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Polish president visits Vandenberg's MDA sites

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Missile Defense Agency Director Lt. Gen. Henry "Trey" Obering shows a missile defense facility to Polish President Lech Kaczynski and his wife, Polish First Lady Maria Kaczynski, during a tour of Vandenberg on July 17. The trip gave the president an opportunity to get an impression of the MDA program at a time when Polish and U.S. governments are negotiating a missile defense system in Poland. President Kaczynski came to Vandenberg two days after holding diplomatic discussions with U.S. President George W. Bush in Washington, D.C. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Kristi Emler)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Missile Defense Agency Director Lt. Gen. Henry "Trey" Obering shows a missile defense facility to Polish President Lech Kaczynski and his wife, Polish First Lady Maria Kaczynski, during a tour of Vandenberg on July 17. The trip gave the president an opportunity to get an impression of the MDA program at a time when Polish and U.S. governments are negotiating a missile defense system in Poland. President Kaczynski came to Vandenberg two days after holding diplomatic discussions with U.S. President George W. Bush in Washington, D.C. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Kristi Emler)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- A Vandenberg Honor Guard cordon welcomes Missile Defense Agency Director Lt. Gen. Trey Obering who escorts Polish President Lech Kaczynski and his wife, Maria, who flew into Vandenberg on July 17 to tour missile defense facilities. The trip gave the president an opportunity to get an impression of the MDA program at a time when Polish and U.S. governments are negotiating a missile defense system in Poland. President Kaczynski came to Vandenberg two days after holding diplomatic discussions with U.S. President George W. Bush in Washington, D.C. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. William Greer)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- A Vandenberg Honor Guard cordon welcomes Missile Defense Agency Director Lt. Gen. Trey Obering who escorts Polish President Lech Kaczynski and his wife, Maria, who flew into Vandenberg on July 17 to tour missile defense facilities. The trip gave the president an opportunity to get an impression of the MDA program at a time when Polish and U.S. governments are negotiating a missile defense system in Poland. President Kaczynski came to Vandenberg two days after holding diplomatic discussions with U.S. President George W. Bush in Washington, D.C. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. William Greer)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Missile Defense Agency Director Lt. Gen. Trey Obering presents a pin from an interceptor missile to Polish President Lech Kaczynski during a press conference on July 17 in the 76th Helicopter Squadron hangar.  Standing between them is Staff Sgt. Radoslaw Ciesielski, a native Polish speaker and the NCOIC of facility maintenance and operations for the 30th Space Wing and 14th Air Force headquarters building.  The Polish president came to Vandenberg to tour missile defense facilities located on the base and meet with Missile Defense Agency officials.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. William Greer)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Missile Defense Agency Director Lt. Gen. Trey Obering presents a pin from an interceptor missile to Polish President Lech Kaczynski during a press conference on July 17 in the 76th Helicopter Squadron hangar. Standing between them is Staff Sgt. Radoslaw Ciesielski, a native Polish speaker and the NCOIC of facility maintenance and operations for the 30th Space Wing and 14th Air Force headquarters building. The Polish president came to Vandenberg to tour missile defense facilities located on the base and meet with Missile Defense Agency officials. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. William Greer)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Polish President Lech Kaczynski speaks at a press conference in the 76th Helicopter Squadron hangar on July 17 following a tour of missile defense facilities and meeting with Missile Defense Agency officials. The trip gave the president an opportunity to get an impression of the MDA program at a time when Polish and U.S. governments are negotiating a missile defense system in Poland. President Kaczynski came to Vandenberg two days after holding diplomatic discussions with U.S. President George W. Bush in Washington, D.C. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. William Greer)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Polish President Lech Kaczynski speaks at a press conference in the 76th Helicopter Squadron hangar on July 17 following a tour of missile defense facilities and meeting with Missile Defense Agency officials. The trip gave the president an opportunity to get an impression of the MDA program at a time when Polish and U.S. governments are negotiating a missile defense system in Poland. President Kaczynski came to Vandenberg two days after holding diplomatic discussions with U.S. President George W. Bush in Washington, D.C. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. William Greer)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Polish President Lech Kaczynski came to Vandenberg on July 17 to tour missile defense facilities located on the base and meet with Missile Defense Agency officials.

The visit followed the Polish president's meeting with President George W. Bush on July 15 to discuss the U.S. proposal to emplace 10 long-range interceptor missiles in Poland as part of a missile shield program that would add to United State's and Europe's protection from long-range missiles launched from rouge regimes.

The president said this visit was his first time on a missile base, giving him a first-hand glimpse of missile defense operations. During the press conference at the 76th Helicopter Squadron hangar, he reflected on the difference between the present and the Cold War era.

"Twenty years ago, I could hardly imagine that not only myself but this huge delegation would be admitted to a military installation of this kind," President Kaczynski said. "So it's a symbol of the changes in the world."

President Kaczynski showed his support of the missile defense program in his statements.

"The fact that you are engaged in these kinds of activities proves there are dangerous forces in this world these days," he said. "Therefore, these defense preparations are extremely important. I do hope the facilities and things I have seen will never have to be used, and I am leaving you with this hope. But this does not mean we should not work on improving the system."

The Polish president met with the director of the Missile Defense Agency, Lt. Gen. Henry "Trey" Obering, and 30th Space Wing staff and leadership.

"We're proud of the 30th Space Wing--they did a great job pulling this together with all the team players," said Col. Michael Fortney, 30th Space Wing vice commander. "A great visit with very little planning time and it came off without a hitch."

President Kaczynski visited Vandenberg's Missile Assembly Building where Orbital Sciences puts interceptor missiles together. Team Vandenberg also had a special surprise for the president. The clamshell doors at Launch Facility 2 opened and he peered over the edge and down into the silo.

"I think he was impressed," said Rick Lehner, MDA Public Affairs.

Vandenberg currently has two interceptor missiles and advanced communications equipment that is integrated with the Ballistic Missile Defense System.

The system includes 17 long-range interceptor missiles based in Alaska, several radars and other sensors and an integrated command and control network to provide defense of the United States against a limited long-range ballistic missile attack.

Vandenberg was the first to emplace a ground-based interceptor missile in the United States on Dec. 10, 2004. The Missile Defense Agency plans to emplace four interceptors by 2011.