US Army Division Mission Command Element in Poland

Image Credit: Markus Rauchenberger/US Army.
Image Credit: Markus Rauchenberger/US Army.

According to the information obtained by, the US Army is planning to relocate the Division level command unit in Europe, with the aforesaid unit being moved from Germany to Poland. The effort is to enhance the effectiveness of the undertaken operations and activities. This is also yet another piece of evidence proving Poland plays a key role on the NATO Eastern flank, and of the cooperation with the United States of America becoming tighter.

The US Army is planning have a Division level command unit deployed to Europe soon, with the said unit being transferred from Germany to Poland. As we were informed by MSG Brent M. Williams, Public Affairs Officer Mission Command Element, in case of the Atlantic Resolve initiative, the Mission Command Element currently stationed in Baumholder is to be transferred to Poznan, Poland.

In practical terms, the above means that the operations undertaken by the US Army Europe in the Central-Eastern European theatre would be coordinated from Poland. Mission Command Element is a division-level command unit of the US Army Europe, it has been formed back in the year 2015, on the basis of the structure of the 4th Infantry Division, stationed permanently in the CONUS.

Brent M. Williams, within the statement sent to us, stresses the fact that relocation of the commanding element from Germany to Poland is driven, above all, by the will to reinforce the maneuver capabilities, and also to increase the level of readiness, should any threats emerge. The Americans perceive the aforesaid step as a real and tangible enhancement of the operational capabilities.

Relocating the Mission Command Element from Germany to Poland increases the U.S. Army’s efficiency, effectiveness, and capability to manoeuvrer forces. The forward presence of the Mission Command Element in Poland further enables U.S. Army Europe’s connection to our Allies, European leaders and civilians, and ultimately increases the Alliance’s preparedness to respond to any threat or crisis in Europe. Working with our NATO Allies and Operation Atlantic Resolve partner nations strengthens the defensive capability of the Alliance and creates unique opportunities to develop multinational interoperability for bilateral training and operations.

MSG Brent M. Williams, Public Affairs Officer Mission Command Element for Operation Atlantic Resolve

US Army press department has not released any details pertaining to the decision taken, as of yet. The above means that, most probably, on the basis of the operational requirements, it has been concluded that Poland is the proper location, where the main commanding unit for the mobile elements of the US Army should be stationed. The local politicians have been requesting the command structure relocation sites to be “estimated”; the aforesaid group of officials included the Head of the Polish National Security Bureau, Paweł Soloch, or the Lithuanian President, Dalia Grybauskaite. Polish-Lithuanian border is located around 450 km from Poznan and around 300 km from the Kaliningrad Oblast. Whereas the German Baumholder (where the Mission Command Element functions at the moment) is located as far as 1200 kilometers away from Lithuania.

Moreover, transfer of a commanding element (not a combat unit) from Germany to Poland also constitutes a political signal, pronouncing the involvement in protection of the Eastern Flank. However, one may also assume that relocation of the commanding unit is also founded on the ground of analyses, exercises and/or wargames, held within the framework of the Operation Atlantic Resolve (reinforcement of the NATO Eastern Flank presence, following the Annexation of Crimea and the Ukrainian crisis).

As we know, before the war in Ukraine broke out, all of the division-level elements of the US Army Europe have been disbanded, meanwhile, establishment of the Mission Command Element founded on the framework of the structure of the 4th Division stationed in the US was a response to the emerging requirement: a need to coordinate and command, provided by the Division-level element, for the purpose of carrying out enhanced, expansive operations in Europe. Originally, the MCE involved around 100 soldiers, however, being in possession of a command unit coordinating all of the combat units remains invaluable. The division level offers a capability of properly coordinating and managing the support units, which has been mentioned below.

Just recently, General Curtis M. Scaparotti, the Chief Commander of the US and NATO Forces in Europe, noted, during his speech at the US Congress, that it would be an optimal measure to provide him with another division-sized unit, involving armoured and mechanized elements. However, support units bear a very high relevance for Scaparotti – he referred to artillery, anti-aircraft or logistical elements, placed at the division level.

The components discussed above remain required to effectively support operations undertaken by other units, e.g. brigades. It shall also be noted that the first steps in that direction had been made before. For example, in line with the decisions that were made last year, the Western Europe is to host an equipment set for at least one, additional brigade (as a part of the Army Prepositioned Stock). Relevant inventory used by the logistical and artillery elements is also to be deployed to mainland Europe. Furthermore, APS will also include equipment for the SHORAD units, utilizing the Avenger systems. This is to provide capabilities of protection for the mobile elements.

However, there are numerous symptoms suggesting that this is not the US Army’s final word, when it comes to the reinforcement of its European presence. One of the signs that may suggest that such scenario would be plausible is seen in the statements made by Scaparotti. US Army is involved in the preliminary preparation works, the goal of which would be to establish NATO NSIP facilities in Powidz [near Poznan], with funding provided in an amount of USD 220 million. The new infrastructure would house equipment for an armoured brigade or other hardware. Finally, according to Stars and Stripes, initial research has been carried out in Germany, covering the options of relocation for more, even brigade-sized, elements. All of the above suggests that the Americans take the continued reinforcement of the European presence with the US Army units at least with some degree of seriousness. 

Transfer of the Mission Command Element to Poznan is a significant step, within the process of reinforcing the US military presence in Europe. It constitutes a proof that the Americans remain ready to amend and modify the structure of their forces, reinforce the response capabilities. Moreover, the steps taken also prove that Poland remains an important player on the NATO Eastern Flank. Furthermore, the steps taken shall be treated as a factor which would motivate Warsaw to further enhance the capabilities of the Polish Army, since Washington wants the allies to make the greatest contribution possible, when it comes to the collective defence system. Not only should the country which remains at the centre of the Eastern Flank be capable of taking the first blow, in order to protect its own territory, but it shall also be responsible for taking care of the areas of key value for the whole allied defence system.