Poland Agrees to Pay Almost All Costs of US Troop Presence

 In CEE, Defense, Germany, Forces & Capabilities, Poland, NATO

American and Polish soldiers during an exercise at a Polish base.

WASHINGTON: The Polish gov­ern­ment will pay the major­i­ty of costs asso­ci­at­ed with stationing 5,500 US troops at bases within its bor­ders as part of a new secu­ri­ty coop­er­a­tion pact, the Pentagon has con­firmed to Breaking Defense.

The deal comes as the Trump admin­is­tra­tion keeps prod­ding long­time allies like South Korea and Japan to pay more of the costs of tens of thou­sands of US troops within their bor­ders, while President Trump has com­plained that coun­tries like Germany don’t meet defense spend­ing goals out­lined by NATO.

But Poland, which already meets the NATO-man­dat­ed goal of spend­ing 2 per­cent of GDP on nation­al defense by 2024, has agreed to take more US forces, air­craft and drones while foot­ing what is likely to be a hefty bill to build infra­struc­ture for those forces as they flow in and out of the coun­try on a rota­tion­al basis.

Warsaw “has agreed to fund infra­struc­ture and logis­ti­cal sup­port to U.S. forces in Poland, includ­ing the cur­rent 4,500 rota­tion­al forces and the planned increase of 1,000 addi­tion­al rota­tion­al forces,” Lt. Col. Thomas Campbell, a Pentagon spokesper­son said.

The final amount isn’t clear. The Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement has been agreed to, but will not be signed for sev­er­al weeks yet, and no infra­struc­ture improve­ments that might be needed have not been start­ed. Iin broad terms, Poland has agreed to fully fund infra­struc­ture for:  

  • A com­mand post of the Army’s V Corps head­quar­ters
  • A US divi­sion head­quar­ters in Poland
  • A joint-use Combat Training Center in Drawsko Pomorskie, among other train­ing loca­tions
  • Facilities for an Air Force MQ‑9 drone squadron 
  • An aerial port of debarka­tion to sup­port the move­ment of forces in and out of the coun­try
  • Facilities to sup­port spe­cial oper­a­tions forces so they can con­duct air, ground and mar­itime oper­a­tions
  • Infrastructure for an armored brigade combat team, a combat avi­a­tion brigade, and a combat sus­tain­ment sup­port bat­tal­ion

In a Monday morn­ing state­ment, Esper said the new deal “will enhance deter­rence against Russia, strength­en NATO, reas­sure our Allies, and our for­ward pres­ence in Poland on NATO’s east­ern flank will improve our strate­gic and oper­a­tional flex­i­bil­i­ty.”

The Polish deal comes as the US is in the early stages of plan­ning to pull 12,000 troops from Germany and remains locked in a spend­ing dis­pute with South Korea over Trump’s demand Seoul pay more to keep the 28,500 American forces in the coun­try.

During a Pentagon brief­ing last week, Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs  John Hyten repeatedly made the case that moving the Germany-based troops back to the US, Belgium and Italy, is a strate­gic deci­sion that will ben­e­fit the US and NATO. Within min­utes of that press con­fer­ence how­ev­er, Trump con­tra­dict­ed his mil­i­tary lead­ers from the White House lawn, saying he ordered the pull­out so the US won’t be “suckers…so we’re reduc­ing the force because they’re not paying their bills. It’s very simple, they’re delin­quent.” 

Trump again con­flat­ed the 2 per­cent NATO pledge with pay­ments to the alliance itself. Germany, despite being the wealth­i­est nation in Europe, con­tin­ues to fall well below that mark.

Relying on Polish con­struc­tion efforts has recent­ly cost the Pentagon about $100 mil­lion in cost over­runs how­ev­er.

Europe’s second Aegis Ashore site based in Redzikowo, Poland, was sup­posed to be up and run­ning in 2018, but problems with local contractors have pushed that back to 2022 and will cost the US an addi­tion­al $96 mil­lion in 2021, accord­ing to budget doc­u­ments. The Missile Defense Agency stopped paying the con­trac­tor in the spring due to the sched­ule slip­pages; work has since resumed.

Stepping in to foot the bill — while ful­fill­ing its NATO pledge — Warsaw is tick­ing off all the boxes demand­ed by the White House to main­tain and improve its rela­tion­ship with Washington.

Esper has recent­ly acknowl­edged he is con­sid­er­ing “adjust­ments” to the American mil­i­tary pres­ence in South Korea, but clar­i­fied that he has issued no order to with­draw troops, despite reports sug­gest­ing a draw­down is being con­sid­ered by Pentagon lead­er­ship.

Under the pre­vi­ous agree­ment between the US and South Korea, which ended in December, South Korea agreed to pay $870 mil­lion for 2019. The Trump admin­is­tra­tion orig­i­nal­ly demand­ed $5 bil­lion in 2020 to keep the US foot­print as is. That was reject­ed by the South Korean gov­ern­ment, who then agreed to pay the salaries of thou­sands of Koreans who had been fur­loughed from their jobs on American bases. Since that tweak, talks between the two sides have stalled.

Breaking Defense source|articles

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