US-Poland defense agreement ‘moves us to another era,’ Polish president proclaims

US-Poland defense agreement ‘moves us to another era,’ Polish president proclaims

President Donald Trump welcomes Polish President Andrzej Duda to the White House, June 12, 2019, (Photo ©2019 Doug Christian)
President Donald Trump welcomes Polish President Andrzej Duda to the White House on Wednesday. At a Rose Garden news conference, the two leaders announced the expansion of their defense agreement. (Photo ©2019 Doug Christian/TMN)

WASHINGTON — The U.S. will send up to 2,000 additional troops to Poland and move a division headquarters to the former Communist nation, the presidents of the two nations said Wednesday.

As part of the new expanded U.S.-Polish defense agreement, Warsaw will be in line to receive a squadron of Reaper drones for self-defense, in large part as a hedge against Russian adventurism.

Poland also will be purchasing F-35 fighters — one of which flew over the White House as President Donald Trump met with Polish President Andrzej Duda to sign a new defense agreement and talk about a boost in western military presence and other issues.

“This moves us to another era,” Duda said, through a translator, during a news conference with Trump in the Rose Garden. “We like the bonds to be tighter and create the best possible conditions for American troops.”

Pentagon officials had no immediate comment on the new plans for troops. There are about 4,500 U.S. forces in Poland.

Technically, the U.S. forces will not be permanently based in Poland. That could violate an agreement between Russia and NATO on permanent garrisons of western troops in former Warsaw Pact nations now part of NATO.

The extra troops are likely to flow from Germany, Trump said.

“They are talking about 2,000 troops, but we’d be taking them out of Germany or moving them from another location. No additional troops in Europe,” he said. “Germany is not living up to what they are supposed to be doing with respect to NATO, and Poland is.”

The U.S. will continue its current consistent rotation troops through Poland, albeit at the higher number “so there is no moment where there is no American troops in Poland,” Duda said through a translator.

Poland had hoped that the so-called “enhanced forward presence” of U.S. and NATO troops in its borders would include a new base, of which Poland offered to pay costs. It has been called Fort Trump by Duda.

That is not likely to happen, for political reasons — the agreement with Russia — and logistics. Army Secretary Mark Esper and former defense secretary Jim Mattis expressed concerns last September about having adequate space to train soldiers in the areas offered by Poland.

“That is all I’d need, Fort Trump. You people would have a field day about that,” Trump said.

Trump said Poland is interested in buying about 30 F-35 fighters from the U.S.; they would replace aging Russian planes now in the Polish air force.

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan welcomed Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak to the Pentagon with an enhanced honor cordon on Tuesday. (DoD photo)
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