VICENZA, Italy -- The Bravo Company "Bandits" of the 173rd Brigade Support Battalion (Airborne), of the 173rd Airborne Brigade worked side-by-side with their Polish allies to recover mud-lodged American equipment during Anakonda 2016 in Biedrusko, Poland June 8, 2016. The Paratroopers and Polish recovery personnel worked together using each other's equipment to recover the equipment and used the opportunity to familiarize with each other's recovery techniques.
The team arrived on the recovery site and immediately began evaluating this conversation. Rather than immediately beginning their mission, the paratroopers discussed the situation with their Polish counterparts. During this discussion they learned they learned the area was infamous to the Polish recovery team as it is filled with unimproved roads, tank trails, various degrees of angle, and thick mud. Both wheeled and tracked alike regularly call for recovery support. The area is known to the local Polish unit as "Hell's Alley."
The fundamentals of recovery operations are universal, and without prior relations or training, both forces were able to carry out a safe and efficient recovery operation.
"It's crazy to see how similar our methods are," said, Sgt. Marcus Chambliss, Bravo Company, Brigade Support Battalion, 173rd Airborne Brigade, of Dinwiddie, Va."We didn't even need a translator out there. Once everyone got to the recovery site we all just went to work, and didn't have to question what the other was doing. They are used to working in this area, and they know things that we don't know, so their input and their hands-on involvement ended up being exactly what we needed to get the mission done."
Many of the paratroopers picked up key Polish, recovery-related phrases to include "jasny" meaning "clear," "trzymac" meaning "hold," and "wydanie" meaning "release" or "let out." All these phrases were critical in operating the winch on their wrecker. Chief Warrant Officer 5 Darius Dowgrid Gnatowski, who has over 35 years of experience in the Polish military, led the effort. His expertise and experience recovering vehicles in the same area was pivotal in the overall success of the recovery mission.
Upon the successful completion of the recovery all personnel moved to the Brigade Support Area, where the Polish forces brought an assortment of their vehicles and equipment used in recovery and maintenance operations. The Polish recovery teams walked the paratroopers through their procedures in hooking up vehicles using tow-bars, chains, and other equipment. They engaged in hands-on training with each other's equipment.
This exchange was not only beneficial to B Co.'s recovery personnel, but also to their wheeled vehicle mechanics, generator mechanics, welders. As the Polish forces introduced their version of the U.S. Humvee, fitted for forward maintenance operations. By the end of the exchange, all participants developed a healthy understanding of the others' equipment and had developed full confidence in each other's capabilities.
The exchange ended with the paratroopers presenting a Certificate of Appreciation to Chief Warrant Officer 5 Darius Dowgrid Gnatowski and his team. Both units working together to achieve a common mission was an excellent display of cohesion, an important aspect of building interoperability with our partners in NATO.