US deploys tanks to Romania

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The Bulgaria-based Combined Arms Company moved armor assets across borders for the first time to participate in a multinational live-fire exercise at the Smardan Training Area, Romania, Dec. 7-12, 2015. The heavy equipment included M777 howitzers, M1A1 Abrams tanks, and light-armored vehicles (LAVs), which were transported by rail and employed in conjunction with allied and partner nations’ mechanized equipment during Platinum Lynx 16-2.

Partnering with the Combined Arms Company and additional Black Sea Rotational Force Marines were members from Romanian tank and mechanized infantry battalions, and a Moldovan light-armored reconnaissance platoon. The vehicles and weapons were first transported to Bremerhaven, Germany, from North Carolina. The heavy equipment was then loaded onto trains and sent about 1,100 miles to the Novo Selo Training Area in Bulgaria, where about 160 Marines are deployed on six-month rotations.

For the Moldovan unit, participating in a live-fire engagement alongside U.S. tanks is a new experience.

“For the first time, a unit from our brigade participated in an exercise with the U.S. mechanized units,” Capt. Sergiu Grumeza, company commander with the Moldovan 1st Motorized Brigade. “Jointly training with our American and Romanian counterparts has been a learning experience that will benefit our future.”

Platinum Lynx 16-2 focused predominantly on mechanized integration, breaching techniques, dismounted live-fire tactics and indirect fire procedures.

“We are testing and refreshing our procedures for future operations and training,” said Capt. Marius Macovei, a company commander with the Romanian 284th Tank Battalion. “The combat scenario was designed to test offensive actions by a multinational unit composed of tanks, combat infantry vehicles, artillery and air support.”

Following the final exercise and close-out of Platinum Lynx 16-2, the Marines will load and transport the equipment back to Novo Selo Training Area, Bulgaria. The next major exercise in which the Combined Arms Company will participate is expected to take place in January at NSTA.

The annually-scheduled “Platinum” series exercises are intended to bolster relationships between NATO allies and partners in order to collectively address common security challenges throughout Eastern Europe.

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