In response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine one year ago, the United States has funneled thousands of additional troops to Europe, bringing the total number of U.S. military personnel deployed to the continent to more than 100,000 for the first time since shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union. And among those troops is a very — how shall we put it — special M1 Abrams tank ready to do its part in a future conflict.
Photos published to the Defense Visual Information Distribution System (DVIDS) last week show a group of M1A2 Abrams tanks assigned to the 1st Battalion, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division lined up at a firing range staging area at the Bemowo Piskie Training Area in northeastern Poland.
While the photos capture several creatively intimidating tank names like “Big Ripit” and “Additional Duty,” one, in particular, caught our attention: “ASVAB Waiver.”
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As any U.S. service member probably knows, the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) administered by the United States Military Entrance Processing Command is designed to determine a potential applicant’s qualifications for enlistment in the military. If an applicant fails part of that exam, they may request a waiver for military service anyway, although an ASVAB waiver carries the stigma attached to it that an enlisted soldier may not, well, be all that they can be in terms of intelligence.
In short: an ASVAB waiver probably means you’re something of a dummy, which is terrifying knowing the barrel of a 120mm XM256 Smooth Bore Cannon may be aimed by … not the sharpest tool in the shed. Of course, we know the name was probably stenciled on the barrel in jest, and likely doesn’t reflect the actual ASVAB waiver status of the crew inside. In that case, it’s pretty hilarious and we appreciate the crew’s sense of humor.
‘ASVAB Waiver’ is less than 100 miles from Poland’s eastern border with Lithuania and Belarus and 200 northwest of Ukraine, the Bemowo Piskie Training Area is one of the most eastern bases in the country for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and currently hosts NATO’s enhanced Forward Presence Battlegroup Poland (eFPB-Poland) and more than 10,000 troops from the United States, United Kingdom, Croatia, and Romania.
The current contingent of 2ABCT tanks deployed to Bemowo Piskie is on a regular rotational deployment as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve, the European Deterrence Initiative-funded multinational NATO deterrence mission launched in the aftermath of Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.
All of this is to say that, should Ukraine’s hot war escalate along NATO’s eastern flank, then it’s the likes of ‘ASVAB Waiver’ (and fellow tanks like ‘A Horse With No Name’) that will likely be called upon to provide support for allied forces there — and probably the only thing more humiliating for Russian forces than getting taken down by ‘ASVAB Waiver’ would be getting a faceful of sabot from ‘Barbie Dreamhouse.’
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