Army paves the way for Andrew
Australia’s armed services are often the foundation for a trucking career later in life. Cobey Bartels chats with B-double driver Andrew Wilkins on his Army trucking years
B-DOUBLE driver Andrew Wilkins worked his way up through the Australian Army as a truck driver, eventually reaching the post of operations manager after seven years and, before leaving, was due to become an instructor at the Army School of Transport (ART).
Now based out of Larapinta, Andrew drives for Flynn Transport and speaks highly of the Australian Army as an avenue for young people looking to break into the industry.
“You go to the Army School of Transport, where you start with a medium rigid [MR] class licence,” he says.
“Then you get posted to your unit, where you move onto a heavy rigid [HR] licence, for use of the R series Mack.
“Every different vehicle in the Army counts for another licence code, so you’re trained to drive absolutely everything. “Your options are limitless as a driver.” Andrew was first posted to 105 Field Battery based out of Enoggera in Queensland and later to 85 Transport Troop based in Moorebank in NSW, although he was lucky enough to travel all around Australia and abroad.
“My first unit was artillery, so I was towing field guns and I also got trained to use and work on them too.
“You get to go overseas and drive with the Army and it’s always been a bit different – no two days are the same. “I became an ambulance driver with them overseas.” An average day on the job was a hard one for Andrew to pinpoint, because the array of work is so varied, but he did his best to give us a snapshot.
“A typical day in a regular unit is turning up at 7am to do some physical training, before getting into uniform and doing first-grade service work on the vehicle; fluid levels and basic checks.
“Then you’ll be running supplies around within the barracks or out to logistics groups.
“Lunch is usually 12-1pm, then it’s much the same work to see you out until 4pm or so.
“During that day you might be changing tyres, doing vehicle maintenance or anything else that comes up.
“Then other times you’ll do road train work – in that period of my work I was on the road for a good portion of the year.
“You’ll move stuff between bases interstate and all over the country, and some of these trips can be a month or two moving the big heavy machinery and stores and containers between bases.”
The reasoning for driving such a myriad of vehicle types comes down to the lines the Army break transport into.
The first line is for combat transport, like people, ammunition and weapons so they can be moved around and ready to go.
The second line is combat service support, which encompasses the heavier stuff like water, fuel, ammunition, parts and more.
The third line is bulk supplies and equipment, which could be anything from earthmoving equipment right through to tanks.
“We train the same way we fight, those combat lines work in the same way wherever we are in the world,” Andrew says.
The journey for Andrew was an enjoyable one, and he still remembers being a cadet and realising he wanted to drive the host of trucks on offer.
“I was wrapped on trucks from an early age and when I joined the cadets and saw the trucks I thought, ‘I’m going to join the Army and drive the Unimog,’ then I saw the Macks and wanted to drive them too.”
Andrew Wilkins during his Australian Army career