FORT BLISS, Texas -- Soldiers with 6th Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, received their first M1A2 SEP V2 Abrams Main Battle Tanks August 21.
Fourteen tanks arrived as part of the 1st ABCT conversion from a Stryker brigade to the Army's sixteenth armored brigade combat team June 20.
Ready First Brigade was chosen based on a military value analysis (MVA) of Fort Bliss demonstrating efficiency and effectiveness in aspects such as training facilities, land for maneuvering, deployment infrastructure, and quality of life for Soldiers and families.
The division will now be made up of three armored brigade combat teams and meet the Army's intent of having a more lethal and capable force better able to overmatch any potential near-peer adversaries.
"Now we have the ability to decisively engage the enemy whenever our scout troops come into contact with them," said 1st Lt. Daniel Serrano, troop executive officer with 6-1 CAV. "This gives the squadron a lot more firepower as opposed to (before with) the Strykers."
The entire training and certification process will be supervised by an Abrams Operator-New Equipment Training team from the U.S. Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command. The process will give the armor crewmen both classroom and hands-on training before testing the tanks on a field during a gunnery live-fire exercise this year.
"Every tank has an OPNET instructor on it and they are taking them (the Soldiers) through that training," said David McLelland, an OPNET instructors. "They are being instructed on the correct way to do safety checks on the driver, commander, loader and gunner crew compartment stations. And then we get them ready for gunnery."
Pvt. Jacob Valenzuela, an armor crewman with 6-1 CAV, was one of various Soldiers who waited eagerly for the arrival of the tanks. He graduated one-station unit training and arrived at his unit back in February.
"Before the tanks arrived, I was learning the concepts of tactical movement and patrolling," said Valenzuela. "After six months, it was surreal to see everything come to fruition; seeing it all come together. I feel satisfied."
The Ready First Brigade is also expecting to receive Bradley Fighting Vehicles, Paladin artillery systems and the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) as part of the conversion later this year.