News: Tank hulks: From abandoned wrecks to perfect targets
Story by Staff Sgt. Edward Daileg
BAGHDAD - During the initial phase of Operation Iraqi Freedom, multinational coalition forces destroyed most of Saddam’s tanks and armored vehicles. Much of the former regime’s military remaining equipment was unserviceable even before the war. A lot of that equipment remained on the battlefield and turned into abandoned unserviceable wrecks known as hulks.
Today, some of those hulks are used as targets at the Besmaya Combat Training Center. These hulks have been there since the opening of the camp and have been used as targets by the Iraqi army for several weapon systems during live-fire training exercises.
Over time, the target hulks have deteriorated and rusted, losing their silhouettes and making it difficult to identify them as targets.
“Many of the targets were shot so many times and destroyed, you could not even make out what they were from a distance,” said Luis Perez, range control advisor, Besmaya Combat Training Center Plans and Operations.
The BCTC needed to replace the existing targets with new hulks from Camp Taji.
“BCTC requested armored vehicles and tank hulks that would provide suitable targets for the collective training in Besmaya,” said 1st Lt. Justin Schultz, a native of Ashland, Mo., and a senior engineer advisor, Echelon Above Division Advisory Team, Iraq Training and Advisory Mission–Army, United States Forces–Iraq.
Upon receiving the request, Shultz and Tech Sgt. Micheal Fuhriman, a native of Boise, Idaho, and a supply advisor, EAD-AT, ITAM-Army, USF-I, selected hulks from an armor salvage yard in the northern part of Taji.
“We tried to find the largest number of vehicles with the proper silhouette and an emphasis on tanks and armored vehicles that the Iraqis forces would most likely encounter in combat,” said Schultz.
“The hulks must be durable enough to withstand multiple direct hits from the rounds that the Iraqi army fires at them,” he added.
In early August, the BCTC received 50 hulks consisting of 21 tanks and 29 armored-personnel carriers.
The new hulks will be used as targets for high explosives, mortars and machine guns. Several of them are on defensive-platoon ranges where the Iraqi army conducts live-fire exercises and defensive-fighting positions.
“The newly placed tank hulks resemble the real shape of a tank or armored vehicle from a distance,” said Perez. “This improves the training for the Iraqi army because they can identify a real target and not just a large piece of metal.”
From abandoned wrecks to training aids, these huge chunks-of-steel serve another purpose from what they used to be. These targets will help improve the marksmanship and weapons proficiency of the Iraqi army.