The U.S. Army National Guard’s 81st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, based in Seattle, is U.S. Army Europe and Africa’s ninth rotation deployed in support of NATO’s enhanced Forward Presence. Approximately 800 soldiers began deploying to Bemowo Piskie Training Area, Poland, in May. The U.S. soldiers will serve alongside NATO Allies from Croatia, Romania and the United Kingdom, which collectively make up Battle Group Poland. More than 300 pieces of the unit’s equipment will off-load at the Esbjerg, Denmark, port June 4-12. The deployment to Poland is the largest for the Washington National Guard since the 81st Brigade Combat Team deployed in 2009-2010 and 2004-2005 to support Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.
“Even while dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, our citizen-soldiers continue to train and deploy in support of our overseas requirements”, said MG Bret Daugherty, the Adjutant General. In addition, 150 guardsmen and women from Washington state’s 81st Stryker Brigade Combat Team are deployed to Ukraine in support of a Joint Multinational Training mission there.
Notably, this is the first time the U.S. Army and the Danish Ministry of Defense have used the Esbjerg port for an operation of this kind. The operation reflects the ability of U.S. and Danish military forces to execute a complex logistics and transportation equipment movement on this scale. All movements of personnel and equipment will be conducted while adhering to the prevention and protection guidance directed by the Department of Defense, Department of the Army, Centers for Disease Control, host nation governments and local authorities to proactively mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
The 81st Stryker Brigade Combat Team is a modular brigade of the United States Army National Guard based in Washington, Oregon and California and is subordinate to the 7th Infantry Division. On 9 July 2015 it was announced that the 81st Brigade would convert from being an Armored BCT to a Stryker BCT. In September 2016 the 81st Brigade began the transition to a Stryker Brigade Combat Team. On 3 December 2016 the 81st Brigade became part of the 2nd Infantry Division and now wears the 7th Infantry Division shoulder sleeve insignia under the Associated Unit program.