Polish forces to join Afghan campaign
WARSAW, Poland -- Poland has agreed to contribute up to 300 soldiers -- including some from an elite commando unit -- to support the U.S.-led military operation in Afghanistan.
"I have no doubt that Poland should take part in the war against terrorism, not only by supporting it, but by the participation of Polish troops in military operations," President Aleksander Kwasniewski said on Thursday.
The troops, requested by Washington, will include military engineers and specialists in countering chemical and biological warfare. They are intended to play a support rather than a combat role.
Poland will also supply a warship for logistics purposes.
Kwasniewski said members of the elite GROM commando unit would participate, but he did not specify their mission.
GROM, an acronym that means "thunder" in Polish, won U.S. praise for its participation in the 1994 operation in Haiti. It also has taken part in special missions in the Balkans.
Prime Minister Leszek Miller was observing GROM military exercises on Thursday at the unit's base in Rembertow outside Warsaw.
Kwasniewski said the units should be ready for deployment by January 10 and could remain in Afghanistan for about six months.
Poland, a former communist state, has been a strong supporter of the U.S.-led war against terrorism and the operation in Afghanistan.
"Today comes the moment when we have to join in military action," Kwasniewski said.
"As a country that has experienced tragedies many times, we know that joint action and support of allies are of great importance."
Poland joined NATO in 1999 along with two other former Soviet-bloc countries, Hungary and the Czech Republic.
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