Gunner's Seat:
Armor – Like to Have It or Absolutely Need It?

by CSM Miles S. Wilson

The end of the year is upon us, and traditional visions of spiked eggnog, hanging mistletoe and super-humungous flat-screen TVs dance in our heads. That is until our wives say, “No drinking, no kissing in front of the kids, and NO new TV!” But seriously, the end of the year is a time for reflection, resolutions and change. Here at the Armor School, we are faced with a decade-long question. Is Armor good to have but not needed, or is Armor a must-have and definitely needed to win? The answer often depends on the experiences of those asked.

Operation Iraqi Freedom provides us with many current and relevant examples to support the need to keep a healthy armored force in the active duty. The speed and lethality displayed in the early days of the invasion is unmatched in military history. The battles for Fallujah and Sadr City are other excellent examples highlighting the overwhelming benefits of mobile, protected, precision firepower. That concrete wall along al-Quds street in Sadr City was going to go up in 2008. But, I would say that without M1 tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles protecting our Soldiers, it would have been with a much greater loss of U.S. Soldiers. The Second Battle of Fallujah took place Nov. 7-Dec. 23, 2004. One of the main reasons there was a “second” battle was because tanks and Bradleys were not prominently used in the first battle earlier that same year. Again, I would offer that because we employed a much larger force of tanks and Bradleys the second time, there was no third battle of Fallujah.

The U.S. Marine Corps has and currently does use their M1 tanks in Afghanistan. I understand that the tanks can only operate in a small portion of Afghanistan, but from everything I’ve read, they are making a big difference and saving American lives. It’s simply the ability to provide mobile, protected, precision, lethal firepower at distances the enemy can’t match from a platform the enemy can’t significantly damage. What difference would a company of U.S. tanks and Bradleys have made in 1993 during the Battle of Mogadishu?

Much of the current talk in the Army today is about “overmatch.” Nobody wants to go into a fair fight. We as American Soldiers will follow the Geneva Convention laws and display the highest of Army values in combat. But we want to destroy our enemies with overwhelming shock, awe and firepower. As long as those fights occur on land, the Army Soldier will be there with boots on the ground. I cannot think of any other single thing that will protect him and provide him overmatch than the M1 Abrams main battle tank.

The U.S. Army is going through a major transition right now as it navigates around fiscal cliffs and sequestration. In the end, the Army will look very different in the year 2020. It will be smaller, regionally aligned and quite possibly unrestricted by gender. But it will still be the best Army in the world, and the tank and a strong active-duty armored force will be required to maintain that “best” title.

Let us also never forget those who have paid the ultimate price and can no longer be with us, and all those great Americans currently serving in harm’s way.

Forge the Thunderbolt! Armor Strong!

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