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Poland phase of NATO's Steadfast Defender draws to a close

Exercise Steadfast Defender is designed to develop how nation members work with each other. Troops from the UK, the USA and Poland have been put through their paces on the vast Drawsko Pomorskie training area near the Polish city of Szczecin. 

The bulk of UK personnel on exercise were from the 12th Armoured Brigade Combat Team based at Bulford on Salisbury Plain, which deployed approximately 2,500 personnel and over 800 vehicles into Poland.

Our soldiers have fully embraced this exercise and I am both proud and impressed with what our soldiers have achieved.” BRIGADIER HENRY SEARBY OBE, 12TH ARMOURED BRIGADE COMBAT TEAM

Its Commander, Brigadier Henry Searby OBE, has spoken of the value of the exercise across the more than 130 square miles of training area:   

“From the moment our first Challenger 2 tank rolled onto a train at Folkestone en route to Poland, we have been testing ourselves and learning hard,” he said.

“Projecting a force of thousands of people and hundreds of vehicles across Europe into NATO’s eastern flank is a substantial challenge.

“The process has run smoothly, we’ve integrated with our allies and are running highly effective training missions day and night.

“Our soldiers have fully embraced this exercise and I am both proud and impressed with what our soldiers have achieved.”

The first week of the exercise was spent in the field conducting lower-level training and learning to work with unmanned aerial vehicles or UAVs for short and Military Working Dogs, then attacking positions with a combination of tanks and armoured infantry.

Then troops prepared to move armour and infantry across a body of water, what the military calls a ‘wide wet gap’, using British and American amphibious vehicles and bridges.

“We are incredibly grateful to our Polish hosts for allowing us to train on this vast and beautiful training area,” added Brigadier Searby.

“It provides challenging terrain, firing ranges and river crossing sites set to rehearse and test the Brigade’s capabilities.

“I have personally very much enjoyed working with the Polish and American Armies who provided formidable combat power, and with whom we are able to integrate very well.”

Commanding General US 29th Infantry Division, Major General Joseph DiNonno said: 

“Our training with the 12th Armoured Brigade Combat Team for Exercise Steadfast Defender 2024 builds on a long history of cooperation and partnership between the United States and the United Kingdom.  

“Here at Drawsko Combat Training Centre, they’ve demonstrated themselves as incredibly robust, capable and combat credible force able to swiftly integrate with our NATO partners to overcome any obstacle."

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