A new video on YouTube shows a how U.S. troops train to operate against enemy mechanized forces, in this case Russian tanks. U.S. soldiers at a base in southern Germany have several aging armored personnel carriers modified to impersonate Russian tanks, giving units the ability to train against opponents that kinda, sorta look Moscow’s finest.
The vehicles in question are M113 armored personnel carriers. Introduced in the 1960s, the M113 was a “battlefield taxi” designed to pick up troops and deposit them at the front line. The M113 was eventually replaced in the infantry transport role by the M2 Bradley, although engineers and other units continued to use them for decades. It is currently in the process of being replaced by the new AMPV armored vehicle.
These M113s are “VISMODs”, or visually modified vehicles. Using plastic, fiberglass, and sheet metal, the vehicles are transformed into Russian armored vehicles. In this case the M113s appear to be impersonating , an upgraded version of the old T-72 tank that still serves in large numbers with the Russian Ground Forces. The VISMOD spots a fake turret with 125-millimeter main gun, turret gun shields with windows, and reactive armor tiles. The rectangular device between the gun and the commander’s turret is an updated version of a , which simulates the main gun firing.
The VISMODs are being used by the 4th “Saber” Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment. Equipped with Stryker interim armored vehicles, the is the only U.S. Army mechanized unit permanently based in Europe. In a crisis with Russian the 2nd Cavalry would likely deploy eastward to NATO’s frontier with Russia where it would face down Russian tanks. The 4th Squadron, operating ahead of the bulk of the regiment, would be the first unit to encounter Russian armor in wartime.
The VISMODs bear the markings of the at Hohenfels, Germany. Just south of the 2nd Cavalry’s base in nearby Vilseck, Hohenfels trains U.S. and NATO forces to operate against simulated enemy forces. The role of opposing enemy forces, or “OPFOR” at Hohenfels is played by the U.S. Army’s 1st Battalion, 4th Infantry.