On Thursday, Dec. 9, 2021, Troopers assigned to Cold Steel, 1st Squadron, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment (ACR) at the National Training Center and Fort Irwin, California, fired the first main battle tank round out of the M1A2 Abrams System Enhancement Program (SEP) V2 in the Regiment’s history.
The Regiment previously executed gunnery using M1A1 Abrams while simultaneously fulfilling the role of the U.S. Military’s professional opposing force at the National Training Center. On October, 2021, the 11th ACR received five M1A2 Abrams SEP V2s via a lateral transfer from Fort Hood, Texas.
Although the tanks were new to the Regiment, the vehicles required manpower, resources, and service tasks to maintain functionality. Safety was the first priority, and before Troopers could operate the new main battle tanks for live fire, they needed to ensure the serviceability of the platform.
“Today’s live fire was conceptualized, planned, and executed in about five weeks,” said 1st Lt. Jack Dwyer, Cold Steel Troop Executive Officer. “It was a true test at all echelons in Cold Steel Troop to fix the vehicles mechanically, equip them efficiently through the Army maintenance and supply chains, and above all train the crews to be able to execute all the actions required of them when the moment was right.”
It’s not often that tanks are fired from outside the vehicle, but this day, the crew conducted final firing preparations at the rear of the tank. Firing the main gun from outside the vehicle verifies that the main gun is functional, and demonstrates to the crew that they will be safe when operating the tank and sitting inches away from the main gun.
Kyle Bossard, a 19K, M1 Armor Crewman, crouched behind the armored vehicle with the rear bumper number labeled “C-20” alongside Troop Master Gunner, Staff Sgt. Stephen Holtzclaw, preparing to make history in the Regiment. The words “Cold Steel” printed in bold black lettering across the 120mm smoothbore M256 cannon recoiled as Pfc. Bossard initiating the remote firing device.
At 12:01 p.m., the first munition, a M865 target practice cone stabilized discarding sabot with tracer, or TPCSDS-T, erupted out of the M1A2 Abrams SEP V2 gun tube. Troopers assigned to Cold Steel jumped in excitement at the momentous occasion after the sabot flew down range as they knew their hard work had made history in the Regiment.
Pfc. Bossard was selected by his leadership to remote fire the tank because of the amount of dedication he put into making sure the tank was able to fire. Bossard was the tip of the spear to ensure the tank was mission capable and motivating his fellow platoon members to do the same.
“After the round went off it felt like ‘victory,’” said Bossard. ”It was nice to see that all of our work paid off and it worked in the end.”
Cold Steel Troop will qualify their tank crews while simultaneously supporting the National Training Center’s Decisive Action rotational schedule. The National Training Center trains rotational training units, joint, interagency, and multinational partners to build and sustain readiness to fight and win.
“To be able to lead a Troop through train up and maintenance and watch their hard work payoff was very exciting,” said Sgt. 1st Class Benjamin Lim, Cold Steel First Sergeant. “Seeing the dedication of Cold Steel Troopers come to life in that first round down range was a truly humbling experience.”
Troopers that conducted 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment’s first M1A2 SEP V2 remote live fire were:
• Pfc. Jacob Blundell, assigned to Red Platoon, Cold Steel Troop, 1st Squadron, 11th ACR
• Pfc. Kyle Bossard, assigned to White Platoon, Cold Steel Troop, 1st Squadron, 11th ACR
• Spc. Edwin Lopez, assigned to Maintenance Platoon, Cold Steel Troop, 1st Squadron, 11th ACR
• Spc. Henry Williams, assigned to Maintenance Platoon, Cold Steel Troop, 1st Squadron, 11th ACR
• Remote fire was conducted under the direct supervision of Staff Sgt. Stephen Holtzclaw, Troop Master Gunner.