KIELCE, Poland -- The U.S. Army sent 30 Soldiers to Poland in late March to help train soldiers from the Polish Land Forces in logistical operations during Bagram XV, an exercise held here at the Polish Army International Training Center.
Polish army 10th Logistics Brigade, or BLog, will be the last Polish “Task Force White Eagle” deploying to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom to conduct retrograde missions for the Polish army.
Retrograde operations are the re-circulation or reintegration of excess items and materiel accumulated from battlefields.
The American group was composed mostly of Soldiers from the 16th Sustainment Brigade, 21st Theater Sustainment Command and the Illinois National Guard, with others from the 7th Civil Support Command and First Army.
“We have 30 Soldiers here, and approximately half of them are from the Illinois National Guard that will deploy with Task Force White Eagle,” said Col. John Broomhead, deputy commanding officer of the 16th Sustainment Brigade.
The National Guardsmen will deploy with the Polish troops as integrated U.S. advisers, referred to as a Bilateral Embedded Staff Team, or BEST.
“The exercise has been positive so far; the BEST has been chosen for their experience in logistics,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Joseph Cistaro, senior U.S. enlisted adviser from the Illinois National Guard.
Bagram XV is the 15th and final exercise rotation of Polish NATO forces deploying in support of OEF. Bagram exercises have been a historically significant collaboration for Poland’s relatively young membership with NATO.
This year, U.S. and Polish Soldiers conducted a simulated staff exercise. Servicemembers from the 16th SB and Polish Armed Forces Operational Command worked as a simulated divisional-level command, while the deploying Soldiers conducted training missions.
During the week of the exercise, the 10th BLog and Illinois National Guard faced a multitude of simulated challenges: different attacks on their base, a food shortage, roadside bombs, chemical attacks, medical evacuation, Soldier fatality and an airfield closure.
“I was responsible for the development and management of scenario upon which the exercise is based. I ran three workshops during which we had the awesome support from the U.S.,” said Polish Air Force Lt. Col. Mariusz Kasprzyk, chief of scenario. “[The Americans] had fresh information from the theater and very good knowledge on U.S. procedures, especially during the execution; it was fantastic cooperation. The responses given to the training audience were on time, real and [as if it would be given in the theatre].”
The 16th SB Commander Col. Scott Murray and 10th BLog Commander Col. Adam Słodczyk previously led a conference to share retrograde experiences. The 16th SB then sent a small team of logistics Soldiers with retrograde operations experience as specialist trainers to the 10th BLog at their base in Opole, Poland.
“The training is designed to accomplish the objectives of the commander. It helps the staff to be more efficient with the process,” said Broomhead. “I think by the end of the exercise we will see a better team, and the unit will function more efficiently for their mission in Afghanistan.”
“I want to say the team you have today is ready to execute … a successful conclusion for operations in Afghanistan,” said Brig. Gen. Johnny Miller, assistant adjutant general for the Illinois National Guard, at the exercise closing ceremony. “This is a long relationship. When this relationship began, I was a young captain, and now I am a brigadier general. Our cooperation went on for over 20 years and will continue. We have learned much from each other. We have modernized and learned how to operate together. We are stronger from this relationship as well, and we appreciate it.”
Lt. Gen. Marek Tomascycki, commanding general of the Polish Land Forces Operational Command, remarked at the end of the ceremony, “I would like to thank once again to our American friends for your support. I hope we will have good cooperation, not only now, but in the future as well.
“A Soldier is a Soldier,” said Cistaro. “It doesn’t matter what type of uniform they wear. Even though they salute a different flag or march a different way we’re patriotic, and we miss our families the same way.”
The Polish and U.S. Soldiers successfully completed their training at Bagram XV and will deploy this summer.
This work, 16th SB conducts logistical training in Poland, by CPT Henry Chan, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.