Stars and Stripes
March 28, 2023

‘A totally different fight’: How the Army is preparing its ‘most modern’ brigade for a mission in Europe

When the some 4,000 soldiers of the brigade leave for Europe later this year, they will do so as the Army’s “most modern brigade” – the service’s first brigade to complete the Army’s push to modernize heavy formations. At the training center, the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team brought its arsenal of 87 new M1A2 SEPv3 Abrams tanks, 125 M2A4 Bradley Fighting Vehicles, 13 M7A4 Bradley Fire Support Team Vehicles and 18 M109A7 Paladin self-propelled howitzers – the Army’s newest and most deadly versions of the weapons that anchor a heavy brigade.

The National Training Center provided the brigade its first opportunity to simultaneously use all the new weapons, which cannot all operate in the field together on the smaller training grounds at Fort Stewart….


[T]raining center leaders have spent recent years watching closely how modern armies fight each other, Taylor said. They watched Armenian and Azerbaijani forces fight in 2020, using advanced surveillance techniques such as sending small drones to identify targets for long-range artillery and quickly strike. In Ukraine, they have watched the war become a trench-based artillery duel.

“So, part of my job is to visualize what that first battle of that [next] war is going to look like, and then expose units to the worst possible conditions they could face in that battle,” Taylor said.

For the U.S. military, gone are the days of training for combat missions in places such as Afghanistan and Iraq, where U.S. military power and access to the most modern weapons ensured an uneven playing field over insurgents such as the Taliban, al-Qaida and the Islamic State terrorist group. The next fight, Pentagon officials believe, might be against a military with similar combat capabilities to the United States – potentially China or Russia. That kind of military power is what Taylor aimed to throw at the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team.

Part of the key, Taylor said, is the “world-class opposing force” provided by Black Horse, which is outfitted with modern weapons and fights using hybrid tactics – large-scale combat power and staples of insurgencies such as improvised bombs and booby traps. This is based primarily on Russian tactics, Taylor said.

In the scenario at the training center, the Spartan Brigade found itself in an adversary nation, where the fictional Donovian Army invaded a partner country, Atropia, setting off a large-scale war. The 2nd Brigade was tasked with backfilling a tired Atropian brigade and pushing the Donovians out of Atropian land in nine days.


Should they be called to fight after deploying to Europe, Hader said U.S. troops understood it would likely be a drastically deadlier fight than the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq during the past decades.


“It’s high casualty warfare. It’s a totally different fight.”