What makes the M1 Abrams so crucial to the Russia-Ukraine war?


WASHINGTON : The M1 Abrams tank is one of the most powerful ground weapons in the US arsenal, capable of closing in on enemy tanks, troop positions and other targets, shooting them down with its cannons and machine guns and then flying away.

The tank’s heavy armor protects the vehicle and four-man crew from small arms fire, shrapnel, and even some direct hits. It can ford waters up to 1.20 meters deep.

“The basic mission of the tank platoon is to shut down and destroy the enemy,” reads the first sentence of a 2019 training document for Army and Marine Corps tank commanders.

The Biden administration could announce as early as Wednesday that it will send dozens of Abrams to Ukraine to help Kiev troops recapture territory from the Russians.

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The first Abrams, named after General Creighton Abrams, a World War II tank commander, entered service with the United States Army in 1980. Originally intended to fight the Soviets in Germany’s strategic Fulda Gorge, the Abrams has been updated several times with a larger gun and improvements to the armor, transmission and drivetrain. Over the years, the Pentagon has purchased more than 7,000 of the tanks in various configurations, according to the Congressional Research Service, a research arm of the Library of Congress.

The Abrams first saw action during the Gulf War, where it was widely praised by commanders, crews and service personnel for its killing power and toughness under enemy fire, and speed, according to a 1992 report by the Government Accountability Office.

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The tanks helped the US military overpower Iraqi forces during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, supporting raids and other operations in Fallujah and elsewhere. The tanks also served in Afghanistan, where a Marine Corps armored company deployed in 2011 and suffered only one casualty on its tour, despite 19 IED attacks, according to an article in the military magazine Military Review.

But throughout its service, soldiers and war planners have become concerned about the tank’s massive fuel consumption and limited range, and the lengthy logistics and maintenance train that follows the Abrams into battle. Those, among other factors, made the Pentagon reluctant to send tanks to Ukraine.

A battalion of 58 tanks needs dozens of support vehicles and hundreds of soldiers to keep it running – a formula known in military circles as the tooth-to-tail ratio. That could be armored ambulances, command vehicles, maintenance trucks and trucks to tow disabled tanks. The trucks must carry fuel, ammunition, lubricants, engine oil, hydraulic fluid and extremely heavy spare parts.

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“Anything to do with the tank is heavy,” says Dan Grazier, a former Marine Corps tank officer.

Even with all that, a tank battalion can only operate in the field for two or three days without resupplying a logistics battalion, said Grazier, who is now a researcher at the Project on Government Oversight, a nonpartisan think tank.

“If we gave the Ukrainians tanks and we didn’t give them everything they need to support them logistically, we would hardly be doing them any favors,” he said. it moves.”



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