Air Force making it easier for members to get CDLs

The Air Force wants to help service members get their commercial bus and truck driver’s licenses.

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Air Force wants to make it easier for service members to get their commercial driver’s licenses by turning government vehicle operator certifications into CDLs.

The Air Force is creating a course to mirror the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA) Commercial Driver’s License Test System model, which would enable examiners to certify government motor vehicle operators on commercial vehicle equivalents in accordance with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations.

“This (will) ensure everyone is working off the same sheet of music,” said Senior Master Sgt. Thomas Karnes, the Air Force logistics vehicle operations superintendent.   “Once the program is wholly accepted and recognized by each state’s DMV, the intent is to provide a one-for-one swap for a military license to obtain a CDL for the applicable vehicle, without taking the additional tests. This helps us transition veterans into the commercial sector as well.”

Seven bases have been selected to test and evaluate the new certification process: Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri; MacDill AFB in Florida; Seymour-Johnson AFB in North Carolina; Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Virginia; and Yokota, Misawa and Kadena Air Bases in Japan.

“Pending getting our examiners through the required training, we are looking at 50 locations up and running by October 2017,” Karnes said.

Examiners under the program will be required to complete a 40-hour AAMVA certification course to learn how to administer and score the exam, pending the development of an Air Force-run course.

“This new program gives us a standardized method in deciding whether or not a member is actually competent enough to operate these vehicles on their own,” said Staff Sgt. Bradley Opfar, who is in charge of training validations and operations at Kadena AB and who is a recent AAMVA course graduate.

“I really feel like (vehicle operations) offices are going to greatly benefit from receiving this training and implementing this program. I believe this training will be very beneficial for me (when I leave the Air Force) because I have received the same type of training that commercial driving license examiners receive in order to certify civilians on commercial motor vehicles.”

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