Spokesman: F-16 Augmentation Continues U.S.-Poland Partnership

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Members of the Polish Armed forces render a salute during an Aviation Detachment (AV DET) activation ceremony on the flightline of Lask Air Base, Poland, Nov. 9, 2012. The AV DET will be an enduring presence with 10 Airmen, but F-16 and C-130 crews and aircraft will rotate periodically for training, where the total number of personnel could surge up to 250. The AV DET supports Poland's continued defense modernization and standardization with the U.S. and North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Lt. Gen. Lech Majewski, Polish air force commander, stands next to Maj. Gen. Stephen Schmidt, special assistant to commander U.S. Air Forces in Europe, during an interview, Lask Air Base, Lask, Poland, Nov. 08, 2012.

Six aircraft from Aviano Air Base, Italy are participating in the third aircraft rotation to the Aviation Detachment in Poland. The United States and Poland are strengthening their combined air power by exercising together during a two-week aviation detachment rotation.

WASHINGTON - A dozen more F-16s and 300 personnel based at Aviano Air Base, Italy, will augment the U.S. aviation detachment at Łask Air Base, Poland, a Pentagon spokesman announced today.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced last week that the United States would augment the aviation detachment in light of the situation in Ukraine, and Army Col. Steven Warren provided details today in a meeting with reporters.

Warren said 12 F-16 Fighting Falcons and associated personnel from the 555th Fighter Squadron at Aviano are expected to arrive in Poland by the end of the week. "This enhancement marks another milestone in the rotational deployment of U.S. military aircraft that we began in late 2012," he added.

Hagel met with Polish Defense Minister Tomasz Siemoniak on March 9 to consider options for locations, with U.S. European Command deciding on the number of aircraft, Warren told reporters earlier this week. Previously planned rotations will continue, he said today, with this augmentation serving as an addition to those already scheduled.

"It's consistent with the enduring partnership between the U.S. and Poland," Warren said. "Augmenting this aviation detachment was a deliberate choice to demonstrate to our allies that U.S. commitments to our collective defense responsibilities are credible and remain in force. The work we're doing with Poland does just that."

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Capt. Barbara Bujak, physical therapist at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, speaks in her native tongue, Polish, with members of Multinational Battle Group East's Polish Contingent and European Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo. Bujak, who was born in Poland, moved to the U.S. at age 11 and joined the U.S. Army five years ago. Bujak's temporary assignment at Camp Bondsteel allowed her to experience a familiar ceremony in a new location.

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