Malmstrom driving instructor prepares Airmen for 6,000-mile ‘flightline’

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Dillon White
  • 341st Missile Wing Public Affairs Office
Air Force Global Strike Command Airmen who post to the Malmstrom missile complex travel approximately 25,000 miles a day. In sum, the odometer readings from Malmstrom's government vehicles reached approximately 6.9 million miles last year.

To prepare Airmen for their long drives across Malmstrom's 13,800 square-mile complex, they need to be trained to safely navigate 4,182 miles of gravel road and 2,010 miles of pavement.

Staff Sgt. James Broderick, 341st Maintenance Group driving instructor, is one of a select group of Airmen on base hand-picked to pass on safe driving skills to newly arriving and experienced drivers alike. The 341st MXG itself has three instructors.

On March 15, Sergeant Broderick's office doubled as a classroom that supports up to 30 students per month.

"We don't have a lot of room, so we do more with less," he said smiling while moving a table in his office so students could have a place to sit.

After sharing his experiences, outlining Wing driving policies, and briefing 80 slides prepared by the wing safety office, he answered questions and dismissed his students with the instruction to meet him on the flightline to drive the gravel road course.

"[Instructors] impart the proper training so when they are out in the missile field and complex, they can control the vehicle at all times," Sergeant Broderick said.
Unlike Montana natives, some Airmen arriving to Malmstrom have never driven on snow or ice. The course places them in a controlled environment where they must learn to safely drive a vehicle on a dirt road.

"The dirt road training is absolutely important due to the diversity of our Air Force," Sergeant Broderick said. "We receive trainees from all kinds of backgrounds, so no matter who we receive -- whether it be someone from a city or the country -- we have to bring them all to our standard for driving on gravel to maintain control of our equipment and to safeguard the lives of our personnel when operating within the missile complex."

If a vehicle has begun to leave a roadway and a driver attempts to steer it back onto the road, a rollover can result. Airmen graduating from Sergeant Broderick's course leave the course knowing what to expect.

Sergeant Broderick ran each Airman through several laps around the course, instructing each one to leave the roadway in a safe and controlled manner several times.

"It was fun," said Airman 1st Class Daniel Garcia, 341st MXG facilities maintenance technician and gravel road trainee. "Driving off the road and into the mud was new for me. I think this class is important.

"I'm happy I'm in it and getting experience driving in Montana."

Airman Garcia and his classmates will return to the gravel road course annually for recurring training and Sergeant Broderick will be here to refresh their memories. He and his fellow instructors will also prepare Airmen to operate special vehicles like cranes, forklifts and 18-wheelers that ensure the reliability of Malmstrom's weapon systems.

Asked what his personal rewards were as an instructor he replied, "Seeing the students [who] complied with the training -- as they enter their shops -- they may encounter situations where the training comes in handy, and save their vehicles, or save their lives for that matter."