FORT INDIANTOWN GAP, Pa. - Pennsylvania National Guard officials recently unveiled the latest addition- and a significant upgrade-to the Pennsylvania Army National Guard's armored vehicle fleet.
The M2A2 ODS-SA Bradley Fighting Vehicle features embedded training and diagnostic systems, programmable displays, a thermal view for the driver, inertial navigation and upgraded armor protection. The Pennsylvania Army Guard's 55th Heavy Brigade Combat Team will field the majority of the more than 120 vehicles, with the 166th Training Regiment fielding four.
The M2A2 ODS-SA-which stands for Operation Desert Storm - Situational Awareness-provides greater combat capabilities, is safer to operate and easier to maintain than former variants, said officials.
Army Col. Michael Konzman, commander of the 55th HBCT, explained that the brigade has been fielding the Bradley and similar vehicles for nearly half a century, and the upgraded vehicles represent the next step forward. The brigade's use of armored vehicles began in 1965 when the 1st Battalion, 109th Infantry Regiment received its first M113 armored personnel carriers, becoming the first mechanized unit in the Pennsylvania Army Guard, he said.
"Then in 2002, right after 9/11, the 109th Infantry (Regiment) turned in those 113s and they got brand-new Bradley Fighting Vehicles," said Konzman. In the decade-plus since fielding those Bradleys, the brigade has been busy both overseas and here at home.
"Since 9/11, not only have we served the commonwealth by performing state active duty missions here, but the Soldiers of this brigade have also gone to New York, New Jersey and Connecticut to help people wherever they hurt," said Konzman, adding that the Soldiers of the brigade also served numerous tours overseas as well..
"Since 2001, Soldiers of this brigade have deployed nine separate times," he said. "We went to Bosnia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait and Egypt," Konzman said. "I don't say that our Soldiers deserve these new vehicles. I say they've earned them. They earned them with their blood, they've earned them with their sweat and they have earned them with the dedication and the selflessness with which they have served the commonwealth and this nation."
The 55th HBCT will spend the next year fielding and training on the vehicles before performing a live-fire gunnery exercise scheduled for the summer 2015 at Fort Picket, Va.