20 July 2005

SECDEF Thanks Polish Leaders for Gulf Support

During a joint news conference on 19 July, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld thanks Polish Minister of Defense Jerzy Szmajdzinski for his country's support and leadership in the global war on terror.

For those of you keeping score at home, the line score reads: Poland 1 -- FranGerussia 0.

The Secretary noted that the American people are grateful for the contributions the Polish defense forces have made in the GWOT.

This American certainly is.

Again, the only time we hear of the contributions of the so called, smaller coalition forces is when POTUS tells us or when countries such as the Dominican Republic or Honduras recall their troops.

For the record, Poland has played a significant -- and I mean significant role in the current coalition efforts in the Middle East. According to DOD reports, the Polish government sent more than 2,000 soldiers to help relieve beleaguered US troops in Iraq. The Polish contingent is part of a planned 9,200 Polish-led multinational division, which will take over responsibility for one of the four districts of Iraq currently under the control of American and British soldiers. The Polish government was one of the first to offer practical assistance to the US and British operation sending a small unit of 200 elite soldiers to fight in the Iraq war. Polish engineer units were among the first coalition units deployed in the global war on terror and played a major role in preparing Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan to support combat operations, and Polish warships deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

In addition, Poland is leading the Multinational Division Central South in Iraq, where it has helped provide security and stabilization in the region.

Poland has also suffered losses in the efforts to bring peace and freedom to the region.

Hundreds of mourners attended the funeral of Lieutenant Colonel Hieronim Kupczyk, who was killed in the Iraq war, in Szczecin on 10 November. The following day--the 85th anniversary of the end of World War I and of Poland’s regaining independence--many more went to his grave to pay their respects, reported Wojciech Kosc.

Kupczyk’s death in the iraq war resonated greatly. For the first time since Poland took over command of one of the four military stabilization zones in Iraq in September, a Polish serviceman had been killed.

Politicians expressed their grief, but also stressed that Kupczyk’s death was in a just cause.

"That death shook Poland and made us aware of the price of our alliance and the price of our involvement in defending peace,” said the Polish Army Bishop Slawoj Leszek Glodz, who gave the funeral service in Szczecin.

Gazeta Wyborcza asked General Mieczyslaw Cieniuch whether Poland should now withdraw its troops from Iraq. “This is a political decision. But I would be very much surprised if an individual incident would provoke the drawing of such far-reaching conclusions,” said Cieniuch, who planned the Iraqi operation for the Polish Army.

He also said that Kupczyk’s death was a tragedy, but Polish troops in Iraq must have certainly had it “somewhere in the back of their heads that it would happen."

“If you go to war, you have to anticipate losses; that is the sad truth,” former Defense Minister Bronislaw Komorowski told the Polish Press Agency.

I love Poland and her people.

As always, Thanks to Greyhawk for his Open Post.

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