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Feb 15 2022

California National Guard assumes command of eFP mission in Poland

BEMOWO PISKIE, Poland – On 11 February, NATO enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) Battlegroup Poland held a transfer of authority ceremony from the U.S. Army Washington National Guard 3rd Battalion, 161st Infantry Regiment to the U.S. Army California National Guard 1st Battalion, 185th Infantry Regiment.

On the 5th anniversary of the Battlegroup, this hand over–take over ceremony celebrated the accomplishments of the outgoing unit to prepare for the continued success of the incoming unit. Five years as a team. Five years as a defensive force. All of this to prove NATO is a robust and multinational military presence in Northeastern Europe.

Today, men and women in uniform from over twenty Allies serve, train and exercise together, representing a strong expression of the Alliance unity and solidarity. U.S. Army National Guard LTC Craig Broyles, the outgoing commander of Battlegroup Poland, describes working with NATO and European Allies as a once in a lifetime opportunity:

This has probably been the greatest experience in my whole twenty one years in the military.
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Polish Armed Forces General Commander, GEN Jarosław Mika, awards U.S. Army National Guard LTC Craig Broyles the Bronze Medal of the Polish Army at Bemowo Piskie, Poland, Feb. 11, 2022. LTC Broyles and 3rd Battalion, 161st Infantry Regiment helped build partnerships with Polish Allies to deter foreign adversaries during their nine-month deployment supporting the NATO Alliance / Photo by SPC Jameson Harris, U.S. Army 

The ceremony brought together multiple dignitaries and key leaders from the U.S. Army and NATO chains of command, in support of the mission and alliance. It sent a clear message: NATO stands united toward a common goal: preserving peace. "This speaks volumes of the commitment the United States has with our Polish Allies," said Broyles. "There is no better way [to show solidarity] than having everyone get together and this was the perfect opportunity to show it."

To celebrate the Dark Rifles' accomplishments, GEN Jarosław Mika, the General Commander of the Polish Armed Forces, awarded LTC Broyles the Bronze Medal of the Polish Army. Mika spoke to the crowd of NATO soldiers and leaders, thanking the 3-161 Dark Rifles for the excellent job they have done enhancing NATO's forward presence in Northeastern Europe.

You have had a significant impact on building interoperability and safety in Poland and this part of Europe. You have done tremendous work. Thank you for that.
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3-161 Dark Rifles formed the core of NATO eFP Battlegroup Poland throughout Jun. 2021–Feb. 2022 / Photo by SFC Adrian Patoka, U.S. Army National Guard
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During their time in Poland, 3-161 Dark Rifles participated in a number of training exercises, incl. Rifle Forge / Photo by SFC Adrian Patoka, U.S. Army National Guard
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Soldiers with 3-161 Dark Rifles proved the Battlegroup's excellence and war-fighting capabilities multiples times / Photo by SFC Adrian Patoka, U.S. Army National Guard

Out of everything the Dark Rifles accomplished, LTC Broyles was most proud of Rifle Focus. Rifle Focus was a massive training event where Battlegroup Poland, the Polish, and the NATO Allies got the opportunity to practice force-on-force warfare in Northeastern Europe. It was a unique moment for the Polish people to witness the Battlegroup's war-fighting capabilities.

It won't stop there. U.S. Army National Guard LTC Trevor Phillips, the incoming commander of Battlegroup Poland, plans on picking up right where the Dark Rifles left off. "I am grateful for all the hard work put in by your team," LTC Phillips said behind the podium:

With me are hundreds of American men and women, each bred with traditional American concepts and values. No nation should ever stand alone when its ideals and principles face challenges.

The Thunderbolts will build upon 3-161's legacy and foundation by focusing on training against potential enemy formations. Even though units come and go, one thing remains the same: we are ready, credible and committed to the NATO Alliance.

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Soldiers with the U.S. 1st Battalion, 185th Infantry Regiment at the hand over–take over ceremony in Bemowo Piskie, Poland, 11 Feb. / Photo by SFP Adrian Patoka, U.S. Army
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U.S. Army National Guard LTC Trevor Phillips, incoming commander of Battlegroup Poland, delivers a speech during a hand over–take over ceremony in Bemowo Piskie, Poland, 11 Feb. 2022 / Photo by SPC Jameson Harris, U.S. Army 
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U.S. Ambassador to Poland Mark Brzezinski stands with U.S. Air Force COL Eric Trychon, the U.S. Embassy in Poland Defence Attache and U.S. Army National Guard soldiers assigned to 1st Battalion, 185th Infantry Regiment in Bemowo Piskie, Poland, on 11 Feb. 2022 / Photo by U.S. Army SPC Jameson Harris, U.S. Army 
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Soldiers with the U.S. 1st Battalion, 185th Infantry Regiment at the hand over–take over ceremony in Bemowo Piskie, Poland, 11 Feb. / Photo by SFC Adrian Patoka, U.S. Army National Guard

Story by Multinational Corps Northeast Public Affairs Office / Courtesy of SPC Jameson Harris, U.S. Army

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