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Tanks integrate with grunts in Iraq

2 Nov 2004 | Sgt. Luis R. Agostini

Mixing man with machine, M1A1 Abrams tanks from Charlie Co., 2nd Tank Battalion, rolled through Camp Baharia, Iraq, surrounded by Marines with Company I, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, during tank integration training, Nov. 2, 2004.

The purpose of the exercise was to work tanks into infantry units' scheme of maneuver, said 2nd Lt. Omar A. Adame, 30, a platoon commander with Charlie Co., 2nd Tank Battalion.

Starting off on open, muddy terrain, the tanks and ground troops rehearsed quick responses to enemy contact from all sides. The combined-arms team then took the training to the road, simulating movement through paved streets outside of the camp. 

"We have to know where the dangers area are," said Lance Cpl. Rick J. Meyers, 21, a rifleman with Co. I, and native of Riverbank, Calif. "The tanks know how grunts work, how we move around."

"It's allowing the infantry to see what tanks can do for them," said Adame, a Weslaco, Texas, native. 

When combined with tanks, the infantrymen put tanks in a position where they can effectively use their weapons and prosecute targets, using the tanks to their advantage on the battlefield.

"In the event we do have to work together in the future, we are on the same sheet of music," said Adame.  "They can talk to the tankers, and we can talk to them, and effectively fight as a combined-arms team."

In previous engagements throughout Iraq, commanders have effectively placed tanks in position to support the infantry.

"Other tank companies that have been here have had awesome effects in Iraq," said Adame. "They allow the infantry to be more flexible on the battlefield."
In an urban environment, the tanks destroy pockets of resistance located in buildings berms and built-up areas.

"What we are facing now is rolling into urban environments using tanks in built-up areas, unlike in previous wars, where they had tank-on tank-battles in open terrain," said Adame.

Reducing civilian casualties remains on the forefront of tank commanders when operating in a populated area. The tankers' optics allow them to distinguish between civilians and anti-Iraqi forces.

Commanders are optimistic about the possibility of using tank integration in future battles.

"When used in a combined-arms environment, the tank integration kicks off a nice
instrument of lethality, and projects great power," said Adame.