Polish Armed Forces will assign a tank battalion which is going to become a part of the NATO VJTF component (so called “Spearhead”) during the year 2016. The unit will be equipped with the Leopard 2A5 main battle tanks.
As we were informed by Lt. Col. Marek Pietrzak of the Polish General Command of the Armed Forces, Polish 34th Armoured Cavarly Brigade assigned a single tank battalion to become a part of the NATO VJTF component. The battalion in question is going to remain on alert within the framework of the VJTF unit (“spearhead”) starting from the end of the first quarter of this year, until the end of it. Some of the said forces have been, and still remain, a part of the VJTF framework, starting from the beginning of this year. Leopard 2A5 tanks are the primary equipment of the 34th Armoured Cavalry Brigade of the Polish Army, and these tanks are going to be assigned to become a part of the NATO quick response forces.
NATO VJTF is an element of the NATO Response Force, formed on the basis of the provisions of the Newport summit. The land component is a brigade-sized element (ca. 5 thousand soldiers), it should be ready to be deployed within maximally a week, starting from the moment when the orders are received. As a result of the Ukrainian crisis, NATO decided to increase the size of the NATO Response Force component. Now it involves ca. 40 thousand troops, prior to the current arrangements the unit had consisted out of 13 thousand soldiers.
It is worth to note the fact that during the year 2015, within the framework of so called NATO temporary rapid response force contained within the “spearhead” element, a Polish Leopard 2 main battle tanks battalion, using the Leopard 2A4 vehicles, was also involved. The unit was assigned by the Świętoszow based 10th Armoured Cavalry Brigade. 34th Armoured Cavalry Brigade based in Żagań, which, just as the 10th Armoured Cavalry Brigade, is a part of the 11th “Lubuska” Armoured Cavalry Division, took part in the multinational Dragon-15 exercise. During that event, crews of the Leopard 2A5 tanks were trained in carrying out joint operations with the NATO forces.
The 2A5 vehicles also constitute the most modern main battle tanks within the inventory of the Polish Army. According to the arrangements made earlier, one of the 34th Brigade’s battalions is going to be operating under the jurisdiction of a German brigade, while the Żagań based unit is going to command a German Panzer Grenadiers battalion.
Currently, the land component of the “Spearhead” is being commanded by Spain. In 2020, the Polish Army will assume the commanding role within the VJTF unit. German-Dutch corps played a key role in the 2015 framework. In 2017 VJTF land component is expected to be commanded by the British. Deployment of the tank battalions, within the period between 2015 and 2016, is a proof of Polish involvement in creation of the “spearhead” which is the key element of the NATO response forces.