The United States Army is shipping M1 Abrams main battle tanks back to Europe, part of an effort to reassure NATO allies in the wake of Russian actions in Crimea and the Ukraine.
According to reports by CBSNews.com and the BBC, the first vehicles arrived in Germany on Jan. 6, and they will be deployed to Poland and other Eastern European countries that formerly were Russian allies. These vehicles will be used by Armored Brigade Combat Teams that will rotate into Europe from the United States.
Soldiers with 3rd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, participate in a live-fire tank shoot firing the first ever rounds fired by a U.S. M1A2 tanks in Bulgaria at Novo Selo Training Area, Bulgaria, June 24, 2015. (US Army photo)
The first rotation is slated to begin sometime in 2017.
The Army once had all or parts of six divisions in Europe with NATO alongside two Armored Cavalry Regiments, grouped into the V and VII Corps in 1989, according to a NATO order of battle.
After budget cuts, that force had dropped to the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment, a Stryker Brigade Combat Team, according to a 2015 Army Times report. That unit will be equipped with the M1296 Dragoon, a Stryker equipped with a 30mm Bushmaster II chain gun.
The Abrams tanks sent to Germany are the M1A2 version. According to GlobalSecurity.org, these tanks have a 120mm main gun and 40 rounds of ammunition for that, a M2 .50-caliber heavy machine gun, and two 7.62mm medium machine guns. The tanks have a crew of four and a top speed of 42 miles per hour.