Eastern Europe: In Austere Landscapes, American Soldiers Find Comfort in Comradery
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.
Bonding with Fellow Soldiers Crucial to Morale
When approaching one of several TAAs in which the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division is stationed in Poland, the first thing you notice is how austere the location is. The older buildings are grey concrete, the weather bitterly cold and the landscape is overtaken by Army vehicles and equipment.
However, part of this TAA includes a modern set of barracks where American troops sleep, eat and get briefed on the mission at hand. This is also where soldiers try to find ways to relax and recharge, although that can sometimes be challenging when surrounded by hundreds of your fellow soldiers.
“There is no getting away from here. You are always on,” said Capt. Halle Edinboro of Richmond, Virginia.
Being constantly among your fellow soldiers isn’t always such a bad thing, Edinboro explained, noting that her team has “been bonding as a section and having some good laughs.”
According to 1st Lt. Dustin Cole of Dallas, Texas, in addition to coming closer together as a team, another benefit of being at this location, said is that he has been able to work with the Polish military, integrating their forces into helicopter training. That is something that may not have happened if they hadn’t been deployed.
“Soldiers being with soldiers,” said 2nd Lt. Bryan Wushford of Ohio, who agreed and noted that training with their fellow NATO allies - that is, the Polish soldiers who were already stationed at their location- is something everyone there has enjoyed.
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