British Forces Join the NATO “Spearhead”, Under the Polish Command. Meeting of the Ministers of Defence.

Image Credit: Second Lieutenant Robert Suchy/CO MON
Image Credit: Second Lieutenant Robert Suchy/CO MON

British Ministry of Defence informed that the “Spearhead” NATO high readiness quick reaction forces component, commanded by the Poles, is going to involve a British Battle group consisting out of ca. 1000 soldiers. The British want to join the “Spearhead”, starting from 2020. On the other hand, Antoni Macierewicz, Polish Defence Minister, announced that he is going to establish a Polish-British group, the goal of which would be to define the Warsaw Summit statements. The meeting, involving the Ministers of Defence and Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Poland and the United Kingdom, covered the areas of the NATO Summit in Warsaw, bilateral cooperation, and a variety of fields related to the European policy and the international security. 

Ministers of Defence of Poland and the United Kingdom were involved in a working meeting organized in so called “Quadriga” format, meaning that the Ministers of Defence and Ministers of Foreign affairs of both countries were involved in the talks. In the official release, the British MoD announced that a British Battle Group, consisting of ca. 1000 soldiers, is going to become a part of the NATO quick reaction forces “Spearhead” element, commanded by the Poles. In practical terms, the above means - most probably - that the British will assign one of the battle groups of the multinational brigade to be responsible for the task. This unit is going to become a part of the NATO Response Force component, commanded by the Poles.

The UK authorities declared that during the Anakonda 2016 exercise, a battalion-sized battle group is going to be operating in Poland, while the Swift Response operation, the purpose of which is to check the capabilities within the scope of deployment of the airborne units, is going to involve a British company, Battle Group’s command, along with elements of the Brigade Command. 

In the summer, HMS “Iron Duke” frigate is scheduled to visit Poland, while HMS “Ocean” helicopter carrier is expected to participate in the Baltops operation. It is worth to recall the fact that a battalion-sized battle group from the United Kingdom has been deployed in Poland twice. That element consisted of armoured and mechanized units, involved in the Black Eagle exercise back in 2014, and Dragon-15 exercise in 2015, with partial involvement of the British. In case of the latter exercise, taking place back in 2015, 7th Coastal Defence Brigade was involved in the operational activities, on behalf of the Polish Army.

This type of meetings has been used by the British and Polish Armed Forces since 2010. At the same time, Polish Defence Minister Antoni Macierewicz met the British Defence Secretary, Michael Fallon. The talks mainly covered the bilateral cooperation, along with the NATO Summit that is scheduled to take place in Warsaw.

Minister Macierewicz stressed the fact that reinforcing the NATO Eastern Flank is of key value for Poland, being one of the factors that create a proper level of security, equivalent to one that is being provided to the remaining allies. Polish MoD announced that a British-Polish group is going to be created, in order to work on the statements and postulates which are to be made during the NATO Summit in Warsaw. The British Secretary of Defence also stressed the fact that the United Kingdom is convinced that there is a great need to emphasize the presence of the alliance in the Central and Eastern Europe.

Fallon, on the other hand, claimed that Great Britain is willing to organize larger exercises with the NATO member states, not only in Poland, but also within the whole Eastern region of the Organization. Moreover, he also said that London is looking into the presence, the character of which would be slightly more permanent, through rotation of battle groups or ships visits. Great Britain is going to, as Fallon said, send 850 troops to take part in the Anakonda exercise, 150 to take part in the September operations. Moreover, London is planning to send the HMS “Iron Duke” missile frigate to operate within the Baltic area.

Before the “Quadriga” talks, Waszczykowski and Macierewicz visited the “Wojtek” bear monument, commemorating the fact that the Polish soldiers adopted the bear named “Wojtek” during the World War 2. The monument was officially presented last year. The bear also took part in the Battle of Monte Cassino. After the war, it lived in a a Scottish zoo, until 1963. The monument is placed in the heart of the city, in the shadow of the Edinburgh castle. The monument was erected by the Wojtek Memorial Trust.

Finally, the Ministers also met the members of the Polish Diaspora living in the city of Edinburgh, and they commemorated the Polish aviators and troops that died during the World War 2, and who are buried at the Corstorphine Hill Cementery.