Heavy armor returns to Europe to support rotational forces
January 31, 2014
GRAFENWOEHR, Germany -- More than 50 U.S. Army M1A2 Abrams Main Battle Tanks and M2A3/M3A3 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles rolled into the Grafenwoehr Training Area this week as the final shipment of the European Activity Set.
The arrival of the vehicles marks the return of U.S. Army heavy armor to the European continent. The last heavy armor left Europe in 2013 with the inactivation of the 172nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team.
The EAS is a combined-arms battalion-size set of vehicles and equipment that will be pre-positioned at the U.S. Army's Grafenwoehr Training Area to support units deployed to Europe as part of the Army's Regionally Aligned Forces program.
"Pre-positioning the EAS here allows the Army to save time and money on transportation," said Col. Thomas Matsel, Chief of Operations for the 7th Army Joint Multinational Training Command. "It also expands the training experiences we can offer to both U.S. and partner-nation forces here in Europe."
Units regionally aligned and deployed to the U.S. European Command will draw the EAS equipment in Grafenwoehr and use it during multi-national training exercises throughout Europe.
The first unit scheduled to fall-in on the EAS will be the 1st Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division when they deploy to Europe this spring to participate in NATO and partner-nation exercises in France and Germany.
The concept of pre-positioned equipment is not new to Europe, said Matsel. Similar sets were strategically placed throughout Germany during the Cold War and used by U.S. Army units rotating into the country to participate in the "return of forces to Germany" (REFORGER) exercises.
"The EAS signals our continuing commitment to our allies and partners in Europe," said Matsel. "We built up an immense amount of experience working together as coalitions in Iraq and Afghanistan. The EAS allows us to retain that experience by continually training alongside capable and dependable allies and partners."