US politics defense government Poland
June 12 2019 - 1:16 AM
Polish president eyes increased US troops in Trump meeting
Washington, June 11, 2019 (AFP) - Polish president Andrzej Duda will
discuss increasing the American military presence in Poland during an upcoming
meeting with Donald Trump, representatives for the two countries said Tuesday.
"There will be a significant announcement tomorrow ... about troops
commitments in Poland," an American official said.
He declined to give more details about the announcement, but Krzysztof
Szczerski, an adviser to the Polish president, said the American presence
"will increase both in quality as well as quantity."
The plan will have two parts -- a general political declaration and a
second, more detailed section that "contains points the (Polish) president
brought up during his last visit to the United States, such as Fort Trump,"
Szczerski said Monday in Warsaw.
At a joint press conference with Duda in September at the White House,
Trump said Poland offered to pay Washington at least $2 billion to help meet
costs for an American military base, which Duda said could be called "Fort
American soldiers are already stationed by rotation in Poland as part of
NATO operations, but the proposal could create tensions within the group, of
which Poland is a member, as well as increase the ongoing tensions between
Russia and the West.
The Pentagon has been less enthusiastic about the plan, with both US Army
Secretary Mark Esper and then-Defense Secretary Jim Mattis expressing concerns
in September about having adequate space to train soldiers.
Esper added that, in many cases, the terrain was "maybe not robust enough
to really allow us to maintain the level of readiness we would like to
After months of negotiations, the two countries reached an agreement which
the presidents are scheduled to sign during a meeting Wednesday at the White
House, according to Polish defense minister Mariusz Blaszczak.
"We worked very hard to strengthen relations in the field of the military,"
he said during a meeting Tuesday at the Pentagon with interim Defense
Secretary Patrick Shanahan.
"It's a very important moment, a new important moment after Poland's
accession to NATO," he added.
"It's a process. We have finalized the first stage of our negotiations and
have begun new discussions."
Poland has been angling for a permanent US troop presence since at least a
decade ago, when it was in talks with President George W. Bush's
administration to host a missile-defense complex.
That deal eventually fell through under President Barack Obama, but Poland
in March of 2018 signed a $4.75 billion contract to purchase the US-made
Patriot anti-missile system.
For Poland, Russian military expansion is a source of concern, particularly
the 2014 annexation of Ukraine's Black Sea Crimea region, which Duda called a
"constant violation of international law."
Trump -- accused by political opponents of having colluded in a shadowy
Russian operation to aid his surprise 2016 election win against Democrat
Hillary Clinton -- agreed with Duda's assessment, calling Russia's actions