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US Soldiers Demonstrate Combat Capabilities of HIMARS Rocket Launcher System in Poland.

The U.S. Army's 1st Battalion, 14th Field Artillery, conducted live firing exercises with the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) in Ustka, Poland, as part of the Immediate Response segment of Defender 24. The exercises showcased the HIMARS' capabilities, which include firing both guided and unguided rockets as well as long-range Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) missiles. Poland and several other NATO allies also utilize the HIMARS weapons system.
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The 1st battalion, 14th Field Artillery of the U.S. Army, conducts a live firing with the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) in Ustka, Poland. (Picture source U.S. DoD)

Poland has recently secured a significant contract with the United States to acquire High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), marking a substantial enhancement in its military capabilities. Approved by the U.S. State Department in early 2023, the deal is valued at $10 billion. It includes 18 M142 HIMARS launchers, 45 ATACMS missile systems, and various guided multiple launch rocket systems and warheads​.

Defender 24, Europe's largest U.S. Army exercise, is a comprehensive demonstration of NATO's commitment to deterrence and readiness. This year, the exercise involves over 17,000 U.S. service members and 23,000 multinational troops from more than 20 Allied and partner nations. Participating countries include Croatia, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Georgia, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

DEFENDER exercises, including Saber Strike, Immediate Response, and Swift Response, are part of the Dynamic Employment of Forces to Europe for NATO Deterrence and Enhanced Readiness. Defender 24 is linked to NATO’s Steadfast Defender exercise and the Department of Defense's Large Scale Global Exercise, running from March 28 to May 31.

The presence and readiness of HIMARS in Poland come at a crucial time, as the system is also currently employed by the Ukrainian armed forces in their ongoing conflict with Russia, which began with Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

Since the onset of Russia's invasion in February 2022, Ukrainian soldiers have relied heavily on the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) to defend their country and repel advancing Russian forces. This advanced weaponry has proven to be a game-changer on the battlefield, offering unparalleled precision and effectiveness in targeting enemy positions.

Serhiy, a commander in the Ukrainian artillery division, highlights the significant impact HIMARS has had on their operations. "Before HIMARS, our artillery strikes were effective but not as precise. With HIMARS, we can hit high-value targets with pinpoint accuracy, which has been crucial in our defensive and offensive strategies," he says. The ability to strike accurately at long distances has allowed Ukrainian forces to disrupt Russian supply lines, command centers, and artillery positions, significantly slowing the enemy's advance.

The versatility of HIMARS, capable of firing both guided and unguided rockets and long-range Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) missiles, has been precious. Oleksandr, a soldier operating the HIMARS, recounts an operation where they successfully neutralized a high-value target deep within enemy territory. "We received intelligence about a Russian command post. Using HIMARS, we launched a precision strike from a safe distance, which took out the command post and caused significant disarray among the Russian forces in that area."

The live firing exercises in Ustka underline the ongoing collaboration and solidarity among NATO allies, enhancing collective security and preparedness in the region.

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