MORAG, Poland - An opening ceremony commemorating the first training rotation between U.S. Army Europe and Polish Armed Forces on the U.S.
Patriot Missile System was held here, May 26. In attendance were Soldiers from U.S. Army Europe's Alpha Battery, 5th Battalion 7th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, their counterparts from the Polish Armed Forces, the Representational Battalion of the Polish Armed Forces, the U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Poland Lee Feinstein, Poland's Minister of Defense Bogdan Kilch, and USAREUR's Brig. Gen. Mark A. Bellini. "We have a beautiful saying in the Polish language, 'we offer to our guests the very best that we have'. And it is in within this spirit that I welcome you to Polish soil," said Minister KILCH during his opening remarks at the ceremony. Monday, U.S. Soldiers unloaded the equipment shipped from their home station just outside of Kaiserslautern, Germany that would be used for the training here. Although no actual missiles were shipped, this is the first time a U.S. missile system has come to Poland for the new training program intended to familiarize Polish armed forces on the Patriot system and other air defense techniques. "It's important not just because it is long anticipated, but important because of what we see here today - a battery of U.S.
Soldiers working alongside their Polish counterparts on Polish soil cooperating as established allies," said Feinstein during his remarks at the ceremony. The rotation of a Patriot battery for training was originally agreed on by the two nations in the August 2008 Declaration of Strategic Cooperation. The training is designed to provide mutual benefits for improving Polish defense capabilities while also helping develop the U.S. patriot crew members' proficiency. "I'm ready to be more proficient at my job and do a lot of training," said Spc. Brooke Bandy, a launching station operator with A Battery, 5th Battalion. 7th ADA. This type of mutual training helps to expand U.S. and Poland air and missile defense cooperation while strengthening the partnership between the U.S. and Poland. "Today is an important day because U.S. and Polish cooperation represents the promise of a more secure world. It is the promise of allies who have fought for their own freedom, and who have fought together for the freedom of others," said Feinstein. This Patriot rotation is one of about a dozen various training activities between the Poles and U.S. Army Europe currently on-going or planned through the end of this year. "We are united by the common values that we share, as well as our great attachment to the principles of democracy, but we have been known to also cooperate in the spirit of solidarity, combating arm in arm within those missions that are supervised under NATO, expressing our cooperation and combat readiness in Iraq and Afghanistan," said Kilch. The U.S. Patriot Missile system training rotations are planned to occur quarterly, will last 30 days each, and are scheduled from now until 2012.