U.S. and Poland in Discussions about Troop Presence and Permanent Base

by Anastazja Kolodziej

 

Podczas pobytu w Stanach Zjednoczonych we wrześniu 2018, Prezydent Polski Andrzej Duda oficjalnie wystąpił z prośbą, aby Stany Zjednoczone stworzyły w Polsce stałą bazę wojsk USA pod nazwą „Fort Trump,”  w Orzyszu, około 60 kilometrów na południe od enklawy kaliningradzkiej. Polska zaoferowała na to przedsięwzięcie fundusze w wysokości 2 miliardów dolarów. W chwili obecnej nie ma stałych baz wojsk amerykańskich w Europie Środkowo-Wschodniej. NATO utrzymuje międzynarodowe grupy bojowe w tym regionie operujące systemem rotacyjnym w skład których wchodzi brygada wojsk amerykańskich. Jeśli Stany Zjednoczone stworzą stałą bazę swoich wojsk w Polsce, Kremlin prawdopodobnie będzie twierdził, że jest to zerwanie Aktu Założycielskiego o Wzajemnych Stosunkach, Współpracy i Bezpieczenśtwie (ang. NATO-Russia Founding Act) pomiędzy NATO i Federacją Rosyjską z 1997 roku, w którym USA zobowiązały się nie stacjonować  na stałe swoich wojsk we wschodniej Europie. Kwestia utworzenia stałej bazy jest obecnie obiektem burzliwej dyskusji, niewątpliwie jednak byłaby ona korzystna dla interesów Stanów Zjednoczonych.

 

Should the United States establish a permanent base in Poland?

Poland requested that the United States establish a permanent military base to complement U.S. troops already present in Poland as part of a rotating NATO deployment in Eastern Europe last year.

The U.S. currently has two combat brigades in Germany and Italy. They have no permanent military presence in Eastern Europe, though the army maintains a “brigade-size element” via the rotational system.

A proposal from the Poland’s Defense Ministry retrieved by the news site Onet states that there is a “clear and present need” for a permanent armored division to be deployed to Poland. The Polish government has long desired closer security relations with the U.S., but the Kremlin’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea five years ago and ongoing antagonization of Poland and other Eastern European states has given more urgency to the matter.

Poland is willing to pay up to USD 2 billion for the base, according to the proposal.

U.S. officials have not given a clear response about the fate of this potential military base.

“We are taking a look at it and I don’t know the ultimate decision we’ll make,” said U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, assuring that the U.S. will at least provide as many troops as deemed necessary for the region. U.S. troop levels are currently capped at 4,500 in Poland but fluctuate periodically with the rotation.

Department of Defense spokesman Eric Pahon said in a statement that “any speculation on troop increases or agreements at this point is unfounded.”

“No agreements have been reached. We are continuing discussions and will announce the results of our talks at the appropriate time,” he said.

However, President Donald Trump has said that the U.S. government is considering the base “very seriously.”

Congress ordered the Pentagon to submit a report on the “feasibility and advisability” of stationing U.S. forces in Poland permanently by March 1, 2019, according to the Washington Post.

A senior Polish government official told the Post that his government hopes to get an answer regarding the base by 2020.

Poland wants the permanent base, which President Andrzej Duda suggested be named ‘Fort Trump,’ to be located at Orzysz. The Orzysz base is located 35 miles south of Russia’s Baltic Sea enclave of Kaliningrad, where the Kremlin has “stationed nuclear-capable missiles and an S-400 air missile defense system,” according to US News.

If the U.S. decides to establish a permanent base in Poland, the Kremlin might consider this action as a breach of the 1997 North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Russia Founding Act, in which NATO agreed not to deploy permanent forces in Eastern Europe, according to the Independent. However, the Kremlin has broken international agreements in the past; most recently, in 2018, NATO accused the Kremlin of breaching the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which prohibited “land-based nuclear missiles” in Europe, according to BBC. Therefore, it would be unreasonable for the Kremlin to dispute potential breaches of international law, when it itself has done so.

Though the base may be heavily disputed, it is in the best interests of the U.S. to establish a permanent base in Poland. Keeping Poland and other Eastern European nations secure from the threat of the Kremlin should be a priority for the U.S. because a strong and truly sovereign Poland protects United States national security interests and promotes the American values of political freedom and free enterprise in East Central Europe.

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Anastazja Kolodziej is a Communications Intern for the Polish American Congress. She is an undergraduate student at the University of Maryland studying Classics (Ancient Greek/Latin) and Journalism. She is most interested in current events in both the United States and Poland and how they overlap.

Kolodziej photo

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