On 12 March, NATO Joint Force Training Centre’s Host Nation, Poland, celebrated the 25th anniversary of its accession to the Alliance. Official, and less formal celebrations were held across the country, especially in Bydgoszcz, known as “the NATO capital of Poland”, and in the Kujawsko-Pomorskie Region. JFTC and other NATO units based in Bydgoszcz actively supported regional and local authorities during ceremonies and events held to commemorate this important jubilee.

25 years ago, Poland, together with the Czech Republic and Hungary joined NATO and became the first NATO members in the Eastern and Central Europe. It was a milestone for NATO’s presence in this part of the world, and paved the way for other countries from the region that joined NATO later. The decision taken 25 years ago was pivotal for the increase of security in the Eastern and Central Europe. It also strengthened the Alliance, provided it with broader military expertise, committed partners and experienced troops that soon after augmented NATO missions.

That critical moment turned out to be advantageous also for the city of Bydgoszcz as it led to further decisions to establish other NATO installations here. As a result, Bydgoszcz came to be “the NATO capital of Poland”, and the whole region of Kujawsko-Pomorskie region became an important place for the Alliance.  

On 12 March, Brigadier General Petr Svoboda, JFTC Deputy Commander and Chief of Staff, together with commanders and representatives of NATO Force Integration Unit Poland, NATO Military Police Centre of Excellence, the 3rd NATO Signal Battalion and NCIA CSU Bydgoszcz, participated in a variety of events marking the anniversary. The celebrations included official ceremonies in Bydgoszcz and Toruń, a conference "25 Years of Poland in NATO", the “NATO and JFTC Oak” plaque unveiling at the Bydgoszcz’s Oak Avenue, and a military picnic for citizens of Toruń with a display of military equipment and information stands.

On 16 March, a huge military picnic was held in Bydgoszcz. Attractions included a display of military hardware, expositions, concerts, information stands, military pea soup and attractions for children. Organised by the City of Bydgoszcz and regional authorities in close cooperation with Polish and NATO military units, including JFTC, the event turned out to be a great success. It attracted over ten thousands of citizens of Bydgoszcz and the Kujawsko-Pomorskie Region. Major General Norbert Wagner, JFTC Commander, opened the event together with local and regional officials and military leaders, and many of JFTC staff members supported the endeavour.

The events commemorating 25 years of Poland in NATO were also linked to NATO’s 75th anniversary, and an introduction to JFTC’s 20th anniversary celebrations, which will continue over the upcoming months. Also on 16 March, right before the military picnic, a tram informing about JFTC’s 20th anniversary was presented in Bydgoszcz. The displayed graphics combines the NATO compass and JFTC anniversary elements with symbols of our Home City, Bydgoszcz. The project was carried out in coordination with local authorities and the tram will remind the local community about the jubilee over the upcoming year.