Polish NCO: ‘We are all one team'

Oct. 12, 2011

Bruce Anderson, U.S. Army Europe Public Affairs

U.S. Army Europe

Photo credit SSG Brooks Fletcher

Pfc. Orion Sharpsteen from V Corps watches as Polish Land Forces Master Sgt. Piotr Bartniak attempts to increase his high score in the Mission: U.S. Army, Europe interactive game at the U.S. Army Europe exhibit during the Association of the United States Army 2011 Annual Meeting and Exposition in Washington, D.C., October 10.

WASHINGTON -- “During the days of the War on Terror, there are no Polish, Slovakian, American or British Soldiers. We are all one team.”

That is how Master Sgt. Piotr Bartniak, of the Polish Land Forces, describes the result, and the necessity, of multinational training.

Bartniak, a 2008 graduate of USAREUR’s 7th Army NCO Academy at the Joint Multinational Training Command in Grafenwoehr, Germany, was speaking Oct. 10 at Warriors Corner, a professional development series that is part of the Association of the U.S. Army 2011 Meeting and Exhibition in Washington D.C.

He was part of a team of NCOs who came to the AUSA event to talk about their multinational experiences at the NCO academy in Germany.

Bartniak isn’t the only allied or partner NCO who has attended the academy. Since 2003, more than 620 students from 27 countries have attended the academy, said Staff Sgt. Yuri Armstrong, a Small Group Leader at the academy. Of those more 620 students, 264 were from Poland, Armstrong said.

“The NCO academy plays an important part in my, and hundreds of other NCOs’, military service,” Bartniak said.  “The knowledge gained there allowed me to be a better leader to my soldiers.”

But the training doesn’t just help allied and partner country NCOs improve themselves. The training the NCOs receive is put to good use at home.
“Now everything I got during the training becomes something that’s used in the development of the Polish forces,” Bartniak said.

The Polish Land Forces are not relying solely on training that their NCOs get at the American NCO academy. They have an NCO Academy of their own.

“The Polish Land Forces NCO Academy is a very special place in our structure,” Bartniak said.  “Each year we train a few hundred Polish NCOs. Eleven months of hard work await each NCO candidate.”

The Polish NCO academy, too, is going multinational.

Our cooperation is not limited to Polish NCOs training in Grafenwoehr, Germany, Bartniak said. It’s also the presence of U.S. Army troops in the Polish Land Forces NCO Academy in Poznan.

During his remarks, Bartniak showed a video of a U.S. Soldier, Staff Sgt. Tomasz Bartoszyn, JMTC, training at the Polish NCO academy.

Bartoszyn, who was born in Poland, emigrated to the United States as a teenager, and joined the U.S. Army after high school is the first U.S. Soldier to attend the Polish academy.

“So far I have seen that what they teach here at the Polish NCO school is very similar to United States Army tactics and techniques, it’s just a different language,” Bartoszyn said in the video.

Individual development and even the development of the respective forces aren’t the most important effects of the multinational focus in training. The forces training together have another effect in mind - mutual understanding and interoperability in battle.

“The Polish Army and United States Army have been working for a long time together, and currently, they are stationed in Afghanistan just like us,” Bartoszyn said in the video.

“By being here and exchanging our tactics or basic information about how we do things, it helps them to understand us better, so when they have to work with us, there are no surprises,” Bartoszyn said.

Armstrong, who served with Soldiers from several nations during a deployment in Afghanistan, agrees. “The confidence we have gained through training and deploying together makes us successful on the battlefield,” he said.

Command Sgt. Major Dennis Zavodsky, JMTC’s command sergeant major, who led the Warriors Corner discussion, summed up the continued need for multinational training.

“We live together, we train together, we have fought together, and, ultimately, we will deploy and fight together again,” Zavodsky said.