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Secretary of State Visits Tennessee Troops in Poland

Thursday, February 21, 2019 | 02:32pm

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo, Poland’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Jacek Czaputowicz, and Poland’s Deputy Minister of Defense Marek Lapinski visited Tennessee National Guard soldiers at the Bemowo Piskie Training Area in Poland on February 13. More than 800 soldiers from the Tennessee National Guard’s 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment are currently deployed in support of NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence based in Orzysz, Poland.

Pompeo visited with the soldiers and talked to them about their training and the importance of their mission. He compared Poland’s Suwalki Gap along the Lithuania–Poland border to Germany’s Fulda Gap, a lowland corridor where it was believed the Soviet Union would attack through during the Cold War. Pompeo served in Europe as a U.S. tank commander in the late 1980’s. 

He also attended a live-fire exercise commanded by Lt. Col. Donny Hebel, commander of the U.S. led NATO Enhanced Forward Presence Battle Group that is comprised of soldiers from Cookeville’s 2nd Squadron of the 278th, along with soldiers from Romania, United Kingdom, and Croatia. Jimmy McCullough from the U.S. Army Europe Commander Center said that Hebel and his soldiers did “a fantastic job executing a live-fire exercise using Bradley Fighting Vehicles and lots of fire-power on a large range.”

The Tennessee troops have been deployed to Poland since July on a nine-month rotation in support of the United States commitment to European security and deterrence as part of a robust multinational presence. The Enhanced Forward Presence Battle Group is comprised of multinational forces provided by various nations like the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and Germany.

U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo and Lt. Col. Donny Hebel from Tennessee’s 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment and commander of the U.S. Enhanced Forward Presence Battalion in Poland watch as Tennessee soldiers conduct a live fire exercise with Bradley Fighting Vehicles at the Bemowo Piskie Training Area in Poland on February 13, 2019.

U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo and Lt. Col. Donny Hebel from Tennessee’s 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment and commander of the U.S. Enhanced Forward Presence Battalion in Poland watch as Tennessee soldiers conduct a live fire exercise with Bradley Fighting Vehicles at the Bemowo Piskie Training Area in Poland on February 13, 2019. (U.S. Army photograph courtesy of Sgt. Art Guzman)                          

U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo poses with Allied troops from NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence Forces, which include soldiers of the 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment, at the Bemowo Piskie Training Area in Poland on February 13, 2019.

U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo poses with Allied troops from NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence Forces, which include soldiers of the 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment, at the Bemowo Piskie Training Area in Poland on February 13, 2019. (U.S. Army photograph courtesy of Sgt. Art Guzman)                          

All Tennessee Army and Air National Guard press releases can be found at https://www.tn.gov/military/news.html