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Austria blasts its way to first place at Tank Challenge

Ukrainian tankers drive a T-64BM tank through a car set up as an obstacle during a portion of the Strong Europe Tank Challenge at Grafenwoehr, Germany, Thursday, May 11, 2017.

MARTIN EGNASH/STARS AND STRIPES

By MARTIN EGNASH | STARS AND STRIPES Published: May 12, 2017

GRAFENWOEHR, Germany — Austria came out on top Friday in the Strong Europe Tank Challenge, an annual event in which tankers are tested in armored warfare skills.

The challenge pitted tank platoons of six NATO allies and partner nations in a variety of events that tested the tankers’ skills. Germany came in second place, and the United States secured third place.

It was a tough competition. France, Ukraine, and Poland also competed in the challenge, all scoring very close to the top three. The challenge tested the soldiers’ talent and ability inside and outside their tanks, giving every country a fair shot at winning by not focusing on the technical specifications of their vehicles. The events featured offensive and defensive operations, an obstacle course and a combat pistol shoot.

The competition allowed the multinational group of tankers to share techniques with one another to improve overall effectiveness. The Ukrainian platoon offered particular insight because of their recent experience fighting against enemy tanks.

Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, the comander of U.S. Army Europe, said the challenge was designed to foster both a competitive and cooperative spirit among the tankers. After trying their best during the day to outperform their competitors, each night they would get together to exchange professional knowledge, he said.

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French tankers firing on targets in Leclerc tanks during the Strong Europe Tank Challenge at Grafenwoehr, Germany, Thursday, May 11.
MARTIN EGNASH/STARS AND STRIPES

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