One of the most underestimated yet consequential short wars of the 20th century was the rapid-moving conflict between the newly-reborn Republic of Poland and Russia’s Bolshevik regime. Reaching a boiling point during the summer of 1920, the Polish-Bolshevik War defined the European order for two decades to come. The campaign combined spectacular cavalry charges with some of the most pioneering military techniques in favour of exceptional objectives. However, the decisive encounter came in mid-August 1920, when the two armies clashed in the Battle of Warsaw. In those desperate summer days, the Red Army became completely outflanked and was forced to what amounted to a general retreat. Some specialists, in fact, call it a rout. Militarily, the sudden counterattack by which Marshal Józef Piłsudski – Chief of State and Supreme Commander – and his lieutenants split and routed the Bolshevik forces deserves a place among the tactical masterpieces of history. As assessed by many historians and military analysts, the Polish victory brought an end to a Russian crusade that could have given the Bolsheviks unfettered access to central Europe and, therefore, easily thrown the torch of revolution into the West.
Not surprisingly, it is the 15th of August when Poles celebrate their Armed Forces Day. The day’s festivities, including military parades, picnics and live music, attract whole families who rejoice in the country’s independence being symbolized so powerfully by the uniforms of Polish soldiers. Like many other institutions and organizations around Poland, Headquarters Multinational Corps Northeast honoured those who have served and fought on the battlefields across the globe under the Polish flag.
“Polish soldiers are present everywhere where action, decisiveness and courage are required. Poland is not a passive observer of threats that jeopardize the entire free world.” – Brigadier General Krzysztof Król, the Corps’ Deputy Commander, reminded when addressing HQ MNC NE’s staff and guests attending the ceremony – “Today, after nearly 100 years since the Battle of Warsaw, the threat in the East is apparent.”
As emphasized by General Król, this is where the role of Headquarters Multinational Corps Northeast comes to the fore. Given its geostrategic location, expertise, and rapid reaction capabilities, HQ MNC NE is one of the key guarantors of NATO’s eastern Allies’ peaceful future. Not to forget, it is Poland that serves as the Headquarters’ Host Nation, which – by many – is perceived as an expression of great historical change initiated with the fall of the Iron Curtain.
“Creating the strong Corps would be impossible if it wasn’t for a huge contribution of the authorities of the Republic of Poland and the Polish Armed Forces.” – General Król said – “With Poland as its biggest contributor, Denmark, Germany and Poland constitute the three pillars of the Corps.”
Above all, though, General Król expressed his gratitude and deepest respect to each military serviceman and servicewoman of the Polish Armed Forces for their indomitable will and fortitude manifested wherever in the world freedom is denied or violated:
“Today, we pay tribute to those who under UN, EU or NATO missions guarded, guard and will guard security.” – he stated – “The service means placing responsibility for the common good as the priority. Fulfilling their duties, defending those who are not able to defend themselves, many of our colleagues suffered the ultimate sacrifice – their lives.”
As is the tradition, a number of soldiers were presented with medals and decorations in recognition of their exceptional service. A communal celebration of one of the most important Polish national holidays brought together officers, non-commissioned officers and civilian workers representing all 25 nations of the Headquarters as well as a great many of distinguished guests from across West Pomerania.