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Team Yankee Fulda Gap 86 - Bulletin number 6


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Team Yankee Fulda Gap 86 - Bulletin number 6


It was a rare sight to behold so many Allied tanks in plain view while also experiencing the power of 18 tank main guns firing on the same range.  Most of the time, these armored behemoths were crouching in cover, like tigers in ambush, or sprinting from copse to forest, like cheetahs chasing gazelles. The shock waves from the blasts were numbing, as they were so close together. The ripple of distorted air was unreal as the sabot rounds streaked downrange at Mach 4. The effect on targets was vaporized metal plates that stood in for enemy tanks. Impressive could not begin to describe the feeling…


In their multicolored camouflage, leaves, branches and camo netting, the steel beasts resembled great clusters of foliage, both similar and yet varied. Only their long and deadly guns, and the dust kicked up from their shots, gave them away as tanks.  The TC’s (Tank Commanders) were all visible today, sitting atop their turrets, as their gunners were shooting on Tank Table VIII.  This was the final round of that Table, where the crews were required to fire at multiple targets with the main gun using the gunner's auxiliary sight.  The commanders all appeared similar: focused, wearing armored crew coveralls, headsets, microphones and peering through binoculars at distant targets.


It was not until they met back at the club, to kick back and relax that the many nationalities of these crews became obvious.  Whether or not the COHORT FORGE project was a training and logistics success, the comradery and rich military culture that was coming out of it was well worth the experience at the unit level. Looking across the bar and tables, Major Ethan Wilkinson (a.k.a. “Wilkie”) ticked off the national colors on the shoulders, caps and berets: the UK, USA, West Germany, Canada, the Netherlands, Belgium and more. 


Initially, at least to Ethan, the idea of COHORT FORGE – to integrate battalions of different NATO nations into the divisions of other countries – seemed like a poof PR project.  But the reality of it – soldiers doing their jobs with different blokes and learning different tactics, equipment and lingo – really did seem to be developing a more integrated force. The competition was also a great motivator for platoons and companies to up their game and show their stuff, for bragging rights here and back home.


Even Brigadier Wallace of the 7th Armoured Brigade (Desert Rats) had come down for the festivities of the mid-way point of the multinational deployment. Word around the squadron was that he was bragging about the superiority of the Chieftain crews over the Germans and Yanks. That from an officer more famous for piss and vinegar than for warm praise, bragging or making bets.


If the “balloon went up” while he was here, Wilkie was confident he could trust his life and crews with the 3rd Armored Division as much as he would with his home unit, the Desert Rats, back at Bournemouth Barracks in Soltau.


The “loggies” and clarks complained about the many differences in the forces. The tools, the ammo, the rations, the difference in paperwork, and so on.  A lot of that was being worked out. Some friction in the rear areas, but not so much here, on the front line.


Where the tracks hit the road, they were all soldiers in a common cause: keep the Red Menace at bay during peacetime, and turn those Soviet and East German tanks into scrap metal, if war ever came. After the performance on the Tank Gunnery range today, and looking at both the young and the grizzled warriors in this room, Ethan had no doubt that COHORT FORGE was making them better soldiers.

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