M1A1 has 7 side armour, you're thinking of Leopard 2
I think he meant that the 5 armor of the T-80U should say hi to the M1A1's 9 ap... confused me too
But I usually use a combination rise pattons and M8 AGSs, with two M1A1's in there for heavy support. In the main force I have 2-4 leo2's, misc pattons and chieftains, and some sheridans in the back shooting their agtms (just because I already have them in the deck for the M8.)
I also generally keep two apaches behind the flank, because if I get outflanked, the enemy will usually flank with tanks and forget about sending AA.