STUTTGART, Germany — The U.S. Army’s 69-year history of basing main battle tanks on German soil quietly ended last month when 22 Abrams tanks, a main feature of armored combat units throughout the Cold War, embarked for the U.S.
The departure of the last M-1 Abrams tanks coincides with the inactivation of two of the Army’s Germany-based heavy brigades. Last year, the 170th Infantry out of Baumholder disbanded. And the 172nd Separate Infantry Brigade at Grafenwöhr is in the process of doing the same.
On March 18, the remaining tanks were loaded up at the 21st Theater Sustainment Command’s railhead in Kaiserslautern where they then made the journey to the shipping port in Bremerhaven, Germany. There they boarded a ship bound for South Carolina.
The tanks belonged to the 172nd along with a mix that were leftover from other units, according to the 21st TSC.
“It is an honor to be one of the soldiers escorting the last battle tanks out of Germany,” said Sgt. Jeremy Jordan of the 529th Military Police Company, in an Army story about the journey. “As these tanks sail back to the U.S., we are closing a chapter in history.”
From World War II on through the Cold War, tanker units were a heavy presence in Germany. At its peak, Germany was home to 20 NATO armored divisions, or about 6,000 tanks, according to the 21st TSC.
“There is no [U.S.] tank on German soil. It’s a historic moment,” said Lt. Col. Wayne Marotto, 21st TSC spokesman.