Millions of dollars were invested by Americans in 2019 to improve infrastructure of Polish military training fields. As part of Exercise Resolute Castle, the engineering detachments modernized roads and shooting ranges, and erected new buildings.
Building a storehouse and ammunition loading points for helicopters, road repairs, or additional target at the shooting range for combat vehicles – these are investments done as part of Exercise Resolute Castle. “These investments may not be visible at first sight, but whoever spends some time on our training field, will see the difference and appreciate it. These changes are really helpful in everyday life,” says Maj Marek Sobieszek at the Land Forces Training Field Center in Żagań.
Work At the Flank
In January 2017, the first rotation of the Armored Brigade Combat Team (ABCT) arrived in Poland. The US soldiers were deployed in Żagań, Świętoszów, Bolesławiec and Skwierzyna. They spend most of the time in the training centers throughout Estonia to Romania. There, they participate in the maneuvers organized as part of the Atlantic Resolve mission.
In the meantime, in the shadow of the mission, there has been other similar project going on for a few years now. This is Exercise Resolute Castle, which is about modernizing training fields on the so-called eastern flank of NATO. For Americans this kind of activity is a regular practice. The US Army forces are now stationed in 51 countries around the world. Quite often they erect their own buildings or participate in investments useful for their soldiers. Such was the case in Germany where they have their own bases. Now, it’s time for Eastern and Central Europe.
“The first edition of Exercise Resolute Castle took place in 2015. So far, we have worked for instance in Bulgaria. Now, our exercise also includes the training fields in Romania and Poland,” says Maj Traun C. Moore of the US Army press office in Europe. The Americans left their trace also in the Romanian Cincu, Bulgarian Novo Selo and Estonian Tapa. The list of investments is long. It includes i.e. new roads, shooting ranges, helipads, refueling points for combat vehicles, but also social buildings, or even a sports hall. This is the task for the engineering detachments, which are part, among others, of the United States National Guard and the Army Reserve.
The history of the first of them dates back to American war for independence. Today, the National Guard supports American soldiers and emergency services during natural disasters or state of emergency. They for instance helped to remove damages after Katrina and Rita tornadoes. They also patrol the borders of Mexico to stop drug smuggling and the flow of illegal migrants. The existing for over a hundred years reserve forces constitute direct background for a regular army. On a regular basis, the reserve forces train in their own military specialty, so they are ready to join active service in a situation of war. Exercise Resolute Castle is a special training for them. “For many soldiers, who participate in this exercise, it’s the only opportunity to gain experience outside the United States,” said several months ago Elisia Lukasik, a US Army Europe spokeswoman.
In 2019, Exercise Resolute Castle engaged about 1,600 Americans who for four months were working on the investments in Poland and Romania. They used their own equipment: excavator, bulldozers or various types of transporters. They also cooperated with the allies. Among the exercise participants there have for years not only been soldiers from the host country, but also from Great Britain, Denmark or the Netherlands. “Exercise Resolute Castle helps us develop interoperability by joint training in international environment,” said during the last year’s edition BrigGen James Kokaska, US Army Reserve. “The exercise is an opportunity for us to learn about technologies or procedures used by our allies. In other words: we all learn from each other.” In Poland, the effects of joint work can be observed in the military training fields in Drawsko and Żagań.
Roads and Targets
American soldiers of the Armored Brigade Combat Team have their camps on the territory of the training center in Żagań, and have been investing in that training field for several years now. They want to adjust it to the requirements stemming from the use of certain equipment, but also improve the capabilities and comfort of training. This is also convenient for non-American soldiers. During last year’s edition of Exercise Resolute Castle, the Americans repaired one of the roads and modernized the zones where military equipment is stored. There is also a new storehouse and a new building where the tank crews undergo certification process. “Earlier on, they had built the runway for UAVs, helped to modernize roads to adjust them to increased traffic,” said Maj Sobieszek. In Żagań, there is also a forward arming and refueling point (FART) for helicopters.
Some investments were done only to adjust the military field to the requirements of American equipment. Other investments were necessary to meet the US Army standards, such as ammunition loading ramps. “We never built them because from our point of view they were not indispensable. However, we’re glad that such convenient solutions are now here,” admits Maj Sobieszek.
Our American allies also had introduced changes in the military field in Drawsko. “For us, Exercise Resolute Castle means 40 new investments,” admits Col Marek Gmurski, Commandant of the Land Forces Training Center in Drawsko. The Americans have modernized tactical training roads, where the tank and combat vehicle groups do their trainings. There are now new posts for Abrams and Bradleys, and on the Bucierz tactical training strip, about 350-meter moving target was installed. There are also new points of rotating tracked vehicles, refueling and arming points for helicopters, the shooting range for infantry. Last year’s plan assumed renovation of another roads and building a camp for 1,200 soldiers.
Plans for the Future
That’s not all. In the spring 2020, another edition of Exercise Resolute Castle should start. “Our to-do list is long,” admits Col Gmurski. One of the tasks is the expansion of logistic base and new shooting range for infantry. “In the proximity of a complex where soldiers improve their techniques of warfare in urbanized areas, there will be new buildings for snipers to do their training,” says the Colonel. American engineering detachments in the spring will also be present in Żagań. This year’s plans include as many as 15 investments, such as building four new camps for soldiers. Estimated cost is 3.5 million dollars. “It will be a gradual process,” explains Maj Sobieszek and adds that the camps should be ready in 2021. Also, another storehouse and ammunition loading ramps at Karliki tank shooting range are planned for the Żagań military training field.
The investments completed during Exercise Resolute Castle are only a small element of the wide-scale project of modernization of Polish military training fields. This way or another, the Americans are spending significant money for this purpose. Only last year, they spent 22 million dollars for modernization of the military fields in Poland and Romania. This includes the cost of building materials, transport, equipment exploitation, and finally redeployment and maintenance of soldiers who take part in the exercise.
autor zdjęć: US Army