***image1***With his world turned upside down, Spc. Joshua Roca is looking for a
way out. He works feverishly to release his seat belt and plops down
onto the ceiling of the flipped armored Humvee. As every second ticks
by, his chances of survival decrease. He hasn’t begun to figure out how
to open the vault-like armored doors made heavier by the force of
It’s a good thing that he and other Soldiers in U.S. Army, Europe won’t
have to find out in the heat of battle just how difficult it is to
escape from a rolled-over armored vehicle. They’ll soon learn those
lessons through a new training device called the Humvee Egress
Assistance Trainer, or HEAT, built by the General Support
Center-Europe’s Maintenance Activity, Kaiserslautern.
The trainer is modeled after devices used in Iraq to teach troops how
to survive a rollover in top-heavy up-armored vehicles. However, it is
the first such model built in USAREUR, according to MAK deputy director
According to a February 2006 report from the U.S. Army Combat Readiness
Center, there have been 23 Humvee accidents this fiscal year resulting
in 18 deaths. In those accidents, 15 involved rollovers resulting in 12
The HEAT is one of the many tools being used by leaders to trim those
numbers. USAREUR tapped MAK to build a prototype simulator with plans
to provide future training as part of its Master Driver Training
Program already in place throughout Europe.
The HEAT, basically an armored Humvee cab suspended nearly six feet
from the ground, revolves 360 degrees on two horizontal axles powered
by a hydraulic motor. At first glance, the simulator resembles a giant
rotisserie cooker. It is supported by a boxed steel frame adapted from
a shipping container and can be easily transported by flatbed truck.
Not yet up to its top rotating speed, the simulator will roll
completely upside down in nine to 15 seconds when fine-tuned, Mr. Smith
said. MAK workers took more than a month to build the simulator with
the help of electronic specialists from the Maintenance Activity,
Pirmasens. The project costs roughly $20,000.
Although it moves at a slower pace than a real life rollover, the
trainer will help ensure troops know what to do in the event they are
ever in this type of situation.
“Once upside down, the Soldiers must know what to do, (especially) how
to unlock the battle locks on the doors,” Mr. Smith said. Those doors
can weigh as much as 250 pounds each.
It was definitely no carnival ride for Specialist Roca or Spc. Albert
Humbracht, both assigned to Headquarters, USAREUR. Dressed in full
“battle rattle,” they were among the first to experience the simulator
during a demonstration at Campbell Barracks, Heidelberg.
When asked what the most challenging aspect of the training was,
Specialist Humbracht answered jokingly, “The blood rushing to my
brain!” Coupled with the stress exerted on the body held in midair by
the seatbelt, it made for a jarring experience, he said.
Giving Soldiers the ability to see and feel first-hand the rattling
effects of a rolled-over vehicle is exactly what’s intended, Mr. Smith
said, but within the bounds of safety. Those concerns limit just how
real the training can be – particularly when it comes to the gunner who
stands exposed in the top hatch of the Humvee.
“Because (the HEAT) is going to turn so fast the hatch will not be
open, although it is functional,” Mr. Smith said. “We’re not going to
recommend that they have the Soldiers standing up (while the HEAT is
rotating). Even at nine to 15 seconds, someone can get seriously
It’s one of the issues trainers will have to sort out while gleaning
every training opportunity with the HEAT.