|"Is that damage?"|
"It looks like damage."
The deployment of Colonial Marine Tanks is limited by the availability of heavy starlift capability to transport both the tanks and their considerable logistic and service support. For this reason, the six tank battalions of the Colonial Marines rely heavily on medium and light armor such as the M22A3 Jackson medium tank and the M34A2 Longstreet light tank. One battalion, the 2nd (attached to the 1st Colonial Marine Division) has recently been upgraded with the M40 Ridgway heavy tank, which has previously only seen service in the US Army. The current intention is to furnish at least two more battalions with the M40 before making a decision about finally phasing out the M22.
"There we were on the Kael line in our M22 dinosaurs, and in the unit next door the Army guys were bitching about the missile detection/interception systems, the jamming and decoy systems and the 3D tactical suites in their M40s. We had nothing like they had, and what we had was old and kept breaking down. They had tanks so stealthy they were invisible from nine paces; our stealth was a decade out of date. With all the Third World-supplied detection gear the B-boys were packing in the Trobriands and around Parrot's Beak, they could see us coming a continent away."
- Staff Sgt. Robin Miskolczy, 3rd Colonial Marine Tank Battalion, Linna 349.
Armor in the Colonial Marines has retained the traditional infantry support role. Tanks are still the best way to deliver direct artillery fire quickly and accurately against enemy strongpoints and, of course, other tanks. The new M40 particularly demonstrates the continuing value of heavy armor on the modern battlefield, with its ability to fire 115 mm shells at a rate of 60 rpm, deliver particulate barrier smoke, scatterable mines and support fire from its integral 60mm mortars and defend against aerospace craft and incoming missiles with its 20 kW phased plasma point defense gun.
"The Ridge' is a scary tank. Its got stealth, mobility, firepower and point defenses better'n anything we had on the M22. What's so neat is the way the automatics handle the workload - you'd think you need at least three crew to run all this crap, but in fact you can do it with the same two girls you had in the Jackson. The only problem we had in our battalion was running the panzers in after they were delivered, factory fresh - you need to fire the guns a lot and run all the equipment a number of times before the sensors and weapons settle down and fully integrate."
- Capt. Andrea Mae Samona, 2nd Colonial Marine Tank Battalion.
Aside from the impressive firepower of modern tanks, their psychological value and their ability to shock even a prepared opponent, is still readily apparent.
"I tell you, I damn near filled my pants; as we ran up that road there were buzzbombs and **** popping off all around us. The bugboys had ambushed us from the low, thorny alien Karyta that lined both sides of Highway Two on the straight stretch up to Suivre. The rear panzer - Harrow's number forty-one - brewed up and Russell's number thirty was immobilized by a track hit before we could shoot off any decoys. I immediately ordered the company off the road and we charged into the Karyta, firing APF [Anti-Personnel Flechette rounds] at point blank and spraying the area with the flamethrowers. At the sight of us coming, the B-Boys cut and run, abandoning all the new anti-tank equipment they'd bought from the Brits and Japs. Those assholes that stayed we ran over or toasted."
"That night, we argued over the bodycount. Sergeant Bulow insisted we'd got nine of theirs for the loss of one panzer crew and another injured. But I pointed out that the fire control trench Murae had run over had been too badly smooshed to count properly. Judging from the mess left behind there could have been three or four people in there together, or just one spread over a wide area. Since the skin and bone was mangled into mush, there was no way to tell. PFC Herbick suggested we go back and see how many teeth we could dig out, but I passed on that one. Against the Sergeant's objections, I had to count the trench as a single enemy casualty..."
- Captain Hayward J.Lay, Jr., 3rd Colonial Marine Tank Battalion, Linna 349.
Colonial Marine aerospace/ground teams train in cooperation with the armor units on a regular basis, though there is still opposition to fully integrating heavy armor into the teams. Partly, this is because of the current lack of a heavy dropship capable of carrying a tank into battle; this will be rectified when the production UD-24, with its projected 70,000 kg lift capacity, achieves service in the early 'eighties. Also, it is because of new models and concepts being proposed by the Colonial Marine Tactical Studies School which advocate a reversal of Marine 70 'flexible' armored doctrine in favor of employing dedicated tank-led ground teams. In the tank-led team, the armor is grouped en masse with mechanized and aeroborne infantry in support, rather than the current practice of parcelling out armor piecemeal on an ad hoc basis. However, proponents of this scheme wish to see a radical increase in Marine armor capability once the UD-24 is in service before proper integration with the aero/ground teams can take place.