26 VII 2017

New NATO battle group commander

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LtC Steven Gventer, commander of the NATO Battle Group – Poland (BGPOL) and of the 2nd squadron of the 2nd US Cavalry Regiment, ended his service in Poland. He is replaced by the US LtC Christopher L'Heureux. Change of command took place on Tuesday, July 25th in Bemowo Piskie in Poland, where the Alliance soldiers are stationed.

zdjęcie - New NATO battle group commander

A formal hand over take over in the position of commander of the NATO Battle Group was held at the Polish Land Forces Training Center. Together with the BGPOL soldiers in the ceremony participated among others Polish MG Jaroslaw Mika - general commander of the armed forces services, US Gen. Frederick B. Hodges - commander of the US Army in Europe; Polish BG Sławomir Kaczyński - deputy commander of the 16th Pomeranian Mechanized Division, Polish BG Krzysztof Motacki, commander of the Multinational Division North-East and Polish BG Jaroslaw Gromadziński - commander of the 15th Giżycko Mechanized Brigade.

- Lieutenant Colonel Gventer was the first battle group commander in Poland. Thanks to his excellent understanding of the tasks and the BGPOL place in the NATO command and force structure, we have managed to develop standards that ensure successful military cooperation - says BG Gromadziński. The general also pointed out that the strength of the advanced military presence of NATO on the Eastern Alliance flank (called eFP) is not only a commander, but above all soldiers, and they remain unchanged in place. He also emphasized that the successor of LtC Gventer, LtC Christopher L'Heureux, was a very experienced soldier - an officer of the armored and mechanized units. - Krzysztof (Polish equivalent for Christopher) has been with us for two weeks, we spent a lot of time talking and watching the Bull Run exercise. I am therefore convinced that the cooperation between the eFP unit and the 15th Mech Brigade will continue to be fantastic - emphasizes the commander of 15th brigade.

At the end of his service in our country, the American officer was decorated by MG Mika with Silver Medal of the Polish Army.

LtC Steven Gventer has been commanding the NATO Battle Group since April. During this time, NATO troops along with 1st Mechanized Battalion of the 15th Mechanized Brigade participated in "Puma", "Saber Strike" (in Poland ) and "Iron Wolf" (in Lithuania) exercises. A week ago, the BGPOL for the first time carried out tactical activities outside the area of the training area - the "Bull Ride" exercise took place in the Rospuda Valley.

- The collaboration between Battle Group soldiers and the 15th Mechanized Brigade is excellent. We do not even feel that we are from different countries and cultures - said LtC Gventer about the service in Bemowo Piskie. - We are one unit and we look at the security of NATO borders together - he emphasized.

The change in the post of eFP commander in Poland results from the principles of the United States Army. LtC Gventer has for 2 years commanded 2nd squadron of the 2nd Cavalry Regiment, and that is the maximum time an American soldier can hold a single function. As a result, the officer was seconded to another post. He will serve in the American army training center in Hohenfels, Germany.

The new BGPOL commander is LtC Christopher L'Heureux. He began military service in 1995 in the National Guard of the United States Army. In 1999 he was sent to Germany, where in 1 Battalion 35th Armored Regiment he was a tank platoon commander, a tactical support platoon commander and a battalion logistics chief. In 2004 he joined the 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team in Fort Wainwright, Alaska. He served also as the head of the operations division of the 2 battalion of the 1st Infantry Regiment and as a deputy commander of the 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team in the 2nd Infantry Division at Lewis-Mcchord Base, Washington. In 2015 he was appointed a liaison in the United States House of Representatives in Capitol Hill.

He participated in several military operations outside the US - including Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan. He has been awarded four times with the Bronze Star Medal, also with the Meritorious Service Medal, the Commendation Medal and the Achievement Medal.

The new commander of NATO multinational battle group will stay in Poland until October - then the rotation of troops will take place. But before that happens, the soldiers will take part in the biggest Polish military maneuvers in this year under the code "Dragon '17".

The decision to deploy on the NATO Eastern flank the Alliance soldiers was made at the NATO summit in Warsaw last July. Since April 2017, in the Bemowo Piskie the BGPOL has been stationed. It consists of soldiers from the United States, the United Kingdom and Romania. They use US Strykers and Humvees, British Jackals and Romanian anti-aircraft Oerlikons. Soon the ranks of the Battle Group – Poland will be joined by the Croatians. NATO soldiers are in rotations in Poland – they will change every six months.

Sister battle groups are active in Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia. The battle group in the latter state includes among others soldiers of the 9th Cavalry Brigade (on PT-91 tanks) and the 1st Pomeranian Logistics Brigade from Poland.

Earlier- already in January 2017, US soldiers of the 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team of the US 4th Infantry Division from Colorado arrived in Poland. They are located in Żagań, Świętoszów, Skwierzyna and Boleslawiec.

- On behalf of all Americans, let me thank the entire Polish people for the generosity you have shown in welcoming our soldiers to your country - said US President Donald Trump during his recent visit to Poland.  

- These soldiers are not only brave defenders of freedom, but also symbols of America’s commitment to your security and your place in a strong and democratic Europe - he stressed.

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