The orders are clear: troops have to blow the entanglements and capture enemy trenches. They’re supported by sniper teams, heavy machine guns and MGS Strykers. This is the VALEX of 2nd Cavalry Regiment held in the Grafenwoehr Training Area. After certification the Dragoons are going to deploy as the NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence in Orzysz, Poland.
"When I jumped out from the chopper, I fell into snow up to my waist. We had to lay down on an ice sheet and only after this, we could crawl on positions” that’s how Private 1st Class Adrian Ciupa recalls one of his missions in Afghanistan. As one of the soldiers from the 25th Air Cavalry Brigade he must not only be able to survive in the snow and cold, but also be able to fight in it.
Soldiers methodically check every room. The enemy can hide anywhere. An attack may come from the next blind corner, dark bay or broken window. If you lose your vigilance, you’ll get surrounded and ended with bullet in your back. Even if it is only training, such are the realities of CQC.
The Earth trembles from passing BTRs, mud flies in the air. Less than 10 meters from them, two scouts from 2nd Cavalry Regiment are hidden in the bushes. They did their job and warned Polish forces from the approaching enemy. Now they must wait out the storm. That's part of Slovak Sheld-16 military training.
Strykers from 4th Squadron are rushing through the foreground. On the left side you can see bright, spinning smudges of TOW rockets. At the same time, a gunner starts shooting with his fifty. He doesn’t stop even when ground starts shaking from artillery fire. Durning the Brave Warrior-16 soldiers from the United States, Hungary, Croatia and Poland showed that they are real Harcos.
There are clouds of dust floating in the air. It’s not a common gale. It’s a real hurricane, like a desert storm except there is no desert. In such conditions, paramedics provides the status of a wounded soldier directly to the chopper crew. They have to remember the "Golden Hour" rule, so there’s no time to waste. The patient is immediately taken to the ROLE 2. Whether this is practice or an actual battlefield, frontline medics have one superior goal - save lives.
Above the forest line appear three birds. The Black Hawks landed simultaneously, close to the enemy buildings as the operators sections start doing their jobs. One group have Fighting Poland emblems on their left shoulders, the hallmark of Polish JWK special forces. It’s not only the legacy of Warsaw Uprising insurgents, but also guarantee of operation success.
Before the war, the Yarmouk camp was home to about 150,000 Palestinians. After the Daesh attack in 2015, only a few thousand are left. Since that time, guerrillas from the Free Palestine Movement shoot up their little homeland from terrorist hands. Here and there, frightened civilian eyes are watching their struggle.
There is a stench. The stench of pressure sores, open wounds, chronic diarrhea. Eyes are staring from the room corners, previously brave and motivated, now tortured and expectant. Just above them writhe bandages, tangled tubes, spitting plasma and blood. Eyes staring hopefully at the door.
How to distinguish natives from newcomers? When the noise of a huge explosion comes from a neighbor district, the former don’t even bat an eye. The latter shrink into themselves, looking around restlessly, searching for peace in others. Two stray souls who are trying to fit in daily routine.
"In Afghanistan I’ve seen terrible images: blood, guts, injured children covered in vomit. Recruits who want to become medics, sooner or later will also have to face such views. Fear is natural, especially when the bullets whizzing around and you have to save someone's life. It is important to be able to master this fear”- says Sergeant Jeffery Taylor. He's a scalpel medic.
You have four hours. During this time you’ll probably stretch your bones, eat one or two MREs, try to take a nap. Give yourself a little intimacy. If you manage to have internet access, you'll be staring at the blurred faces of loved ones. This is the duty after hours.
A Stryker convoy stretches to the horizon. From the open hatches, troopers are waving to curious locals. They are Nearly four hundred vehicles, in seven countries, for more than three weeks on the road. Exhausted, several hours of long sections reflect even on the strongest. Welcome to Dragoon Ride.
An estimated 22 000 residents are living on the square kilometer in the Palestinian camp Shatila. Some of them came to this place back in the 50s. Palestinians are plagued by lack of sanitation, running water, electricity. Medical care is functioning at a minimum level and the children have limited access to education. Despite the overcrowding, hundreds of Syrian refugees are getting to the camp since 2011.
There are about 1.1 million Syrian refugees in Lebanon. More than half of them live in tents or places not intended for habitation; in garages, abandoned farm buildings, sometimes in their workplace. Despite the aid flowing from humanitarian organizations, some of them is deprived of medical care, food and warm clothing. At the same time, 13.5 million inhabitants are waiting for help inside Syria.
MERT (Mobile Exploitation and Reconnaissance Team) special group from Polish JWK (Commando Special Forces) specializes in search for biological, chemical, radiological and nuclear weapons. Their task is to find, secure and to collect evidence. Due to the nature of special operations, MERT group works in dangerous environments, often behind enemy lines.
Gunners from the Spanish VII Light Infantry Brigade „Galicia” are quickly setting up their their positions in the nearby hills. After a few minutes, L-118A1 105mm howitzers are masked and the soldiers are awaiting orders. Another few minutes and howitzers roar one after another. Eardrums hurt from the noise and acrid smell of gunpowder invades the nostrils. Everything is covered in the thick smoke.
Caterpillar tracks bring out clouds of dust. Armored dragons set up their positions. The tank commander rubs his goggle and indicates the direction of the infantry attack. Moments later he disappears in the tank hatch and dust blankets scenery again. These are international military exercises called Dragon-15.
The Polish-Canadian platoon ambushed an enemy convoy. Commands filled the area while soldiers carried out their orders. Some of them have a distinctive, hard accent. Troops from the 25th Air Cavalry Brigade and the infantry from the 3rd Battalion The Royal Canadian Regiment share their experience and practice shoulder to shoulder. This is the second year of Maple Detachment.
Despite the Second Minsk Agreement, ceasefire practically does not exist. Soldiers on Pisky positions are facing not only heavy artillery and lurking snipers, but also their service routine. Some of them are fighting continuously for a year. Trenches are their new home now.
The city was destroyed by heavy artillery shelling and street fights. Estimated architectural losses reach up to 80%. The real threat is not only misfires and buildings that may collapse, but also booby traps left by encircled Ukrainians. Still, survivors are trying to breathe new life into Debaltseve.
After the tragedy of the Ilovaisk "kettle", Ukrainian forces are doing everything to prevent another encirclement. Popasna, a small city located northeast from Debaltseve, is a key point on the frontline. Despite furious rebel attacks, soldiers know they can't fail. Otherwise, their companions find themselves trapped.
The Donetsk People's Republic is growing their own statehood. The new government began to pay pensions, and will probably soon have money for state employees salaries. At the same time, destroyed streets and fights in the suburbs clashes with normal life.
Ice-covered streets, tired faces, and artillery thunder coming over the horizon. Overcrowded hospitals struggling with countless wounded and lack of water. Lenin, who in a moment, will give up to the people of Donbass.
Airmobile 3rd Battalion from The Royal Canadian Regiment is providing support fire and trying to hold their ground. At the same time, Polish PZL W-3 „Sokol” and Mi-17 helicopters landed just behind soldiers backs. Servicemen jump out from choppers interiors and in the clouds of dust they start to indicate the way. This is the first year of the Canadian presence on Polish soil.
The silence was interrupted by two shots. This is JWK sniper who eliminated enemy targets. Almost at the same time, operators breached the entrance and started to clear rooms. It’s all over before it began. Tangos have not even figured out when they were caught in the web.