Waiting for Bagram
From August 12th, 2012 on the territory of the 12 Mechanized Brigade barracks in Szczecin, sixteen National Guard soldiers (NG) from Illinois are preparing to participate in the "Bagram XII" exercise.
U.S. commander is Colonel Michael Zerbonia. This is his third mission, and the second in co-operation with the Polish Army. Colonel participated in two annual missions in Iraq, when he did not serve in the National Guard. In civilian life he is a professional police officer.
"During practicing operations, soldiers of the BEST A-10 will be assigned to the following cells: operational, logistics, battle group, staff and communication" - says Colonel Zerbonia. "At the same time we remain in a subordinate command of PMC in Afghanistan, it means that my direct supervisor for the duration of the mission will be Brigadier General Andrzej Tuz" - says the Colonel. "Our job is a bilateral co-operation and support for PMC in Afghanistan. It is worth noting that the Illinois National Guard soldiers perform exercises with Polish soldiers under the State Partnership Program since 1993. We operated together in Iraq and now in Afghanistan".
Under the mutual exchange of experience at one of the shooting range of the 12th Mechanised Brigade, the Americans practiced shooting with kbs Beryl, rifle that is a standard equipment of the soldier of the Polish Military Contingent in Afghanistan. The training was conducted by the captain Peter Puchała and lieutenant Iwo Listewnik of the 1st motorized infantry battalion "Blue Brigade". The Americans quickly got acquainted with an assault rifle, and shooting with the use of this type of weapon was an interesting experience for them.
The first meeting of Polish soldiers with soldiers of the National Guards (Bilateral Embedded Support Team - Best A -10) was held in the 1st Infantry Division in Illinois at the turn of January and February 2012, where the delegation of soldiers from "Blue Brigade" under the command of Colonel Thomas Piotrowski took part in joint exercises.
U.S. troops will be in Poland until August 31st, and then they will spend three weeks on exercises in Camp Atterbury in the USA. But until they will return home, along with soldiers from the 12th Mechanized Brigade they will participate in the final exercise "Bagram XII", which will start on August 24th of this year.
The 12 -th Mechanized Brigade has been stationed in Szczecin since its formation. Szczecin is a historic capital of Western Pomeranian Duchy is one of Poland's oldest cities. It is origins date back to the 8 -th and 9 -th centuries. In the 10th century, Szczecin was the most important defense bastion in North-Western part of the state, ruled by Prince Mieszko I -st. The middle ages saw a rapid development of the city's craft, combined with economic growth related to the proximity of Baltic sea and East- West trade route. Many churches and secular buildings, the landmarks of today's Szczecin, were erected in that period, including the Pomeranian Dukes Castle, rated as one of the most beautiful urban complexes. Other landmarks include the Chrobry Ramparts and the White Eagle fountain.
In the 17th century, the city was seized by the Swedes and later by the Prussians. In the mid 18th century, the city was fortified. During the Napoleonic wars period, the city was besieged by Russian and Prussian armies. In the 19th century, Szczecin experienced a rapid economic growth. Almost completely destroyed during the second world war. It was rebuilt thanks to the hard work and dedication of the residents. Today it has about 400,000 citizens and is a dynamically developing center of industry and culture.
The 12th Mechanized Brigade was the first Polish military unit to serve the 1 st rotation of the Stabilization Mission in Polish Military Contingent in Iraq. In 2003 officers and non commissioned officers and contract solders went to Iraq to carry out stabilization mission tasks. We were responsible for the security and development of assigned area of responsibility covering five provinces in central Iraq. Ap to now 12th Mechanized Brigade was as well on 6th and 10th rotation in Iraq. We have on our account as well mission in Afghanistan on 3teen, 4th rotation. In 2012 solders are preparing for 12 rotation -Task Force White Eagle in province Ghazni, Afghanistan.