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  • 9 June 2016

    Anaconda is the largest military exercise in Poland after 1989; this year's – the sixth, started on Tuesday and will last until 17 June. Around 31 thousand soldiers, including 12 thousand from Poland, will take part in it. In addition to the Polish Armed Forces, soldiers from 18 NATO countries and five partner countries, equipped with 3 thousand vehicles, 105 planes and helicopters and 12 vessels, will take part in it.

    “Anaconda-16 exercise is to check the ability of the NATO countries to defend the eastern flank of the alliance,” said on Monday in Warsaw the Minister of National Defence, Antoni Macierewicz, opening the exercise. The ceremony was attended by the commanders of the Polish Army and the US Army.



    “It should be emphasised that in these difficult circumstances in which we are currently in Poland and on the eastern flank, your participation and this exercise perform primarily a defensive function,” he addressed the soldiers from the allied and partner countries. “The goal is to check the ability of the allied countries to defend the territory of the eastern flank,” said the Minister. “It is particularly important for us to check the effectiveness of the harmony of actions of soldiers and commands,” he added.


    He stressed that in this year's Anaconda exercise the sub-units of territorial defence, which is to become a different kind of armed forces, are taking part for the first time. He expressed the conviction that the goals set before the exercise will be achieved, “the frontiers will be defended and potential enemies effectively deterred.”


    “Soldiers! Walking along the row of you, I looked at your faces; I looked at your figures; I saw the might formed by the united alliance of forces of the North Atlantic Alliance,” said Minister Macierewicz.


    Supervisor of the exercise, Operations Commander of the Armed Forces Gen. Broni Marek Tomaszycki emphasised that Anaconda is the largest test of harmony and reaction of the army to contemporary threats.


    “Anaconda-16 is the most important exercise of the armed forces of the Republic of Poland, with the participation of national levies of more than half of the NATO and partner countries. This year's edition will be the allied exercise focused on building safety in a transparent manner,” said Tomaszycki. He added that the exercise will also be a test of the army's cooperation with a non-military system.


    Chief of Staff of the United States Army Gen. Mark Milley said that by participating in the exercise they want to show solidarity with Poland and NATO. “The US Army, like the United States have one goal that they want to achieve during this exercise. They want to show that they stand shoulder to shoulder with Poland, shoulder to shoulder with the Polish nation, shoulder to shoulder with the Polish army, and finally – shoulder to shoulder with the North Atlantic Alliance so that each country was free and independent,” declared Milley in the Warsaw district Rembertów where the ceremony of the beginning of the next edition of the Anaconda exercise was held.


    As Milley pointed out, Europe for 70 years – in part for more than 25 years which passed since the fall of the Berlin Wall – has been showing how “peace and prosperity can develop in harmony with the rule of law, an open society, respect for human rights and freedom of religion, and political views, which is the right of all citizens.” “The United States, of course, share these values, because this is in our common interest, and we want to defend these values for future generations. We, the United States Army, are determined to take part in it,” said Milley.


    He stressed that the allies must strengthen common defence and be able to deter a potential aggressor. “The US government and my superiors decided to increase the presence of the United States Army in Europe. We are increasing deployment of heavy equipment in this region, improving our infrastructure, organising many military exercises and training together with our partners. The success of these efforts will be visible primarily during the Anaconda exercise,” said Milley.


    Commander of the United States Army in Europe Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, who is the coalition forces exercise supervisor, emphasised that “no one should have doubts about the US involvement in peace and security in Europe.” He stressed that the US Army assigned many soldiers, including the National Guard, to participate in the exercise and significant amounts of equipment. “In other words, the whole United States Army is involved in the Anaconda exercise. We are already drawing conclusions concerning logistics, interoperability, command structures in the international environment,” added Hodges.


    When asked about plans for deployment of equipment for the US heavy brigade exercising rotationally in the region, Hodges reminded that the USA has decided to additionally send to Europe brigade-sized forces rotating every nine months since next year. As he said, each brigade will have an opportunity to exercise rotation from the USA to European ports and airports, and from there to the places of deployment.


    “Each brigade will arrive with own equipment. This is obviously a significant investment, but also a better way to ensure this presence,” he said. He added that this formula requires bearing costs, but on the other hand it is also an opportunity to practice redeployment of an entire brigade. He made it clear that until the July NATO Summit takes specific decisions, he cannot speak about the details of the location of units forming the brigade combat team.


    “We expect that its battalions will be deployed in each of the Baltic countries, Poland, Romania and Bulgaria,” he added, noting that one of the battalions should be stationed at the US base in southern Germany, which – as he said – will also require certain rotation; a place for the brigade's command will also have to be chosen.


    Referring to NATO-Russia relations and the possible impact of the Anaconda exercise on these relations, Gen. Hodges assured that “the alliance would like to see Russia become part of the international community again,” which requires transparency of actions on the side of Russia. “Russia still has 7,000 soldiers in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, without any legal basis, still occupies the Crimea, maintains unit in the east of Ukraine,” he added. “Poland invited Russia as an observer, unfortunately, Russia rejected the invitation. I hope that they will change their minds, they will certainly be welcome here,” he pointed out.


    According to Hodges, the fact that Anaconda-16 takes place a few weeks before the July NATO Summit is an opportunity to demonstrate the progress that the alliance has made since the previous summit, e.g. in terms of the Readiness Action Plan (RAP), interoperability and logistics.


    The Anaconda exercise has been held since 2006 every two years. It is organised by the Operations Command of the Polish Armed Forces. This year its goal is to harmonise the national and coalition commands and sub-units within the combined defence operations in conditions of hybrid threats.



    Source: PAP

    Tags: NATO

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