STUTTGART, Germany — Soldiers will soon be on their way to Poland to provide training for the U.S. Army Patriot Missile, according to U.S. Army Europe.

A specific unit has not been designated for the mission but about 100 soldiers are expected to deploy during the early part of 2010, said Maj. Peggy Kageleiry, a USAREUR spokeswoman.

As part of an agreement between the two countries, soldiers will rotate to Poland on a regular basis but the length of those rotations is still being planned, according to Kageleiry.

“U.S. Army Europe will help the Polish Armed Forces develop their air and missile defense capabilities,” she said.

“Considering the cooperative training we already do with the Polish Armed Forces, this Patriot training program is just another extension of that effort.”

Though USAREUR didn’t name the unit, the likely candidate to conduct the mission is the Army’s only remaining Europe-based Patriot unit, the 5th Battalion, 7th Air Defense Artillery based at Kaiserslautern.

The small number of troops has been described by critics as merely a diplomatic gesture to Poland following President Barack Obama’s decision to move away from a larger missile defense plan that was being pursued by the Bush administration.

A new deal between Poland and the U.S. was sealed on Dec. 11 when officials signed off on a status of forces agreement between the two countries that defines the legal status of U.S. military personnel working in Poland.

“The agreement will facilitate a range of mutually agreed activities including joint training and exercises, deployments of U.S. military personnel, and prospective Ballistic Missile Defense deployments,” the U.S. State Department said in a news release.

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John covers U.S. military activities across Europe and Africa. Based in Stuttgart, Germany, he previously worked for newspapers in New Jersey, North Carolina and Maryland. He is a graduate of the University of Delaware.

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