Szczecin celebrates the anniversary of the NATO corps stationed there. Ships, military vehicles and the flight of airplanes and helicopters accompanied on Saturday the celebrations of the 20th anniversary of the founding of the NATO Multinational North-Eastern Corps Command in Szczecin.
The ceremonies organized at the Chrobry Embankment gathered a very large group of guests and crowds of Szczecin’s inhabitants. The ships of the NATO demining group were moored at the wharfs.
“In the military world there is a rule that the one who thinks, plans and acts faster than the opponent wins,” said General Sławomir Wojciechowski, the commander of the NATO Corps in Szczecin. As he added, “according to the theory of evolution, natural selection leaves alive only those who are able to adapt to the requirements of the environment”.
“We are aware that we cannot stop where circumstances and external conditions have led us,” Wojciechowski stressed. “Our ambition is to constantly develop and adapt to the challenges and requirements”. – he added.
He continued, “We are currently revising our structure, the command post concept and our internal procedures to be tested in order to optimise them”.
“We are making efforts to achieve coherence between Corps forces under our responsibility and, as needed, we are seeking further integration with national, regional and allied stakeholders. – said Wojciechowski.
The President of the Republic of Poland, Andrzej Duda, addressed his words to the participants of the ceremony
They were read by General Andrzej Reudowicz from the BBN. “Here in the (…) Corps allied solidarity and conviction about the indivisibility of security, which we have been striving for so hard and which we sincerely appreciate are the basis of daily service and work”. – he emphasized Duda. “I am very proud of this fact and full of recognition. I assure you that Poland will continue its participation in NATO initiatives and will contribute to the strengthening of global security”. – he added.
According to the President, “our allied duty is to keep NATO in the best possible condition in terms of both defence capabilities and political unity. The readiness of the armed forces to react quickly in the event of a threat is being strengthened. We are developing a program of training and exercises, the alliance’s command structure is being adapted, including the eastern flank, where the key role is played by the command of the Corps in Szczecin and the division in Elbląg”. – he said.
The President stressed that “the North Atlantic Alliance should remain the strongest and strongest undisputed pillar of global security”
Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki also addressed his letter to the participants of the celebrations. It was read out by the vice-voivode of West Pomerania, Marek Subocz. “During these twenty years, the Corps has become an important element of NATO forces. The scope of his tasks, responsibility and importance also increased. The soldiers serving in the Corps gained valuable combat experience three times by participating in the operation in Afghanistan” – said the Prime Minister.
“We are delighted that the Corps with its headquarters in Szczecin is constantly developing and is now ready to take over responsibility for all land operations of the North Atlantic Alliance in our region. – stressed the Prime Minister.
Deputy Minister of Defence Marek Łapiński read a letter from the head of the Ministry of Defence Mariusz Błaszczak. “This multinational structure ensures the implementation of tasks related not only to the performance of strictly military functions, but also affects (…) the building of close partnership relations between the participants of this great project”. – …he gave it to Błaszczak.
“This great and common work of ours is a real confirmation of the importance of cooperation and the opportunities that become real for us and together we take actions for our safety. – added the head of the DOD at the end.
The ceremonies were attended by orchestras and representative companies of Poland, Denmark and Germany; these are the so-called framework countries of the Corps.
The main part of the celebrations ended with a parade.
Immediately afterwards, Polish SU-22 and Danish F-16 appeared in the sky, followed by Polish Mi24 helicopters and German NH-90 and Tiger.
Guests of the ceremony could see military vehicles, including the tank Leopard 2A6 and Leopard 2A5. Apart from them, there were also German infantry vehicles Puma and Marder, as well as wheeled armoured transporters; a Polish Rosomak and a German Boxer.
Among the exhibited equipment was also a German Fennek reconnaissance car, as well as Polish: self-propelled armatohaubica Krab, self-propelled mortar Cancer and self-propelled multi-leader rocket launcher WR-40 Langusta.
On Sunday until 5 p.m., next to other attractions, ships and land-based military equipment will be available for sightseeing at shows.
Available ships include the oceanic patrol vessel / HDMS Thetis frigate, Thetis trawler HDMS MSF 4, multipurpose support vessel HDMS MSD 6, Min BNS Bellis destroyer, ORP Drużno trawler, FGS Wilhelm test ship, HNoMS Rauma trawler, LVNS Talivaldis destroyer and ORP Poznań transpot-mine ship (last visitors will be allowed on board probably until 16:00 or 16:30).
The Command of the Corps has been functioning since 18 September 1999. The establishment of the unit was possible thanks to the convention signed in 1998 by the Danish, German and Polish Ministers of Defence. Initially, the Command operated exclusively on the basis of a partnership of the three framework countries. At that time, its main task was to strengthen trilateral cooperation. The first countries to join the Corps in 2004 were Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia.
Currently, the Corps has 24 States as its Headquarters. Soldiers from the United States, Canada, Spain, Hungary, the Netherlands and Croatia are stationed in Szczecin. In total, nearly 400 NATO officers and NCOs as well as the Alliance’s partner countries, i.e. Sweden and Finland, serve here.
Currently, the Corps with the Headquarters in Szczecin is the highest NATO ground command on the so-called eastern flank. Its main task is to ensure security in the Baltic Sea region. Since 2017, it has been operating as the High Preparedness Forces Command. He is responsible for all NATO ground troops in Poland, Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia.
The Szczecin Corps is also prepared to immediately command the NATO Response Forces and their elements, including the so-called “spy”, and thus to take over responsibility for the conduct of all the Alliance’s land operations in the East.
Author: Kacper Reszczyński
translation: Krystian Wyrzykowski