| JFHQ | June 8, 2020
A handful of specialized Illinois Army National Guard Soldiers have deployed to the U.S. Central Command Area of Responsibility this spring as part of Bilateral Embedded Staff Team (BEST) A25.
After mobilizing in early May, the team transitioned to Fort Bliss, Texas where they received final training prior to deploying overseas. This unit’s unique mission allows them to deploy side-by-side with their Polish counterparts. The Soldiers are from various towns in central Illinois. They were selected for the mission based on their training and skills.
“The Illinois National Guard has more than 1,000 troops deployed overseas even as we respond to unprecedented missions here at home,” said Brig. Gen. Richard Neely, the Adjutant General of the Illinois National Guard. “This is a small team, but they are doing vital work for our national defense and are strengthening the Illinois National Guard’s unique relationship with the Polish military. This is a special mission, very few states deploy with their partner countries.”
As part of the deployment supporting Operation Freedom’s Sentinel, the team will assist the Polish Military Contingent in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. In partnership with allied and coalition forces, BEST A25 will train, advise and assist the institutions within the Afghan Ministry of Defense and Ministry of the Interior.
The Illinois National Guard has had a State Partnership Program with the Polish military since in 1993. The State Partnership Program between the Illinois National Guard and Poland has been the most successful State Partnership in the nation, helping Poland emerge from the Warsaw Pact to become a member of NATO and one of the United States’ staunchest allies. In addition, Illinois Army National Guard troops have co-deployed with Poland on every Polish rotation to Iraq and Afghanistan since 2003.