COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The 3rd Armored Brigade combat team at Fort Carson put their skills to the test for the final stage of their qualification training.
Fourteen Abrams tanks and the soldiers who control them have been working all week for this moment focusing on safety, communication, and firing.
Colonel of the brigade Michael Simmering says Friday's training is geared toward high-end combat, "What we have to be prepared to go up against is not just insurgents, it's any kind of threat that we may encounter in the world."
Shooting at multiple targets on the range, using the various weapons on these 62-ton tanks like the 50 caliber and M240 machine guns. The loudest of them all is the main firing system, the 120 mm smoothbore cannon. It can hit a target from 5,000 meters away.
Though it is training, Friday was not a day to make mistakes. In order to get their final qualifications, soldiers have to score a 700. Lieutenant Colonel Ryan Krance explains how each squad is scored, "There is a time limit and they are graded depending on how fast they can identify the target, engage the target, destroy the target and get back down."
Captain Greg Early says if they don't pass, they have to try again, "If you fail to get that then you become what's called a "Q2" or qualification 2 and you have to re-run enough engagements to bring yourself up."
At the end of the day, Krance says it's all about being ready for the call of protecting our country, "The goal is that no matter what the country asks us to do no matter what time it is we have to be ready," Krance says.
The Army began using Abrams tanks in the 1980's, but they saw their first real combat during operation Desert Storm in 1991. A tank commander says every ten years they get upgraded.