History in the making: One-of-a-kind armor unit concludes debut deployment
By 1st Lt. Monica Witt, Marine Corps Forces Europe
U.S. Marines and sailors with the Combined Arms Company concluded the initial iteration of the unit’s three planned rotations at Novo Selo Training Area, Bulgaria, Jan. 22, 2016.
The mechanized unit, supplemental to the Black Sea Rotational Force, arrived in Eastern Europe in August 2015 to provide reassurance to partner-nations by demonstrating the value of the U.S. commitment to security in the region.
Accompanied by roughly 160 U.S. Marines, the CAC is composed of M1A1 Abrams Tanks, M777 Howitzer artillery cannons, and light-armored vehicles. “There is no other unit in the Marines Corps like the Combined Arms Company,” said Lt. Col. Kemper Jones, commanding officer of BSRF. The unit was conceived in North Carolina, the equipment was brought overseas to Germany and transported Bulgaria, ready to meet strategic objectives and support partner-nations, Jones said.
The heavy equipment, not only a token of commitment, builds upon collective capabilities and enhances major exercises. The most recent exercise in which the CAC participated was Platinum Lion 16-2, which concluded Jan. 15, 2016.
“During Platinum Lion, we really hit the mark on what the CAC is out here to do, which is to show our NATO Allies the capabilities we can bring to the table with armor and artillery,” said Capt. Dan Whitt, commander of Combined Arms Company. “We proved that we can fight effectively side-by-side with integrated combined arms.”
The CAC incorporated its assets into three multinational live-fire exercises during the six-month deployment and engaged with more than five different nations. These exercises are a unique opportunity to exchange tank employment techniques, mechanized infantry tactics, and indirect fire procedures, according to Whitt.
“The development and employment of the CAC proves the Marine Corps can build composite units quickly and effectively to meet the demand signal," said Jones.
The oncoming Combined Arms Company, commanded by Capt. Kirk Steinhorst, is sourced from1st Battalion, 10th Marines; 2nd Tank Battalion; and other augments from II Marine Expeditionary Force out of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. The unit is scheduled to participate in cold weather training with partners in Latvia during the months of February and March.