The United States will establish a permanent military presence in Poland as it deploys around 1,000 additional U.S. troops there, Poland’s Defence Ministry said on Friday. Whether or not they will be transferred directly from Germany or re-routed remains unclear.
Poland’s political leadership has been eager to host additional US troops in the country for some time. On June 12 last year during a meeting at the White House, US President Donald Trump reached an informal agreement with Polish President Andrzej Duda to send 1,000 more troops to his NATO ally.
But negotiations on the details of where the troops would be stationed and how much Poland would pay have dragged on for years.
“We did it. We have finished the negotiations on military cooperation,” Defence Minister Mariusz Blaszczak said in a statement.
Poland currently hosts a rotating contingent of over 4,000 US troops. A permanent presence, which the statement says will now number at least 5,500 troops, is likely to cost Poland substantially more.
The deal also involves the development of expertise for Polish forces in the areas of reconnaissance and command, with the possibility of more US forces being deployed to Poland in case of an increased threat environment, the statement said.
The financial details of the new deal were not revealed in the ministry’s statement.
Last week the US military provided some more details on its plans to withdraw about 12,000 troops from Germany and had already indicated that some of them could be moved to Poland or the Baltic states.
While Friday’s statement did not specify where the additional 1,000 troops would come from, and whether some would be reassigned from Germany, this is the most likely scenario. Neither Poland’s Defence Ministry nor the US embassy in Poland were prepared to provide additional details..
On other occasions, US officials have insisted that the agreement with Poland and the decision to pull some US troops out of Germany are separate matters. LINK
Military.com reported of the announcement:
“American defense leaders said Wednesday that the U.S. will bring about 6,400 troops home and shift about 5,600 to other countries in Europe. The decision fulfills President Donald Trump’s announced desire to withdraw troops from Germany, largely because of what he considers its failure to spend enough on defense.” LINK
In a related development, Defense.one reports that, as part of the reduction of troops in Germany, U.S. Africa Command, which is based in Stuttgart, Germany, will be transferred to another location.
US Africa Command “has been told to plan to move,” its commander said Friday morning, two days after Defense Secretary Esper announced the US military’s Germany drawdown. Said AFRICOM Commander US Army Gen. Stephen Townsend, “While it will likely take several months to develop options, consider locations, and come to a decision, the command has started the process.”
The report comments that from its beginning, there have always been grumblings that AFRICOM should be located in…well…Africa. Or somewhere in the US, similar to how US Central Command, which oversees almost all troops from Turkey to Afghanistan, is based in Tampa, Florida. At the time, there were concerns that locating a major US military command base would break the seal on the unwritten rule against the “militarization of Africa.”
That sentiment may seem quaint now, given the United States’ extensive military operations across the enormous continent, but it doesn’t mean AFRICOM’s headquarters will be relocated somewhere on the other side of the Mediterranean. (Moreover, it is quite possible that US military commanders and defence department bureaucrats also much prefer to pass their overseas deployment time in Europe than in Africa.)
In their words: “In response to the President’s direction, efforts are now underway to develop plans and options to relocate U.S. Africa Command headquarters and forces from Germany,” AFRICOM said in its statement. “The command will look first at options elsewhere in Europe, but also will consider options in the United States.”
Defense.one further notes that “Trump’s Germany Troop Withdrawal Could Take Years to Execute,” Foreign Policy reported Thursday in a story that sounds much more like the US military we have come to know. According to FP, “Some units that are moving back to the United States, including the 2nd Cavalry Regiment, based in Vilseck, Germany, have been told that the move will ‘likely take months to plan and years to execute.’”
“Nobody really has any idea how this will play out,” one US official said. LINK
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