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    • Polish and Blackjack Soldiers conduct Table I Training

      U.S. Army photo by SPC Bernabe Lopez III

      NOWA DEBA, Poland – Polish troops and U.S. Army Soldiers assigned to Bravo Company “Blackjack”, 1st Battalion, 35th Armored Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, supporting the 3rd Infantry Division, conducted Table I training on the advanced gunnery training system for proficiency on the M1A2 SEPv2 Abrams tank, along with platform specific gunnery-related skills at Nowa Deba, Poland, Dec. 19-21, 2023. Table I is a prerequisite to Table VI, a culminating live fire exercise in January where the Polish and Blackjack Soldiers apply and execute what they learned to earn their gunnery qualification. The training tests their readiness and cohesiveness in working together while ensuring interoperability and contribution to their mission in Europe.

      Familiarization with the Abrams tank, along with platform specific gunnery-related skills, begins with understanding what each of the requirements calls for. From understanding components of a tank, to weapons disassembly and assembly, to equipment identification, Polish and U.S. Soldiers must demonstrate proficiency on individual and collective tasks, skills, and knowledge through testable (written) and performance (hands-on) evaluations.

      U.S. Army photo by SPC Bernabe Lopez III

      For the U.S. and Polish training together it’s good because the Polish platoon we have right now is one of their only Abrams platoons,” said Sgt. 1st Class Casey Laing, a platoon sergeant assigned to 1st Bn., 35th AR, 2ABCT, 1AD. “They recently received the M1A1 Abrams which is the older model of the Abrams we have currently [and] they‘re going to be receiving the older .50 caliber machine gun, and in the next coming years they’re going to be receiving our M240B machine gun.”

      “They’re going to be going through our AGTS training, and what we have to train up [as] mandated by the Army to qualify us before we go to gunnery: machine gun training, vehicle and ammo identification, tank tasks, etc,” added Laing “The Polish will be taking that exam with us to test their skills and build a model for them to use in the Polish army for the Abrams platform.”

      U.S. Army photo by SPC Bernabe Lopez III

      Not only is it important to understand the weapons that 1st Bn., 35th AR operates, but it is essential for the Polish to know what being a tanker means which involves functions check of the .50 caliber and M240 machine guns, friendly and enemy vehicle identification and ammunition identification. By learning the fundamentals early on, it prepares both the Polish and U.S. Soldiers to become efficient at their tasks and drills in operating an Abrams tank, along with platform specific gunnery-related skills.

      “Giving them a better understanding of how we operate [is] what a 19K (M1 armor crewman) is all about,” said Spc. Arturo Arias, a tank gunner assigned to 1st Bn., 35th AR, 2ABCT, 1AD. “I hope that overall they get a better understanding of how we operate [because] we do take this very seriously. We pride ourselves in that we are proficient tankers, [and the Polish] seem eager to be the same way we are, to work and understand the platform [and] as how we operate.”

      U.S. Army photo by SPC Bernabez Lopez III

      The Polish platoon training on the M1A2 Abrams tank came from a company where it was the first to receive the M1A1 Abrams. To familiarize themselves with the tanks they received, along with improving and gaining experience on a later model, Polish soldiers completed two training courses that would help prepare them for their gunnery qualification alongside their U.S. counterparts who have been using the equipment for many years. By showcasing an understanding of their tasks and applying it to the day of their gunnery qualification, the Polish and U.S. Soldiers ensure interoperability between each other and contribution to their mission in Europe.

      “[We are] just glad to be here, and we are glad that the cooperation between our army and the U.S. Army is going well,” said 2nd Lt. Bawel Bartel, a tank commander assigned to the Polish 1st Armored Brigade. “Sometimes there is a language barrier, but we are managing it and we are just glad to have this opportunity to improve ourselves and work with you guys because you are the specialists when it comes to this equipment and we can learn from you and exchange our experiences.”

      The 3rd Infantry Division’s mission in Europe is to engage in multinational training and exercises across the continent, working alongside NATO allies and regional security partners to provide combat-credible forces to V Corps, America’s forward deployed corps in Europe.

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