The U.S. Marine Corps doesn’t have a lot of M1A1 Abrams main battle tanks, but it’s what they do with them that counts.
With only three tank battalions, it’s rare to see a lot of Marine armor in one place at one time but that changed in the past few weeks with the Marines working alongside the Norwegian Army (Hæren) as part of NATO exercise Cold Response 16. The equipment was rolled out of “secret caves” where it has been stockpiled just in case the balloon went up, a practice dating back to the early 1980s.
“We have pre-positioned gear, both in caves and on ships, and it allows forces from the United States to come on out and fall in on gear that is already forward-deployed versus bringing all that gear with us,” said Col. William Bentley, operations officer for 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade.
This saw a number of brand-new M1A1s get to drift through the heavy Norwegian ice and snow near Rena (above) and fire their first live rounds (below) with the help of the crack Norwegian Telemark Battalion (who fly a Viking long boat unit flag and use, “To Valhalla” as their war cry).
Not to be outdone, the amtracs rolled out near Stjørdal and got to splash around the strategic Trondheim fjord, long considered key to Norway’s defense.
All in a day’s work.