Lauding the standup of a new aviation detachment in Poland last week as “a new step in the U.S.-Polish military relationship,” Navy Adm. James G. Stavridis said it exemplifies the two militaries’ growing cooperation, which has extended from combat in Iraq, the Balkans, and Afghanistan to European missile defense.
In his blog post Nov. 13, Stavridis, NATO’S supreme allied commander for Europe and commander of U.S. European Command, heralded the first full-time presence of U.S. service members in Poland. The new 10-person aviation detachment, based at Lask Air Base, will support combined fighter and transport operations as they are joined by up to 200 visiting airmen conducting quarterly training rotations.
“The idea is to keep a small number of our U.S. airmen ‘on the ground’ in Poland, while we rotate in F-16 [Fighting Falcon jets] and C-130 [Hercules] transport aircraft for mutual training together,” Stavridis wrote.
Beginning next year, rotational deployments of U.S. military aircraft for at least two weeks at a time will expand existing opportunities for “a rich mix of bilateral, NATO and multilateral exercises and training,” he noted.
“In a sense, this deployment celebrates over two centuries of Polish-U.S. defense cooperation,” the admiral said. He recalled the story of Count Casimir Pulaski, the Polish nobleman who helped the fledging U.S. military was it was being organized during the American Revolution. Pulaski is remembered as the “father of the American cavalry,” and died from wounds suffered in the Battle of Savannah.
Stavridis also recognized Polish troops’ courage during World War II as they fought alongside U.S. soldiers to liberate Europe from the Nazis.
The new deployment builds on this long history, Stavridis said, bringing together the two nations’ technology, tactics and, most importantly, their people.
“As we all know, personal contact trumps everything; especially with strong, historic allies like Poland,” he wrote.
Stavridis, Assistant Secretary of Defense Derek Chollet and U.S. Ambassador to Poland Stephen D. Mull were joined at the Nov. 8 activation ceremony by Poland’s Defense Minister Tomasz Siemoniak, Chief of Staff Army Gen. Mieczyslaw Cieniuch and Air Force Commander Gen. Lech Majewski.
“I am truly proud of the way our defense cooperation has focused on looking to the future to ensure we are prepared for the threats and challenges our countries will face,” Chollet said during the ceremony. “As we move together into the future, we expect more U.S. boots to follow as we establish a NATO ballistic missile interceptor site at Redzikowo in 2018.”
The U.S. aviation detachment “also sends a clear message to allies and partners that the U.S. remains committed to European defense and to the principle that we are indeed ‘stronger together,'” Chollet said.