US and Finnish soldiers go head-to-head with Marines in mock armored vehicle battle

Marines with 2nd Tank Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, receive fuel from Finnish soldiers with 2nd Logistics Regiment, Logistics Command, during exercise Arrow 2019 at Niinisalo Garrison, Finland, May 4, 2019.


By MARTIN EGNASH | STARS AND STRIPES Published: May 17, 2019

There’s always been a fierce rivalry between soldiers and Marines. But seldom do they get to duke it out with armor.

About 200 soldiers from the Army’s 2nd Cavalry Regiment completed on Friday a two-week exercise in western Finland, during which they engaged in a mock armored vehicle battle against a smaller force of some 100 Marines.

Exercise Arrow began May 6 with cavalrymen fighting in their Stryker Infantry Carrier Vehicles alongside Finnish Leopard 2 main battle tanks, against Marine M1A1 Abrams tanks and LAV-25 light armored vehicles.

The Marines, with the 4th Tank Battalion and 4th Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, played the opposition force against the U.S. and Finnish troops.

The battle allowed the soldiers and Marines to live out the competitive desire the two services have of one-upping the opposing branch.

“My team got two [vehicle] kills one day against the Marines’ LAV’s,” Staff Sgt. Zachary Brunnemer, a scout with the regiment, proudly told Stars and Stripes. But the following day, when a Marine LAV-25 took out his Stryker, one of the Marines who mock-perished the previous day jumped out of the armored vehicle to remind him that he “got us this time.”

The Army’s Strykers are significantly less armored than either of the Marine vehicles, but they utilized their dismounted anti-tank weapons to get the upper hand on the Marines during parts of the exercise.

They mainly used simulated single-shot AT-4 smoothbore weapons but added some FGM-148 Javelin anti-tank missiles.

One way the soldiers in their smaller Strykers successfully overcame the much more powerful Marine tanks and LAVs was to hold them off with a 30mm cannon, which the Army began using last year. Meanwhile, dismounted soldiers moved into position to take out the tanks on their flanks with shoulder-fired missiles.

“What we bring to the table, unlike the other units that are with us, is our much larger dismounted capability,” said Capt. Jimmyn Lee, a troop commander. “The Finnish units are mechanized. They’re mostly vehicle oriented, so [Finnish] tanks clashing with [Marine] tanks.”

The dismounted U.S. troops operated in the dense forests that Finnish tanks had a tough time maneuvering through, Lee said.

In the final tally, the Army/Finnish team and the Marines each notched a victory against the other. Several soldiers said the heavily outnumbered Marines put up a good fight.

After the war games, the troops practiced precision fires with their M-4s, 30mm autocannons and mounted machine guns during the exercise’s live-fire portion.

Twitter: @Marty_Stripes

Lance Cpl. Zackary Long, a tank crewman with 2nd Tank Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, guides a M1A1 Abrams tank during exercise Arrow 2019 at Niinisalo Garrison, Finland, on May 4, 2019.

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