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Tanks in Europe go from tan to green after years of desert warfare

(U.S. Army photo by Christoph Koppers, Training Support Center Grafenwoehr)
June 22, 2017

After years of deployments to the Middle East, where most of the terrain is deserts, tanks being used for training and security across the greener landscapes of Europe might stick out like a sore thumb: most of them are still “desert” tan.

Soldiers with the 4th Infantry Division’s 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team (BCT) began painting and camouflaging their tanks from tan to woodland green when they arrived in Europe in early April.

Capt. James England, the commander of B Company, 1st Battalion, 66th Armor Regiment, said that “A lot of the reasons why they weren’t done before was because of our high operational tempo leading up to our deployment to Europe. We basically had intense training event to intense training event, which led to little room for opportunities [to paint the tanks beforehand].”

Details such as these are a focal point for Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, the commander of U.S. Army Europe, where hundreds of M1 Abrams tanks have been arriving in an effort to strengthen deterrence against Russian aggression as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve.

“We have reminded the Army that there are three places that we are probably going to fight with tanks,” said Hodges. “Two of them are green, and I would rather paint them all green and let somebody come up with a temporary tan job versus doing the other thing.”

Understanding the need to deploy laterally, England took a moment to echo the sentiments of Hodges.

“The paint is a temporary paint,” England said. “Once we go back home, we can pressure-wash it off.”