moja polska zbrojna
Od 25 maja 2018 r. obowiązuje w Polsce Rozporządzenie Parlamentu Europejskiego i Rady (UE) 2016/679 z dnia 27 kwietnia 2016 r. w sprawie ochrony osób fizycznych w związku z przetwarzaniem danych osobowych i w sprawie swobodnego przepływu takich danych oraz uchylenia dyrektywy 95/46/WE (ogólne rozporządzenie o ochronie danych, zwane także RODO).

W związku z powyższym przygotowaliśmy dla Państwa informacje dotyczące przetwarzania przez Wojskowy Instytut Wydawniczy Państwa danych osobowych. Prosimy o zapoznanie się z nimi: Polityka przetwarzania danych.

Prosimy o zaakceptowanie warunków przetwarzania danych osobowych przez Wojskowych Instytut Wydawniczy – Akceptuję

Invaluable Cooperation

Fire control trainings, CSAR exercises and joint operations – these are only some of the tasks that have been executed during the last few weeks by the soldiers of the 82nd Airborne Division. Most of them shoulder to shoulder with Polish troops.

Organized over 100 years ago, the 82nd Airborne Division is currently the largest tactical task force of this kind in the USA. Its soldiers are based at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, but they are famous for their readiness to operate in virtually any place in the world, where they can be redeployed within 18 hours. For the last several weeks, they have been stationing in Poland on the strength of Pentagon’s decision, dictated by the growing tensions between NATO and Russia.

The soldiers of the 82nd Airborne Division have been located in several places in the south-eastern part of Poland. They do not want to discuss in detail the tasks they have been given. The known fact, however, is that they are cooperating with the 18th Mechanized Division, which has included the allies in their training schedule. They have participated, among others, in Exercise Suseł 2021 (originally, the exercise was to take place last year, but the plans were modified due to the pandemic), during which the command of the 19th Mechanized Brigade from Lublin checked combat readiness of the 19th Mechanized Battalion from Chełm. “The plan of the exercise had been prepared before the allies came to Poland. However, it was not a problem to include the US units in our operations – it was a way to prove our interoperational capabilities,” says Col Rafał Miernik, commander of the 19th Mechanized Brigade, which supervises the battalion from Chełm.

After executing many elements of joint training – from tactics to staff activities – it was time to verify the capabilities of soldiers in a defensive operation. The training area in Nowa Dęba filled with IFVs and Leopard 2A5 tanks. Rak and Poprad systems opened fire. Soldiers launched Spikes, and air support was provided by the Su-22 fighters and Chinook helicopters. “The aim was to check how a battalion commander, working under pressure, would use such a vast amount of forces and means, as this is the task they would be given on an actual battlefield,” emphasizes Col Miernik. He adds that the exercise itself was carried out according to plan. “It’s hardly surprising. We have quite a vast experience in cooperating with the Americans, not only during exercises, but also military missions,” he states.

Perfecting Skills

During the last few weeks, the soldiers of the 82nd Airborne Division were joined by troops of the 21st Podhale Rifles Brigade. Together, they trained crossing water obstacles or directing fire. Also Polish troops of the 1st Armored Brigade from Wesoła are cooperating with the Americans. They have jointly trained many tactical operations, as well as activities connected with providing first aid to the wounded – they perfected their MEDEVAC procedures, setting the rules for evacuating the wounded from the battlefield. This time, they practiced on board of a Chinook helicopter. “The exercise went smoothly. We noticed only minor differences in equipment. The American first aid kits include, for example, a laryngological set or a blood heater,” says Pvt 1st Class Tomasz Winiarek, a medic of the 1st Armored Brigade. “The procedures, on the other hand, are almost the same. I think we can easily operate together,” adds Senior Corporal Maciej Malikowski, a tank battalion soldier.

2ndLt Radosław Sala, platoon commander, points out that an important element of the joint US-Polish training has been the exchange of experiences on countering anti-tank targets. “It was a valuable lesson for us. We were able to see the way our fellows prepare enemy traps,” he emphasizes. American sappers shared with the Polish tank crews their methods of locating and eliminating IEDs. “They have a lot of experience in this area that they have gained during missions, particularly those in Afghanistan,” emphasizes the officer.

LtCol Marcin Krzemiński, commander of a tank battalion, is very happy the soldiers of both armies exercise together. “We work on the scenario of our operations together. We adjust it to the capabilities, strength and resources of both sides. We confirm almost every day that our procedures are almost the same as those of our allies. During the Call for Fire or MEDEVAC operations we work on the same documents,” he explains. He adds that the soldiers of the 1st Brigade already have experience of cooperating with the allies, which they have gained while exercising with the NATO Battle Group. “There is no language barrier whatsoever, even on the lowest levels. Thus, for us it is mainly about perfecting our skills,” he emphasizes.

Team Work

Cooperation of NCOs is also very important during joint US-Polish trainings. Mid- and lower level commanders learned how to efficiently plan, prepare and conduct operations on the company and lower level, during, for instance, the Troop Leading Procedures course prepared by the 18th Mechanized Division. They also participated in trainings connected with all military specialties, such as artillery operations, reconnaissance or CSAR. All this helped both sides to learn their mutual capabilities, tactics, as well as establish relations that will enable them to jointly carry out various operations.

“During such operations, commanders must be able to handle situations that can occur on the battlefield. It teaches them interoperability, dealing with crisis, approaching given tasks with creativity and innovation,” explains SSWO Stanisław Wojciuk, a senior NCO of the command of the 18th Mechanized Division. He adds that a lot of attention was paid to the importance of using the potential of subordinates by NCOs. “No leader, even the best one, is able to handle everything alone – the strength lies in team work,” he emphasizes.

Poles and Americans train together almost every day. How long is it going to last? No one knows. The US President, Joe Biden, assures that the US military will stay on the eastern flank for as long as it is necessary. Moreover, if need be, the number of US troops can be increased. For the time being, both sides are concentrating on perfecting their skills. “Let’s hope we never have to put in practice the scenarios we all probably have in the back of our heads, but we must be sure we are well prepared for them,” says Col Miernik.


 

Three Questions to Jarosław Gromadziński

The soldiers of the 82nd Airborne Division arrived in Poland only a few days after the Pantagon had announced its decision to deploy them here. Wasn’t this time too short to get ready for their arrival and prepare a plan of joint operations?

In this situation, it is key to establish priorities. Our task was to secure NATO’s eastern flank and to make sure that the detachments work well together on the tactical level. We concentrated on the cooperation of platoons and companies, as we had expected we would be executing most tasks in this way. Obviously, the staffs of both divisions have been working closely together from the very beginning. We have the same procedures, as I have been paying a lot of attention to interoperability since the beginning of the formation of the 18th Division. It is paying off now. There is no language barrier, so we were able to start our cooperation without any delay.

Are there any problems with tuning the detachments during exercises?

We have excellent soldiers in our ranks. They want to develop, and they are additionally motivated by cooperating with the 82nd Division, one of the best units of this type in the world. We can operate with its soldiers on a daily basis. We don’t have any complexes, we complement each other – we are a heavy division, they are a light division, so we are the ones who take on the main responsibility during a defensive operation. The Americans, on the other hand, conduct maneuvering operations. All this requires mutual understanding; we need to know how to play things out tactically and how to effectively use the equipment. And it is happening. We’ve already practiced operations during which Polish aircraft were guided by American JTACs and the other way around. The US soldiers also indicated targets and aimed Polish artillery at them.

Did the outbreak of the war in Ukraine influence the way Polish and American soldiers operate?

Defending our homeland is our duty. We must be ready for it at any given moment. And we are. We train with allies, we make sure our detachments can work well together, and each subsequent exercise proves that we have obtained interoperability with the US division. This is the best proof that Polish citizens can feel safe.

Major General Jarosław Gromadziński is the commander of the 18th Mechanized Division.

Magdalena Miernicka

autor zdjęć: Michał Niwicz

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