Romania Also Sent Its Best Tanks to That European War Game
Small NATO country packs big armored punch
In May, the U.S. Army sent its most advanced M-1A2SEPv2 Abrams tanks to a major NATO war game in Germany. And Romania also sent its best tanks to train with the Americans and other European allies.
The Combined Resolve II exercise ended June 30. Some 4,000 troops from 15 nations had descended on Germany to train.
However, few countries sent any armored vehicles—and only the Americans and Romanians sent tanks. Romania has been a member of the trans-Atlantic alliance since 2004.
The For?ele Terestre Române deployed 300 troops, along with TR-85M1 Bizonul tanks and MLI-84M Jderul fighting vehicles. The Bisons are slightly stretched local derivatives of the famous Soviet T-55 tank, while the Martens—seen in the picture below—are an upgrade of the old BMP-1 design.
NATO troops training with tanks and other armored vehicles in Germany drew many Cold War comparisons. The ongoing crisis in Ukraine, where the government is bogged down fighting Russian-supported insurgents, casts a shadow over any military activity in Europe.
The Pentagon and NATO both emphasized that Combined Resolve II had no relationship to any current events … and had been on the calender since last year. The Kremlin clearly feels differently about these various exercises and has responded in kind with its own military maneuvers.
Official statements aside, Combined Resolve II’s scenarios were intended to “replicate a complex operating environment,” according to NATO. This essentially means fighting a traditional enemy—like Russia—that has its own armor, artillery and other high-tech equipment.
Romania actually played the role of the well-equipped enemy during a portion of the exercise. The “enemy” Task Force Greva also included American troops specially trained to simulate an “opposing force”—or OPFOR—as well as U.S. Army Reservists and National Guardsmen from California.
The main American contingent’s Abrams tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles squared off against this Romanian-led OPFOR. Unfortunately, we don’t know who won the simulated battle.
Romanian troops also trained with the Georgian counterparts. The Kremlin could not have been thrilled to hear Tbilisi would be participating in Combined Resolve II.
Georgia, which fought a brief war with Russia in 2008, is not a NATO member. Yet. The Caucasus nation has been interested in joining the Alliance for years now.
Current events aside, the Pentagon and NATO do agree that their forces should focus on more conventional fights after a decade hunting insurgents in Afghanistan. That doesn’t necessarily mean Russia is the target.
It also doesn’t mean Russia isn’t the target.