HADITHA DAM, Iraq -- As the Global War on Terrorism progresses, the Marine Corps continues to use an intimidating pieces of machinery on the ground …the M-1A1 Abrams Main Battle Tank.
The tanks, which weigh up to 70 tons and provide awesome firepower, were introduced into the Marine Corps during the early 1990s and are usually incorporated into initial ground assaults.
“When insurgents see us rolling into town, they may set off an (improvised explosive device),” said Gunnery Sgt. Richard J. Layton, a tank commander with 4th Tank Company, 1st Tank Battalion in support of 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment. “But, that doesn’t phase these big guys and we just keep rolling right through it. It dissuades some of the insurgents from attacking us when they see that their best weapon is useless against us.”
While the tanks hardly ever have a chance to use their heavy weaponry, they are always ready to respond to any insurgents’ mortar or RPG fire if the need arises.
“We have a 120 mm main gun, a .50 cal. (heavy machine gun) and an M-240 medium machinegun on each vehicle,” said the 1994 Overbrook Senior High School graduate. “We just sit tight and wait to see if anyone wants to fire on our troops, so we can respond back with deadly accuracy.”
Tanks also provide security for ground troops in cities.
“We set up blocking positions so the infantrymen can patrol without having to worry about (Vehicle-Borne IEDs) and other heavy attacks,” said the 31-year-old.
The tanks also easily breach buildings and walled off sections in towns that the Marines need to enter
“A lot of Marines would be injured or killed if we weren’t there to hit an IED first or enter a heavily fortified section of a city,” Layton said.
It has been said that tanks are becoming a thing of the past. But according to Layton, that is wholly inaccurate.
Some people say the need for tanks is ending.
“My response to that statement is, ‘You can’t win in the air without planes and you can’t win on the ground without tanks,’” Layton said with a huge smile.