Meeting with Gen. Hodges
On Wednesday, 14 December, the head of the Defence Ministry visited Żagań, where he met with the Commander of the U.S. Army in Europe, General Frederick B. Hodges. The theme of the meeting was the deployment of U.S. Armed Forces in Poland.
“We talked with General Hodges and his soldiers, who make up the team preparing for the deployment of a contingent of U.S. Armed Forces in Poland, about the heavy armored brigade combat group, which will be spread over the northeastern part of our country. We’ve discussed all the issues related to technical assistance and organizational support. This is also due to the fact that our Prime Minister has entrusted me with the function of coordinating all the activities of the ministries and governmental bodies in connection with the deployment of Allied troops in Poland,” Defence Minister Antoni Macierewicz told the journalists present.
“During our meeting with the U.S. Lieutenant General, practical issues were also discussed concerning the movement of U.S. troops over Polish territory and their subordination. We also discussed the tasks of the division command structure to be located in Poland, which will integrate the operations of the battalion combat forces,” further stressed the head of the Defence Ministry.
General Hodges announced that 6 January 2017, the port of Bremenhaven, Germany is to receive a ship with hardware belonging to the American armored brigade, which on a daily basis is stationed at Fort Carson, Colorado. Then as quickly as possible, the equipment will be deployed to Poland, and then also to Romania and the Baltic States, what is also to be a test for the U.S. troops.
“I await the results of this test as their transfer will be timed and treated as a test as to how fast the force can move from port to field. We know how fast we are able to move. It will also demonstrate how much the United States and NATO are determined to deter,” he said.
General Hodges said that the year 2017 will be the time for implementing the decisions taken at the NATO Summit in Warsaw in July 2016. He stressed that at the time, the NATO Alliance has decided to transition from so-called assurances measures, i.e., measures meant to ensure the protection of the eastern flank, carried out on the basis of a decision taken after the outbreak of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict at the previous Summit in Newport, Wales in September 2014, to a concrete deterrence stage by way of the deployment of troops in our region. “Now, after five months, these activities start the procedure of going from verbal assurances measures to providing actual deterrence capability,” said the general.
During Defence Minister Antoni Macierewicz’s stay in Żagań, he laid flowers at the monument dedicated to the memory of General Stanisław Maczek and visited the hall of tradition of the 11th Lubuska Armored Cavalry Division.
U.S. Armed Forces in Poland are opening a new chapter in cooperation between the two countries. Their presence strengthens not only our country; it also has a positive impact on strengthening the whole region and the Atlantic Alliance. Together we show an increase in strength of the transatlantic bond. After the decisions taken during the NATO Summit in Warsaw, we undertook a series of intensive consultations with the American side to reach an agreement as soon as was possible on the details of a U.S. military presence on Polish soil. The current visit of U.S. Army Force Commander in Europe Lt. Gen. Frederick B. Hodges is a field reconnaissance trip before the arrival of the Armored Brigade Combat Team (ABCT) to Poland.
The ABCT is made up of approximately 4,000 soldiers, who will be moved to Europe in the framework of the American initiative to strengthen the region, as part of the so-called European Reassurance Initiative (ERI). The deployment of the ABCT will be carried out over a 9 month cycle. The first rotation of the ABCT will be provided by the 3rd Armored Brigade of the 4th Infantry Division (3/4 ABCT), usually stationed in Fort Carson, Colorado (USA). The ABCT has full operational readiness. Their sub-units will be involved in exercises and training throughout all of Poland, while remaining ready for quick use, if needed. U.S. troops will be thus both training in Poland, but will also be ready to take part in defending Poland.