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White House Transportation Agency: "the most visible unit no one's ever heard of.".

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and those who travel with him--stateside and abroad, as directed by the White House Military Office.

The WHTA is a component activity that belongs to and is supported by the U.S. Army Military District of Washington, whose other component commands and activities include the Joint Personal Property Shipping Office (Washington), Arlington National Cemetery, Army Air Operations Group, the U.S. Army Band "Pershing's Own," and the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, "The Old Guard." MDW oversees each of its subordinate organizations, and works with them to develop detailed planning and lawless execution of ceremonial support, frequently drawing from all service branches.

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The agency's Soldiers also work closely with the Secret Service, White House Military Office, State Department, embassy representatives, various other agencies and the president's staff, to ensure that when the president and those closest to him travel, everything goes as planned.

"Every Soldier here must be committed to excellence and maintain a singular focus on attention to detail. The standard here is presidential quality," said Lt. Col. Marc Mueller, director of the WHTA and its only commissioned officer. "Soldiers must understand the nuances of the mission, and exercise discretion and sound judgment at all times."

That's why master drivers, the most visible members of the WHTA team, undergo highly specialized training that prepares them for any situation.

Training

As in any Army unit, all Soldiers who report to the agency must complete in-processing and familiarization training, but the WHTA takes that process to the extreme.

"The Soldiers arrive, and they get their basic briefings and training on policies, and some of it is typical. But they also get the White House Transportation Agency-specific mission training and familiarization training with the Secret Service," said Sgt. Maj. David Simpson, deputy director of the WHTA. "That's when they start to realize where they are."

All drivers are motor transport operators by military occupational specialty, but they don't even get behind the wheel until they've had several "right-seat rides" with an experienced master driver, Simpson said. Once they've learned things like key locations, traffic patterns and how to get around the nation's capital from the passenger's seat, each new driver completes the 540 hours of city-familiarization training required to become a master driver.

Master Sgt. Valarie A. Moorer, one of two transportation movement supervisors, or "shift supervisors" as they're known within the agency, found the first stage of training helpful. "Even if you don't have a great sense of direction, you spend a lot of time behind the wheel, and you are able to navigate using landmarks because you know the area so well."

Once they've learned the intricacies of driving in Washington, Soldiers attend the U.S. Army Military Police School's Antiterrorism Evasive Driving Course at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. There, they learn the ins and outs of vehicle dynamics and control, evasive

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Author:McLeroy, Carrie
Publication:Soldiers Magazine
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 1, 2010
Words:484
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