The British Army has been ordered to park up its Challenger 2 tanks for the next three years to release crews to drive the new mine-resistant vehicles in Afghanistan. The move is part of an order from General Sir David Richards, who takes over as head of the army next month, to focus efforts on fighting the Taliban. The crews will continue to be trained and their Challenger 2 tanks will be serviced. However, the drivers and mechanics will be sent to Afghanistan to operate mine-resistant armoured vehicles including the Viking and Warthog. Last week, Trooper Joshua Hammond, 18, of the 2nd Royal Tank Regiment, was killed in a Viking vehicle by a Taliban roadside bomb. Hammond, who died alongside Lieutenant-Colonel Rupert Thorneloe, 39, commanding officer of the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards, would normally have driven a Challenger 2 tank. Previously we had an organisation that was tuned into an old style of war, said a British officer involved in the Richards plan. This is about optimising the force structure to meet current requirements. Supplying drivers and mechanics to handle armoured vehicles in Afghanistan will prevent tank exercises taking place, admitted a source. The sidelining of the armys 350 Challenger 2 vehicles coincides with a recent speech by Richards in which he indicated that the days of the mass tank battle were over. Addressing the Royal United Services Institute last month, Richards said the big tank battles of the second world war were history: There has been a radical change in the way wars are fought. Although the tanks played a full part in the invasion of Iraq, they have not been deployed in Afghanistan or any other counter-insurgency campaign. The Ministry of Defence said tank regiments would continue to train on their main platform but their core skills allow them to make a significant contribution in Afghanistan.