WASHINGTON (AFP) - The United States is deploying heavily armoured battle tanks to Afghanistan for the first time in the nine-year war, in a further escalation of tactics against the Taliban, The Washington Post reported Friday. The company of M1 Abrams tanks initially will be fielded in Helmand province where marines have been engaged in intense combat with heavily armed cells of Taliban fighters, The Post said, citing defence officials. The tanks bring awe, shock and firepower, an officer familiar with the deployment plans told The Post.