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Politics: The Army wants more armor in Europe to counter Russia — and a former infantry unit just put its new tanks to the test
PublishedBy: in Business Insider/PoliticsApril 10, 2018

Troopers with Delta Tank Company, 6th Squadron, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, fire a main gun round at a target during unit gunnery, at Fort Stewart, Georgia, March 29, 2018.

The Army wants more tanks to deploy to Europe, where tensions with Russia are running high.

The US Army is boosting its presence in Europe, sending troops and tanks to reinforce NATO security and deterrence efforts at a time of increasing tension with Russia.

But the US military is also grappling with a readiness crisis, and to address that problem while reestablishing a presence in Europe, the Army is looking to convert some infantry units to armor. One such unit, the 2nd Brigade Combat Team of the 3rd Infantry Division, rolled out its new Abrams tanks at the end of March.

The Army announced the conversion in November 2016. The change-over began in summer 2017, and its completion was marked by a ceremony in October 2017.

"The world has continued to change," 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team commander Col. James Dooghan said at the time. "The overmatch the US Army has enjoyed for the last 70 years is closing quickly across all domains of warfare. To keep pace, the Army continues to adapt its ways of thinking, executing, and organizing."

Below, you can see how some 2ABCT troopers put their new Abrams tanks through their paces in Georgia last month:

The brigade's reorganization involved adding three platforms: the Paladin self-propelled howitzer, the Bradley fighting vehicle, and the Abrams tank. Between August and October 2017, Army engineers built a new, 2.8-acre concrete-pad motor park at Fort Stewart to accommodate the new vehicles.

Source: The Fort Stewart Frontline, US Army release

"We will be mounted on incredibly sophisticated combat equipment," Dooghan said at the ceremony. “Lethality is not merely about platforms — it is about capabilities. And it is our well-trained soldiers who are at the root of our lethality.”

Source: The Fort Stewart Frontline

Soldiers from Delta Tank Company of 6th Squadron, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team rolled out their newly acquired M1A1-SA Abrams tanks for gunnery drills at a range at Fort Stewart on March 29.

The unit's 87 M1A1 Abrams tanks come with the situational-awareness configuration, an upgrade to restore older M1A1 tanks to like-new condition and to enhance the tank's armor and add technology to boost crew awareness on the battlefield.

Delta Tank is the 6th Squadron, 8th Cavalry Regiment's only tank company, and it is the first unit from the brigade to test their new tanks. The live gunnery exercise they took part in is meant to certify the crew of each combat vehicle. That certification is required to move on to larger, more complex exercises.

Source: US Army release

“Gunnery is beyond critical. It is a necessary event to create lethal crews," Delta Tank company commander Capt. Freddy Mitchell said in an Army release. “The Abrams is the most lethal land-warfare platform, battle-tested in both Desert Storm and Iraq."

The Spartan brigade, as the 2nd Brigade Combat Team is known, took part in the invasion of Iraq in 2003 as an armored brigade combat team and was part of the force that captured Baghdad.

In 2015, amid force drawdowns and restructuring, the unit was converted to light infantry. Now an armored brigade again, the 2BCT has added more than 200 armored vehicles, including 87 tanks, 138 Bradley fighting vehicles, and 18 M109 Paladin self-propelled howitzers.

"Today our crews are being evaluated on their proficiency to engage targets from various positions using the Abrams’ weapon systems," Sgt. 1st Class Jose Lopez, master gunner and platoon sergeant with Delta Tank, said in the release. "Because the Abrams is a stabilized platform, it allows accurate fires even while advancing towards enemy positions."

The Army wants to add armor in order to field more rotational deployments, particularly to Eastern Europe, where NATO members border Russia. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said in mid-March that his goal was get 66% of the Army's brigade combat teams to the highest readiness level over the next three years.

Source: Army Times

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