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19th LRS drives AF toward innovation

Two Airmen sit a three computer screens, one is sitting and using a steering wheel to control the drivng simulator on the screens.

(From left) U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jonathan Cummings, 19th Logistics Readiness Squadron training validations and operations supervisor, teaches U.S. Air Force Col. Gerald Donohue, 19th Airlift Wing commander, the controls on a new vehicle cockpit simulator at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, Jan. 22, 2019. The simulator allows for safer, more cost-effective on-the-job training. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Dana J. Cable)

LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark. --

The 19th Logistics Readiness Squadron vehicle operations flight received a new vehicle cockpit simulator late last year. The simulator allows for safer, more cost-effective on-the-job training.

After seeing a news article on a vehicle operations Facebook page about Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, receiving a driving simulator, the vehicle operations flight at Little Rock AFB decided it would be beneficial for training.

The $8,500 simulator was purchased last year using innovation funds issued by the 19th Airlift Wing commander. The vehicle cockpit simulator contains three screens, a vehicle seat, a steering wheel, peddles and a manual stick shift replica. The simulation program also contains different settings and scenarios for various vehicles and weather conditions.

According to U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jonathan Cummings, 19th LRS training validations and operations supervisor, in the past six months the vehicle operations flight received three Airmen who arrived without a driver’s license.

“You get these new Airmen who are afraid to even drive a regular vehicle, and they hop in something bigger like a bus or tractor trailer and they have zero confidence,” Cummings said. “Now that we have this we have the ability to begin that muscle memory, teach them to watch their mirrors, and how to take tight turns and wide turns.”

It is also a requirement for Airmen to learn how to drive a manual-transmission vehicle.

“Manual transmission is pretty much all there is overseas and down range,” Cummings said. “Now we can build that confidence up, so they aren’t going over there blind.”

The vehicle cockpit simulator exposes Airmen to driving early, learning repetitions and commercial driving in a safe way.

“It avoids expensive and arguably dangerous accidents when just starting out, as well as fuel, maintenance and operating costs in the beginning stages of training,” said Col. Gerald Donohue, 19th Airlift Wing commander. “Now that those things are clearly taken out of the way, they can train in here and learn some very basic skills.”

The 19th LRS wasn’t the first to receive a vehicle cockpit simulator, but they were the first to go through the authority to operate process.

“We are the first in the Air Force to get it for ground transportation,” Cummings said. “Nobody else had an ATO. Now, because we did it all, the other driving simulators are approved.”

Not only were they the first to get an ATO, they were the first to create qualification training packages to add to the training syllabus.

“We called around seeing if anybody had a lesson plan or QTP, and nobody did,” Cummings said. “We were the first to come up with a lesson plan and a QTP, and we have been sharing that with all the other ground transportation units. We really pioneered the way for this whole thing.”

The vehicle cockpit simulator allows the 19th LRS Airmen to react to real-life scenarios they might encounter on the road and train the way they fight in a controlled environment. Modernized training technology improves operational effectiveness and efficiency while generating Airmen to be ready, unrivaled, agile, and resilient global mobility operators.

“The Chief of Staff of the Air Force has made it clear some innovations aren’t going to be home runs … this one is,” Donohue said. “What really makes it a home run is the work they have done like the authorization to operate and the syllabus changes coupled with the communication with other units. It’s absolutely tremendous and will have a huge impact on the readiness of our LRS Airmen even beyond Little Rock AFB.”

The 19th AW is hosting its own innovation competition. Investments will be made in innovation ideas focused on increasing readiness and posturing forces to remain effective in a fast-paced and challenging future.

Between now and mid-March, the 19th AW is accepting submissions on how to better, more effectively accomplish the combat airlift mission. Proposals will be presented to a board, which includes both senior leaders and junior Airmen, who will determine which ideas get innovation funds.

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