Soldiers with 21st Theater Sustainment Command and civilians with Theater Logistical Support Center-Europe prepare a Bradley to be loaded onto a train in Germany on July 23. (U.S. Army Europe)
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With the inactivation of two Europe-based brigade combat teams, the 21st Theater Sustainment Command is shipping most of its Bradley Fighting Vehicles back to the U.S.
The departure of the 88 Bradleys comes months after the last M1 Abrams tanks began leaving Europe. The Army has had tanks in Europe for 69 years, since World War II. At its peak, Germany was home to 20 U.S. armored divisions, or about 6,000 tanks.
As the Army shrinks its footprint in Germany — and the active-duty force — U.S. Army Europe is losing about 10,000 soldiers and will have a force of about 30,000 soldiers.
The Army will leave a small number of Bradleys and Abrams in Germany for the European Rotational Force and the NATO Response Force, two missions that are assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team at Fort Hood, Texas. The unit is regionally aligned with Europe as part of the Army’s ongoing effort to align the force with geographic combatant commands around the world.
As of Aug. 1, 22 Bradleys, each valued at $1.3 million, were on their way to Red River Army Depot, Texas.
To prepare for the journey, each vehicle is stripped of plate armor, weapons, mechanical components and the engine, according to information from the 21st TSC. Every piece is cleaned, and the vehicle is drained of oil, fuel and other fluids before it is run through the wash rack.
In Texas, each vehicle will be assessed and refitted. Once the work is complete, the vehicles will be reassigned to other units as needed, according to information from the 21st TSC.
The goal is to ship the remaining 66 Bradleys by the end of this year or early 2014.