Military Armor on the Move

Railfans in St. Louis are reporting heavy military armor on the move. Perhaps this is related to the Ukraine threat. This is the second day of such reports.

The origin might be Ft Sill, OK headed for Norfolk, VA. Travel time to Norfolk about 20 hrs. A day to load. Ocean time to Europe say 7 days. They could be in Europe in about 9 days.

How does heavy armor travel by sea these days? In WWII lifted into the belly of merchant ships by crane. But now most ocean freight moves in containers. Evidently heavy armor does not fit in containers. Autos move across the ocean in roll-on roll-off ships. Can heavy armor move likewise?

Does the military have its own transport vessels for heavy armor? The flatcars under the armor have DODX numbers and look as those 6 wheel trucks. Obviously for heavy loads. Not standard flat cars. Abrams tanks weighs 70 tons. (Diesel locomotive weighs about 215 tons. The weight is no problem for most railroads.)

From St. Louis, most likely route to Norfolk is by CSX. From Fort Sill to St. Louis probably by Frisco (BNSF). They could also go through Memphis: UP to Norfolk Southern. They would probably avoid Chicago, notorious for delays due to rail congestion and out of the way.


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Autos move across the ocean in roll-on roll-off ships. Can heavy armor move likewise?

Yup. The Military Sealift Command has a flock of ro-ro ships.

Large, Medium-Speed Roll-on/Roll-off,_Medium-Speed_Roll-on/Ro…


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How will US armor must reach ports? By rail?…
Currently about half the army rail lines from bases to the commercial mainlines are unusable because of delayed repairs. A five-year program to remedy this is behind schedule. There is also a shortage of army rail transportation troops, made worse by a 2015 reduction in railroad troops because the army believed they could rely on commercial railroad personnel in the U.S. and foreign nations to do the job.That proved to be too optimistic. When the availability of commercial railroad specialists was recently checked it was found that the needed personnel for wartime operations were not available in the numbers needed.

The last time there was a major movement of units to ports was in 2003, for the invasion of Iraq. During that period the army found that 67 percent of army vehicles and heavy equipment had to move by rail. The army could not repeat the 2003 performance now and a near-peer war would involve the initial movement of at least twice as many units as in 2003.…
The U.S. Army’s rail transportation system is a wreck, according to a recent U.S. government report

“Army inspectors characterized about half of the Army’s rail track as closed due to defects, and four of 60 installations had not met or were not scheduled to meet the 5-year ultrasonic inspection timeline standard set by the Army inspection program,” according to the report by the Government Accountability Office.…
After Slashing 33% of Workers in 6 Years, Railroads Complain about Labor Shortages, amid Uproar over Slow Shipments
James Foote, the chief executive of CSX, one of the largest railroads in the US,
“In January when I got on this [earnings] call, I said we were hiring because we anticipated growth. I fully expected that by now we would have about 500 new T&E [train and engine] employees on the property,” he said. “No way did I or anybody else in the last six months realize how difficult it was going to be to try and get people to come to work these days.”

“It’s an enormous challenge for us to go out and find people that want to be conductors on the railroad, just like it’s hard to find people that want to be baristas or anything else, it’s very, very difficult,” he said.…
Even as railroads are operating longer and longer freight trains that sometimes stretch for miles, the companies have drastically reduced staffing levels, prompting unions to warn that moves meant to increase profits could endanger safety and even result in disasters.

More than 22% of the jobs at railroads Union Pacific, CSX and Norfolk Southern have been eliminated since 2017, when CSX implemented a cost-cutting system called Precision Scheduled Railroading that most other U.S. railroads later copied. BNSF, the largest U.S. railroad and the only one that hasn’t expressly adopted that model, has still made staff cuts to improve efficiency and remain competitive.

The railroads acknowledge they have cut staff, lengthened trains and made other adjustments to reduce spending, but they are adamant none of the changes increase dangers.…
BNSF railroad tries to block 17,000 workers from striking
BNSF railroad wants a federal judge to prevent two of its unions from going on strike next month over a new attendance policy that would penalize employees for missing work

The Fort Worth, Texas-based railroad went to court after the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, and the Transportation Division of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, and Transportation union both threatened to strike over the new policy that is set to go into effect on Feb. 1.

Railroad management:“Sheesh nobody wants to work anymore!”
Railroads are following hospitals. Hospitals drastically cut nursing staff in the 1990’s. Or Ford in the 1970’s refused to utilize gasket to fix possible gas tank explosions. Lawsuits vs fixing every Pinto. Cheaper to let passengers burn. Profit over healthcare. Profit over rail safety. That’s what happens when the MBA bean counters run things.

If I was Putin & really wished to invade Ukraine; I’d wait for the rail strike to be sure. Then it just European members of NATO to deal with.
Truman had the army take over the rails in 1950. Likely the army had some experience railroad men due to many men & equipment was moved by rail during WW 2. Does the US military have any institutional knowledge of rail operations. Is applicable to current rail operation?

It could be that massive of tanks will have to move by road to ports. There will be damage to roads to repair & mechanical breakdown of some tanks. Sure tanks could be put on flatbeds trailer to hauled by trucks. But we have a shortage of commercial truck drivers. I suppose an opportunity to declare martial law to require trucking corporations to turn over drivers, semi trucks & flatbed trailers for military use. Ha if you think people are p*ssed off by a few Canada-US border crossing blockages; wait this situation hits the fan. LOL Just think how road convoys will screw up traffic.

And it appears the US government is not coordinating together.

Exercise DEFENDER-Europe 22 will demonstrate the U.S. military’s ability to rapidly deploy a large, combat-credible force of soldiers and equipment from the United States to Europe in support of both the U.S. National Defense Strategy and objectives defined by NATO, strengthen partnerships, to build readiness within the Alliance and deter potential adversaries. The U.S. and its European Allies and Partners will demonstrate their ability to receive and move a U.S. division-sized force, quickly build combat power, and execute command and control of the force. DEFENDER-Europe 22 will culminate with a multinational division river crossing in northeast Poland. Once deployed in Europe, forces of the exercise will then be allocated to a number of other Joint Exercise Programme events.
The above is a good excuse to get men & equipment over into Europe.
But congress does not appear to be on board:…
The U.S. Army is pushing back on claims made in congressional language that the Defender Europe exercise is canceled and will be replaced by smaller drills in 2022. However, the exercise will not be the division-level event it was originally intended to be.
“The committee notes that the Department of Defense cancelled the largescale theater level Defender Europe exercise for fiscal year 2022 at a time of increased escalatory Russian military activity and replaced it with smaller-scale activities,” the House Armed Services Committee chairman’s markup of the fiscal 2022 defense policy bill stated.


How will US armor must reach ports? By rail?

Possible, but more like this way?

Tank transporter

A tank transporter is a combination of a heavy tractor unit and a mating full trailer or semi-trailer (typically of the “lowboy” type), used for transporting tanks and other armoured fighting vehicles. Some also function as tank recovery vehicles, the tractors of which may be armoured for protection in combat conditions.

Used on roads, tank transporters reduce the wear and tear on tracks and the other components of the powertrains of tracked vehicles. They also conserve fuel, are less damaging of road surfaces, and reduce tank crew fatigue. Overall, they are more efficient at moving tanks at higher speeds and longer distances than the tanks themselves.

When the wall came down the Canadian Forces in Europe decided rather quickly to pack up and go home. Wife and I were driving to catch the Chunnel to England and got caught behind a long packet convoy of trucks loaded with nearly 50 Canadian Leopard tanks. They were travelling in packets of 8 with space between packets to allow cars to pass. I think they were heading for Antwerp to be loaded on ships for the trip home?

The Canadian Contingent of ~ 164 military in Geilenkirchen (NATO AWACs main base) went from the fifth largest Canadian contingent to first in a matter of a few months. I was working as a NATO Civilian Analyst Programmer but relied of the Support unit’s postal and other services. Fortunately I did some off the clock work for them and the Support Unit Commander would do just about anything to keep me happy.


Possible, but more like this way?

My curiosity cause me to poke around the internet. Looks like the US army does has significant number of these critters.…
Oshkosh HET-4,079 (delivered; not all remain in service)
2,488 M1070A0 tractors and >2,600 M1000 trailers delivered of which at least 1,009 tractors and >1000 trailers have been Reset. 1,591 M1070A1 delivered.

I haven’t a clue what “Reset” means though.

>1000 trailers have been Reset.

I haven’t a clue what “Reset” means though.

A reset contract involves the repair and retrofit of battle-worn or damaged products to a like-new condition (near zero miles/hours of wear and tear).


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I haven’t a clue what “Reset” means though.

Looks like all of the tractors were ordered as M1070A0 (no Mods?) but most of them were modified to M1070A1. I’m no expert on the nomenclature and acronyms of US Army equipment but unless you happen to be part of the inner circle it is notoriously cryptic and intentionally used to confuse the uninitiated such as NATO allies. The ones I managed to corner then threatened to throttle admitted that intent but assured me the USN was even worse.


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>1000 trailers have been Reset.

I haven’t a clue what “Reset” means though.


Well of course, just because the rest of the English speaking world says ‘Refurbished’ when something is … refurbished … the US army has to say ‘Reset’ for refurbished. I recall some poor senior warrant officer who was part of the conversion team from the Argus to the new CP140 Aurora trying to explain to our general one time why the Radar Transmitter in the new Aurora was called an ‘RT’ and not a Radar Transmitter … especially since other items on the list were also called ‘RT’.

The discussion did not go well for the Warrant Officer notably after the general tore up the three pages of acronyms that he had been told to memorize.

I missed the rest of the story because there was a desperate shortage of qualified Sea King AESOps and I was sent back to Shearwater (from Summerside PEI) to fill a slot on seagoing ships. Sea going Helos were much more fun than four engine sub-hunters but half the AESOps in 443 squadron were divorced. Somehow having hubby do 8-12 weeks at sea and come into port to swap over to a different ship then sail off to distant exotic places for another 2-3 months next day was hard on marriages?