CAMP HOVEY, South Korea – In August 2022, units under the 2nd Infantry ROK-US Combined Division took part in a large-scale training exercise, an awe-inspiring sight and feeling as the Rodriguez Live Fire Complex thundered with the sound of artillery, airplanes, and tracked vehicles maneuvering. One aspect of this training that might have gone unnoticed, however, was this was the final time U.S. Army Abrams tanks were taking part in such an event on the peninsula.
In July 2022, The Army announced the Korea Rotational Force would transition from an armored brigade to a Stryker-based unit giving the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division the unique honor of shooting the final tank round downrange.
“This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” said 1st Lt. Jack Lescarbeau, platoon leader, B Company, 4th Battalion, 70th Armor Regiment, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team.
In addition to being the platoon leader, Lescarbeau also commanded the tank that fired the final round.
“We always look at our past Soldiers and units, to our history, and it is amazing to live a part of our unit’s history,” Lescarbeau added.
This exercise was a culmination of months of training for Lescarbeau and his platoon. During their month-long stay at Rodriguez range, the platoon also completed a battalion gunnery that certified them as a crew. Through multiple iterations, the crews engaged and knocked down targets, improving their skills as a team while building proficiency and lethality through each turn. In the final sequence of the exercise, the crew shot five engagements with 18 main gun (120mm) rounds and hundreds of .50 caliber and 7.62mm machine gun rounds.
“Training and operating in a tank platoon takes a lot of trust,” Lescarbeau said. “We made sure to take the time and explain the ‘why’ for everything we did so the most junior Soldiers in the crew would see the bigger picture and understand they are part of something larger. Taking part in this exercise helped us better understand our part as a tank platoon in a division-level environment.”
The ‘Ready First’ Combat Team will finish their rotation in the coming months and return home to Fort Bliss, Texas. The 2nd Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division from Fort Lewis, Washington, will replace the unit later this fall.