Marines move tanks into Europe

Marines move tanks into Europe

The Marines now have tanks, artillery and light-armored reconnaissance vehicles in Europe to support NATO allies and other parties, the Marine Corps announced Monday.  

More than 160 Marines arrived in Germany on Sunday with four M1A1 Abram tanks, three 155 mm Howitzers, six light-armored vehicles and a supporting logistics package of vehicles and equipment. 

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The heavy equipment is bound for Bulgaria, where Marines will begin three six-month deployments to train alongside those allies and partners. While the Marines will rotate, the equipment will stay. 

The Marine unit comprises the Combined Arms Company and will make up part of the Black Sea Rotational Force — a task force of about 550 Marines and sailors in Romania that provides a quick response capability. The new Marine unit will be based at the Novo Selo Training Range in Bulgaria.

The equipment will be loaded on trains and moved across Europe, in a demonstration by allies and partners to "move heavy equipment across the region to support operations during a crisis," a Marine Corps statement said. 

Asked whether the deployment was part of an effort to assure allies in the region in light of a renewed threat from Russia, Marine Corps spokesman Capt. Richard Ulsh said, "Certainly, we see this as another symbol of our commitment to our allies and international partners' territorial integrity and regional security." 

Marine Lt. Col. John Sattely, director of logistics for U.S. Marine Corps Forces Europe and Africa, said the movement of equipment has improved communication and coordination with allies and partners. 

"The result of this collaboration and coordination is that the various agencies and organizations involved are familiar with each other now rather than learning about one another after a crisis happens," he said. 

There are more than 1,700 Marines stationed across Europe, Ulsh said.