“We have the world’s largest, baddest army,” said Major Troy Scott of the Army National Guard, while explaining how easily stereotypes against other nations’ militaries can often arise. “But when you’re building a coalition, you have to get past those obstacles.”
MAJ Scott ‘s deployment to eastern Afghanistan in 2008- his first and for which he has received a Purple Heart, a Bronze Star, and the Army Commendation Medal with Valor for his service- was spent in the company of those whom many back home may not have expected. Two thirds of the “Herculean” Task Force he commanded were members of the Polish military brigade – not American soldiers.
MAJ Scott was assigned as Senior U.S. Advisor to the Polish Military Contingent in Afghanistan, operating as the Deputy Commander of the 1200 man Task Force White Eagle- predominately Poles- from March 2008 to October 2008. It was the only coalition battalion-size task force under the 4th Brigade Combat Team of the 101st Airborne Division.
On October 31, 2008 the Polish Military Contingent assumed responsibility of their own Brigade battle space, with MAJ Scott continuing on as advisor to the Polish brigade.
Said MAJ Scott, “Sometimes U.S. Forces, we look at ourselves- and rightly so- as a superior force.” But, he explained, to watch one of our NATO partners (particularly the Poles) operate in Afghanistan and exceed expectations proved to be a tremendously gratifying experience
There has been a further impact to maintaining such a partnership as well. Keeping the Poles in Afghanistan allows the U.S. to keep 3 times the number of our soldiers out of Afghanistan.
“The value is expediential- a combat multiplier,” he said.
It was MAJ Scott’s job to ensure that the American expectations were understandable for the Poles, for whom English was not their second language, but their third. Scott, who had no previous experience with the Polish military or even the Polish language, observed the melding of two differing armies and cultures, fighting alongside one another for a shared goal in a foreign space.
Learning the land and history of the region was key to both MAJ Scott and his Task Force. During his deployment, his brigade participated in the largest coalition movement of personnel in Afghanistan, moving battle spaces from the Paktika province to the Ghazni province.
“You have to be a little bit politician, engineer, city planner, lawyer,” described MAJ Scott.
For his service and leadership, MAJ Scott has also been recommended for the Silver Star and Distinguished Service Cross.