Polish defense leaders visit troops at Joint Multinational Training Center

HOHENFELS, Germany – Polish Soldiers of the 18th Airborne Assault Battalion take a building during a cordon-and-search exercise at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center Dec. 14, 2006. Senior Polish military leaders visited about 500 of their Soldiers who are training at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center in preparation for the country’s first-ever deployment to Afghanistan. The mostly urban-operations training, which will continue until the end of December, is preparing the Poles for a NATO-led International Security Assistance Force mission in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. (Department of Defense photo by Gary Kieffer, U.S. Army, Europe Public Affairs)

HOHENFELS, Germany — Senior Polish military leaders visited about 500 of their Soldiers who are training at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center in preparation for the country's first-ever deployment to Afghanistan.

"In support of democracy, we offer ourselves to be part of this mission," said Polish Minister of Defense Radek Sikorski, during a Dec. 13-14, 2006, tour.

The mostly urban-operations training, which will continue until the end of December, is preparing the Poles for a NATO-led International Security Assistance Force mission in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

The force will consist of about 32,000 troops from 37 different countries and is set to deploy in March - a mission Polish troops are well-prepared to take on, according to U.S. Army Europe's commander.

"The assessment from trainers on the ground has been that the Polish troops are very aggressive and well-trained," said Army Gen. David McKiernan, USAREUR commander, during a Dec. 14 press conference at JMRC, an Army training center commonly used by coalition forces.

Ensuring the Poles' preparedness are JMRC observer controllers, who oversee the training alongside their Polish counterparts.

"Over 90 percent of the American trainers are combat veterans, and there are also Polish trainers - over 100 sergeants - all of whom attended our Warrior Leaders Course in Grafenwoehr," McKiernan said, adding that instructors are applying lessons they learned under fire.

A partner in the Global War on Terrorism, the Polish military has also learned from prior missions to Iraq and intends to apply them to this OEF deployment.

"We will intervene all over Afghanistan, despite where we are based there," he said. "It's a lesson we learned from Multinational Corps - Iraq. There won't be caveats."

Sikorski and other senior Polish military leaders observed some of the ambush and cordon-and-search training their Soldiers have undertaken.

Additionally, the eastern European troops are conducting live-fire exercises and counter-Improvised Explosive Device training. Based on the Poles' reactions, the combat scenarios at JMRC have been spot on.

"It made my heart beat faster," Master Chief Cpl. Eric Podema said. "It's the most realistic training I've undergone."

This training marks the first time one non-U.S. military has trained at JMRC without other partners joining in.

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