The United States will relocate one thousand US soldiers to Poland. Warsaw hopes the decision will create closer ties to Washington and protection against threats from the East.
The Polish-US Agreement
Last week US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo traveled to Europe and visited four nations. During his stint in Poland he sealed the new military agreement between both countries.
Pompeo chose a symbolic day, August 15, for two reasons: While Catholics – Poland’s majority confession – celebrate an important holiday, the Assumption of Mary, politicians also celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Warsaw with military bands and parades. From August 12-25, in 1920, Poland defeated the Soviet army in the so-called “Miracle of the Vistula.” It was a decisive battle that would later secure the country’s independence.
Pompeo and his counterpart Mariusz Błaszczak sealed an agreement that could have significant implications for Poland. The Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement will provide for the transfer of 1,000 additional US soldiers to Poland, in addition to the 4,500 already stationed in Poland.
Strategically Key Decision
A statement by President Trump published by the White House said that the agreement would intensify military cooperation between the two countries and further strengthen NATO’s deterrent force. During his visit to Warsaw, Pompeo said that the treaty opened the way to a larger rotating US troop presence. The latter was strategically crucial for the US and its allies alike.
Poland will provide the US soldiers with free board and lodging, fuel, storage space, and infrastructure, similar to other host countries of the US troops.
However, since there is no permanent US military base in Poland, the soldiers will not be relocated permanently but will be replaced by others on a rotating basis. The troops for this also come from the contingent of 12,000 soldiers that President Trump wants to withdraw from Germany. More than half of them will return to the USA. In total, 5,600 are going to other European countries, including Poland.
Above all, Poland hopes that the US troops will provide additional protection against possible threats and better defense. Poland’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party had long expressed its wish to strengthen NATO’s eastern flank. The latter should act as a deterrent, especially towards Russia.
If it were up to Poland, the agreement would go even further than the additional 1,000 soldiers. The idea of a permanent military facility called “Fort Trump” has been suggested. However, the latter is very likely not currently feasible. Not because President Trump is not impressed by the idea, but because this plan could violate a treaty between NATO and Russia.
The strategic weights will, therefore, not be changed significantly with the relocation. Instead, a trend of recent years has been confirmed, according to which US troops are withdrawing more to their continent or are being relocated, primarily in Asia and thus in the vicinity of China.
Poland’s President Andrzej Duda doesn’t just see the relocation as a guarantee for more protection against possible aggressors. He also hopes that more security in the country and the region can also encourage businesses to invest more.
It also makes sense that the Polish President can envisage even stronger economic cooperation with the USA, including on energy policy. The traditionally already close ties between Washington and Warsaw could thus be tied even closer in the future. In any case, both sides left no doubt about the immense importance they attach to the Washington-Warsaw axis.
While “Old Europe” — France and Germany — in particular, are at odds with the Americans on several issues, Poland seeks to prove that it can become not only a viable alternative to the latter but also a more reliable friend than Paris and Berlin.