WEDRZYN TRAINING AREA, POLAND, Some 300 U.S. Army Europe Soldiers from Germany and Italy are in to Poland to train along side Illinois guardsmen and Polish troops during exercise Immediate Response 07.

Immediate Response 07 is a USAREUR exercise held in conjunction with a Polish-led exercise called Bagram II. Overall, USAREUR plays a major role in the U.S. European Command's Theater Security Cooperation program by preparing U.S. and coalition militaries for upcoming deployments via numerous multinational and bilateral exercises.

For IR07 and Bagram II, Soldiers from the Illinois Army National Guard's Task Force 1st Battalion, 178th Infantry and Airmen from the 169th Expeditionary Air Support Squadron of the Illinois Air National Guard trained shoulder to shoulder with Polish Land Forces for a deployment to Afghanistan later this year.

"We are here to build on our experiences working together downrange and during previous exercises," said the deputy exercise director, Lt. Col. Sean Mulcahey of USAREUR's operations division.

Mulcahey explained the central purpose of IR07 is to improve interoperability between the countries' forces, which will be crucial when they reach downrange - especially because Polish and U.S. forces will be working side by side and, in some instances, combined.

"Currently, in Afghanistan, we have a Polish battalion with a U.S. company and a U.S. battalion with a Polish company," he said. "We are trying to build on those lessons learned and to improve our ability to work together ... that is how we are fighting now and that is how we will continue to fight."

Mulcahey stressed that teamwork is vital for success in the Global War on Terrorism.

"We don't conduct any operations these days unilaterally," he said. "We fight in coalitions, and it is extremely important that all partners understand how we operate and our tactics techniques and procedures as well as basic communication."

Mulcahey said the Illinois guardsmen and the Polish forces proved to tactically proficient during IR07.
"They are approaching this exercise from a continuous improvement stand point," Mulcahey said. "They are learning lessons and quickly implementing solutions to the lessons that they learned."

Brig Gen. Jerzy Biziewski, the Polish 1st Armored commander called such interaction between coalition partners as "extremely important."

"I see this ... as a continuation of the ties between the U.S. and Poland," he said. "We have had a very good relationship for a long time and our Soldiers trust U.S. Soldiers."

"It is this human factor of trust," Biziewski added, "that makes this interaction between the forces so vital."