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Myers Thanks Poles for Contributions to War on Terror

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WARSAW, Poland, Sept. 19, 2003 – The Polish-led Multinational Division in Iraq has impressed U.S. military officials by its leadership, professionalism and competence, Joint Chiefs Chairman Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers said here today.

Myers and Gen. Czeslaw Piatas, chief of the Polish General Staff, held a press conference following a series of meetings here. Myers used the occasion to thank the Polish government and military for their contributions to the global war on terror.

"U.S.-Poland military ties are exceptionally strong," Myers said. "Poland is indeed a valued ally. We are very grateful for Poland's contributions to Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom and the many other places around the world where Polish armed forces serve to make this world a more peaceful place."

Myers said Poland's leadership of the Multinational Division is a "great asset" not only for the coalition, but also for the Iraqi people. Poland leads the 10,000-man division. The Central European country has the third largest contingent in Iraq following the United States and the United Kingdom, military officials said. There are 2,500 Polish service members in Iraq. The division has soldiers from 23 countries and is headquartered in Hillah. The Multinational Division has started patrolling in Najaf, the Shiia holy city.

Polish officials said that the military has a great deal of experience in peacekeeping. Polish soldiers have played roles in many U.N. peacekeeping efforts and more recently in Bosnia and Kosovo.

The Polish-led division has had a good handover from the U.S. Marines and is working closely with other coalition partners, Myers said U.S. Central Command chief Army Gen. John Abizaid told him. The area the division is in is primarily Shiia and has been relatively peaceful, U.S. military officials said.

Myers and the Polish military leaders also discussed a wide range of issues. These included modernization and transforming the Polish military to meet the challenges of the new security environment.

Poland spends almost 2 percent of gross domestic product on security matters. This is almost a half a percent higher than the NATO average. U.S. military officials said the Polish military is not only spending an adequate amount, but is spending it wisely.

Myers was to meet further with the Polish minister of defense and then travel to the tomb of the unknown soldier before returning to the United States.

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Click photo for screen-resolution image-- Joint Chiefs Chairman Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers troops the Polish military line after he placed a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Warsaw Sept. 19. Photo by Jim Garamone  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageFrom left, U.S. Ambassador to Poland Chris Hill, Mary Jo Myers and Joint Chiefs Chairman Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers listen through an interpreter while a Polish officer explains the history of his country's Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Sept. 19. Photo by Jim Garamone  
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Click photo for screen-resolution image-- Joint Chiefs Chairman Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers places a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Warsaw Sept. 19. Photo by Jim Garamone  
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