By Staff Sgt. Michael BehlinMay 27, 2016
HOLSTEBRO, Denmark - NATO allies from seven different countries competed in Denmark's Nordic Tank Challenge May 23-27 at Holstebro, Denmark.
The Nordic Tank Challenge is a multi-national competition comprised of several events designed to test the knowledge and physical fitness of participating tank crews. The competition provided an arena, yet partnerships were built amongst participating countries throughout the event.
According to the event organizer, the competition was an opportunity for each participating country to learn from one another, and become familiar with how each other works.
"What we're taking from having international partners in on the competition is that we would like our skills to remain on a very high level," said Maj. Jesper Moller-Pedersen, the chief of staff for the Royal Danish Army's 1st Armor Battalion. "Having our international partners attend the competition ensures that we'll see at what levels we perform at while we share experiences and develop our training."
The Nordic Tank Challenge began in 2013 as an add on to the Danish Tank Challenge, which at the time featured only the Royal Danish Army. Since then, the competition has grown over the years to its current number of 7 participants in 2016. For 2016, two tank crews each from Sweden, Norway, Canada, Germany, Poland, Denmark and the U.S., battled against one another to claim the title of best tank crew.
Throughout the competition, tank crews faced tough events designed to challenge their proficiency in navigation, first aid, weapons, physical fitness, and vehicle maintenance and maneuvering. At each event, crews were graded on their ability to complete tasks in a safe, timely, and efficient manner.
Making its debut for the Nordic Tank Challenge 2016 was the M1A2 Abrams Main Battle Tank, which was used by Soldiers of the 3rd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, 1st Armor Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division. The use of the M1A2 Abrams allowed the U.S. Soldiers the opportunity to compete on a familiar platform as their NATO counterparts used the Leopard 2 A5 Main Battle Tank.
"For me, the most interesting aspect of this competition is that you have multiple countries participating and it's the first time another tank is used," said 1st Lt. Kenny Grant, a platoon leader with the 3rd Bn., 69th Armor Regt. "It's the first time we can see how our tank and tank crews operate against the rest of the European nations."
For their first time competing in the Nordic Tank Challenge, the U.S. Soldiers said they were pleased with their performance. The 3rd Bn., 69th Armor Regt. Soldiers also said that they were impressed with the performances of their NATO counterparts.
"The Danish crews especially are top notch," said Grant. "They really know their stuff and they're very technically proficient."
Pedersen said that overall the competition went very well and that he was pleased with having the M1A2 Abrams compete. He said the process of determining the competition remained fair was difficult, but well worth it in the end.
"The challenge of finding a way to have a fair competition with crews from two different platforms was quite extensive, but we managed to find a solution so that the Abrams and Leopard crews could be compared," he said.
Winning the competition for 2016 were Soldiers of the Royal Danish Army's 2nd Tank Squadron, 1st Armor Brigade. The winning crewmembers attributed their victory to cohesion within the crew.
"We performed very well as a crew together throughout the competition," said Sgt. 1st Class Clause Rojkjaer, the tank commander of the 2nd Tank Squadron's winning crew. "We know each other's weaknesses and strengths, so we know how to complement each other in these types of events."