We recently conducted a program for a group of law enforcement officers whose mission requires them, on a regular basis, to drive into the kill zone. This is a scenario the security community may find unusual. But there are SWAT Teams all over the world whose job requires them on a regular basis to drive into the kill zone. This scenario is a classic example of a group whose mission does not fit into a standard training program, the officers who drive into the kill zone need a specific set of driving skills that are dictated by their mission – hence Mission Oriented Driving Skills.
Conducting a Mission Oriented Driving Skill (MODS) program requires an in depth understanding of vehicle dynamics and exercises design. Looking at the types of scenarios the students will encounter- trainers then must have the ability
To analyze and test the vehicles to be used in the mission
Develop driving exercises that replicate mission conditions
Objectively measure the student’s capability to meet the mission objectives
This is accomplished by staying within the System – THE DRIVER, THE VEHICLE, and THE ENVIRONMENT – the goal is to train the Driver, to use the maximum capability of the mission Vehicle in the Environment the mission dictates.
The Mission and the Vehicle
The group’s mission (driving into the kill zone), places heavy emphasis on the Vehicle portion of the system, therefore a big part of the MODS program is determining vehicle capability, it is essential, the only way you can determine driver capability is by knowing vehicle capability. Prior to training this group we measure the characteristics and performance of their mission vehicle. In this case the vehicle was a Ballistic Engineered Armored Response Counter Attack Truck, shortened to BearCat. When we tested the BearCat we were impressed with its level of performance, specifically in the area of braking, and when you add the BearCats ballistic capabilities it is the glue that holds the Driver – Vehicle – Environment system together. When the mission requires driving into the kill zone the system won’t work without it.
We took a trip to the Lenco factory (manufacturers of the BearCat) in Pittsfield MA. Lenco has a test track at the factory and we wanted to take a look at the off road capability of the BearCat. Also the engineer in me wanted to see how the vehicles were manufactured. One walk around the factory and it is easy to see why the vehicle is a perfect fit for high risk scenarios. All the Lenco vehicles, not just the BearCat, are literally hand made by craftsmen, with attention to detail, and thought about the end use.
When I was a consultant, working for Mercedes Benz on their armored vehicles, I had the opportunity to visit the facility where the armored Mercedes were put together. The BearCat manufacturing process is similar to the process used by Mercedes – the vehicles are built from the frame up, go from station to station and assemble by hand, with attention to detail.
The conclusion is – The higher the risk the greater the need for a mission oriented driving program, and a greater dependence on the vehicle, and in this scenario the BearCat is designed from the frame up for the mission