HELMAND PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Marines with Bravo Company, 2nd Tank Battalion, Regimental Combat Team 6, have been supporting the most dangerous operations in northern Helmand province since they first arrived about two months ago.
“We are here to support small units that would like an armor capability,” said Cpl. William A. Seniw, tank crewman, Bravo Company. “Nobody messes with the tanks. Nobody wants to shoot at us because of the capabilities we have.”
The M1A1 Abrams tanks the Marines operate have night and day optics with a high magnification ability, so the Marines can see almost everything in their line of sight.
“We can identify people from about 8,000 meters away,” said Lance Cpl. Steven C. Noyes, tank crewman, Bravo Company. “From what I’ve seen, every time (insurgents) see a tank they run away. We have superior firepower.”
The Marines said they are proud to be able to provide that firepower when it’s needed, and they are also proud to extinguish insurgents’ fighting spirit.
“On our last operation, as soon as the tanks stepped in – that shock and awe – the enemy was clearly less willing to engage the Marines,” said Noyes. “I feel that just having tanks around saves lives.”
In addition to scaring away the enemy, the tanks are a morale booster for coalition forces fighting on the same side.
“When I talk to the grunts, they always talk about how great the tanks are,” said Noyes, 21, from Waldoboro, Maine. “It’s sort of like a morale lifter for the grunts. Whenever they are in over their heads, they’ll call in tanks and we can save the day.”
At the end of the day, the tankers are happy that they protect their friends on the ground.
“The tanks role is important because it saves lives with the show of force we provide,” said Seniw, 24, from Chicago Heights, Ill. “(Enemies) on the ground don’t want to mess with us when tanks come by, so when we’re around, it calms down.”