POWIDZ, Poland –
The 652nd Regional Support Group took a big step in wrapping up their 10-month deployment to Poland on Wednesday when they held a Relief in Place/Transfer of Authority ceremony at Powidz Air Base in Powidz, Poland.
The 652nd, an Army Reserve unit from Helena, Montana, was the first Army Reserve unit to conduct base operations for the U.S. military in Poland. During the RIP/TOA, the 652nd RSG transferred authority of 11 base camps throughout the country to the 297th RSG, a National Guard unit from Alaska. The 297th will be the first National Guard unit to conduct the base operations mission in Poland.
In her remarks as outgoing commander, Col. Erica Herzog, the 652nd RSG commander, addressed the historic year.
“When we departed Helena, Montana, in September of 2019, I communicated to you that this would be a historic mission, one of many firsts,” Herzog told the crowd, which consisted mainly of her Soldiers, the 297th Soldiers, Polish military and local citizens.
“The key decisions you made and the execution of the work that followed made history in Poland. You charted historic firsts that are symbols of assurance and a strong military alliance that will provide future rotations of Soldiers the security and quality of life support of a strong Europe.”
The 652nd arrived in Poland on Sept. 27 and pushed out mayor cell teams to the base camps in October. The teams oversaw base improvement contracts in support of the rotations of American forces training there. The 652nd handled day-today living services for the Soldiers, such as assigning rooms and space for units, maintaining key control, monitoring contracts for large-scale projects, overseeing laundry and dining facility services and facility work orders. They did this in conjunction with their Polish partners, who own the bases. The 652nd carried out the historic mission through the trials of the COVID-19 pandemic, which affected the scale of Defender Europe 20-plus, which was slated to be one of the largest allied exercises ever in Europe.
Col. Matthew Schell, the commander of the 297th RSG, said his Soldiers are trained and ready to take over the mission in Poland. He drew comparisons between the mission his Soldiers will perform in Poland, and that of Tadeusz Kosciusko, the Polish national hero who fought for the United States in the Revolutionary War and built numerous fortifications for the U.S., including West Point.
“As a forward element of 21st TSC and U.S. Army Europe, the 297th RSG is committed to the security of Europe, we’re committed to the NATO alliance, and we are particularly committed to developing our relationship with the Polish Armed Forces,” Schell said.