<b>FORT BENNING, Ga. </b>- Soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, competed against each other for the title of "top tank" during qualification Feb. 22 -28 at Hastings Range at Fort Benning.

After receiving new M1-A1SA Abrams tanks in January, Company C and D Soldiers spent one month familiarizing themselves with the improvements made to the Abrams tanks used during the unit's previous deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

First Lieutenant Ian M. Ahearn, a tank commander with Company D, appreciates the upgrades.

"Everything is moving towards digital technology, more electronics," he said. "It makes for easier maintenance because diagnostics are much quicker and simpler."
"There are improved optics and a redesigned targeting system," said 1st Lt. Jason A. Bolsinger, a tank commander with Company C.

The redesign added "SA" (situational awareness) to the name and replaced the previous imaging system with a new forward looking infrared (FLIR) system that enhances the images from the battlefield, he said.

Bolsinger's crew consists of a gunner, Sgt. Joshua Rennels; a driver, Spc. Geoffrey Savage; and a loader, Pfc. Vincent Cluke.

The driver, gunner and commander all have improved optics, allowing for better mobility and target engagement at night, Ahearn said.

"We all see sharper images thanks to the FLIR system," said Bolsinger. "It shows greater detail to help us identify enemy targets at a greater distance."

Bolsinger's crew used the new technology to earn the title "top tank" for the entire battalion.

"I'm really proud of my crew," Bolsinger said. "Every person executed their mission, from the driver to the gunner to the loader."

Each tank ran the course three times in preparation for the qualification.
"The qualification consists of 10 enemy target engagements, both day and night, using various degrades of the tank," said Bolsinger.

The scenarios include different levels of degradation to the equipment to simulate damage the tank might incur during a battle, he continued.

"My gunner did not miss a single target, plus he eliminated two enemy tank targets with one round, so we actually used less than the required amount of ammunition to eliminate all of the targets," explained Bolsinger.

The crew has bragging rights as the "top tank" in the battalion, at least until the tanks roll to the range again.

"It feels really good," said Bolsinger. "We worked really hard for it. We came to do our best, and the extra work really paid off."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16