End of era: Bradley fighting vehicles leave Germany
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany (U.S. Army) — Civilian and military logisticians from the 21st Theater Sustainment Command's Theater Logistics Support Center-Europe and Maintenance Activity Kaiserslautern are at Kaiserslautern Army Depot preparing M2A2 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles for retrograde and transportation to the U.S.
The departure of the 88 Bradleys coincides with the departure of M1 Abrams tanks from Europe earlier this year, with the inactivation of the 170th and 172nd Infantry Brigades.
Bradleys and Abrams main battle tanks remaining in Germany will be available to the European Rotational Force and the NATO Response Force. Both of those missions are currently assigned to the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, at Fort Hood, Texas.
Twenty-two of the Bradleys have already started the journey to Red River Army Depot in Texarkana, Texas. The vehicles, valued at $1.3 million apiece, were assigned to U.S. Army Europe combat units, including the 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), and the inactivated 172nd Infantry Brigade. From Kaiserslautern, the Bradleys are transported by rail or truck to the port at Bremerhaven, Germany, for shipment to the U.S.
Upon arrival in Texas, each vehicle will be assessed and refitted, said Jürgen E. Phillips, Supply Activity Europe operations specialist.
"The vehicles will go through retrograde at the depot in Texas and be refitted with the newest equipment," said Phillips. "Once the update is complete, the vehicles will be reassigned to other units in the Army that need them. By updating and reassigning these vehicles instead of buying new ones, the Army is saving money."
Before the Bradleys can be shipped, each goes through a preparation process. First, the vehicles are stripped of plate armor, weapons and mechanical components and the engine is removed. All pieces removed from the Bradleys are then cleaned, said Martin Geib, a heavy equipment maintenance supervisor with Maintenance Activity Kaiserslautern . The entire vehicle is then drained of oil, fuel and any other fluids before the final step of cleaning at the TLSC-E wash rack.
"Every one of these vehicles is completely broken down and drained of fluid. If we don't do that. then they cannot be shipped," said Geib. "When it leaves the depot, it is as clean as possible and ready for retrograde."
Each of the 66 remaining Bradley Fighting Vehicles will go through the same process in the coming months.
"Each vehicle is handled professionally and efficiently, but it is still a long process," Phillips said. "We are hoping to send the last of these vehicles back to the states by the end of this year or early next year."