In recent months, due to the U.S. "rebalance" to Asia, I have heard and read concerns decreasing U.S. engagement in Europe is causing a shift in U.S. interest in European countries as strategic partners.
Nothing could be further from the truth! In fact, emblematic of U.S. commitment and interest not only to the NATO Alliance, but our allies, partners and friends is our on-going air training detachment with Poland.
As the 31st Fighter Wing commander at Aviano Air Base in 2004, my unit trained a Polish Air Force unit on their newly acquired F-16s. Fast forward nine years and the 31st Fighter Wing is back in Poland (Detachment 1, 52nd Operations Group) at Łask Air Base training with our Polish allies.
Our history with Poland began over 200 years ago when Count Casimir Pulaski arrived in Philadelphia to meet General George Washington, Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army. Count Pulaski, one of the many distinguished natives of Poland who served during our Revolutionary War, came to volunteer his services with the young American Army as a leader and cavalryman. In the subsequent years, due to his tactical expertise, Count Pulaski became known as the "Father of the American Cavalry," fighting in several battles until his death while leading a daring cavalry charge during the Battle of Savannah. Today, a monument in his memory stands in Savannah's Monterey Square hailing his heroism.
Since then, we've fought side-by-side with our Polish partners in World War II, the Balkans, Iraq and Afghanistan. Presently, we are modernizing our 236-year-old relationship with the standup of the Aviation Detachment in Poland, which took place in November last year, and is the first full-time U.S. presence in Poland.
Buoyed by the fact that we are now into our third quarterly rotation of the Aviation Detachment, with plans for the fourth rotation under way, our security relationship has never been closer. Increased cooperation, like the kind evident in the Aviation Detachment, will continue to strengthen our interoperability and partnership.
The Detachment in Poland though represents a wider, broader trend of continued commitment and engagement in Europe. For example -- United States Army Europe conducted Atlas Vision this month, a bi-lateral U.S.-Russian ground forces exercise; United States Naval Forces Europe just finished Sea Breeze, a 10 nation exercise which aims to improve maritime safety, security and stability engagements in the Black Sea; and in Israel the United States Air Forces in Europe is currently conducting Juniper Stallion 13 a bi-lateral exercise with the Israeli Defense Forces designed to promote cooperation between our two nations while enhancing peace, stability and security in the region; finally in November NATO will conduct exercise Steadfast Jazz 2013 to be held in the Baltic States and Poland. Whether on the ground; at sea; or in the air; EUCOM and NATO remain engaged across the continent to promote interoperability, capability and increased military capacity.
Our engagements with our European allies and partners is rooted in shared history, interests and values, cemented through NATO and the ironclad commitment to our mutual security. As a key component of NATO's collective security Poland is important, to the U.S. and to NATO, and is a key U.S. ally in Central Europe.
Increased cooperation serves both our national interests. The Aviation Detachment supports Poland's continued defense modernization and standardization with the US and NATO and enables cooperation in regional security efforts. Exercises with our European partners - whether bilateral or multinational increase the capability and interoperability of all of our military forces.
The United States and Poland, as well as all of Europe, share an enduring and cooperative relationship which I am confident will continue in the decades ahead as we secure our future together.
"From the Cockpit"
Supreme Allied Commander, Europe
Commander, U.S. European Command