MIHAIL KOGALNICEANU AIR BASE, Romania: Soldiers from Task Force Fighting Eagles rolled out the first green armored vehicles to appear outside of Germany from 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, matching eastern Europe’s lush springtime operating environment.
The crews of 1st Battalion (“Fighting Eagles”), 8th Infantry Regiment, transformed their M2A3 Bradley Fighting Vehicles and M109A6 Paladin self-propelled artillery during the first week of May, with vehicles blending into training environments in Romania and Bulgaria.
Their M1A2 Abrams tanks took on a similar tinge this past week to match the rolling hills and lush forests of the Black Sea Region, where the 3/4 ABCT task force is conducting training with allies as part of U.S. Army Europe’s deterrence message, Operation Atlantic Resolve.
The Fighting Eagles are continually improving their ability to conceal and survive by better blending into their surroundings, said 1st Lt. Coleman Grider, a platoon leader with Company B.
“I am very excited we are painting our vehicles green. Adapting to the environment is critical to mission success. When we first arrived to Europe in Poland, we camouflaged our vehicles to conceal ourselves in the snow. In Romania and Bulgaria, we are surrounded by a lot of greenery, so it is crucial we blend into our area of operations,” said Grider, as he brought his Soldiers to the painting tent located at Mihail Koglniceanu Air Base, Romania.
The platoon’s Bradley Fighting Vehicles were the first in the battalion to get a fresh coat of green paint.
Staff Sgt. Richard Cardenas, a squad leader and Bradley commander within Grider’s platoon, added: “It takes some time to completely paint such a large vehicle, but this will improve our ability to conduct operations. Concealment is very important to the survivability of a Bradley and its crew.”
In 2003, the Fighting Eagles deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Tan combat platforms were useful in the desert and the equipment stayed that way, as the 3/4 ABCT deployed four times in a span of seven years in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom – from 2003-2004, 2005-2006, 2007-2008 – and later, Operation New Dawn from 2010-2011 and throughout the Persian Gulf during an Operation Spartan Shield deployment in 2015.
But in a new environment, the update helps the brigade’s combat vehicles fit in as Soldiers conduct a new mission as part of USAREUR’s Atlantic Resolve, deterring aggression and strengthening the overall defense of NATO allied and partner nations.
“Each paint scheme is tailored to the specific area of operation. Whether we are in Iraq or in eastern Europe, it is important we stay ahead of the curve ensuring our equipment and Soldiers blend in with the surrounding environment. It is not only vital to the success of key training but also to the survivability of our force,” said Maj. Michael Harrison, operations officer, 1st Bn., 8th Inf. Regt.
Over the next few weeks, the task force will paint all of its operational support and sustainment vehicles.
“Adaptability is paramount to the maneuverability and lethality of the Fighting Eagles. I praise our Soldiers every day, but the efforts they have put into painting their equipment has been amazing. We look forward to our next training exercise so we can see our green combat platforms alongside those of our Allies,” said Harrison.
The Fighting Eagles are deployed to Romania and Bulgaria as part of the first rotation of continuous “heel-to-toe” deployments of armored brigade combat teams throughout central and eastern Europe.
Armor equipment from 3rd Brigade first rolled out the green body work last month in Germany, but that equipment has remained there as five of the brigade’s seven battalions prepare to participate in the USAREUR-led Combined Resolve VIII multinational exercise. The 1st Bn., 8th Inf. Regt. is the first of the brigade’s combined-arms battalions to show the new look in eastern Europe.