Tanks In Europe

By Tony Bertuca / July 8, 2014 at 5:00 PM

Europe's largest multinational live-fire exercise, which wrapped last month, featured U.S. Army tank training for the first time, according to a NATO announcement marking the end of the event.

Combined Resolve II ended June 30 at the U.S. Army's Joint Multinational Training Center in Grafenwoehr, Germany. "For the first time, U.S. tanks have been brought back to Europe for training purposes," NATO states. "The aim is to enhance NATO's interoperability and preparedness."

The exercise involved U.S. soldiers, Abrams tanks, Bradley Fighting Vehicles and armored personnel carriers firing live-rounds on pop-up targets.

Combined Resolve II included more than 4,000 participants from 13 nations, including Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, France, Georgia, Hungary, Lithuania, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia and the United States, according to an Army statement released in April.

"Combined Resolve II will also mark the first use of the Army's European Activity Set, a group of combat equipment and vehicles pre-positioned at the Grafenwoehr Training Area to outfit and support rotational forces when they arrive in Europe," according to the Army statement. "The set includes the most updated versions of the Army's M1A2 Abrams tanks and M2 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles."

The Army's role in Europe has received more attention than other corners of the globe in recent months due Russia's annexation of Crimea. The Army had planned to significantly decrease its forces in Europe but U.S. European Command chief and NATO Supreme Allied Commander Gen. Philip M. Breedlove said June 30 that the United States should halt all planned drawdowns in the region.

"For the last 12 to 14 years, we've been looking at Russia as a partner," Breedlove said, noting that the relationship helped determine force structure, basing, investments and other decisions. "Now what we see is a very different situation."