|1st Cavalry Fields New Abrams SEP Tanks|
1st Cavalry Fields New Abrams SEP Tanks
By Spc. Jonathan Del Marcus
Fort Hood, Texas -- (ANS) Army News Service, July 18, 2001 -- A battalion of the 1st Cavalry Division became the second unit in the Army last week to begin fielding the new Abrams M1A2 SEP (System Enhancement Program) main battle tank.
Officials of the 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, said the M1A2 SEP is among many new pieces of equipment that will add to the capability of digital connectivity to the division's arsenal by the end of fiscal year 2003.
The most important characteristic of the Abrams M1A2 SEP that distinguishes it from its predecessor, the M1A2, is an embedded battle command that allows soldiers to communicate with each other within and across echelons to relay and share information, said Cathy Oldham, chief of force integration, 1st Cav. Div.
This ability increases command and control as well as situational awareness on the battlefield, Oldham noted.
"Unlike an analog system, all M1A2 SEP tank crews will have instant access to the latest information on battlefield conditions, and everyone will have a common operating picture through the use of the same graphics," said Maj. David Farlow, public affairs officer, 1st Cav. Div.
The commander's display unit, or CDU, displays a map showing terrain features with grids that show a tank's location, the location of the unit's tanks, and any known enemy locations or equipment, according to Sgt. Michael W. Steward, gunner, Co. A, 1-12 Cav. The CDU can also be used to send and receive e-mail messages.
There is also a second-generation forward-looking infrared sight, with five different powers of magnification that displays the environment outside of the tank on the commander's independent thermal viewer, said Staff Sgt. Derek J. Hall, master gunner, Co. A, 1-12 Cav.
"What the SEP tank will do ...is give us the digital systems, what's called the Army battle command systems, so that tank crews will know where they are on the battlefield, where the rest of the formation is and where the enemy is. That's pretty powerful stuff," said Maj. Gen. David D. McKiernan, 1st Cav. Div. commander.
Much of the anticipation for fielding the M1A2 SEP surely stems from one other new addition to the tank, Hall said.
The M1A2 SEP adds a new air conditioning system, an air-handling unit, that will bring the temperature inside the tank down 22 degrees from 110 degrees to 88 degrees, Hall added.
This will add to the comfort of the crews, particularly in places like Texas, as well as possible deployments in other hot environments, said Spc. Marion Saunders, loader, Co. A, 1-12 Cav.
Before crews were issued the new Abrams M1A2 SEP they had to turn in the previously used M1A2.
"It's not like going down to the Ford dealership, saying 'here's my old car, give me some trade in on it, and let me drive away in my new car,'" McKiernan said. "They had to do literally thousands of supply transactions."
The next step for the Calvary unit is to begin training.
"We'll start a fairly structured new equipment training program for about 50 days, and then we'll go into platoon, company and battalion-level training exercises. All of the time trying to hone the skills that we are going to need so we can employ the SEP tank to its full potential," McKiernan said.
Not only are soldiers in 1-12 Cav. getting the chance to become one of the first to field the Army's newest equipment, four other brigades in the 1st Calvary Division will get the chance by the end of fiscal year 2003.
In October 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, will start fielding the new Bradley M2A3 and 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment will draw the Abrams M1A2 SEP.
By the end of fiscal year 2001 approximately 6,700 pieces of equipment will have changed hands within the division, said Maj. Frank Schneck, division XXI project officer.
After the change has been made to outfit all of the tank units with the M1A2 SEP, the division will require fewer tanks to do the same job, Oldham said.
(Editor's note: Spc. Jonathan Del Marcus is a member of the 1st Cavalry Division Public Affairs Office.)