As evidence of the United States’ continued commitment to the NATO alliance and Poland, the California Army National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 185th Infantry Regiment officially took the helm of Battle Group Poland (BGP) on Feb. 11, 2022, during a handover, take over (HOTO) ceremony here. The 185th becomes the tenth consecutive BGP command unit since the battle group was created in 2017. The unit employs more than 1,000 troops from the U.S., Great Britain, Romania, Croatia, and Poland, with California Guardsmen but supported strongly with Oregon and Washington Guardsmen. The 185th will operate as Task Force Thunderbolt. It relieves the 3rd Battalion, 161st Infantry Regiment from the Washington National Guard.
“We intend to continue serving Poland and to continue the United States’ responsibilities to NATO and our partner nations. With me are hundreds of American men and women, each bred with traditional American concepts and values that no nation should ever stand alone when its ideals and principles face challenges. Together with our international team members, we will overcome any challenges put before us. First, we offer friendship to our new communities. We offer our working hands, our skills as fellow men and women, to nearby villages and neighborhoods to continue to build Battle Group Poland’s cooperative alliance with our local communities,” said Lt. Col. Trevor Phillips, incoming BGP commander.
Since arriving in Poland in late January, the 185th continues adapting to its Eastern Poland location while regularly monitoring issues that affect regions surrounding Poland. Task Force Thunderbolt continues organizing training scenarios within the battle group and has hundreds of vast forest-filled acreages via Poland’s assistance to conduct simulated warfare. The 185th’s journey started at its small San Bernadino, California, armory where it received its first mobilization warning order in 2020. The unit departed California in early January and held pre-mobilization preparedness at Fort Bliss, Texas, for several weeks. Per Dalton, the 185th’s last significant deployment was Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2008-09.
The 185th Infantry Regiment is a unit of the United States Army made up of soldiers from the California Army National Guard, represented by the 1st Battalion, part of the 81st Stryker Brigade Combat Team. The 185th Infantry was first used for a unit that traced its lineage back to the 6th Infantry Battalion of the California National Guard. The last active unit of the former 185th Infantry was the 1st Battalion, 185th Infantry, part of the 100th Troop Command, headquartered in Moreno Valley, CA. Its higher headquarters, in turn, was the 40th Infantry Division. This unit was disbanded in 2008. In 2016, the 1st Battalion of the 185th Armor Regiment was redesignated as the 1st Battalion of the 185th Infantry to form the current unit, which is not connected to the previous 185th Infantry.