Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville made it official Tuesday: A headquarters group will be going to Poland as the first move in the major realignment of forces in Europe brought on by President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw about 11,900 troops from Germany.
In a ceremony in the Polish city of Krakow, McConville promoted John Kolasheski, the Army's V Corps commander, to the rank of lieutenant general and officially unfurled the headquarters' flag for the first time on Polish soil.
Elements of V Corps' headquarters had been scheduled to be based in Germany but, under the new plan, about 200 of 630 personnel will now be sent to Poland. The rest will remain in Fort Knox, Kentucky, according to the Army.
The date for the move, as well as the location in Poland, has not been announced, but it will take place in 2021, U.S. Army Europe stated.
"The activation of an additional Corps headquarters provides the needed level of command and control focused on synchronizing U.S. Army, allied, and partner nation tactical formations operating in Europe," McConville said in a statement.
In a Pentagon briefing last Wednesday, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said that the withdrawal of 11,900 troops from Germany, reducing the U.S. presence there to about 24,000 personnel, would be accompanied by a shift in the U.S. and NATO force posture to the Black Sea region, the Baltic states and Poland to counter Russia.
Of the 11,900 troops to be withdrawn, about 6,400 will eventually return to the U.S.; the rest will be repositioned in other NATO countries, Esper said.
At the briefing, Esper and Air Force Gen. Tod Wolters, who doubles as the head of NATO and U.S. European Command, said that EUCOM's headquarters will move out of Germany to Belgium, and two Army battalions will relocate to Italy.
U.S. Africa Command will also move out of its current headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany. AFRICOM will likely go to Belgium, although a location has yet to be designated, Esper said.
He had no estimate for the overall cost of the withdrawal, but said it could be in the "single-digit" billions.
-- Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com.