GRAFENWOEHR, Germany — After nine months in Europe supporting Operation Atlantic Resolve, the 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division’s fleet of combat vehicles are removing their temporary woodland colors and reverting to their original desert tan in preparation for the trip home to Fort Carson, Colorado.
The vehicles were painted green at the beginning of the unit’s rotation under the guidance of U.S. Army Europe’s Commanding General, Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges.
Before the guidance from USAREUR’s top commander was issued, the vehicles were simply draped in green camouflage netting to partially disguise their tan paint.
“Once we received guidance from Lt. Gen. Hodges, we looked at the available options that would reduce the cost and time required to paint vehicles,” said Maj. Darwin Maull, deputy chief, Plans and Operations, U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria.
The traditional painting method is a costly one – both in time and money, said Maull. It can cost nearly 5000 Euros to paint one vehicle, take 4 or 5 days to paint, and require contractors to apply that paint.
“Rotational forces are on the ground for approximately nine months,” said Maull. “Spending two weeks of that time on painting would reduce the time they are available to conduct training in support of their operational mission here in the European theater.
USAG Bavaria looked at the different methods used by other militaries and the Army’s sister services and chose a method that uses a temporary paint, saves more than 1000 Euros per vehicle, and cuts the painting time down by several days.
An added benefit to the temporary paint is that it does not require contractors to apply, said Capt. Nathan Rolls, office in charge, Camp Management Center, USAG Bavaria. Soldiers are able to apply the paint to their own vehicles and let the vehicle fully dry in 24 hours.
Removing the paint is a relatively quick process as well, said Rolls. The vehicles are driven into a cell, contractors spray the vehicles down with high-pressure, hot water, and the paint is washed away with most vehicles taking an hour or two to remove the temporary paint.
There are some environmental concerns with the removed paint and steps are taken to make certain none of it has the chance to enter the environment and potentially make it to the ground water, said Rolls.
The cells the vehicles are driven onto collect the waste water from the paint removal and funnel it through filters. Once it makes its way through the filters, the waste is collected and disposed of in a safe and environmentally friendly manner, said Daniel Lynn, project manager, Agricultural/Temp Paint Removal Grafenwoehr, PAE. The process and equipment used for the removal has been used in the civilian sector for many years.
“It’s mostly used to take contaminated soil off trucks before they go out on the main road – trucks that have been used in the oil industry for example,” said Lynn. “This thing can capture everything that comes off the vehicle. It’s captured and then hauled away to a safe location.”