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Last week the German Army announced the arrival of the first four Leopard 2A6 main battle tanks in Hardheim via Twitter. The battalion is finally partially mobile and training can begin.

The battalion commander, Lieutenant Colonel Pascal Pane, said: “Today is a special, a unique day in the history of the battalion that we will always remember. With the invasion of the main battle tanks, the association made good progress on the way to becoming a tank battalion of the German Army. The battle tanks are a visible sign that things are developing in the right direction in Hardheim. Next, in October, we will set up the 4th Company of the Battalion as the first combat company. This is where equipment and personnel will be brought together in order to begin tank training beginning in January next year. "

In 2011, the 12th Panzer Flak Battalion, the last tank formation, left the Carl Schurz barracks in Hardheim and thus the entire region in the north of Baden-Württemberg. With the changed security situation and a shift in focus towards national and alliance defense, it was decided to strengthen the combat force. This included setting up another tank battalion. In August 2019, the establishment of the 363 tank battalion in Hardheim began. At the same time, a total of around 55 million euros will be invested in the location. The 363 tank battalion belongs to the 37th Panzer Grenadier Brigade.

It all began with a small core team, the posts in the staff, staff platoon and the 1st company were filled step by step and continuously. The battalion staff and the 1st company will be built up by the end of 2020 and have basic skills. Starting in October this year, the three combat companies will be set up one after the other until the end of 2021. The personnel and material required for this will be supplied on fixed dates, but over the course of 2021. In October 2020, the 4th company will initially be set up. For this purpose, personnel from the 4th Company of Mountain Tank Battalion 8, which is to be disbanded, will be relocated from Bad Frankenhausen to Hardheim. The advance detachment has been on site since August 31. The 3./PzBtl 363 will then be set up in April 2021. For this purpose, the personnel of the 3rd Company of the Mountain Panzer Battalion 8 to be disbanded will be relocated from Pfreimd to Hardheim. In October 2021, the last of the three combat companies, the 2./PzBtl 363, will be set up - this will have to be built up from scratch. By the end of 2022, the 363 tank battalion is expected to have a strength of almost 500 soldiers. This includes 44 Leopard 2A6 main battle tanks.

For the commander, Hardheim is “my military home”. His commencement of service on March 9, 2020 in the Carl-Schurz-Kaserne in Hardheim was a return for Pane close to his military cradle in Külsheim. There he was platoon leader in the 2nd company of the former tank battalion 363 from 1999 to 2001, after completing his training as a tank officer at the tank troop school in Munster, Lower Saxony. The Külsheim training area, which is also used by the soldiers in Hardheim, is therefore familiar to him: “If I drive over it with my tank, I will quickly find my way around. That will certainly bring back a lot of good memories. "

André Forkert