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

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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

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