By Sgt. 1st Class Craig NortonDecember 11, 2018
ELBLAG, Poland - As the ANAKONDA uncoils itself the end of a multinational training exercise has ended, as well as the successful validation of the Headquarters Multinational Division-North East per the 2016 Warsaw NATO Summit.
Leaders from U.S. military NATO, U.S. Army Europe, Atlantic Resolve Mission Command Element, Illinois National Guard, Polish government officials and NATO allies attended the ANAKONDA-18 closing ceremony at the HQ MND-NE installation in Elblag, Poland, Dec. 6, 2018.
AN-18 is the largest, periodic joint training exercise led by Polish forces. This year's exercise had approximately 23 NATO allies participate.
"Today we are stronger! Stronger as an alliance! In addition to concluding a successful AN-18, we also increased our shared strength by certifying a multinational division headquarters capability of synchronizing and applying the elements of combat power," said U.S. Army Lt. Gen. John Thomson, the commander of the NATO Allied Land Command. "It's a headquarters that brings cohesion and coherence to our forward presence."
"This exercise (AN-18) has been very interesting indeed, but also very demanding at the same time. Because it involved both parts, the traditional part (basic combat element opportunities) and on the other hand the training and repelling off of hybrid actions," said Andrzej Duda, the president of Poland. "Also, the AN-18 training exercise stresses one more point, it shows within NATO we are capable! Capable of defending, which is so important in this dynamically evolving world."
The exercise wasn't limited to Poland; ANAKONDA-18 extended its reach into the Baltic states.
"This is the first time this exercise has taken place, not only in Poland but also in the territories of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia," said Mariusz Blaszczak, the minister of National Defense for Poland. "However, that challenge has successfully been phased out."
No matter the training, bonds are created that last a lifetime.
There are wooden ships. There are sailing ships. There are battleships, but the best ships are our friendships, said Thomson.