NEWS | Sept. 20, 2021

Maintenance Mgmt: Ground Guiding is Serious Business

Soldiers ground guiding HMMWV
Photo courtesy of USACRC
Army equipment is often large and awkward to move. Safely maneuvering large vehicles, especially in tight spaces, requires properly trained and positioned ground guides. Even smaller vehicles need ground guiding in confined and congested spaces.
However, simply using ground guides isn’t enough. Good crew coordination is critical. It only takes a split second for a driver to lose sight of a ground guide, or for a ground guide to make a mistake that can result in major equipment damage or worse, an injury or death.

Hand and arm signals are the basic method of ground guiding because voice signals can be misunderstood or not be heard over engine noise.

Using dismounted ground guides in congested or confined areas is critical to the safety of personnel and to promote safe vehicle operations. These congested and confined areas can be motor pools, construction access sites, assembly areas, bivouac sites, parking areas, hazardous terrain or any other situation where visibility is restricted.

Before moving vehicles in these areas, the operator and the ground guide should have the same clear understanding of what the hand and arm signals mean. Operators, assistant drivers, senior occupants and vehicle commanders in the vehicle should receive instruction on ground guiding during training events such as driver training, as well as periodic refresher training to ensure proficiency is maintained.

Get the ground guide poster here (two halves make the whole):
Here are some tips for safe ground guiding:
  • Train operators and crews on visual signals used in communicating with drivers, including flashlight (colored lens) signals. Use blue filters whenever possible to preserve the driver’s night vision. Chemical lights also can be used and have less effect on the driver’s night vision.
  • Before moving a vehicle, the operator or ground guide must walk completely around the vehicle to ensure no personnel or equipment is in the way.
  • Position front ground guides to the left front of vehicles. Ground guides must never walk directly in a vehicle’s path or walk backwards.
  • When two (2) ground guides are used, they must maintain visual contact with each other at all times. The front ground guide must stop the vehicle if visual contact with the rear guide is lost.
  • Drivers must immediately stop if they lose sight of a ground guide or don’t understand a signal.
Remember, personnel and vehicle safety depend on clear, accurate communication between trained Soldiers.

Soldiers ground guiding HEMTT over bridge
Use clear and accurate communication while ground guiding
To review standard visual signals, see Visual Signals, TC 3-21.60 (Mar 17), at:
Learn more about ground guiding at the US Army Combat Readiness Center:
  • USACRC Principles of Ground Guiding (Video)
  • USACRC Ground Guiding Webpage