Austria came out on top, ahead of Germany and the US, which placed second and third, respectively, the US Army said. The Strong Europe Tank Challenge was held from May 7 to May 12 in Grafenwoehr, a town in eastern Bavaria, Germany.
The distribution of scores was pretty small, Stars and Stripes noted, and the French, Ukrainian, and Polish crews in the competition scored very close to the top-three medalists.
During the competition, soldiers tackled obstacle courses while sometimes carrying large tank rounds, practiced vehicle identification and conducted “precision maneuvers,” the US Army said on May 11. The event was set up by the US Army Europe and the German Bundeswehr.
Given the current armed conflict between separatists and Ukrainian security forces in Eastern Ukraine, the competition featured a heightened sense of real-world applicability.
The six participants – Austria, Germany, France, Poland, Ukraine and the US – operated out of four different types of tanks. The Austrian-made Leopard was favored by Poland, Germany and Austria. America opted for its tried and true Abrams, Ukraine used an upgrade Soviet T-64 and French troops maneuvered from a domestically made Leclerc tank. “We learned that every nation has their pride in being a tanker,” Staff Sgt. Thomas Krims, a US ammo loader, said.
The event also fostered camaraderie between the different NATO teams, the Army said. Some US troops downplayed the competitive nature of the event, perhaps because they lost. “This is a competition, but it’s not really about the competition,” said Sgt. Major David Glenn, adding that it’s “really about” working together with other military forces to build esprit de corps.