By Sgt. Justin GeigerAugust 9, 2017
POWIDZ, Poland - Gen. Mark Milley, U.S. Army Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, commanding general of U.S. Army Europe and other military delegates visited a Military Air Base in Powidz, Poland, as part of their trip throughout Eastern Europe, Aug. 7, 2017.
Following a tour of the Polish Air Base, the U.S. Army generals met with the 497th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion's senior leadership to discuss the strategic importance of having a centralized U.S. Army sustainment presence in Eastern Europe. Another key topic discussed during the brief was continuous efforts, going forward, to establish the Polish Air Base as a U.S. logistics headquarters in support of current and future combined training exercises.
"497th CSSB is the main sustainment support unit in Eastern European," said Capt. Keith Parchen, training and operations officer for 497th CSSB. "As of now we have about 800 Soldiers on ground, and the plan in five to ten years is to have 5,000-10,000 Soldiers here, so this is a growing area and it is going to get a lot bigger."
"Gen. Milley and Lt. Gen. Hodges are touring Powidz because it has a lot of strategic value here, they're getting a better idea of what operations take place here, how this location might be utilized in the future, the direction the installation is headed and how they can best utilize it to shape U.S. foreign policy goals and objectives," Parchen added.
The logistics hub comprised of active duty, U.S. Army Reserves and U.S. Army National Guard Soldiers conduct logistical support operations for units in the Baltic States, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia and Poland while those units are deployed throughout Europe in support Operation Atlantic Resolve.
This U.S.-led effort in Eastern Europe promotes regional stability and security, while strengthening defensive and deterrent capabilities and fostering trust. The combined training opportunities that Operation Atlantic Resolve provides greatly improves interoperability amongst participating NATO Allies and key regional partners.
Once Gen. Milley, Lt. Gen. Hodges, and the other military delegates finished their brief, Gen. Milley took the time to recognize four Soldiers for the duties they've executed within and outside the scope of their primary Military Occupational Specialty (MOS). In each situation all four Soldiers were recommended by their chain of command for excelling in the positions they've been assigned to while deployed in Europe.
Spc. Abrey Budyna, an ammunition specialist with the 962nd Ordnance Company and Spc. Patrick Hilton, a motor transport operator with the 32nd Composite Truck Company, are two of the Soldiers that work outside of their primary MOS and were caught off guard before the coin presentation because they had little to no idea what they were being recognized for.
"I got notified today, so I had no idea until I saw him (Gen. Milley) walking toward our formation," said Hilton with a big smile on his face.
Getting recognized and coined by the U.S. Army Chief of Staff is an opportunity that many Soldiers don't typically get to experience, that memorable moment for those Soldiers who have collected the illustrious coin is very rewarding.
"It felt really good receiving a coin from Gen. Milley," said Budyna. "I've never gotten a coin or an award, so it's really nice to be presented with something like this, especially from someone of his stature,"
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 partnership and enhance global security.