By Daniel Drummond
Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, thousands of U.S. troops have been deployed throughout Eastern Europe in support of our NATO allies. As the conflict continues and tensions throughout the region rise, deployed American troops can always turn to the USO for support in countries such as Germany, Poland and Romania.
Because, thanks to the generosity of the American people, the USO is – literally – always by their side, even if that means going to conflict zones.
Here are brief snapshots from the field of life on the front lines for U.S. troops in Eastern Europe. Specific locations of these Tactical Assembly Areas (TAA) have not been identified for security purposes.
Keeping Morale High Among Deployed Troops
With temperatures in Poland dipping into the low 20-degree Fahrenheit range, gusting winds blowing through camp and overall austere conditions, keeping morale high among deployed American troops may seem like a tough task. However, it’s made a little bit easier with the help of the USO, according to the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division Col. Kwame Boateng.
“The USO gives us a little bit of home, keeps us connected to home,” Boateng said. “And that helps with separation.”
The USO has provided Wi-Fi, call centers and pre-paid phone cards for service members to connect with their families and friends back home. These phone call centers - often set up in a warm tent next to the field location - are equipped with a private, secure telephone network for service members to use entirely for free. These communication services are designed to keep service members connected to their loved ones back home, so that morale among troops remains high.
Boateng, who has been in the Army for nearly 20 years, said that maintaining high morale is key to soldiers’ readiness.
He explained that keeping spirits high “keeps the Army together,” and with more than 1,200 of newly deployed soldiers stationed at this location in Poland, they all must work together to maintain their focus on the mission at hand.
But having that phone or video call back home allows troops to avoid missing big moments, like the first steps of a child, anniversaries and birthdays, even when thousands of miles away.
“It’s not just about keeping them happy, but about keeping them connected and doing what they are supposed to be doing here,” Boateng said. “We will take care of them so that they can take care of the nation’s problems.”
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