Trump and Polish President Duda Sign Declaration to Boost US Military Presence in Poland

By Ella Kietlinska

NEW YORK—On Sept. 23 before the opening of this year’s 74th UN General Assembly, Polish President Andrzej Duda met with U.S. President Donald Trump. During the meeting both presidents signed the Joint Declaration on Advancing Defense Cooperation.

The declaration builds on the premises of the prior agreement on defense cooperation between the United States and Poland, signed in June this year, that establishes a U.S. military presence on Polish territory of approximately 4,500 military personnel. This enduring presence will grow by about 1000 additional U.S. military personnel in the near-term according to the declaration signed in June. The agreement was signed as a result of Poland’s request that America permanently deploy forces to its country

The declaration signed on Sept. 23 further details the locations and types of this military presence. The United States will station an area support group, air force, combat, and special operation force units in the Western part of Poland. A combat training center will also be established for joint use by the Polish and U.S. armed forces.

Additionally, both countries will determine the most suitable location in Poland for an armored brigade combat team.

As stated in the prior agreement, Poland has offered to provide and sustain, at no cost to the United States, jointly determined infrastructure necessary for the efficient functioning of the U.S. forces in Poland, as well as to provide additional support to the U.S. forces, above the NATO host-nation standard.

President Duda said during the press conference held in the United Nations on Sept. 24, “I must admit that we care about Poland’s security being strengthened by the permanent presence of the U.S. military forces.”

“To strengthen our security through American presence, I understand that we have to also bear some costs associated with it,” said Duda.

Duda further clarified that Poland is also ready to prepare at its own expense the necessary infrastructure required for the permanent presence of US forces. The cost of such infrastructure would about 2 billion dollars and this estimate takes into account Polish reality, that is the actual prices—as they are in Poland—of the work that needs to be performed, said Duda.

In 2018, Poland was one of only seven of the 28 NATO countries that spent 2 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) on defense, thus complying with the NATO guideline.

According to a report produced by Daniel Kochis for The Heritage Foundation “Poland is situated in the center of Europe, sharing a border with four NATO allies, as well as a long border with Belarus and Ukraine, and a 144-mile border with Russia alongside the Kaliningrad Oblast. Poland, because of its large size, geographic location, and historical experience has become the lynchpin of security in Eastern Europe since joining NATO on March 12, 1999.”

“Poland is a crucial European ally and one that sees eye-to-eye with the U.S. on the threat from Russia,” wrote Kochis.

Globsec, a global think-tank based in Slovakia conducted a survey in 2019 that focused on political views in Central and Eastern Europe. This survey showed that 77 percent of Poles believes that Russia presents a significant threat to their country.

James Jay Carafano in a commentary on The Heritage Foundation website points out that a permanent U.S. military base in Poland could be a key element in the NATO’s forward defense strategy. Carafano stated that such a presence would send a strong message to Russia and will have an effect of deterring potential aggression.

Visa Waivers for Poland

An important element of strengthening ties between NATO allies and enhancing security in the region is the U.S. Visa Waiver Program (VWP). The VWP establishes standards for intelligence sharing to counter terrorism and aid criminal investigation, as well as for secure passport control practices.

U.S. law requires that countries participating in VWP should have less than 3 percent of visa applications denied. During his visit to Poland in September this year Vice-President Mike Pence said that all information needed to determine if Poland satisfies this requirement should be assembled by the end of this month.

Trump said in his remarks at the signing ceremony of the joint declaration on advancing defense, We’re also doing waivers—the visa waivers for Poland. And that’s in the works. We’re working on the structure right now.”

From The Epoch Times