“American troops in Poland and other countries in the region are to show the strength of the alliance and freedom of manoeuvrability” – said the commander of US ground forces in Europe, general Ben Hodges, who met with the commander general of the Polish armed forces, general Mirosław Różański. The generals signed a declaration on bilateral military cooperation of the two countries in Warsaw.

Happy US Army soldier

Happy to be stationed in Poland

Plans include bringing 1,200 military vehicles in to Eastern Europe, and he’s floated the idea of a kind of military Schengen, to allow a freedom of military movement.

The reason why we are in Eastern Europe, is, primarily, to assure all of our allies that the United States will keep their commitments. The US will remain on the ranges and in Polish, Lithuanian, Latvian, Romanian military bases, as well as in other countries – said Hodges.

He noted that the United States does not intend to build new bases, but use the infrastructure of the host countries for the adoption of allied help.

We must be able to demonstrate our capacity, room to manoeuvre, to show that soldiers who are here, can use a variety of equipment – he said. That’s why – he added – the soldiers will come to Poland and other countries in the region for some time from the United States and then come back, at the same time they will be replaced by Americans stationed on a daily basis in Germany or Italy for example.

Hodges recalled that the US Army decided to deploy heavy brigade equipment in Europe again. The equipment – including approx. 1,200 vehicles – is to be stored in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria and Germany. From the 1,200 vehicles approx. 240 are tanks, armoured infantry and artillery; engineering and supply vehicles will also be provided. The main part of the equipment – approx. 600 cars of different types – are stationed in Poland.

Americans temporarily in Poland

In Poland, equipment of the command and support sub-division is to be placed also. The brigade commander responsible for the region from the Baltic to the Black Sea, will be stationed at various places, depending on the need. As gen. Hodges notes, currently the headquarters is in Hohenfels, Germany, from April he will spend most of the time in Poland in preparation for the “Anaconda” military exercise, but he will also visit the Baltic states, in connection with other exercises.

The US General stressed that the transport of alliance equipment in Europe should be easier and faster, stipulating that this requires the governments’ decisions – Every country in NATO and the EU is sovereign, of course we respect it, but I think that NATO needs something like a Schengen military zone, which would allow – if everyone agrees with EU regulations relating to safety, the weight of vehicles on the road – to move faster.

We create high-readiness forces – VJTF – to deploy them anywhere quickly to prevent crisis. If you need to obtain the consent of two or three weeks, it undermines the goal of the establishment of VJTF – he assessed.

Bilateral cooperation

A declaration on bilateral cooperation and a letter of intent establishing a partnership programme signed on Monday announce intensification of the two-year-long cooperation.

This is the continuation of a very good cooperation between colleagues from the US and Polish troops – says Różański.

He adds:

Next year is not just the Anaconda exercise for us. We talked about the implementation of various projects at various levels of command, not just high, operational. We think about it that our commanders of brigades, battalions should often undertake joint ventures so that these relationships were associated not only with the common residence at the training ground, but also friendships such as soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The letter of intent establishes a general framework partnership of units of a similar nature and accessories, under the General Command and the American Land Force Command in Europe (USAREUR). During his visit to Poland general Hodges also visited the Operational Command of the armed forces (RSZ).

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