After more than two decades in sand-colored paint, armored vehicles located in Europe will soon be repainted in a woodland green camouflage scheme. The strategic shift comes after Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced this past June that the U.S will spread about 250 tanks, armored vehicles and other military equipment across six former Soviet bloc nations to help reassure NATO allies facing threats from Russia and terrorist groups. The announcement came a day after Carter's announcement that the U.S. would have other weapons, aircraft and forces, including commandos, ready as needed for NATO's new rapid reaction force, to help Europe defend against potential Russian aggression from the east and the Islamic State and other violent extremists from the south.
Each set of equipment would be enough to outfit a military company or battalion, and would go on at least a temporary basis to Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Romania. Carter said the equipment could be moved around the region for training and military exercises, and would include Bradley fighting vehicles and self-propelled howitzer artillery guns.
"We intend to move those equipment sets around as exercises move around," Carter told a news conference. "They're not static. Their purpose is to enable richer training and more mobility to forces in Europe." He said the U.S. presence will be "persistent" but "agile," and he said the troops will be able to stay at a higher state of readiness.
Repainting the Europe-based tanks and other armored vehicles is symbolic of the change of focus. The US military has painted its vehicles desert tan for more than a decade, anticipating operations in the Middle East. The return to the forest colors emphasizes security concerns among eastern NATO allies since Russia’s intervention in Ukraine last year.
The 21st Theater Sustainment Command at Colman Barracks in Mannheim, Germany, will begin the repainting vehicles in the next few weeks. Nearly 200 Bradleys, tanks and other heavy vehicles are stored for use by troops rotating through eastern Europe and the Baltics.
Coleman is an interim site to store and maintain vehicles and equipment of the European Activity Set. The European Activity Set is an Armored Brigade Combat (ABCT) Team-sized group of vehicles and equipment that is pre-positioned in Europe to outfit U.S. Army Regionally Aligned Forces when they rotate into theater for training, exercises or contingency operations. The EAS includes a full array of nearly 800 tracked and wheeled vehicles plus all associated equipment in an ABCT, such as Abrams Main Battle Tanks and Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles, howitzers, assault breaching vehicles, and the standard array of tracked and wheeled support systems.
Coleman Barracks had been scheduled to be returned to the German government this year, but this new program has extended its U.S. military service.