Historic First for Light Dragoons

A historic medals ceremony took place yesterday (13 October 20), for two members of the Light Dragoons. Deployed on Operation CABRIT in Poland they were awarded the Polish Armed Forces Medal for their work with the Polish Territorial Defence Forces (TDF).

At a socially-distanced ceremony in Bemowo Piskie, home of NATO’s enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) Battlegroup in Poland, the Officer Commanding (OC) and Squadron Sergeant Major (SSM) of the UK’s contribution to the US-led Battlegroup were presented with the coveted national medals. It is the first time for British personnel.

 Colonel Maciej Klisz, Deputy Commander of Polish Territorial Defence Forces (POL TDF) said:

 “I am delighted that the Polish Ministry of National Defence recognised the dedication and proactive engagement of two UK soldiers…I am even more proud that Polish TDF set the example, placing UK-Poland cooperation on a higher, more mature level.”

I am delighted that the Polish Ministry of National Defence recognised the dedication and proactive engagement of two UK soldiers Colonel Maciej Klisz, Deputy Commander Polish Territorial Defence Forces.

Both the OC, Major Luke Dodington, and SSM, Warrant Officer Class 2 James Price, have been pivotal in developing a strong and lasting relationship with POL TDF in addition to their cooperation with Polish Land Forces as part of the eFP. POL TDF is the Reserve forces of Poland, which play an important role in society and national defence. The proactive engagement from C Squadron (Legion) to increase training and collaboration with POL TDF has resulted in an elevated partnership with Polish Ministry of National Defence.

During their six-month tour, 150 soldiers from Legion have introduced leadership and development training to soldiers from POL TDF, as well as jointly delivered highly technical and specialised training in Javelin and Reconnaissance cadres.

Colonel Paul Clayton, Commander of Operation CABRIT, said:

"I saw first-hand how well Legion had integrated into the multinational Battlegroup, and especially proud of the leadership, innovation and commitment demonstrated by Major Dodington and SSM Price,”

"This is a real demonstration of the collaboration across the alliance. Such training strengthens our interoperability with partner nations and helps to maintain the readiness of NATO to fulfil its mission as a credible deterrence force.”

The enhanced relationship will set the new British Squadron for further success from the outset. Legion will hand over to C Squadron (Cassino), 1st The Queens Dragoon Guards later this week. Notably, a contingent of reservists from the Royal Yeomanry will be deploying on this rotation of Op CABRIT, bringing their civilian skills and experience which will closely resonate with POL TDF.

NATO's enhanced Forward Presence in the Baltic States and Poland consists of four battlegroups that deploy on a rotational basis to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, to demonstrate the Alliance’s determination and ability to act as one in response to any aggression against its members.  These battlegroups, led by the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany and the United States respectively, are robust, multinational, combat-ready forces.  They demonstrate the strength of the transatlantic bond and make clear that an attack on one Ally would be considered an attack on the whole Alliance.

Careful planning had taken place in liaison with Polish authorities to ensure compliance with COVID-19 measures.