US Army 88m:
What is a US Army 88m? The 88 mike is a truck driver. I don’t mean your Ford F250; I mean a 100,000 lb. up-armored heavy equipment military truck that can haul everything from a fully loaded trailer with luxury chairs for officers to a tank. These US military vehicles are beyond heavy and are hard to steer. It takes months or even years for some to really be able to drive them safely from one destination to another. Then imagine this: you’re driving a HET through a combat zone with roads filled with IEDs. Or even worse, you’re crossing a pontoon bridge in Iraq while the enemy attacks you with small arms fire and RPGs. This is exactly what 88M personnel face on a daily basis while deployed. They drive long hours in sandstorms. Once they arrive at their assigned destination, their day starts over as they now must offload their haul and load their trucks for the next destination.
What It Takes to Be an 88M
What does it take to be an 88M? I believe it takes the same “nerves of steel” as any combat MOS. It takes somebody that works well under pressure. They have to be fearless. They will drive straight through a fire fight with no gunner. The security element escort teams will provide them with weapons and combat fire only when their convoy is attacked. They must have some type of mechanical ability. The HET really takes a beating on roads that most would not even call a road. They have to be precise with each turn they take. And good luck backing one of these up. The Army 88M school is 7 weeks long. This is barely enough time to learn the difference between each MRAP much less be able to drive through a tight street in downtown Baghdad or Kabul. They will receive most of their experience and preparation at their permanent duty station.
The 88M played a wide-spread role during OIF/OEF. Their most dangerous and important role was convoy operations, which involved taking supplies and equipment from one destination to another. These long hours of driving came with high risk and low reward. In the beginning of OIF, the trucks they drove were primarily the 911, which had no up armor or very little and no bullet or blast proof windshields. This lead to many wounded and killed in action. Safety depended on the driver and the security element that escorted them from one destination to another. They worked some of the longest, if not the longest, hours.
In 2006 while deployed to Iraq, our mission was convoy security. I watched and sometimes assisted these drivers replace tires or adjust the loads on their trailers. At any time, the enemy could attack, and they’re right there in the open with only their personal weapons to defend themselves against the enemy. The job the 88M performed was a dangerous one. They were the ones making sure water, food, supplies, and equipment got to each destination. They may have rarely fired their weapon, but they played just as vital a role to help defeat our enemy as any combat team would. To all those I served with in Iraq and to all those that have risked their lives behind the wheel, we say thank you for a job well done!