Hear the awesome power of the US Military M1 Abrams Tank in Military live fire exercise. NOVO SELO TRAINING AREA, Bulgaria- The crowd grew silent as the tanks rolled in, a collective breath held as everyone in attendance waited for the first rounds to be fired. While many had seen tanks fired before, the multitude held close to their hearts the knowledge that this moment was not just an average day in Bulgaria.
Soldiers with 3rd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, joined their Bulgarian allies as they fired by tank main gun rounds and small arms and crew-served weapons in Bulgaria at Novo Selo Training Area, Bulgaria, June 25.
Transported as part of a tank section from Germany to Bulgaria, the Abrams tank was included amongst equipment contributed by both the American and Bulgarian Armies as part of the live-fire exercise known as Operation Speed and Power during Kabile 15 as part of Atlantic Resolve, designed to increase interoperability amongst the counterparts.
Operation Speed and Power demonstrated U.S. Army Europe’s preparedness to deliver strategic effect in Atlantic Resolve by showcasing the freedom of movement to maneuver and fire M1A2 Abrams anywhere along NATO’s eastern flank. This ability enables NATO allies to defend themselves against all threats, and shows that the alliance remains ready to defend itself anywhere, at any time.
Witnessing first-hand the impressive capabilities of joining assets amongst allies, included Bulgarian military officials; Rosen Plevneliev, the president of Bulgaria; and the ambassador to the Republic of Bulgaria, Marcie Ries. The dignitaries appreciated the importance of allies joining forces, and contributing assets while training and working night and day as one united front to provide reassurance to the citizens of Bulgaria.
“In an alliance, interoperability is imperative because it’s a partnership between allies as they work together,” said Ries. “It’s important for everyone involved in the alliance to practice and be capable while working as a team.”
As Bulgarian T-72 Main Battle Tanks joined alongside the American M1A2 Abrams tanks, shaking the earth as they fired while jets soared overhead, the realistic setting of the live-fire exercise impressed upon the allies the importance of being able to come together as one united force at a moment’s notice, able to have equipment quickly transported from one European country to another within days. Not only does the equipment need to be ready within hours, but the soldiers from both forces involved need to be able to fight quickly and competently side-by-side.
“Our ability to put tanks on planes in Germany and move them here within three days and have them ready to fire displays a cohesion and ability for all NATO allies involved to work together quickly,” said 1st Lt. Frank M. Wood, Platoon Leader with C Co., 3rd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, and a native of Macon, Ga.
“That freedom of movement strengthens the NATO alliance, and shows our allies that we’re here to help them, while letting our adversaries know what we’re capable of,” said Wood.
As the American soldiers taught their Bulgarian allies the capabilities of the M1A2 Abrams tank that would be firing alongside their own, both sides noticed that the similarities outweighed the differences, allowing for quick learning and better cohesion during the joint training.
“Their tank is lighter than ours, and ours has more stability when firing, but there are far more similarities amongst the two tanks than differences,” said Staff Sgt. Luis Aguilar, Charlie Co. Master Gunner, 3rd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, and a native of Miami, Fla.
“We were able to ask each other questions and share basic information, allowing each of us to gain familiarity with one another’s equipment and capabilities, which resulted in us feeling well prepared and confident during the exercise despite our tanks having just recently arrived in Bulgaria,” said Aguilar.
As the smoke cleared and the tanks rumbled into the distance, the crowds began excitedly discussing the flawless execution of the exercise, as the Bulgarian and American Armies worked as one strong team.
“The exercise today was a real demonstration of what we mean when we talk about interoperability because we saw the seamless performance of the Bulgarian and American troops together with their equipment,” said Ries. “The Bulgarian people will be able to see what their military is doing, and what both our capabilities are, and gain further reassurance that their allies are here for them at all times.”