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Voices of Polonia: The United States Army Arrives in Poland for Military Duty

Written By: Ted Rajchel

The Americans Are Coming

American soldiers arrived during a welcome ceremony at the Polish-German border in Olszyna, Poland on January 12, 2017. United States Army troops are being deployed in Poland under Operation Atlantic Resolve. The troops will be followed by 87 tanks, 144 Bradley fighting vehicles and 2,500 vehicles being transported by land from Germany. It is hard to believe that 5,000 American army soldiers would be a threat to Russia’s security, in as much as Russia has something like 330,000 troops along its western border. The 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team and 4th Infantry Division, from Fort Carson, Colorado, has begun moving into Poland as part of the biggest U.S. military deployment in Europe since the end of the cold war. This was part of an Obama administration effort to deter perceived growing Russian aggression in Eastern Europe. The Kremlin isn’t happy. The U.S. deployment is being described as a “tripwire” force, designed to prevent Russia from getting away with an easy invasion of some other country, as they did with Georgia and Ukraine. It’s thought that Russia would not be willing to risk a larger war by attacking an American force of any size. The deployment, intended to counter what NATO portrays as Russian aggression in Eastern Europe, will see U.S. troops permanently stationed along Russia’s western border for the first time.

The Poles like the American Presence

But for Poles like retired metal worker Andrzej Kozlik, the American presence is something he and other Poles have come to yearn for since the fall of communism in 1989. Andrezej waited patiently at the sleepy border crossing 100 miles southeast of Berlin for the U.S. military convoy to arrive. “We are very happy that the Americans are coming and supporting and protecting us”, Andrezej said. Humvees and support vehicles were in the convoy. The brigade’s 87 tanks are being moved here gradually on trains and other heavy transport, according to U.S military spokesmen. In the nearby Zagan—known for notorious POW camps the Nazis set up, including one featured in the 1963 blockbuster, The Great Escape—officials and residents waving small American flags celebrated the arrival of what will be a continuous rotational presence of U.S. and NATO armored brigades in Eastern Europe. This was an attempt by President Obama to calm the nerves of NATO’s newer members after Moscow annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and destabilized that country’s Eastern flank.

Polish Army Major General Jaroslaw Mika

His Polish soldiers will be training with some of the U.S. brigade’s soldiers, said that he’s thrilled the American soldiers are here. He added it’s important to “be together, to build our common relationship and to provide more security” –not only for Europe, he said, but for the world. U.S. Army Colonel Christopher Norrie, who led the convoy into Poland, was feted by Polish trumpets. He described the new mission as a “cornerstone” to preserving freedom across Europe.” To arrive at this point so swiftly is proof that we work as a team…to challenge is too large to overcome. No distance is too far to cross when the need arises”. For now, military officials say the Fort Carson Brigade will fan out across Poland and send some of its soldiers to the Baltic States, Romania, Bulgaria, and Hungary to train with local troops there.

Welcome to Poland

The presence of American soldiers in Poland is another step in our strategy to ensure safety and security for Poland and the region. It’s a great day today when we can welcome, here in Zagan, American soldiers who represent the best, the greatest army in the world. Poland’s defense minister Antoni Macierewicz said: We have waited for you for a very long time. We waited for decades, sometimes feeling we had been left alone, sometimes losing hope, sometimes feeling that we were the only ones who protected civilization from aggression that came from the East. The American troops will be part of a NATO contingent that will include troops from Britain and Canada. The troops will be rotated every nine months through Poland, the Baltic countries, Bulgaria, and Romania. In order to provide a technical workaround to a promise made to Moscow after the fall of the Soviet Union that NATO would not permanently base large numbers of forces east of Germany.

The U.S. Deploys 1,000 Troops to Russian Border

President Obama has deployed 1,000 American troops to the Russian border in readiness for potential conflict between NATO and Russia. In a meeting of Warsaw, Poland, Obama told NATO members that the U.S. intends to ‘stand firm’ against the threat of Russia. Obama called NATO to “stand firm” against Russia, terrorism, and other challenges. Obama says the U.S. and European nations “must summon the political will and make concrete commitments” to affirm European cooperation. “This may be the most important moment for our transatlantic alliance since the end of the cold war,” Obama wrote. “Russia’s aggression against Ukraine threatens our vision of a Europe that is whole, free, and at peace’. The U.S. president added that “NATO will once again send a very clear message that we are here.” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg echoed the U.S. president, mentioning the deployment of troops, military infrastructure and hardware closer to Russia’s border. NATO’s massive build-up in the three Baltic countries and Poland is officially labeled “assurance measures.” But the most important development was Obama’s announcement that the U.S. is sending an additional 1,000 troops to Poland as part of a NATO effort to reinforce its presence on the alliances Eastern flank.

Security Guarantee

The 150 soldiers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade arrived in the Polish town of Swidwin from their base in Vicenza, Italy. Stephen Mull, the U.S. Ambassador to Poland said that the U.S. had a “solemn obligation in the framework of NATO to reassure Poland of our security guarantee”. President Obama told a news conference in Japan that Moscow had failed to halt actions by pro-Russia militants in Ukraine. The U.S. had further sanctions against Russia “teed up,” he added. The U.S. troops are expected to be carrying out military exercises in Poland as well as in Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia for the coming months. There has been growing concern in countries at the build-up of thousands of troops in Russia along its borders with Ukraine in recent weeks. Meanwhile, the United States has sent 12 F-16 fighter jets and 200 support personnel to Poland, and NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the Alliance plans more air patrols and shops for the Baltic region. Rasmussen said there is a possibility for even more deployments in upcoming weeks. In addition, NATO officials say that several member nations, along with The U.S., are offering to provide ground troops to Eastern European members throughout the end of the year. The troops are part of President Barack Obama’s response to reassure NATO allies concerned about a more aggressive Russia. It is the largest U.S. military reinforcement of Europe in decades.

First U.S. Military Unit Stationed in Poland Activated

The Polish military, the Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany color guard and airmen of Detachment 1, 52nd Operations Group at the unit’s activation ceremony in Lask, Poland, is the first U.S. military unit permanently stationed in Poland, Lask Air Base, Poland. As a frigid wind whipped the U.S. and Polish flags above the flight line at this sprawling base, two allies marked the activation of the first U.S. military unit to be continuously stationed on Polish soil. Though numbering only 10 airmen, Detachment 1, 52nd Operations Group has a historic role to fill. It signifies the United States commitment to furthering its partnership with Poland, a former Warsaw pact member and promoting regional security in Europe, said senior military and government leaders from both countries who spoke at a ceremony to stand up the Detachment. “It marks the arrival of a new kind of U.S. ‘boots on the ground’ “said Derek Chollet, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs. Calling the U.S. airmen “very welcome guests in Poland and in Lask,” Poland’s Defense Minister Tomasz Siemoniak said the unit’s creation represents “a very important and symbolic moment” between the two countries, a “cooperation that is not just about rhetoric, but about very specific, concrete steps. Setting up the Detachment, an idea agreed to in principle nearly two years ago by President Barack Obama and Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski, is only the first step. Plans are for the unit, to support four annual U.S. aircraft rotations into Poland—two each of F—16 fighter jets and C—130 Hercules planes. About 250 U.S. military personnel will participate in the training exercises. “This shows our commitment to Poland and our commitment to making them a fully capable NATO partner.” The rotations in the future could include active-duty units stateside, as well as air force reserve and Air National Guard units.

The U.S. to Put Heavy Weaponry in Eastern European

In a significant move to deter possible Russian aggression in Europe, the Pentagon is poised to store battle tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, artillery, trucks and, containers. They were transported. Some 900 railroad cars delivered all this equipment to the deployment sites using three cargo ships, the commercial line, Haval, and a military convoy. The U.S. troop deployment to Europe was agreed to following NATO summits in 2014 and 2016 dominated by deep concern over Russia’s increased assertiveness and military power. Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the war waged by pro-Russian separatists in Eastern Ukraine have particularly unnerved NATO country members in Eastern Europe and the Baltic States. U.S. soldiers “stand united on Polish soil to deter and defend, ”a senior officer said. U.S. soldiers have rotations to Europe that the Pentagon has said are intended to bolster ties with NATO allies and send a clear message to Russia. Russia has criticized the continuous deployments as a threat to Russian security. Troops will conduct exercises with NATO allies to send a message to Russia. Paul Jones, the U.S. ambassador to Poland said the troops arriving in Poland were “America’s most capable force,” embodying an “iron-clad commitment” to defend NATO allies. U.S. troops would help ensure “freedom, independence and peace in Europe and the whole world” and that Poland was proud of “joint efforts that guarantee the security of Europe, with the help of NATO allies.
The 3rd Armored Combat Brigade team of the 4th Infantry Division “is a highly capable and ready force with the best equipment, leadership, and training of any combat force in the world.” To maintain combat readiness the soldiers will conduct “realistic exercises” with allies in locations across Poland and Europe.

1. Russia Says U.S. Troops Arriving in Poland Pose Threat to Its Security
2. NATO Buildup in Poland U.S. Troops Welcomed—CNN
3. U.S. is Poised to Put Heavy Weaponry in Eastern Europe
4. Poland Welcomes the biggest Deployment of U.S. Troops in Decades
5. First U.S. Military Unit to be Continuously Stationed in Poland Activated
6. Ukraine Crisis: U.S. Troops Land in Poland For Exercises BBCN
7. U.S. Sending Troops to Poland Amid Tensions Over Russia
8. U.S. Deploys 1,000 Troops to Russian Border


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