US air defense troops train fast deployment in Poland

AP News
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Posted: Mar 21, 2015 4:27 PM
US air defense troops train fast deployment in Poland

SOCHACZEW, Poland (AP) — U.S. air defense troops are training rapid deployment of Patriot missile launchers in Poland amid concerns that the conflict between Russia-backed rebels and government forces in Ukraine is threatening the security in the region.

On Saturday, at a test range in Sochaczew near Warsaw, two U.S. soldiers demonstrated for reporters the procedure of emplacement of a Patriot launching station of 16 missiles, as part of their week-long exercise.

Some 100 U.S. troops and 30 vehicles from the 5th Battalion of the 7th Air Defense Regiment arrived in Sochaczew this week from Germany, where they are stationed, to train with Polish troops. The exercise is aimed at showing the U.S. Army's capacity to deploy Patriot air and missile defense systems rapidly within NATO territory.

The Patriot missiles are superior to Poland's air defense weapons.

Poland's Defense Minister Tomasz Siemoniak and U.S. Ambassador Stephen Mull visited the troops on Saturday.

Speaking in fluent Polish, Mull said that the U.S. is always ready to "defend and stand by Poland's side in times of need."

Siemoniak said that the exercise in quick deployment of Patriot missiles is a response to the "events in the East of Europe."

In 2018, Poland is to be covered by a permanent U.S. air defense system to be built in Eastern Europe.

Meanwhile in Szczecin, on the Baltic coast, the NATO Multinational Corps Northeast held a ceremony to open the procedure of raising its status from low to high reaction readiness as it is preparing to command NATO's new rapid reaction force, the so-called spearhead.