By Pfc. April CampbellFebruary 19, 2008
CAMP TAJI, Iraq (Army News Service, Feb. 19, 2008) - Technicians are modifying M1-A2 Abrams tanks here to make them more safer and more precision-effective in the dense, urban Baghdad environment.
For Multi-National Division-Baghdad tankers with the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division these equipment modifications are taking place in the form of the Tank Urban Survival Kit which is being added to their M1-A2 Abrams tanks.
These TUSK additions include an increase to the Soldiers' safety and the tanks' effectiveness in operations in this area north of Baghdad. They are currently being installed in Abrams tanks throughout MND-B by General Dynamics, a government contractor responsible for fielding, issuing and the maintenance of these systems.
The modifications include a new driver's safety seat, improved tank armor and vision enhancements, as well as an attached sniper rifle, said Shawn Safford, a senior tank systems technician in MND-B for General Dynamics.
Sgt. 1st Class Sean Rinder, who serves as the platoon sergeant for 2nd Platoon, Company C, 1st Combined Arms Battalion, 68th Armor Regiment, 3rd BCT, operated the Abrams during the unit's previous deployment in the more rural provinces of Diyala and Salah al-Din.
"Last time I was here, I had to reload the .50-cal. machine gun while I was in contact," he said. "I had to expose myself from the waist up to do that."
With the new cupola armor, Rinder said, he would not be as exposed if he were in the same situation.
While he said he has always been confident in his equipment and crew, the modifications will add to that security blanket.
The increased level of security is echoed outside the tank as well. Tankers are able to more precisely target an enemy with a decreased risk to the surroundings because a gunner's sniper rifle has been added to the tank.
"We're still lethal at long ranges without destroying everything. The sniper rifle mitigates the collateral damage," said 2nd Lt. Frank Simmons, who serves as the platoon leader with 2nd Plt., Co. C, 1-68 AR.
"The new visual aids will also help the Soldiers target enemies with more precision. These devices will assist the tankers in positively identifying enemies," said Sgt. Albert Arca, a tank gunner with 2nd Plt., Co. C, 1-68 AR. "The improved safety features mean greater piece of mind when conducting missions in sector and will allow us to focus more on the mission."
(Pfc. April Campbell serves with 3rd Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs.)