I’ve been in Poland for almost a week now, embedding with 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division as the unit participates in Anakonda 16, a Polish-led multinational exercise.
From what I’ve seen so far, Poland is a beautiful country. It reminds me of the forests in Maine, which are green and lush with vegetation and wildlife. I’ve seen a few deer here, and I swear I saw a rabbit the size of a large cat in a farmer’s field.
There are also some beautiful lakes that surround this area and winding roads where locals barrel past the American-armored Humvees.
There are some creature comforts here for the soldiers, such as shower facilities, a local Polish store and an Army and Air Force Exchange Service trailer that sells snacks,toiletriesand those all-important tobacco products. I even saw some soldiers order pizza.
But most of the soldiers are living in single tents in the woods, whether it is raining, freezing or both, which it has been for several days since I have been here. I think some snacks and a nice hot shower at the end of the day helps ease the field conditions in which the soldiers are living.
I also see the close working relationships the American soldiers have developed with their counterparts from other nations, especially the exercise’s host, Poland. There is not a day that goes by where I do not see an American soldier working with a soldier from a participating country.
Reporting here has been a great opportunity to see up close the United States’ alliances in Europe and the Army’s focus on military training in any environment.
The 1st ABCT has been a gracious host, and the soldiers in the field are excited about what they are doing at Anakonda 16. When 3rd Combined Arms Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment had a Combined Arms Live Fire Exercise on Monday, soldiers shot a Javelin Anti-Tank missile.
It is rare to see one shot, so many of the nearby soldiers had their cellphones out to record it in action, and the missile was impressive once it launched and hit its target.
The soldiers seem excited to be out in the field, firing weapons on which they have been training — essentially, doing their job.
The 1st ABCT will be in Europe as U.S. Army Europe’s regionally allocated force for a few more months, and during that time, the soldiers will continue with training.
I’ll be heading to Gabon next to meet up with 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team as that unit participates in Central Accord 2016 with European and African partners for peacekeeping and security training.