By Sgt. Justin GeigerMay 22, 2017
ZAGAN, Poland- U.S. Soldiers experience some of the unique customs and traditions of their Polish Allies at a folk music festival in a the crowded downtown square of Zagan, Poland, May 21, 2017.
Members of 3rd Battalion, 29th Field Artillery Regiment (Pacesetters) displayed some of the unit's vehicles and equipment at the local music festival, further strengthening the relationship between the Polish community and the U.S. Army.
Folk musical groups from different agriculture communities outside of Zagan traveled from across the region to perform at the festival that is held every year. Approximately 20 groups of all ages serenaded the crowed block lined with venders, bounce houses and military equipment.
"It makes me feel really good to see my soldiers out here participating," said Lt. Col. Douglas Chimenti, Commander, 3rd Bn., 29th FA Regt., 3rd ABCT, 4th ID "Now I know they're getting out and experiencing what Poland has to offer. One of the things I told my Battalion before coming out here is this is going to be one of the best deployments to go on because we'll have to opportunity to go off base to see the local culture, the history, taste the food and just experience things that we couldn't in a war zone."
The Pacesetters Soldiers that participated in the local festival were able to interact with the citizens of Zagan; taking pictures, helping children in and out of vehicles and just shaking hands creating a positive effect on the alliance that goes beyond the combined training schedule of both nations.
"Our Soldiers getting the opportunity to experience the Polish culture is really critical to our mission here," said Chimenti. "It lets our soldiers see exactly what our Allies and partner's local customs and traditions are. Events like this give the soldiers a better appreciation for the land and the culture that we're here helping to protect."
The 3rd Bn., 29th FA Reg. is on a nine-month deployment, rotating through the European theater in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve. This U.S. led effort in Eastern Europe demonstrates the U.S. commitment to strengthening the defensive and deterrent capabilities of the NATO Alliance.
"Our commitment to NATO is shown here by getting out participating in events, and visiting the people in the local community," said Chimemti. "To strengthen the resolve to defend NATO by being forward in Poland and deterring aggression shows the people of Poland that the American forces are a committed part of NATO."
Staff Sgt. Matthew Letempt, Radar Section Chief, 3rd Bn., 29th FA Reg., 3rd ABCT, 4th ID, discussed what it means to him and his soldiers to have the opportunity to step outside of the training environment and participate in the festival.
"I think it's an honor to be able to participate in local traditions," said Letempt, as a folk group sang in the background. "This is what we're here to do, improve the relationships and support the people in the local communities."
"There's more than a commitment to just training with our allies, it's also a commitment to the people of Poland that are supporting us while we're in Zagan" he said.
About us: U.S. Army Europe is uniquely positioned in its 51 country area of responsibility to advance American strategic interests in Europe and Eurasia. The relationships we build during more than 1,000 theater security cooperation events in more than 40 countries each year lead directly to support for multinational contingency operations around the world, strengthen regional partnerships and enhance global security.