John Rood, the US Under Secretary of Defence told Poland that a part of the US troops will be deployed permanently, while others will still be rotated, the Polish “Rzeczpospolita” daily reports.
The Polish Defence Minister Mariusz Błaszczak said after the meeting with John C. Rood, the US Undersecretary of Defence, that more US troops in...see more
“Contrary to some media revelations, we are making progress concerning the increase of the American forces. I took part in some meetings, so I present first-hand reports,” Georgette Mosbacher, the US ambassador to Poland, tweeted on Thursday. The Polish “Gazeta Wyborcza” daily suggested that the negotiations with the US failed.
“The constant rotation of [US] forces in Poland allows better coverage of the European area of operation by those American units, which are not deployed permanently. But when it comes to command and other kinds of staff, a permanent base is necessary because of the kind of relations we have built with Poland and the specific mission of US troops there,” General Curtis M. Scaparrotti, US European Command and NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe, said during the hearing in the House of Representatives of the US Congress.
According to the military journal “Military Times”, the representatives of the US authorities “have presented the offer of a permanent deployment of US troops in Poland, but it will take some years to begin their mission.”
“Rzeczpospolita” sources claim Warsaw was “satisfied” with the Pentagon proposals. However, the negotiations about this issue will last for a few more months. One of the issues that have to be dealt with is cost sharing. Poland offered USD 2 bln for this purpose last year. Kathryn Wheelbarger, the Acting Assistant Secretary of Defence for International Security Affairs, called this offer “generous,” but some experts say that the costs may be higher. According to the sources of “Rzeczpospolita,” it is possible that Poland may increase its offer.
One of the major problems of establishing the permanent base is finding units that can be transferred to Poland. The US does not want to create new units, and Kay Bailey Hutchison, the US ambassador to NATO, said that these troops will not be reassigned from Germany.
The definition of ‘a permanent base’
A source of some confusion in the debate has been the idea of “Fort Trump” – the name of a permanent base that was floated half in jest by President Andrzej Duda during his visit to Washington last year. Parts of the media took that as the idea of building a very big base in Poland akin to the larger bases that exist in Germany.
The problem with that was that it was raising expectations to a level that was always going to be hard to realize. Fist of all for logistical reasons of the US not wishing to commit too many troops in this part of the world. Second, for political reasons with even some in the State Department in the US fearing the ratcheting up of tensions with Russia and NATO allies such as Germany at best lukewarm on the idea.
This means that now a smaller base with mainly a rotational presence will be perceived by parts of the media as a modest outcome for Poland. There are and will be voices that Poland has once again showed huge enthusiasm for its alliance with the US, demonstrated repeatedly by actions such as participation in the Iraq war in the noughties and hosting the Middle Conference in Warsaw in February.
However, in reality, increasing US commitment to Poland and this part of the world is a welcome commitment to NATO’s eastern flank. It could also facilitate more US investment in the Polish defence industry. It is hard not to see this in any other way but enhanced security for Poland.