By U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Bryan Spreitzer
Task Force White Eagle
GHAZNI PROVINCE, Afghanistan – It was a fitting day for Poland's Minister of Defense, Tomasz Siemoniak to visit over 1500 Polish Soldiers supporting Afghan National Security Forces in Ghazni Province. His visit marks the 69th Anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising.
The Warsaw Uprising was a nationwide effort to drive the German occupiers from the city and help with the larger fight against Germany and the Axis powers, and to liberate Warsaw and underscore Polish sovereignty by empowering the Polish Underground State before the Soviet-backed Polish Committee of National Liberation could assume control.
Given their history, Poland is a logical fit for advise and assist missions. “These Soldiers are helping Afghan National Security Forces lead security operations, demonstrate connected governance, and enable hope for the local people like their forefathers and mothers,.” said Col. Christopher Lawson, Deputy US Commander for Task Force White Eagle.
Minister Siemoniak, accompanied by Maj. Gen. Marek Tomaszycki, commander of Polish Operations Command, and Lt. Gen. Mieczyslaw Gocul, chief of general staff of Polish Armed Forces, visited with Soldiers, recognized exceptional performers, and received updates on the status of operations and the progress of security development and retrograde planning.
Task Force White Eagle’s commander, Brig. Gen. Marek Sokolowski was pleased with the visit. “It was great for our leaders and Soldiers to meet with the Minister and receive advice, words of encouragement and thanks from a grateful nation on this Anniversary,” Sokolowski said.
Poland has provided over 40,000 Soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan to support coalition partners to assist security efforts in Iraq and security capacity and capability development in Afghanistan. Last month, NATO Secretary General, Fogh Rasmussen thanked Minister Siemoniak for Poland's leading role in making sure the Alliance has the capabilities it needs. He noted Poland’s role in NATO’s missile defense, and its participation in Smart Defense projects.
Last week, Minister Siemoniak met with Gen. Martin Dempsey, U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; they stressed the significance of further development of Polish-U.S. military cooperation. Referring to the plans of building of national missile defense system in Poland, Minister Tomasz Siemoniak stated, "Our activity cannot be removed from NATO context".
At the closing ceremony, Lawson quoted Poland's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Radek Sirkorski by saying, "We Poles, like you Americans, are a revolutionary people. So when others get rid of their tyrants, our initial reaction is one of solidarity. But we also know the rules of politics, that crises are usually taken advantage of not by the best people but by the best-organized people." Lawson was referring to a recent article published in the March edition of Foreign Policy Magazine. He went on to say, “We are here to help the best people get organized and set conditions for their self determination.”