November 19th, 2010
08:39 AM ET

U.S. sending tanks to Afghanistan for the first time

The United States is beefing up its firepower in Afghanistan by employing heavily armored tanks in Afghanistan for the first time in the nine-year war, a military spokesman said Friday.

The U.S. Marine Corps plans to use a company of M1A1 Abrams tanks in restive Helmand province by early spring, said Marine Maj. Gabrielle Chapin.

The M1A1 tank is the fastest and most deadly ground combat weapons system available. It will allow for more aggressive missions while mitigating risks to U.S. forces, the military said.

The tanks were used successfully by U.S. forces to battle insurgents in Iraq's Anbar province, Chapin said.

"They bring superior optics, maneuverability and precision firepower that will enable us to isolate insurgent forces from key population centers and provide the ability to project power into insurgent safe havens," he said.

Other coalition forces, including those from Canada, already have used tanks in Afghanistan.

The decision comes as Afghanistan tops the agenda at the NATO summit that starts Friday in Lisbon, Portugal and amid a public dispute between Afghan President Hamid Karzai and NATO leaders over military strategy.

- CNN's Barbara Starr contributed to this report.

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Military • World
soundoff (32 Responses)
  1. Andreas Moser

    Unfortunately, tanks are often also just larger coffins for our troops.

    November 19, 2010 at 8:49 am | Report abuse |
    • kidkoala

      Often? Sources? You'd think being in an armored tank is a lot safer than being a ground troop...

      November 19, 2010 at 9:21 am | Report abuse |
    • Dan

      Where does that theory come from Andrea??? To my knowledge, there's only been 3 servicemen killed in all the attacks on the M1 is that a high number?

      November 19, 2010 at 9:46 am | Report abuse |
    • SPC Moore

      I am in the army and just so happen to be a tanker. If you have ever seen any pictures of the Russian tank graveyards in afghanistan you would know why we havent used tanks. The terrain is not good for tanks. There have also been a lot more than 3 people killed in tanks. They are armored, but not invincible. Tanks are best used to destroy other tanks. Mountain warfare was never the strategy for a tank. That is why the army is fielding the faster, lighter Stryker MGS.

      December 1, 2010 at 11:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • kevin

      I am currently a tanker in afghanistan. I am deployed in a more mountainous area than the helmand province in a Stryker MGS. And let me tell you. That thing is hot garbage!! I would rather be in an M1A1 so that i could go on more restricted terrain and move over more cross country. The strykers are a good idea, but more suited to a bosnia rotation than comabt in a desert. i think the marines bringing in a company of them is long overdue!!

      January 6, 2011 at 9:43 am | Report abuse |
  2. Daniel

    Now we see where the priorities of the right-wing thugs in Washington lie. More weapons to fight this obnoxious war,adding to the national deficit. How repulsive!

    November 19, 2010 at 8:56 am | Report abuse |
    • George

      Last I checked, the "right-wing thugs" aren't in control in Washington. And since Mr. Obama is still Commander-in-Chief, he obviously approves of this move, whether by direct order or implicit acceptance.

      November 19, 2010 at 10:21 am | Report abuse |
    • some guy

      yeah, let's stop the war now. Call it quits and get home...

      That way Afghanistan will return to radical Islam control and our next 9/11 will be nuclear. You are one of "those" guys I only hear about. Hanging out in some downtown coffee shop telling everyone how things should be ran to make the world happy and green, with absolutely NO experience that could qualify you as even a mild expert. Quit college, it isn't working for you.

      November 19, 2010 at 7:12 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Thinktank

    If anyone has looked at the history of this country, you'll note, Afghan has NEVER been defeated. We need a completely different strategy.

    November 19, 2010 at 10:24 am | Report abuse |
  4. phil

    Afghanistan, and Iraq for that matter, was defeated long ago by US. The war(s) is over. What we have now is properly termed an occupation. And as usual with any foreign power occupying someone's homeland, you have resistance to the occupation. would we not resist just like the Afghan and Iraqi peoples? Sure we would. So stop calling these occupations wars would ya?

    November 19, 2010 at 10:29 am | Report abuse |
    • Daniel

      Well said,phil.

      November 19, 2010 at 10:49 am | Report abuse |
    • some guy

      not true, by "definition", with an ACTIVE INSURGANT FORCE! Read the Dictionary closer.

      November 19, 2010 at 7:13 pm | Report abuse |
  5. phil

    Thanx a lot Daniel. Now the Elton John "Daniel my brother" is gonna be stuck in my head all day. (smile)

    November 19, 2010 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
  6. Frank

    If we were smart,we should position half the company along the western border
    with Iran so we can blow the hell out of the weapons smugglers coming over the border from Iran.

    November 19, 2010 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
  7. phil

    @Frank...that would be stupid. Troops are in Afghanistan protecting oil and natural gas pipelines that feed China. What? Did you think China extends US credit because we are good for it?

    November 19, 2010 at 11:55 am | Report abuse |
  8. CJ

    Ask the soviets about how well their tank war in Afgan went. Answer: Not so well. War or occupation, it is time to leave that sandbox.

    November 19, 2010 at 12:21 pm | Report abuse |
  9. phil

    @CJ...if the troops are pulled, China will stop making our social security payments for US.

    November 19, 2010 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
  10. history of US in Afghanistan

    The Soviet Union invades Afghanistan. Why? Afghanistan lies between the the Soviet owned Caspian Basin and China. The USSR wanted the land to build pipelines so they could sell oil/gas to China.

    November 19, 2010 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
  11. history of US in Afghanistan

    Since American corporations like Bush-Zapata helped Arab nations develop their oilfields, Russia's land-locked Caspian Basin oil could not compete. Arabs have sea ports for oil exports, the basin does not.

    November 19, 2010 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
  12. history of US in Afghanistan

    So Russia went from supplying 60% of the world's oil down to supplying very little. This, and this alone is what brought down the USSR. The Caspian Basin area was carved up into tiny little countries, ea. owning rights to the now dead old Soviet oilwells. With no customer for this oil, the wells are worthless.

    November 19, 2010 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
  13. history of US in Afghanistan

    The Carlye Group....(cont)

    November 19, 2010 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse |
  14. history of US in Afghanistan

    The Carlyle Group of American and foreign businessmen purchas the rights to these old dead oilwells for pennies on the dollar. It seemed like an unusual investment. It would cost over 100 bil. dollars just to refurbish these oilwells, and then how could they compete with Arab's who for one had the customers, and ocean ports to make getting oil to market easy.

    November 19, 2010 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
  15. history of US in Afghanistan

    "Luckily" for the Carlyle Group, the US invades Afghanistan and occupies the only pc. of land standing between the Group's Caspian Basin oil and their intended customer, China. Probably just a coincidence?

    November 19, 2010 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
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