to transform ourselves effectively into the 21st century, that nothing could be further from the truth.
As we work to reduce our Army smartly, I suggest we keep things in perspective when it comes to 88Ms and what they mean to our Army. We must resist the temptation to view reducing our population of 88Ms as a quick win for troop reductions. The mind-set that we can grow battle-hardened, multiskilled, tech-sawy 88Ms overnight because all it takes is a license to drive a truck in our Army, is an old myth.
Gone are the days of convoys sustaining forces on a linear battlefield, following the "cat eyes" at black-out drive, driving on the Autobahn and 1-95, using green, black and white flags to mark the lead and rear vehicles, and using rotating amber warning lights. Today's 88M is expected to be a diplomat, intelligence gatherer, combat lifesaver, sensor on the battlefield, force multiplier, warrior, soldier and leader all at the same time. The fact is that driving a modern tactical wheeled vehicle (TWV) in today's operating environment can be like flying a C-1 7 considering all the technology and communications in the cab. In addition, judgment and split-second decision making are inherent parts of conducting a tactical convoy. Like our infantry brethren on patrol, convoys are, quite frankly, a movement to contact. Expectations are high for our 88Ms these days, and they conduct their missions outside the wire daily. Clearly, the way 88Ms perform their duties today and the expectations we place on them entail more than simply issuing them truck drivers' licenses.
As we continue to modernize our TWV fleet and envision the wheeled vehicle of the future, the need to grow and optimize our 88M military occupational specialty takes on even more importance. Think next-generation TWVs; intelligence-based, networkintegrated platforms; joint light tactical vehicles; integrated night vision; adaptive cruise control; intelligencebased engineering; warning detection; electronic countermeasure; operational communications (enhanced); remote operation and diagnostics; driver visual enhancements; platformembedded/built-in interactive training; active protection; camera and intelligence feeds /gathering; autonomous movement; unmanned vehicles integrated into convoys in a hybrid formation; interactive touch pad dashboards; and robotics. …