Armored Security Vehicle Training

Article and photos by Specialist Danica Cho

February 18, 2013


(Camp Roberts, CA.) — Soldiers of the California Army National Guard’s 870th Military Police (MP) Company participated in 11 days of training, as operators of the M1117 Armored Security Vehicle (ASV), from February 5 – 16, 2013. The ASV class total consisted of 34 MP Soldiers, from California’s 870th MP  Company in Pittsburg, 40th MP Company from Los Alamitos and 330th MP Company from Ontario, in addition to Nevada’s 72nd MP Company from Henderson, located on the outskirts of Las Vegas.  In parallel, several MOS-qualified mechanics from 870th MP Company also attended a separate class for maintenance training on the ASV.

“When people find out that our unit is from Vegas, they always think that we live in casinos!” jokes one Soldier from 72nd MP Company.

The ASV has been nicknamed as “The Guardian” and is, essentially, an electronic beast on wheels.  Technically, the ASV is a 4-wheeled, armored vehicle with flexible mobility and unsurpassed firepower.  It is manufactured in Louisiana, weighs approximately 33,000 pounds, measures 20 feet in length and stands 8.5 feet tall. The ASV seats 4 Soldiers, provides a sophisticated, clear voice communications system, and contains multiple digital control panels that make you feel as though you are piloting the cerebral cortex of a monster truck.

The Armored Security Vehicle (ASV).

The Armored Security Vehicle (ASV).

The ASV’s 6-speed transmission allows for travel up to 55 miles per hour. Its tires and independent suspension system offers maneuverability in a wide range of environments, including travel on asphalt highways, rough terrain, sand, climbing gradients of 60% and fording up to five feet of water.

ASVs have proven their battle worthiness from combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. Its unusual V-shaped hull bottom is designed to deflect blasts from Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and its ballistic panels provide 360-degree protection from direct fire. The ASV offers multiple mounted weapon options from its electric, fully-enclosed gunner’s turret, including the MK-19 grenade launcher, 50-caliber and M240B machine guns, in addition to its grenade launchers.

California’s 185th Military Police Battalion assigned ASV training for its MP Soldiers, to ensure that Soldiers received “everything that we need to know to operate and maintain these vehicles, and the weapon systems that they carry,” states Staff Sergeant Dwayne L. Guilbeaux, from 870th MP Company.


However, “It’s not just a combat vehicle,” explains Sergeant First Class Brian Bullock, a platoon sergeant with 870th MP Company, who believes that this ASV training will assist with the unit’s QRF duties and mission readiness. “It’s a large vehicle that can help with traffic control points and crowd control. It definitely has its uses in a civilian environment. You don’t necessarily have to mount weapon systems on it.”

Private Second Class Aaysha Abdullah, also an 870th MP, agrees that ASVs are valuable assets to the unit.  “We’ll definitely be able to move out a lot quicker, and get things done a lot faster,” states PV2 Abdullah, “especially if we pass on the information to our fellow Soldiers.”


Training on the ASV began with a week of classroom instructions by privately-contracted, civilian instructors from Honeywell, who held such high learning standards that they ensured the Soldiers studied each ASV component by its exact nomenclature and detailed capabilities. Soldiers received manuals over a hundred pages long, viewed in-depth PowerPoint presentations and participated in daily, intense reviews of course materials.

The second week of ASV education continued with field training, including convoy driving through the hills of Camp Roberts, rollover and emergency bail-out exercises, self-recovery towing using winch cables and Preventive Maintenance Checks and Services, with a strong emphasis on the importance of utilizing proper safety procedures.

“I learned a lot about safety because jumping on and off the vehicle, and dealing with the weapons, you can definitely get hurt,” claims PV2 Abdullah. “I’ve learned that just the smallest things can get you hurt. [If] someone doesn’t yell “all clear” on the turret and they traverse, [then] someone gets knocked off and loses their life or they get injured really badly. So I learned safety is the most important thing.”

Weapon system lessons included how to assemble and disassemble the MK-19 grenade launcher and 50-caliber machine gun, mount them onto the ASV, apply mechanical and laser bore sight alignments, acquire targets through sight scopes, traverse and elevate controls within the gunner’s turret, load ammunition and fire rounds.


The highlight of field training on the ASV was, of course, firing the mounted MK-19 grenade launcher and 50-caliber machine gun on the range at Camp Roberts.  Soldiers from the 649th MP Company in San Luis Obispo provided assistance by transporting ammunition to the range and supplying Soldiers for range safety support. Each Soldier was given a rare opportunity to fire ample amounts of ammunition and the small thrill of opening a new, olive-green “ammo” can was like unwrapping a present on Christmas.


Soldiers fired at distant targets on the range, such as silhouetted enemy vehicles. Thick 40-millimeter grenade rounds ejected from their MK-19 barrels in graceful arcs, landing with heavy thwunk!-thwunks! before exploding into orange balls of fire and plumes of black smoke. Powerful rounds from the 50-caliber machine gun shook the entire ASV with each burst, followed by red tracer rounds that lit the morning sky like firecrackers. The range training proved to be an awe-inspiring lesson on how to harness the full artillery power of the ASV.


The eleven days of training began as a conglomeration of MP Soldiers from various units, who had simply converged to learn how to operate the ASV, in support of mission readiness for the Army National Guard.

Yet through the ASV training, we also gained a sense of trust and camaraderie that reminded us of the great human experience that comes with being a Soldier. We even held an Army National Guard re-enlistment ceremony at the firing range, for a 72nd MP Company Soldier from Nevada. He proudly raised his right hand and swore his oath of allegiance to the Constitution of the United States, as two Soldiers held the American flag behind him. The class stood in silent formation in his honor, while Captain Jason Carlisle of the 649th MP Company conducted the special ceremony. It was an intimate moment at Camp Roberts that will always be remembered.

By the last day of training, there were no invisible lines of doubt or dissent between the Soldiers of 870th, 40th, 330th and 72nd MP Company. We worked together as a solid team to accomplish multitudes of tasks, immediately jumped in to assist each other without being asked, shared our skills and knowledge and now feel confident about returning to our units as new ASV trainers for our fellow Soldiers.