Illinois National Guard, Polish Bonds Remain Strong During Best A9 Mission Print
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Written by Illinois National Guard PAO   
Wednesday, 14 March 2012 13:08

WEDRYZN, POLAND (03/02/2012)(readMedia)-- By 1st Lt. Matthew Morris and 1st Lt. Nico Smith, Illinois Army National Guard BEST A9

The weather was frigid but not unfamiliar to the Illinois Army National Guard Soldiers with the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) Bilateral Embedded Support Team (BEST) A9 who arrived in Poland Feb. 3. The BEST A9 arrived in Wedryzn, Poland where they are assisting the Polish 6th Airborne Brigade certify its two battalion task forces prior to their deployment to Afghanistan this month.

"I'm very impressed with the trust placed in their lower enlisted to do the right thing and the mentality they have while they conduct training," said Sgt. 1st Class William Ingles of Steeleville, with BEST A9. "Their attitude is not 'why are we training' but 'when.' The design is very practical and a lot of fun to watch."

The primary focus of the Illinois National Guard Soldiers' training the past few weeks was to learn the customs and leadership style of their Polish counterparts.

This deployment is part of the State Partnership Program (SPP), which was created in 1993 to assist the Polish government and military transition into NATO after the fall of the Soviet Union. Co-deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan with Polish Forces began in 2003 where the partnership evolved from an advisory role to an enabler of warfighting capacities.

The work schedule also allows time for the team to experience Polish culture and history. Illinois Soldiers have travelled to Ostwald, an area once occupied by Germany, to visit one part of an enormous structure of bunkers that spans from the Baltic Sea heading south underground for 400 kilometers. They also travelled to Sulecin, a small town a couple kilometers away from the training base.

With few English speaking natives, the team relies heavily on Sgt. Arthur Boruch of Orland Park, the only fluent Polish speaker on the team.

"It's been an interesting and challenging experience communicating the needs of 17 people," he said. "It can get exhausting but overall it's been great showing the guys the Polish culture I've known from growing up in a Polish speaking household."

The recent training between Illinois and Polish Soldiers was marked by a gesture of unity Feb. 17 when Brig. Gen. Bogdan Tworkowski, Commander of the Polish 6th Airborne Brigade, placed the unit's shoulder patch on each member of the BEST team while Col. Troy Phillips of Philo, BEST A9 commander, presented the Illinois colors to fly alongside the Polish National Flag.

"We are one team, one unit, and we are very glad to have the BEST team on board. I am sure that our efforts together will result in success," Tworkowski said.

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