U.S., Poland Sign Spe­cial Ops Memo of Under­stand­ing

By Jim Gara­mone
Amer­i­can Forces Press Ser­vice

KRAKOW, Poland, Feb. 19, 2009 — Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates and Pol­ish Defense Min­is­ter Bog­dan Klich signed a mem­o­ran­dum of under­stand­ing today that will increase coop­er­a­tion between the two coun­tries’ spe­cial oper­a­tions forces.

The two men signed the doc­u­ment dur­ing a cer­e­mo­ny before the start of the NATO defense min­is­ters meet­ing here.

Gates said the mem­o­ran­dum is part of the U.S.-Polish part­ner­ship to help to mod­ern­ize the Pol­ish mil­i­tary. U.S. and Pol­ish spe­cial oper­a­tions forces already have a close work­ing rela­tion­ship, and this mem­o­ran­dum builds on a dec­la­ra­tion of strate­gic coop­er­a­tion that the Unit­ed States and Poland signed in August, offi­cials said. That com­mit­ment was to help the Pol­ish mil­i­tary with mod­ern­iz­ing and pro­fes­sion­al­iz­ing its force.

The mem­o­ran­dum “under­scores the grow­ing coop­er­a­tion between U.S. and Pol­ish spe­cial oper­a­tions forces,” Gates said dur­ing the sign­ing cer­e­mo­ny. “We will expand and deep­en our coop­er­a­tion and deep­en our oppor­tu­ni­ties to work togeth­er toward com­mon goals.”

The Pol­ish spe­cial oper­a­tions com­mand is expand­ing, and Gates vowed the Unit­ed States mil­i­tary “will help in any way we can.” Part of the agree­ment assigns an Amer­i­can spe­cial oper­a­tions liai­son offi­cer to the Pol­ish head­quar­ters.

Poland’s spe­cial oper­a­tions force is as a sep­a­rate ser­vice in the country’s mil­i­tary struc­ture. The force has about 1,500 per­son­nel, and Poland hopes to grow the capa­bil­i­ty to 3,500 by 2012.

“Poland has a unique spe­cial oper­a­tions capa­bil­i­ty, and they work very well with us,” an Amer­i­can offi­cer said, speak­ing on back­ground. The force has five squadrons today and will grow to nine, said the offi­cer.

The Amer­i­can liai­son will help the force grow and share expe­ri­ences and advice with the Pol­ish force from U.S. Spe­cial Oper­a­tions Com­mand, based in Tam­pa, Fla.

U.S. Spe­cial Oper­a­tions Com­mand has part­ner­ships with five coun­tries: the Unit­ed King­dom, Cana­da, Aus­tralia, Poland and Jor­dan. Only Poland has an offi­cial mem­o­ran­dum of under­stand­ing.

Pol­ish spe­cial oper­a­tions forces have worked along­side U.S. per­son­nel since the fall of the War­saw Pact. Pol­ish troops have helped in Haiti, Bosnia, Koso­vo and Iraq, and now are in Afghanistan with a pres­ence of rough­ly 1,600 mil­i­tary per­son­nel, includ­ing 100 spe­cial oper­a­tions sol­diers. They are con­cen­trat­ed in Ghazni and work under direc­tion from Com­bined Joint Task Force 101 in Region­al Com­mand East.

The mem­o­ran­dum signed today is aimed specif­i­cal­ly at help­ing the Pol­ish force stand up a senior staff head­quar­ters, build­ing Eng­lish-speak­ing capa­bil­i­ties and enhanc­ing train­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties, offi­cials said.

U.S. Army Col. Bog­dan Gie­n­iews­ki is the U.S. Spe­cial Oper­a­tions Com­mand liai­son. He speaks Pol­ish and works dai­ly with Pol­ish lead­ers to set up the com­mand, and he spon­sors edu­ca­tion and train­ing with U.S. forces for the Pol­ish spe­cial oper­a­tors.

“This is a very pro­fes­sion­al force that brings every­thing to the oper­a­tion,” he said. In addi­tion to com­bat troops, the Pol­ish force has its own air assets and logis­tics sup­port. The Pol­ish forces can get to the fight and sus­tain them­selves, he added.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)