Battle Group Poland Visits Elk, Poland
Elk, Poland—Residents of Elk, a small northeastern Polish town nestled by a glacier-formed lake and surrounded by forests, are not used to seeing American, British or Romanian soldiers in their small city. Yet hundreds of residents turned out to meet soldiers from Battle Group Poland as the multinational formation participated in an open house event April 22 at Centrum Edukacji Mundurowej, a local military academy.
This was the first meet and greet with neighboring communities for the battle group since it arrived April 1 at Bemowo Piskie Training Area outside of Orzysz, Poland, approximately 500 miles from the Russian border. The unique formation of more than 1,000 American, British and Romanian soldiers will serve with the Polish 15th Mechanized Brigade in support of NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence, a multinational contribution to demonstrate the Alliance’s readiness and resolve to deter and defend Eastern Europe.
Lt. Col. Steven Gventer, Battle Group Poland commander, said events like this are an excellent opportunity for area residents to gain awareness and an understanding of the NATO battle group’s unique mission.
“Our presence here demonstrates NATO’s collective resolve and cohesiveness in its capability to defend and protect its citizens and territory. We’re a multinational force for a reason–to make clear that an attack against one ally is an attack against all,” Gventer said. “By coming out to see the equipment and meet our soldiers, the residents can see just how capable and ready we are. It is a real treat for the soldiers to interact with the wonderful people of Poland in such a nice city.”
At the event, the battle group’s U.S. Army Stryker, U.K. Jackal, Romanian anti-aircraft cannon and small arms combat weapons were featured alongside static displays from the 15th Mechanized Brigade, with various events and performances held throughout the day. Residents were able to explore the equipment and get to know the soldiers up close and personal.
The battle group’s participation in the annual event was very exciting for the CEM students, too, giving them a chance to “learn from the best,” according to the academy’s director, Angieszka Pasko.
“We have this open house every April and we’re so pleased to have the Americans and other NATO soldiers participate. I had the opportunity to speak to the battle group’s commander about developing a cooperative and educational relationship for the future. It would be a very positive influence for our students,” she said.
The students, while busy trading flags and patches with the soldiers, also recognized the significance of the battle group and its NATO mission.
“It’s good that NATO is here. I think that while the Polish army can handle protecting us, additional help from other nation and soldiers is a good thing,” said Jokub Soboto, student at CEM. “With armies from other countries being near, people living here will live more safely.”
[Source: Story by Sgt. 1st Class Patricia Deal / Battle Group Poland ~ US DoD -/- Media Relations]
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