At the Military Training Center in Poznań on August 10, Mariusz Błaszczak, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Defense, watched the training of Polish soldiers on Abrams tanks. The American side will train roughly 150 troops, including technical personnel, instructors, and crews, as part of the so-called ‘The Abrams Academy’ until the end of 2022, who will eventually be users of the technology. The 5th US Army Corps commander, General John S. Kolasheski, was also present at the training ground, praising both the Abrams tanks and the current Polish-American allied relations and cooperation within NATO.
The Abrams Partnership Program is a collaborative initiative between the 7th Army Training Command, the Joint Multinational Readiness Center, V Corps, and the United States Army Europe and Africa.
“I would like to emphasize that when we announced last year the purchase of 250 Abrams tanks for the needs of the Polish Army, we said that the process of preparation for the takeover of these tanks by the Polish Army would proceed very quickly and we have just the effects of these activities,” said the Deputy Prime Minister. The course has started, and training has begun, which makes it possible to prepare Polish soldiers and technicians to service Abrams tanks quickly, added the Deputy Prime Minister.
In April this year, the Ministry of Defense approved the contract to purchase Abrams tanks for the Polish Army. The order provides for the purchase of 250 tanks with accompanying equipment, including 26 maintenance vehicles and 17 accompanying bridges of the M1074 JOINT ASSAULT BRIDGE. The contract includes the purchase of a training and logistics package and a supply of ammunition. The contract value is approximately USD 4.75 billion.
The Polish Ministry of Defense said it contracted for the M1A2 System Enhancement Program version 3 (SEPv3) Abrams Main Battle Tanks (MBT), which has specifications identical to the equipment used by the US armed forces. The tanks are equipped with state-of-the-art communication, vehicle positioning and combat management systems. The tanks will serve mainly in the 18th Mechanized Division.
In 2023, older versions of 116 Abrams tanks, most likely M1A1SA, will be delivered to fill gaps left by the transfer of tanks from Poland to Ukraine. These will be upgraded in the future.
The Abrams Academy currently has 28 Abrams in the SEP v2 version at the disposal of the Polish Army to speed up the training process. They will also be modernized. The Abrams were purchased as part of an urgent operational need, and the FMS application was signed in July 2021.
“Our goal is that the tanks can be operated by trained soldiers when they are already equipped for the Polish Army, and it will happen next year. (…) We also want interoperability and thus build interoperability with the US military. General Kolasheski is the commander of the 5th Corps of the US Army, the forward element of this corps is permanently stationed in Poland, and it is from here that American soldiers on the entire eastern flank of the North Atlantic Alliance are commanded (from Poznań, Poland, Ed.). It is building the defense capabilities of the Republic of Poland, this cooperation between the Polish Army and the US military,” said the Minister of Defense. He also pointed out the permanent presence of the 5th Corps of the US Army and the joint exercises between Polish and American soldiers.
V Corps recently converted its current presence in the region from a rotating force to a permanently stationed unit, further extending the partnership and collaboration. This entails permanently posting around 350 US soldiers and civilians in Poznan, Poland.
Minister Błaszczak also mentioned the new act, and many beneficial changes will be introduced to the Polish Army, including those relating to modernization. “Thanks to the law on the defense of the Fatherland, we will increase the number of the Polish Army. Our goal is for the Polish Army to count 300,000 soldiers. We will also successively equip them with modern equipment. This is a guarantee of the security of Poland and all countries that make up NATO,” he said.
Abrams Training in Poland
The Abrams Partnership Program is divided into two parts: the Summit Program and the Apprentice Program.
The Abrams Summit Program is a series of focused-leader engagements to teach Polish troops important concepts like combined weapons tactics, sustainment, organization, and master-gunner duties. The series consists of two summits: the Abrams Operations Summit, which began on April 26, 2022, and the Abrams Logistics Summit, which will take place later this year.
The Abrams Apprentice Program, which began immediately following the Abrams Operations Summit, is the next step of the cooperation programme. The apprentice programme is a series of small-scale subject matter expert engagements that include future Polish master gunners, operations and training officers, and sustainment officers into the planning phase of a US Army armour battalion action.