KIELCE, Poland – U.S. Army National Guard Soldiers from NATO's Battle Group Poland helped train Polish Land Forces Civil-Military Cooperation soldiers to identify and neutralize active threats at the Military Training Centre for Foreign Operations Oct. 20-22.
Any other week during their nine-month deployment, you will find Washington National Guard's "Dark Rifles" with 3rd Battalion, 161st Infantry Regiment, maneuvering through the forests of northeast Poland, training to provide collective defense as an infantry brigade combat team alongside NATO allies near Orzysz. This week, 15 Soldiers traveled to the rolling hills of southern Poland, drawing upon their experience as law enforcement officers back home, to train Polish CIMIC and National Guard soldiers supporting Atlantic Resolve, stationed in Powidz, Poland.
Back in Clark County, Washington, 1st Sgt. Eric Cramer, with 3-161 Infantry Battalion, patrols the suburbs of Portland with his K-9 Apollo, serving the Clark County Sheriff's Office.
"We have Soldiers that are subject matter experts in their field back home. These Polish soldiers are getting experts teaching this training because [we] are Citizen-Soldiers."
These Soldiers are current or former law enforcement officers throughout the United States, dedicated to serving U.S. citizens. And now, that service is transatlantic, serving the NATO alliance.
When not serving with allies, Spc. Nick Pannoni patrols the hallways as a school resource officer for Mark Morris High School in Longview, Washington.
"You take an oath to serve your country," he said. "That extends past whatever mission set comes your way."
"What makes the National Guard effective is that we have people from all walks of life that have a commitment to serve, and they are going to bring their civilian side into the mission set."
U.S. Army Soldiers are taught to shoot, move and communicate. During the active threat response training, Polish soldiers learned how to shoot the M4 assault rifle and M17 pistol; move as a battle buddy team to clear buildings and rooms; and communicate with each other under stress.
"It's a new experience for me," said Polish Land Forces Pfc. Damian Kraska. "New knowledge is always good. You never know when you will need the knowledge gained from the [active threat] training."
Battle Group Poland's citizen-soldiers forge new multinational relationships regularly, with help from key enablers throughout the European theater. One of those key enablers is the U.S. Army Reserve's 415th Civil Affairs Battalion, currently deployed to support partnership building in Poland.
"When we deploy, it's what we do," said Capt. Pavel Anisimov, Poland's Civil Affairs 1524 team chief. "We share best practices and train together."
Multinational training in a new environment, with two units that have never trained together, takes careful planning and joint cooperation.
"We cannot provide training alone," said Polish Land Forces Maj. Krzysztof Orzech, chief of CIMIC training. "We have to prepare together, in joint training. This is a great experience and opportunity to work with our alliance."
Shared experiences make the NATO alliance stronger. These law enforcement officers from the Evergreen State have forged new transatlantic bonds with their Polish counterparts, growing the U.S.-Polish partnership.
"We're committed to working together, strengthening the threads of bonds," said Cramer. "Broadening the breadth, depth and scope of who we train with makes us stronger together."