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Photo Information

An M1A1 Abrams Main Battle Tank prepares to fire its 120 mm main gun during a gunnery range here Oct. 8. Marines with 2nd Tank Battalion, 2nd Marine Division are required to qualify on live-fire tank ranges. The M1A1 Abrams Main Battle Tank has been in America’s arsenal of armored fighting vehicles since 1980. (Official Marine Corps photo by Staff Sgt. Juan Vara) (RELEASED)

Photo by Staff Sgt. Juan Vara

Masters of the Iron Horse conduct gunnery range

21 Oct 2008 | Lance Cpl. David Weikle

To provide effective combat support to Marines on the battlefield, tankers are required to qualify on live-fire tank ranges.

Marines with Bravo Company, 2nd Tank Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, participated in a tank gunnery range here, Oct. 8 as part of their annual training.

 The M1A1 Abrams Main Battle Tank has been in America’s arsenal of armored fighting vehicles since 1980.  A formidable tool of death and destruction, the Abrams is considered one of the most advanced tanks on the modern battlefield.

“The tanks we use are equipped with a variety of weapons from the 7.62 mm coaxial gun all the way up to the 120 mm main gun,” said Lance Cpl. Michael Beadlescomb, a loader with the battalion.  “We’re expected to be extremely accurate and we are.”

The mission of 2nd Tank Battalion, also known as the Iron Horse, is to close with and destroy the enemy using armor-protected firepower, shock effect and maneuver, and to provide precision-direct fires against enemy armor, fighting vehicles, troops, and hardened positions.

“The sound of a tank coming down a street puts fear in a lot of people,” said Staff Sgt. Shawn Pugmire, a tank commander.  “We can draw fire from the infantry so they can do what they need to.”

Tankers supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom help combat insurgents in an environment where there are no armored enemies.  The ‘Masters of the Iron Horse’ are expected to provide support to infantrymen in several ways.

“We can do anything from leveling a building to blowing a hole in a wall for guys to move through,” said Beadlescomb.

The gunnery training enhanced teamwork and required individual tank crews to hone their skills to rain death on the enemy. This awesome firepower has been unleashed on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan where tanks give Marines the fighting edge needed to succeed.