On October 30th at Strachowice military airfield Wroclaw, 270 kilometres north-west from Krakow, the first of two Polish military contingents was welcomed home from their tour of duty in Afghanistan. The second contingent is due home in November.
Army General Witold Poluchowicz thanked the 140 servicemen during the homecoming ceremony for their hard work during the mission and the soldier’s families for their support and patience. Poluchowicz said the mission successfully achieved its aims under difficult conditions.
“The mission was really complicated” said Major Michal Holub. “We had to deal with intense enemy action.”
Mission commander General Marek Tomaszycki emphasized that the soldier’s previous mission experience counted little for this tour as they faced new challenges this time round and could not afford to become complacent in the field.
“A fact we are proud about is the trust established with the local communities. Around 80 percent of Afghanis are positive about us,v” said Tomaszycki.
The Polish military contingent is part of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), which is the NATO-led, UN-mandated operation in Afghanistan that was established to assist the government of Afghanistan in maintaining security.
Polish soldiers have been deployed in Afghanistan since 2002, with a significant increase of 900 troops sent early this year to major areas of conflict in the eastern Afghanistan region near Pakistan’s border.
Troop’s duties have involved combat roles, support and training of Afghani forces along with participating in humanitarian missions. General Jerzy Bieziewicz is the commander of Poland’s 1200-plus contingency currently active in Afghanistan and says training Afghani forces is crucial to the future security of the country.
Of the 35,000-plus military personnel in Afghanistan, around 18,500 troops from 37 countries are NATO members, with the remainder part of the U.S. led coalition.