POZNAN, Poland –
A vision to strengthen this country's defense capacity launches to its next phase with the official opening of the Abrams Tank Training Academy in the Republic of Poland, Aug. 10. This collaboration between the United States and Poland follows negotiations that resulted in a purchase agreement for 250 of America's M1A2 System Enhancement Program version 3 (SEPv3) Abrams Main Battle Tanks (MBT). The M1A2 SEPv3 is the latest and most advanced model of the MBTs. Poland states the tanks will enhance their security and increase their capability to operate within the NATO Alliance.
U.S. Army Program Executive Office-Ground Combat Systems is the proponent organization to lead new equipment training instructions for the tank academy at Biedrusko Training Area, which started training Polish soldiers in July.
“As an armor officer, and former commandant of the U.S. Army Armor School, I have been around the M1 tank for a long time and I know its capabilities,” said U.S. Army V Corps Commanding General Lt. Gen John Kolasheski. “It will impact Polish doctrine, maintenance, training and most importantly, how the Polish Land Forces fight; it will undoubtedly make Poland a stronger military.”
In July 2021, the Republic of Poland expressed interest in acquiring the Abrams tanks from America. February of the following year, soon after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the U.S. Secretary of Defense agreed to the sale to the Polish government—who intends to integrate the Abrams into the Polish Land Forces 18th Mechanized Division. The purchase of the Abrams tanks, formally signed in April 2022, by the Polish Defense Minister, is said to foster enriched interoperability between these partner nations. In the same month, the Polish government requested that crew training begin promptly, in order to meet operational demands for trained and ready armor formations.
Here is where the U.S.-Polish Abrams Partnership Program was born.
The Abrams Partnership Program provides additional supplemental training on the Abrams tanks, building interoperability, a key component to stand side-by-side with Poland, a NATO ally. The program augments the U.S. Army new equipment training and Polish Land Forces modernization. The Polish General Command specifically selected U.S. Army 1st Infantry Division to help familiarize future Polish Abrams personnel with systems and procedures unique to Abrams formations.
In an Abrams Partnership Program video interview, 1st Infantry Division Deputy Commanding General for Support Brig. Gen. Geoffrey Norman shared, “This has been a great opportunity for us to give some guidance intent, the mission, and then the resources to [Polish] noncommissioned officers, master gunners, senior maintainers and trainers of Abrams tactics.” He continued, “[The 1st Infantry Division Abrams subject-matter-expert noncommissioned officers] put together courses and they are serving as instructors and leading the training and the partnership events for our Polish Land Forces counterparts. It’s really amazing to see our non-commissioned officers leading, planning and designing these events.”
The Abrams Partnership Program is broken into two components: the Abrams Summit Program and the Abrams Apprentice Program.
The Abrams Summit Program is a series of focused-leader engagements designed to introduce critical concepts of combined arms tactics, sustainment, organization, and master-gunner activities to Polish soldiers. The series includes two summits: the Abrams Operations Summit, which began on April 26, 2022, and the Abrams Logistics Summit, scheduled for later this year.
The next phase of the partnership program is the Abrams Apprentice Program that began immediately after the Abrams Operations Summit. The apprentice program is a series of small scale, subject matter experts’ engagements that embeds future Polish master gunners, operations and training officers, and sustainment officers into the planning process of a U.S. Army armor battalion operations.
In a further extension of alliance and cooperation, V Corps recently changed its existing presence from a rotational force, to a permanently-stationed force in the region. More specifically, this means the permanent assignment of approximately 350 U.S. Soldiers and civilians in Poznan, Poland.
“Poland has been a stalwart Ally since its accession as a formal party member of NATO over 20 years ago and has remained a bulwark to the Alliance’s eastern defense. Today, with the opening of the Tank Training Academy, Poland reaffirms its commitment to its Allies and their resolve to any would-be adversaries,” said Kolasheski.
The Abrams Partnership Program is a collective effort of 7th Army Training Command, the Joint Multinational Readiness Center, V Corps and U.S. Army Europe and Africa. The total participation builds on strength and team cohesion with Poland and other Allies and partners, improves warfighting mastery, and ensures the U.S. and Poland remain disciplined, resilient, lethal, and ready to fight and win against global threats.
“This tank academy represents an opportunity and enhances regional security, '' remarked Kolasheski. “I look forward to continuing to watch Poland serve as a leader in Europe, working with us in the collective defense of NATO.”