Land Forces Involved In The Anakonda Exercise. Under the NATO Command. 30 Thousand Soldiers in Training

Image Credit: Sgt Brandon Anderson/US Army.
Image Credit: Sgt Brandon Anderson/US Army.

Ca. 30 thousand soldiers hailing from more than 20 countries are going to be involved in this year’s Anakonda-16 exercise. 14 thousand US soldiers, along with troops coming from the United Kingdom, Spain, Canada or Croatia are all going participate in the operational activities undertaken within the territory of Poland. The exercise, to a wide extent, will also involve the allied structures and elements, including the VJTF unit, also known as the “Spearhead”. According to Major Agnieszka Kossowska of the Polish Operational Command of the Armed Forces “territorial defence component and pro-defence organizations element are also going to participate in the exercise”. 

The most significant component is going to be deployed to Poland by the United States. Washington declared that it is going to send 13,900 troops to Poland, to take part in the exercise. Besides the armoured units or infantry, air defence elements from the USA are also going to be present in Poland, during the Anakonda-16 operation. Spanish component is going to be the second one size-wise (1200 soldiers). British Army will be represented by 1000 troops. 

As it was stressed by Major Agnieszka Kossowska of the Polish Operational Command of the Armed Soldiers, Multinational Corps North East (600 troops) is also going to participate in the activities, being responsible, during the second stage of the operation, for commanding some of the units of the land forces. Within the framework of the exercise, all of the land forces will be commanded, instead of the Polish Land Component Command [DKLąd] based in Cracow, by the Izmir-based NATO Allied Land Command.

At the second stage of the exercise, after the commanding responsibilities are taken over from the Land Component Command, Multinational Corps North East is going to issue orders for some of the land units involved in Anakonda. (...) NATO Allied Land Command based in Izmir, within the framework of the operation, will also take over the command over the land operations, and it will be commanding all of the land forces, throughout the course of the exercise.

major Agnieszka Kossowska

Moreover, soldiers from Germany, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Albania, Latvia, Slovakia, Turkey, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Hungary, the Netherlands, Lithuania and Romania are also expected to participate in Anakonda-16. Detachments from the countries above will vary in number – from couple to up to 250 soldiers (Germany or Romania). As the Polish Operational Command of the Armed Forces informs, France will not be involved in this year’s edition of the exercise.

Agnieszka Kossowska, working at the Polish Operational Command of the Armed Forces, stressed the fact that Anakonda is not going to be directly tied to the Brilliant Jump, Baltops or Saber Strike operations. We know though, that the units who act as a part of the VJTF element, hailing from the United Kingdom or the Netherlands, right after the Brilliant Jump exercise is completed (involving inter alia deployment of the “Spearhead”), will be involved in the training activities within the scope of Anakonda, acting as multinational elements. Some episodes of the Saber Strike exercise, including Chełmno bridge crossing operation which is to be carried out by the US units, will be shared between both events. 

Anakonda-16 Scenario

The Command also referred to deployment and relocation of the Polish Army and other allied forces during the Anakonda 2016 exercise. Deployment and movement of the relevant elements, also via the road network, will constitute an important portion of the exercise.

Both before the exercise, during the activities, and after the exercise is completed, all of the units will be on the move, for verification purposes, and for the purpose of providing freedom of maneuvering. Movement of the wheeled units will be particularly important.

major Agnieszka Kossowska

The scenario of this year’s exercise includes involvement of the non-military system, which will be similar to a situation in which there is a high risk of emergence of an armed conflict. During the Anakonda operation, regional defence training is planned for that non-military component. The training will make it possible to refine numerous elements of cooperation that could be applied in the crisis situationsas Agnieszka Kossowska of the Operational Command notes. Kossowska also stated that the “territorial defence component and pro-defence organizations element are also going to be involved in the exercise”.

According to the plans made by the command, Polish Air Force assets, during the Anakonda 2016 operation are to carry out “sorties, supporting the remaining units involved in the training exercise”. The operation will involve all of the Polish Air Force units, along with the tactical aviation component of the Polish Army. They will be joined by air force elements deployed by the United States of America and Bulgaria. 

Thus, it is evident that scope and scale of the Anakonda 2016 exercise makes it possible to provide comprehensive training within a variety of elements of an allied defensive operation, starting from combat activities undertaken by a variety of units, through operations under the jurisdiction of the NATO forces, finishing with deployment and support activities realized by the non-military component. The exercise is organized on the basis of the NATO Summit arrangements, made in Newport, back in 2014.