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M1 Tank in 1980s: Cold War Stare Down and Train up

The 1980s, now considered the “good old days” by many members of the U.S. military, saw the M1 enter widespread use in the American military but only in a training and guard duty role.


M1 Abrams History Quick Jump
1970s | 1980s | 1990s | 2000s

There were few conflicts during the decade as the United States and the Soviet Union faced off along the Iron Curtain which spread across Europe and along the Demilitarized Zone separating North and South Korea. The biggest operations included the Invasion of Grenada in 1983 along with the peacekeeping mission in Beirut, Lebanon in 1982-83 which resulted in the tragic loss of over 200 Marines, sailors, and soldiers in a terrorist bombing. There were also retaliatory airstrikes against targets in Libya, Iran, and other countries, along with a troop deployment to Honduras. At the tail end of the decade, American forces invaded Panama in Operation Just Cause to oust President Manuel Noriega who was accused of drug dealing. However, none of these operations involved the M1 Tank. With the entrance into the 1990s that greenhorn status would change for the M1.

M1 Abrams Tank
A U.S. Army M1 Abrams tanks kicks up a cloud of dust in the German countryside while participating in REFORGER ’82, the multi-national military training exercise.
Exact Date Shot Unknown
M1 Abrams Tank
A close-up of the front of an M1 Abrams main battle tanks on maneuvers.
M1 Abrams Tank
An M-1 Abrams main battle tank assigned to the 1st Plt., Troop E, 2nd Bn., 6th Cav., lays down a smoke screen while on maneuvers at the U.S. Army Armor Center.
M1 Abrams Tank
M1 Abrams main battle tanks on maneuvers.
M1 Abrams Tank
The first M1 Abrams main battle tank to be drawn from a prepositioning of materiel configured to unit sets (POMCUS) site is driven out of a warehouse for fueling. The tank will be used during SPEARPOINT ’84, a phase of Exercise REFORGER ’84.
M1 Abrams Tank
Colonel (COL) Benjamin W. Covington III, commander, 1st Tiger Brigade, 2nd Armored Division, speaks to his troops while standing on an M1 Abrams main battle tank. The brigade is preparing for deployment to West Germany for SPEARPOINT ’84, a phase of Exercise REFORGER ’84. An Army color guard stands at attention.
M1 Abrams Tank
An M1 Abrams main battle tank is guided out of a warehouse by a member of the 1st Tiger Brigade, 2nd Armored Division, for use during SPEARPOINT ’84, a phase of Exercise REFORGER ’84. This is the first M-1 to be drawn from a prepositioning of materiel configured to unit sets (POMCUS) site.
M1 Abrams Tank
A right side view of three M1 Abrams main battle tanks in a firing line during Exercise Reforger ’85.
M1 Abrams Tank
M1 Abrams main battle tanks move along a road with turrets trained, preparing to fire off of their left flank during Exercise Reforger ’85.
M1 Abrams Tank
An M1 Abrams main battle tank fires its 120mm gun during Exercise Reforger ’85.
M1 Abrams Tank
Two M1 Abrams main battle tanks move along a dirt road during Exercise Reforger ’85.
M1 Abrams Tank
Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky sits in the driver’s compartment of an M1 Abrams main battle tank during his tour of the US Army Armor Center.
M1 Abrams Tank
An M1 tank from the 24th Infantry Division (Mechanized) in hull defilade position.
M1 Abrams Tank
Major General Cooper of the British Royal Armoured Corps sits in the driver’s compartment of an M1 Abrams main battle tank during his visit to the US Army Armor Center.
M1 Abrams Tank
An M1 Abrams tank of the 2nd Battalion, 41st Infantry, 2nd Armored Division, advances across an open area during a training exercise.
M1 Abrams Tank
M1 Abrams tanks belonging to the 3/7 Cav, 3rd Infantry Division, are chained to railroad flatcars for transport between Ft. Stewart and Savannah, GA.
M1 Abrams Tank
M1 Abrams main battle tanks are lined up in the vehicle staging area at the National Training Center.
M1 Abrams Tank
M1 Abrams main battle tanks parked at the National Training Center.
M1 Abrams Tank
An M1 Abrams tank, equipped with the Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement System (MILES), moves along a dirt road during a training exercise at the National Training Center.
M1 Abrams Tank
An M-1A1 Abrams main battle tank of the 24th Infantry Division (Mechanized) stirs up a cloud of dust as it maneuvers during a live-fire exercise at the National Training Center.
M1 Abrams Tank
Left front view of M1A1 Abrams Main Battle Tank at the U.S. Army Armor Center, USAARMC.


M1 Abrams History Quick Jump
1970s | 1980s | 1990s | 2000s

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