End of an era: Final Heavy BCT Bradleys depart Germany
July 31, 2013
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany - The 21st Theater Sustainment Command's Theater Logistics Support Center-Europe and Maintenance Activity Kaiserslautern are preparing M2A2 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles for retrograde and transportation back to the U.S. at Kaiserslautern Army Depot.
The departure of the 88 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle coincides with the M1 Abrams tanks leaving the European continent earlier this year, marking the inactivation of the 170th and 172nd Heavy Brigade Combat Teams.
The remaining Bradleys and Abrams Main Battle Tanks in Germany will be available to the European Rotational Force and the NATO Response Force. Both missions are currently assigned to the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division in Fort Hood, Texas.
Twenty-two of the Bradleys have already started the journey to Red River Army Depot in Texarkana, Texas, and each vehicle is valued at $1.3 million. The fighting vehicles are coming from combat units including the 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne) and the inactivated 172nd Infantry Brigade. From KAD, the Bradleys are transported by rail or truck to Bremerhaven, Germany, for shipment by boat back to the U.S.
Upon arrival in Texas, each vehicle will be assessed and refitted, said Jürgen E. Phillips, the Supply Activity Europe operations specialist and a native of Pirmasens, Germany.
"The vehicles will go through retrograde at the depot in Texas and be refitted with the newest equipment," said Phillips. "Once the update is complete, the vehicles will be re-assigned to other units in the Army that need them. By updating and re-assigning these vehicles instead of buying new ones, the Army is saving money."
Before the fighting vehicles can be shipped, each one goes through a preparation process. First, the vehicles are stripped of plate armor, weapons, mechanical components and the engine is removed. All pieces removed from the Bradleys are then meticulously cleaned, said Martin Geib, a heavy equipment maintenance supervisor with MAK.
The entire vehicle is then drained of oil, fuel and any other fluids before finally going through a thorough cleaning at the TLSC-E wash rack.
"Every one of these vehicles is completely broken down and drained of fluid, if we don't do that then they cannot be shipped," said Geib. "When it leaves the depot it is as clean as possible and ready for retrograde."
Each of the 66 remaining Bradley Fighting Vehicles will go through the same process in the coming months.
"Each vehicle is handled professionally and efficiently, but it is still a long process," Phillips said. "We are hoping to send the last of these vehicles back to the states by the end of this year or early next year."