German officer: Polish hospitality is extraordinary
For more than 20 years the Multinational Corps Northeast has been playing a crucial role in ensuring security not only on the Alliance's eastern flank but also across the whole Europe. German officers speak highly of the cooperation with the Poles.
Headquarters Multinational Corps Northeast was established on 18 September 1999 upon convention signed in 1998 by ministers of defence of Denmark, Germany and Poland. Today, more than 400 soldiers and civilian employees from 25 countries, i.e. Belgium, Canada, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA and of course Poland, serve here.
- Such a significant contribution of the Allies to the Corps symbolises the strong ties within the NATO and confirms our commitment to the collective security - said Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, German Minister of Defence on the occasion of 20 years of the Corps.
HQ MNC NE has very precise tasks. - If NATO participates in a defence operation on the eastern flank, we will be the first to assume the responsibility for the operations of the "spearhead" or other land forces elements stationed in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania or Poland. - We are ready to react immediately - explains Commander of the Multinational Corps Northeast, Lieutenant General Sławomir Wojciechowski.
Headquarters of the Multinational Corps Northeast has a number of subordinate units. Some of them support MNC NE operationally, other tactically. These are the Multinational Division North East in Elbląg and the Multinational Division North in Latvia which is now being established. They coordinate actions of the battle groups of the "enhanced Forward Presence" and, in case of crisis, they will be a part of military operations. Further subordinate units are NATO Force Integration Units in Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Slovakia, which, if need be, will facilitate rapid deployment of NATO forces in the region and support MNC NE in commanding land forces in the region. Last but not least – the Command Support Brigade whose battalions are stations in Stargard, Bielkowo, Wałcz and Prenzlau in Germany. They support Corps' everyday activities both in the Baltic Barracks and during exercises by providing telecommunication, transport, medical support and catering.
Since 2017 Headquarters Multinational Corps Northeast has been actively engaged in the enhanced Forward Presence - NATO initiative whose main goal is the actual presence of NATO soldiers in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. Upon decisions made at the NATO Summit in Warsaw (2016), the following multinational battle groups have been deployed by their Sending Nations: Battle Group Poland led by the United States, Battle Group Estonia lead by the United Kingdom, Battle Group Latvia lead by Canada and Battle Group Lithuania lead by Germany. Each battle group comprises ca. 1000 soldiers and is embedded in the National Home Defence Brigade.
In 2017 combat readiness of the Corps was raised from low to high. Today, soldiers stationed here claim to be constantly prepared to take over responsibility for all NATO land operations on the eastern flank.
- A multinational unit offers a unique work environment - says LTC Robert Habermann from Bundeswehr. - Our Corps is commanded by a Polish three-star general. My division is lead by a Danish colonel and within my office I directly cooperate with soldiers and civilian employees from Denmark, Germany, Hungary and Poland. Our working language is English - says Habermann and adds that soldiers support each other and learn from each other. Together with families, MNC NE community consists of more than 1000 members. New friendships are formed here - also because children of the soldiers and civilian employees attend two international schools and kindergartens in Szczecin.
- I love Poland and Poles. I know that my colleagues from Germany and other countries share my opinion. Poles are very friendly and extraordinarily hospitable. They are always helpful. Shortly after moving to Szczecin, I strolled a lot around the city to get to know it better. One day, I could not find my way back home. Within just a few seconds a friendly Pole approached me and offered me his help in fluent German. I feel honoured to serve and live here - says LTC Habermann.
German soldiers deployed to MNC NE praise working conditions in Szczecin. They speak highly of the infrastructure and high standards in the Baltic Barracks as well as professional support from the Polish hosts.
- Poles care deeply about the security of their country. They have positive and open relations with their national armed forces as well with as us, NATO soldiers. When I walk around the city dressed in my uniform, people often smile warmly at me. It is a new experience to me. A good one, for sure - says LTC Habermann.