ELKINS, W.Va. — Members of the Polish Territorial Defense Forces have been training with the West Virginia National Guard and Special Forces near Elkins.

The Inter-Mountain reports the Polish troops were participating in the Guard’s Ridge Runner program, which focuses on irregular warfare.

Olga Krawcyzk-Majeran, public affairs officer for the exercise, said a group of over 100 Polish troops arrived for training on Nov. 1.

“We had our soldiers stationed in the mountains and also visiting Elkins a lot, so many people asked us ‘Who are you guys?'” said Krawcyzk-Majeran. “We’re in Elkins because of the villages and the mountains that are here, because the training takes place in the mountains.”

She said it is the third trip to West Virginia for Territorial Defense Forces troops. During the most recent trip, Polish troops celebrated their Independence Day on Nov. 11, which was Veterans Day in the United States.

“We appreciated the American soldiers,” said Krawcyzk-Majeran. “We had our own celebrations, and they had their own; and we were exchanging experiences and discussing the holidays that you guys have.”

The TDF was established in 2017 and includes more than 22,000 soldiers. Its role is similar to that of the National Guard, supporting local communities and serving as the reserve base for other Polish forces.

The goal of the Ridge Runner program is for the National Guard Bureau to adopt the training model, which can then be used in all the states.

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