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Od 25 maja 2018 r. obowiązuje w Polsce Rozporządzenie Parlamentu Europejskiego i Rady (UE) 2016/679 z dnia 27 kwietnia 2016 r. w sprawie ochrony osób fizycznych w związku z przetwarzaniem danych osobowych i w sprawie swobodnego przepływu takich danych oraz uchylenia dyrektywy 95/46/WE (ogólne rozporządzenie o ochronie danych, zwane także RODO).

W związku z powyższym przygotowaliśmy dla Państwa informacje dotyczące przetwarzania przez Wojskowy Instytut Wydawniczy Państwa danych osobowych. Prosimy o zapoznanie się z nimi: Polityka przetwarzania danych.

Prosimy o zaakceptowanie warunków przetwarzania danych osobowych przez Wojskowych Instytut Wydawniczy – Akceptuję

International Elbląg

Multinational Division North East Headquarters is the youngest NATO structure in Poland. The list of tasks for soldiers who serve there is rather long.

The enemy attacked from the east, but its march was quickly stopped by detachments from Poland, Lithuania and the Czech Republic, cooperating with the US army subunits. The attack was broken, and the defenders started their counteroffensive. The operation was a part of Exercise Anakonda 2018. Although it was not conducted at a training area, but virtually, it was of key significance for the Multinational Division North East Headquarters (HQ MND-NE), which consequently completed its certification process and reached combat readiness. It means that officers from Elbląg have the capability to exercise joint control over a defensive operation according to Article 5 of the Washington Treaty, and to coordinate the functioning and training of NATO battle groups stationed on the so-called eastern flank. What’s more, they can subordinate units from any NATO country, and control their activities in places indicated by NATO. It was a breakthrough point in the short history of the HQ MND-NE.

Rough Start

In 2014, the history of Europe entered a new phase. Russia sent to the world a clear signal that it was no longer going to tolerate the post-Cold War order. At the turn of February and March, Russian forces occupied the Crimea. A month later, the war in Donbas broke out. Soon, there were also numerous incidents occurring along NATO’s eastern borders. As a response, the North-Atlantic Alliance decided to reinforce their protection. One of the initiatives was the creation of battle groups in Poland and the Baltic States. Polish authorities declared that they would establish division-level headquarters to manage the activities of the battle groups. The chosen location, Elbląg, was not accidental. The city is located in the east of Poland, close to ports in Gdynia and Gdańsk, but also not too far from Warsaw. Moreover, Elbląg already had some military infrastructure, as the 16th Mechanized Division was stationing there. Nevertheless, the beginnings of the Multinational Headquarters were not easy.

In the spring of 2017, first soldiers and equipment started arriving at the temporary seat located in the barracks on Łęczycka street. Temporary, because the new headquarters required a specially arranged space that would allow officers to work in compliance with NATO security standards.

Soon, work began on expanding and adapting the former staff rooms of the 16th Division. The investment cost 120 million zlotys. However, the most important thing was to create one solid body out of individual units staffed with soldiers of several nationalities, and to prepare the headquarters to the certification process. For the next several months, the staff officers prepared documentation, operational procedures, and in January 2018 they reported at their first training.

Soldiers from Elbląg went to Hohenfels in Germany, to a training facility of the US 7th Army Training Command, where they participated in Exercise Allied Spirit VIII. They formed a part of High Command (HICON), which commanded a part of the 4,000 soldiers exercising on the training areas. The HQ MND-NE staff officers were supported by officers of the US Army’s 4th Infantry Division and the Polish 12th Mechanized Brigade. Another test for them was Exercise Saber Strike 2018, involving 18,000 soldiers of 20 countries, which was held in June 2018 on training areas in Poland and the Baltic States. All that was, however, only the prelude to the ultimate exam.

Anakonda on the Horizon

“The certification process actually started in the summer of 2018, and our level of readiness was evaluated by a commission of several dozen people organized by the Allied Land Command (LANDCOM),” recalls LtCol Dariusz Guzenda, a spokesperson for the HQ MND-NE. First, the staff members from Elbląg had to plan combat activities for the upcoming November Exercise Anakonda 2018. In October, the commission checked the level of preparation and equipment of certified units, and a month later carefully watched the officers handle a defensive operation. During a virtual battle, they could use the support of soldiers of the Lithuanian Iron Wolf Brigade, the Czech 7th Mechanized Brigade, the 15the Mechanized Brigade, the 21st Podhale Rifles Brigade, as well as support detachments. “The certification procedure covered five areas, with 1,400 various indicators evaluated,” informs LtCol Guzenda. The commission members paid attention to details directly connected with the use of detachments on the battlefield, as well as issues concerning communication or support. Each point from the long list was evaluated on a scale from one to four. In order to pass the test, it was necessary to get over 65% of points in each area. Getting the highest note required passing 90% of the listed items – a very difficult task, but we managed to achieve that goal.

Three Personalities

The Multinational Division North East Headquarters have already moved into their new seat. There are over 250 soldiers from over a dozen NATO states serving at the unit. Some of them had already worked in NATO structures, but for others the service in Elbląg is an entirely new experience. “When I started my studies at the Higher Officer School of Armored Forces 20 years ago, I was thinking that in four years I would become an officer and specialize in planning military operations. And through all those years I consistently worked towards that goal,” recalls Maj Robert Rozmierski, Team Head at the Headquarters’ Planning Department. He has served in Elbląg for the last decade, as, i.a., Head of the Operations Section of the 16th Mechanized Division. He has been involved with the HQ MND-NE from the moment it was created. Initially, he was on the team that underwent the certification process, now he is responsible for long-term planning. “I coordinate the activities of work groups appointed to execute particular tasks. I am also involved in briefings, trainings, consultations with specialists in various areas of military life,” enumerates Maj Rozmierski. “Of course, I don’t do all of that alone. I have a great team of people.”

The career path of Capt Vedran Barić was different. He came to Elbląg over a year ago. He explains that he gained his knowledge and experience mainly in the Croatian army, but before coming to Poland, he attended an additional training that prepared him for work in NATO structures. “I served at the Joint Logistics Support Group Headquarters for several months. I was there during Exercise Trident Juncture 2018, one of the largest NATO exercises,” he recalls. The maneuvers tested the readiness of allied forces to execute defensive operations and organize an effective counterattack in arctic conditions. Over 50,000 soldiers, dozens of ships and hundreds of aircraft executed tasks in Norway, on the Atlantic Ocean, on the North Sea, and in the air space over Sweden and Finland for a whole month. “For us, logisticians, it was a real challenge,” emphasizes Capt Barić. The experience gained during the exercise has proven to be very useful in his work in Elbląg. The Croatian officer works, i.a., on plans related to transporting forces. The Headquarters’ staff regularly go to training areas and often move around during the maneuvers. They can coordinate the activities of subordinate troops from modern vehicles operated by soldiers of the Command Support Regiment.

During such undertakings, communication is of key importance. One of the people responsible for it is LtCol Stephen Ang from the USA, Deputy Chief of Staff of the G6 branch. “I advise the Chief in all aspects connected with the telecommunication service at the division and related units,” explains the officer. He was earlier employed, i.a., in the communications sector of NATO Headquarters in Brunssum. He spent three years there.

Three officers – three different nationalities, different specializations and experience. Together, they co-create a mechanism that with each passing month better fits into the complex NATO structure.

Iron Wolf for Dessert

The year 2020 was marked around the world by the fight with the COVID-19 pandemic, which spoilt many undertakings planned earlier. There were, however, several important events that took place at the unit in Elbląg in that year. At the end of January, the Headquarters officially admitted the 15th Mechanized Brigade from Giżycko and the Lithuanian Iron Wolf Brigade, which had both cooperated with the division earlier. The Headquarters’ officers also took part in many exercises, such as Exercise Defender 2020. It was to be the biggest redeployment of the US forces to Europe since the end of the Cold War. According to the scenario, the US troops were to redeploy to the eastern flank of NATO and conduct a series of maneuvers with allied forces. “Our soldiers participated in the planning part of the exercise. They had four subordinate brigades: two Polish, one German and one Spanish,” informs LtCol Guzenda. Ultimately, due to the pandemic, Exercise Defender was organized in a limited form.

In the following months, there was Exercise Decisive Vision 2020 at a training area in Liepāja, where specialists from the Headquarters supported the troops of the 7th Mechanized Brigade in conducting a defensive operation, as well as Exercise Iron Wolf 2020, which involved redeployment of forces to Lithuania and repelling a simulated enemy attack. The exercise involved the NATO Response Force, including the 21st Podhale Rifles Brigade (more on this subject in Polska Zbrojna 12/2020).

Meanwhile, the soldiers of the Headquarters in Elbląg never cease working. “We are in the middle of executing several tasks, among them preparing to Exercise Griffin Lightning 2021,” admits Capt Barić. The Division Commander, MajGen Krzysztof Motacki, concludes: “We are soldiers, and despite the existing limitations, we haven’t been released from executing our tasks.”

_____________
Multinational Division North East

During the Warsaw NATO Summit in 2016, a decision was made to create four battalion-size battle groups. It was a response to a growing feeling of threat from Russia. Following these decisions, Poland proposed to create a command structure that could coordinate the battle groups’ activities. Elbląg was chosen for the new unit’s seat. In 2017, the Multinational Division North East Headquarters inaugurated their activity and promptly began preparing to the certification that finally took place in December 2018. The Headquarters in Elbląg, subordinate to the Multinational Corps Northeast in Szczecin, coordinate the activities of NATO battle groups in Poland and Lithuania.

Equipment

During training area exercises, officers from Elbląg often use command vehicles built on the KTO Rosomak chassis. They have been equipped with an ICT system that allows for processing and exchanging data, including “NATO Secret” classified information. The vehicles are secured against tapping, have a contamination detection system and a mobile camouflage system installed. Advanced solutions help to reduce thermal radiation and protect the vehicles against night-vision devices.

The crew is made up of seven soldiers. Inside each Rosomak, there are five work stations. They can be used while the vehicle is standing, but also on the move. In October 2018, seven such vehicles were delivered to the Command Support Regiment, which is a unit directly subordinate to the Multinational Division North East Headquarters.

Three Questions to Krzysztof Motacki

What differentiates your unit from other detachments of the Polish Armed Forces?

In 2017, tactical level multinational headquarters were a novelty in the whole North Atlantic Alliance. Similar structures did not function in NATO, apart from the Multinational Division Southeast in Romania, which, however, operates a little differently than we do. That’s why we often had to prepare our own original solutions regarding procedures or implementation of communication and command systems. Currently, after reaching full operational readiness, we can supervise units from any NATO member state and thus execute tasks in any place indicated by NATO.

What kind of soldiers do you need at the Headquarters?

People open to new ideas who are not afraid to work in a multinational environment. At the Headquarters we communicate in English, so one of the important criteria is the ability to speak this language. For officers it is level three, for non-commissioned officers level two, according to STANAG 6001. I also want to emphasize that service in multinational division headquarters, particularly service of younger officers, is for us, as a framework state, priceless. Further development of these people will certainly be very beneficial to the Polish Armed Forces.

What should you do to become an employee at the Headquarters?

We have positions for non-commissioned officers and senior non-commissioned officers, as well as officers from the rank of lieutenant up. The soldiers must also have security clearance – Polish and NATO one. Those who want to serve at the Multinational Division North East Headquarters should submit formal applications to their senior rank superiors.

MajGen Krzysztof Motacki is the Commander of the Multinational Division North East in Elbląg.

Łukasz Zalesiński

autor zdjęć: por. Robert Suchy / CO MON

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