Antoni Macierewicz, the Polish Minister of Defense, announced on Polish television TVP Info that “the Russian veto power in Central Europe, in Poland, has ended once and for all.” He was commenting on the arrival of the American soldiers to Poland. “You could say that the treaties, which tied the existence of the Polish state to the decisions of the Soviets, later Russians, which meant that for many years after 1989 we had to wonder whether the Russians would use their veto power on this or that issue, finally have ended. This is the end of Yalta.”
This week, convoys of American soldiers began to enter Poland from Germany. American heavy brigade will be stationed in Poland and other countries in the region as part of the Operation Atlantic Resolve, which is a part of the European Reassurance Initiative program – ERI, launched in 2014 after the Russian aggression in Ukraine. The Brigade Command, logistic units, 3rd Battalion of 29th Artillery Regiment, and 4th Battalion of the 10th Cavalry Regiment will be stationed in the Polish cities of Żagań, Świętoszów, Skwierzyna and Bolesławiec. After deployment, American soldiers will begin joint exercises with Polish soldiers.
The symbolic greeting of the US military units was held on Thursday at the border crossing in Olszyna, where the convoy of dozens of Humvees and trucks crossed the border. There was a change of column escort from German to Polish Military Police. The first vehicle in the convoy was decorated with the Polish flag.
Heavy equipment, such as tanks, armored vehicles and howitzers, is transported to Poland mainly by rail. However, most American troops with their personal armament arrive by air. The Armored Brigade Combat Team has 3.5 thousand troops, 400 tracked vehicles and over 900 wheeled vehicles, including 87 M1A2 Abrams tanks, 18 self-propelled Paladin howitzers cal. 155 mm, more than 400 Humvee trucks, and 144 Bradley IFVs (infantry fighting vehicles). US forces in the region will be also reinforced by the 10th Mountain Division’s Combat Aviation Brigade, which will begin re-deployment from Fort Drum in upstate New York in February. It will bring approx. 10 Chinook heavy transport helicopters, 50 Black Hawks and approx. 1.8 thousand soldiers. The brigade will be aided by a battalion from Fort Bliss, from the southwest US, with approx. 400 troops and 24 Apache combat helicopters.
The official welcome celebration of the American armored brigade takes place on Saturday, January 14, 2017, in Żagań, with the participation of Prime Minister Beata Szydło and Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz. On the same day a series of events called “Safe Poland” are planned across the country.
On behalf of the Polish people in Poland and millions of Poles around the world who had to escape from German and Soviet occupied Poland or were pushed out, we want to say:
Welcome friends, at last! What took you so long? Where have you been for 70 years?
Photos szer. Natalia Wawrzyniak/11DKPanc./Public Information Department MOD, Republic of Poland