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Former US Attaché in Poland: New Defense Agreement and V Corps Command in Poland are Groundbreaking Steps Forward

Ostatnia aktualizacja: 29.11.2020 23:00
”This is a watershed agreement, but not a surprise for two strong allies – the United States and Poland. It strengthens deterrence and defense of the whole Eastern Flank region of NATO and provides opportunities for forward posture of U.S. defense capabilities – and NATO too”, says Col. Ray Wojcik, former US military attaché in Poland, senior fellow at  the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA) think tank, in an interview with PolskieRadio24.pl. The agreement enabled the inauguration of the Forward Command of the 5th US Army Corps in Poland in Poznań.
Ćwiczenia amerykańskich żołnierzy (Battle Group Poland w Bemowie Piskim w 2017 roku
Ćwiczenia amerykańskich żołnierzy (Battle Group Poland w Bemowie Piskim w 2017 rokuFoto: DVIDS / MAJ Gary Loten-Beckford

The V Corps Headquarters (HQ) in Poznan will have under its command the US land forces operating on the Eastern Flank of NATO. The inauguration of V Corps Headquarters (HQ) Forward Command took place a few days ago, just after the President of Poland ratified the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement between Poland and the USA (9.11). The EDCA agreement has been signed on August 15 by Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Błaszczak and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

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What is the impact of the EDCA agreement and the inauguration of the V Corps command in Poznań on the security of NATO's Eastern Flank? PolskieRadio24.pl learned about if from the former US military attaché in Poland, currently a senior fellow at the Center for European Policy Analysis, Colonel Ray Wójcik.

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PolskieRadio24.pl: What does the promulgation of the Polish-American agreement extending defense cooperation between Poland and the USA (EDCA) contribute to the current security situation?

Ray Wojcik, CEPA: This is a watershed agreement, but not a surprise for two strong allies – the United States and Poland. It strengthens deterrence and defense of the whole Eastern Flank region of NATO and provides opportunities for forward posture of U.S. defense capabilities – and NATO too. It does this in four specific areas.

(1) It increases allied readiness and adds additional combat power, for example, the U.S. Air Force Reaper Squadron coming to Poland, brings significant reconnaissance, targeting and attack potential. While continuation of other major U.S. deployments: the Armored Brigade Combat Team (ABCT), Logistics, Army Aviation and more, are codified and supported for long term presence.

(2) It adds new important Command and Control (C2) capabilities. This is manifested in the V Corps Forward, allowing Joint Forces Command and Control integration with NATO, Polish and regional commands. This means excellent integration potential with Poland’s Operations Command, General Command, the 18th DIV, 11th DIV, 12th DIV, 16th DIV, also Territorial Defense and Special Operations Commands. Additionally, with NATO’s Multinational Corps Northeast (MNCNE) and Multinational Division Northeast (MNDNE). The sky is the limit, and the V Corps will find its best coordination rhythm.

(3) It adds additional infrastructure and logistics capabilities. For example, preparation of airfields for large scale deployments to Poland, supporting the aforementioned Reapers, deployments of US/NATO fighter and other support aircraft, and facilitating rapid deployment of US/NATO forces including the NATO Response Force (NRF) to Poland and the region. The agreement includes preparing forward stocks of ammunition, fuel, repair parts and other logistics considerations. Additionally, under the Army’s Prepositioned Stocks (APS) program, Powidz Air Force Base becomes the hub for storage of a full set of equipment for an Army Armored Brigade Combat Team (ABCT). Combine this APS capability, with what the Army is doing in Germany, Netherlands and Belgium with APS, that means we achieve a much higher readiness of forward-postured U.S. combat potential in the region, significantly cutting crisis response times.

(4) Training capabilities are upgraded under this plan. Poland has been working closely with the United States for several years to improve training range capabilities and capacities. Poland’s premier range complex is Drawsko Pomorskie Training Area (DPTA), near Szczecin. Here, Poland and the U.S. Army are working together to build a multifunctional joint/combined range complex similar to what we have today in the Department of Defense “Combat Training Center” (CTC) system. Why is this important? After the Vietnam War the United States Army was reeling from a training and discipline gap. Three innovations saved the Army: (1) building a fully empowered Noncommissioned Officer (NCO) Corps with a robust NCO Education System (NCOES) at all levels; (2) Implementation of a strong After Action Review (AAR) system inculcated into training and daily life of the Army, in order to abandon the culture of a "fear of criticism;" and (3) our sophisticated CTC system allowing for complex, joint, multi-echelon and combined training, supported by state-of-the-art technology which pushes units to “failure” in training, to ensure we are victorious in War.

What can we say about the 5th Corps of the US Army Corps in Poznań? What its role is? What are the tasks, why was it created?

The “V Corps Headquarters (HQ) Forward” staff in Poznan, helps U.S. European Command, and U.S. Army Europe manage not only all the current enduring deployments of U.S. forces in Poland and the region, but allows for preparation of needed operational-integration with Poland/allies to prepare for crisis and combat operations. It provides opportunities for combined-arms training and integration at an echelon the Army has not had in Europe since 2013 – its welcomed back to Europe not only by the Army, but by our allies and partners. It’s the logical next step in U.S. regional Command and Control (C2) capabilities, building on several years of experience with our deployed “Division Forward” (DIV FWD) HQ staff, in Poznan.

Why is the formation of this Corps important?

That’s best said by the Chief of Staff, U.S. Army GEN James McConville:  "The activation of an additional Corps headquarters provides the needed level of command and control focused on synchronizing U.S. Army, allied, and partner nation tactical formations operating in Europe. It will enhance U.S. Army Europe and U.S. European Command as they work alongside allies and partners to promote regional stability and security."

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Ed. by Agnieszka Marcela Kamińska, PolskieRadio24.pl.

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