SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois National Guard's Bilateral Embedded Staff Team (BEST) A21 held a deployment ceremony at the Illinois Military Academy, Camp Lincoln, Springfield, Illinois on May 9.Maj. Gen. Michael Zerbonia, Assistant Adjutant General-Army, Illinois National Guard, of Chatham, Illinois, presents an Illinois Flag to Lt. Col. Donald West, Commander BEST A21, of Petersburg, Illinois. BEST A21 will serve alongside Polish Forces as part of the state partnership program between Poland and the Illinois National Guard which was established in 1993. (U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. Stephen Gifford, Illinois National Guard Public Affairs)

The Soldiers will train for a short time at Fort Bliss, Texas, before deploying to Afghanistan. This unique mission allows Illinois Army National Guard Soldiers to train and deploy side-by-side with their Polish counterparts. The Soldiers are from various parts of Illinois and were selected for the mission based on their training and skills. BEST A21 is commanded by Lt. Col. Donald West, of Petersburg, Illinois.

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The deployment is in support of Operation Freedom's Sentinel, during which the team will assist the Polish Military Contingent in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.

The partnership between Poland and the Illinois National Guard dates back to 1993. In 2018 the partnership celebrates its 25th year.

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