Story by Staff Sgt. Diandra Harrell
Headquarters, 4th Infantry Division Public Affairs
POZNAN, Poland- Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, commanding general, U.S. Army Europe, conducted a site visit at the new Mission Command Element (MCE) headquarters located at the 14th Military Business Division, in Poznan, Poland May 13, 2017.
The MCE recently relocated from Baumholder, Germany to Poznan, Poland to increase the U.S. Army’s capacity to provide mission command for deployed units in eastern Europe and enhance NATO Allies and partners’ capability to deter and defend against any adversarial threat and respond to any crises.
“It’s been 70 years since an American division has been in eastern Europe,” said Hodges. Since the Soviet Union, this is the farthest any U.S. division has ever come–ever.
“As (the 4th Infantry Division) begins to celebrate its centennial and D-Day (commemoration) there’s a strategic effect; you are the first American division in central Poland.”
The 4th Inf. Div. is the regionally-allocated division headquarters of U.S. ground forces conducting multinational training and security cooperation activities with NATO units in support of U.S. Army Europe’s Operation Atlantic Resolve.
Operation Atlantic Resolve is a demonstration of continued U.S. commitment to the collective security of Europe through the deployment of rotational units to provide a persistent presence committed to the enduring peace and stability in the region.
Upon arrival, Hodges conducted a walk-through of the headquarters, joint operations center and barracks, and received an operations update brief.
Following the brief, Hodges met with Maj. Gen. Jaroslaw Mika, general commander, Polish Armed Forces (PAF), to sign a PAF Noncommissioned Officer Corps assessment.
A collaborative effort between U.S. Army and PAF, the assessment identified several key aspects of empowering and strengthening the Polish NCO Corps to enhance readiness, increase efficiencies in resource management and ensure competency and professionalism within the PAF.
Immediately following the signing, Hodges presented awards and dined with MCE Soldiers.
“It was great to have a conversation with him (Hodges) and see the big picture behind what we are doing here,” said 1st Lt. Patrick Bonner, battle captain, 4th Inf. Div., MCE. “We are all working very hard and it was refreshing to hear him say that he is grateful for what we do here.”
Prior to leaving Hodges expressed his appreciation for what the MCE does for the OAR mission and the rotational units that support it every day.
“As the mission command element, you are responsible for everything from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea …,” he said. “You have all the responsibility of a division with about a quarter of the manpower. I hope you realize how strategically important it is.”
“I really appreciate the effort it took to move an entire headquarters and establish operations in a place that was not intended for this purpose. Like American Soldiers have always done, you adapted and you’re making it work, Hodges said. I thank you for that and I want you to know how grateful I am.”
The MCE serves as the intermediate headquarters for more than 6,000 U.S. Service Members conducting bilateral training operations and multinational exercises with host nation defense forces in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria.