BEMOWO PISKIE TRAINING AREA, Poland - NATO’s enhanced Forward Presence Battle Group Poland said farewell to Lt. Col. Andrew Gallo and welcomed Lt. Col. Jeffery Higgins as the Battle Group’s new commander during a transfer of authority ceremony in BPTA, Poland, July 17, 2020.
After completing a six-month rotation in Battle Group Poland, Gallo and the 3rd Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment “Wolfpack” was replaced by Higgins and the 2nd Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment “Cougars”.
The U.S. is providing Soldiers from the 2nd Cavalry Regiment in Poland because it is one of four framework nations for NATO’s enhanced Forward Presence. Their mission is to train with other nations to demonstrate the alliance’s determination and ability to act as one in response to any aggression against its members.
Col. Bogdan Rycerski, the Polish 15th Mechanized Brigade commander, and Gen. Jaroslaw Mika, the general commander of Polish armed forces branches, welcomed attendees to the parade field, which had military vehicles as a backdrop as well as NATO and national flags of battle group contingents raised overhead.
Gallo, who took charge of the battle group in January, relinquished his command to Higgins with the ceremonial passing of the guidon in front of Polish, Croatian, Romanian, U.K., and U.S. Army formations.
Gallo said his time as the battle group commander has been the most meaningful professional experience of his career.
“Serving as part of the 15th Mechanized Brigade under the leadership of Multinational Division North East has been the honor of a lifetime. I feel blessed to have served here in the beautiful country of Poland,” Gallo said about his time in charge.
Gallo said, despite a global pandemic, Soldiers in the battle group enhanced interoperability, built combat readiness, and forged bonds with each other through tough, realistic training.
He said he does not doubt that if called to the task, the Soldiers in the Battle Group would ensure the collective defense of Poland.
In regards to Higgins and the “Cougar” squadron, Gallo said they will take Battle Group Poland to the next level. He said Higgins is exactly the right Officer to lead the multinational team.
Higgins thanked leadership in attendance for trusting him and the incoming battle group command sergeants major, Sgt. Maj. Keneti Pauulu, to lead Battle Group Poland in its vitally important mission.
“The Soldiers, non-commissioned officers, and officers of Task Force Cougar are honored to join the Battle Group,” said Higgins.
“We are both excited and humbled to join the 15th Mechanized Infantry Brigade team. We look forward to earning your trust and respect, and ultimately continuing to build upon the legacy of the Battle Group.”
The ceremony concluded with a pass in review, a tradition where commanders inspect their troops. Soldiers from all contingents of Battle Group Poland marched under a large NATO banner.
The battle group consists of about 1,000 U.S. Army Soldiers from 2nd Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment, and 350 personnel from Croatia, Romania, and the U.K. that contribute to and strengthen the NATO alliance’s deterrence and defense posture in northeast Poland.