Sergeant’s reassignment to permanent US base in Poland marks milestone
Stars and Stripes March 9, 2023
The U.S. Army’s first permanent base in Poland just got its first permanently assigned active-duty soldier, a milestone highlighting a broader shift that has made the country a hub of activity for the U.S. military in Europe.
V Corps’ forward headquarters at Camp Kosciuszko in Poznan recently welcomed its first soldier on permanent change of station orders, Sgt. Walter Malecki.
He “is the first of many who will experience the culture of Poland and become familiar with the corps’ missions,” Command Sgt. Maj. Christopher Prosser said in a statement Wednesday.
Sgt. 1st Class Kyle Stewart also was recently the first Army reservist to PCS to the base.
Since Russia’s initial invasion of Ukraine in 2014, tens of thousands of soldiers have rotated in and out of Poland on missions aimed at deterring Russian aggression in the region. Those soldiers were based elsewhere and generally spent nine months deployed to Poland.
Last summer, President Joe Biden announced that the mission would be made permanent, giving the Army its first garrison in the central European country. For now, the tours are for one year and unaccompanied by family.
“The permanent presence of V Corps Soldiers in Poland plays a vital role by boosting and assuring operational readiness,” the command said in the Wednesday statement.
Poland has been vocal about its desire for permanent U.S. basing in the country.
V Corps, which oversees Army maneuvers up and down NATO’s eastern flank, was reestablished in 2021 to help U.S. Army Europe and Africa manage a growing mission on the Continent.
Although V Corps headquarters is at Fort Knox, Ky., a forward location was set up in 2021 with rotational forces in Poznan, a west-central city of about 530,000 people.
Army tank units have been the centerpiece of U.S. reinforcement of the NATO alliance’s eastern flank. The number of rotational troops in Poland has continued to increase since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
Polish President Andrzej Duda aimed high during the administration of Biden’s predecessor, President Donald Trump. Duda sought an entire armored division of U.S. soldiers that could be housed in a base dubbed Fort Trump.
Those plans never came to fruition. In the years since, the Pentagon has given no indication that it is interested in building in Poland the kind of large garrisons that exist in places such as Germany and Japan.
Still, other logistics hubs and training sites in Poland have expanded and become more important to the U.S. forces moving in and out of the country.
And overseeing many of those missions are V Corps soldiers at Camp Kosciuszko.
Malecki, a security cooperation specialist, said in the command statement that adapting to life in Poznan, which has a large college population, has gone smoothly so far. One of his first tasks was finding an off-base apartment to call home for a year.
“The apartments that I have seen offered around the area are clean and modern,” Malecki said. “Public transportation is also nearby, so it is easy to travel around.”
The dollar goes a long way in Poland, where dining out is cheap, he said.