Vilseck cavalry relieves US forward presence in Poland
By MARTIN EGNASH | STARS AND STRIPES Published: October 12, 2017
VILSECK, Germany — U.S. cavalry is rolling into eastern Poland to relieve troops serving at a defensive outpost aimed at showing NATO’s resolve against possible Russian aggression.
Soldiers with the Army’s 2nd Cavalry Regiment are marching 680 miles to the small Polish town of Orzysz, about 100 miles from the Russian military enclave of Kaliningrad. They relieve fellow cavalrymen — the first to man the U.S.’s Enhanced Forward Presence mission — who have been in Poland for the past six months.
“The key purpose of the (mission) is to reassure our allies that we are ready and willing to deter any threat, no matter how small, from any enemies,” said Capt. Yevgen V. Gutman, Kronos Troop commander, 3rd Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment. “At the same time, we must reiterate to our allies that this is a team effort and that we must accomplish these goals together. Our adversaries should appreciate that we can accomplish these goals as a coalition and not a singular nation.”
The Enforced Forward Presence mission began last spring, to increase Eastern Europe’s defensive capabilities in light of Russia’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula.
“We play a small but significant part in the tactical level of European security,” Gutman said.
The soldiers will be on a six-month deployment on NATO’s eastern edge, where they will conduct live-fire exercises from their Stryker armored fighting vehicles alongside soldiers from Poland, other NATO allies and partner countries.
The cavalry will try to maintain the momentum they are used to at their base in Germany, Gutman said.
“Compared to the home station, however, we have an opportunity to focus on the interoperability with our NATO allies as well as establish a long-term working relationship with partnered units from the U.K., Croatia, Romania and Poland,” he said.
Staff Sgt. James Lawson, a 2nd Cavalry squad leader, said he looked forward to the “historic tactical road march,” as well as working with Poland and other partners.
The soldiers will be relatively close to home in Germany, but Lawson said saying goodbye to family for half a year is always hard.
“It’s always challenging to leave for deployment. With this deployment especially, as we are only 12 hours away,” Lawson said. “(But) my family is extremely proud of what I am doing for the Army and for NATO.”