Watch This Finnish Leopard 2 Tank Roll Over Troops During “Tank Terror” Training

Finland’s Jaeger Brigade has released a video showing conscripts lying down in single-file as a German-made Leopard 2A4 main battle tank drives over them. This is a routine part of the training the unit offers recruits and is ostensibly intended to help them get over any “tank terror” fears before possibly having to stare down one of these armored beasts on the battlefield.

The brigade, also known as the Jääkäriprikaati in Finnish, posted the clip on Twitter on Oct. 23, 2020, along with a second one filmed from the perspective of a conscript being “run over.” There is more than enough clearance under the center part of the hull of the 55-ton Leopard 2A4 for a person to lie prone and have the tank drive safely over them. 

This training event was part of a larger series of drills for a group of conscripts at the Jääkäriprikaati‘s base in Sodankylä, which is in Finland’s Lapland region and lies just above the Arctic Circle. Sodankylä is home to one of the brigade’s two main units, the Lapland Jaeger Battalion.

The Jääkäriprikaati also has an air defense battalion at Rovaniemi, which is just south of the Arctic Circle, and the unit, as a whole, is the northernmost based component of the Finnish Defense Forces. Beyond providing an immediate line of defense in the country’s northern regions, it is also for responsible arctic training and the development and evaluation of arctic warfare tactics, techniques, and procedures. The increasing strategic significance of the Arctic region, as a whole, has only underscored the importance of the brigade’s mission sets and it often trains together with foreign military forces, including elements of the U.S. military.

Finnish Leopard 2A4 tanks cross a river during another part of the recent training near Sodankylä., Finnish Defense Forces
A Finnish Jaeger fires their weapon during another part of the recent training., Finnish Defense Forces

Of course, the concept of “tank terror,” or panssarikauhun in Finnish, also commonly known as “tank shock,” is as old as these armored vehicles and was particularly pronounced when the very first examples emerged on European battlefields during World War I. The general issue is that troops, especially fresh recruits with little or no combat experience, may experience an overwhelming sense of fear when facing these armored behemoths in combat, when adrenaline and emotions are already running high, and be tempted to flee. 

These concerns aren’t just limited to infantry and armored vehicles. Many air forces employ “aggressors” flying jets with paint schemes evoking those that potential adversaries fly, or even actual foreign combat aircraft, if available, to help fighter pilots get over similar fears, or “buck fever,” as it is referred to in the United States.

Finland isn’t the only country to conduct, or at least have conducted, this kind of training involving tanks, either. For example, as recently as this month, members of China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in the country’s western Xinjiang region went through a similar drill involving both tanks and light tactical vehicles in order to “enhance [their] psychological capability.”

A Chinese tank drives over a soldier during training in the country’s western Xinjiang region in October 2020., China Military
A light tactical vehicle drives over Chinese soldiers during recent training in Xinjiang., China Military

It’s not clear how effective these kinds of drills are for breaking any innate fears an individual might have about encountering armored or other military vehicles on the battlefield. The training is clearly very heavily controlled, and rightly so, for safety purposes. 

That being said, no matter how well the training fulfills its stated objective, it almost certainly helps build camaraderie and esprit de corps among those who go through it. Various military units, as well as other security forces elements, around the world, often have similar training events, typically for new recruits, which are intended to provide a similar kind of community building. Some of these are more extreme and potentially dangerous than even having a tank pass over you.

Whatever the exact benefits of this kind of “tank terror” training might be, the Finnish conscripts in the video clip that the Jaeger Brigade released certainly seem to have been successful in managing any fear they might have had as the Leopard 2A4 rolled over them.

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Joseph Trevithick

Deputy Editor

Joseph has been a member of The War Zone team since early 2017. Prior to that, he was an Associate Editor at War Is Boring, and his byline has appeared in other publications, including Small Arms Review, Small Arms Defense Journal, Reuters, We Are the Mighty, and Task & Purpose.