By Staff Sgt. Neil W. McCabe
310th Expeditionary Sustainment Command
The deputy commanding general of the 1st Theater Sustainment Command hosted Polish Ambassador to Kuwait Pawel Lechowicz on an April 19 tour of the 1st TSC's yard of military vehicles designated for transfer to Iraqi security forces through the Counter-ISIS, Equipment and Training Fund.
"He was pretty impressed that the number of vehicles we see in the lot today will be gone in the next 60 or 90 days," said Army Reserve Brig. Gen. Justin M. Swanson, who is also the commanding general of the Indianapolis-based 310th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), whose Soldiers staff the 1st TSC's operational command post here. 1st TSC handles all logistics in U.S. Central Command's area of responsibility.
"We have the ability to move that many vehicles and it ties back to our building partners' capacity, which he's on board with," Swanson said.
During the tour, the ambassador climbed behind the wheel of one of the Humvees in the lot and Swanson showed him an Armored Security Vehicle previously used by Army military police, but is now designated for transfer to Iraqi border guards patrolling their border with Syria.
"He has an open invitation to come back anytime, and I think he will take us up on that," he said. "We'll take him to some other places where we do some operations and I think he's looking forward to that.”
The general met the ambassador at the CTEF lot directly after the envoy's meetings with leaders at the Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve headquarters here, including the Lt. Gen. Paul T. Calvert, the task force's commanding general.
Currently, there are Polish military and civilian personnel deployed to CJTF-OIR, including special operations troops and intelligence analysts, supporting partner nations.
Lechowicz, who previously served as senior diplomat at his country's embassy in Washington, said his other visit in 2018 was not an official one.
"I did not have the tour explaining what the purpose of the vehicles here and the plans," he said. "Right now, I am grateful for the opportunity."
The ambassador said he is proud of his country's support of OIR.
"Inherent Resolve is an effort that brings peace and stability to the region," he said. "From the beginning, we decided to be active here. In 2016, we sent out fighters, F-16s, soldiers to Iraq and some here in Kuwait."
Lechowicz said there has been robust military cooperation between Poland, a NATO ally since 1999, and the United States, dating back to his country's participation in the First Gulf War, shortly after Poland was liberated from Soviet control.
"Since we regained independence in 1990, Poland has always been active in international initiatives, when it comes to the peace process," he said. "Our history shows that sometimes we needed support from other countries, nations, so we have to give it back."
Army Reserve Col. Garrett R. Kolo, the director of 1st TSC's CTEF for the U.S.'s Iraqi partners, who deployed here with the 310th ESC, said his team found the CTEF lot full and they were working to make it empty.
"We started with hundreds of vehicles over here in the lot, and in 90 days we will have this lot cleared out," the colonel said. "All this equipment will be pushed north for the Iraqis to use to fight and defeat Daesh." Daesh is another term for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, derived from the Arabic acronym for the terrorist group's name.
The military attaché at Poland's embassy in Kuwait, Col. Adam Bascik, said he appreciated the opportunity to accompany the ambassador to the CTEF lot.
"It is awesome," Bascik said.
The colonel said he took note of the large number of the same vehicles that were part of the transfer to Iraqi security forces, which makes it more economical to train operating and maintenance personnel, as well as to manage logistics.
"I can say it was also impressive, the numbers, it is important to have big numbers," he said. "It is essential to support forces with several of the same vehicle model--they need a fleet of the same vehicles. It is very, very crucial for training, for parts and maintenance and petrol."
Swanson said CTEF is one of his top priorities.
"It's one of the ways we can positively affect the CENTCOM commander and the CTJF-OIR commander's lines of effort: to build partner capacity," he said.
"We're beyond combat operations, as an organization, as a command, and we're really able to make a difference--we're about to put these vehicles and equipment and capacity in the Iraqi military and defense forces' hands," he said.
"It helps us meet our goals and gets to the end state, which is the Iraqis defending themselves and defeating Daesh."