President Donald Trump announced during a White House conference on June 12, with Poland’s president, Andrzej Duda, that his administration will send 1,000 more U.S. service members to Poland.
The Polish government, Trump said, will pay for the infrastructure to support the additional troops. At the same time, Trump praised Poland for increasing its defense spending to meet its NATO commitments. Poland is a key NATO ally.
The added troops come as the Trump administration broadens its security and economic alliances.
Earlier in the Oval Office, Trump said the United States has based tens of thousands of troops in Germany for a “long, long time” and that he probably would move a “certain number” of those personnel to Poland, “if we agree to do it.”
Trump also said Poland is buying more than 30 F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jets from the United States. In recognition of that purchase, a single F-35 flew over the White House on a sunny afternoon. Duda looked up and waved as the jet passed.
“They’re going to put on a very small show for us and we’re doing that because Poland has ordered 32 or 35 brand new F-35s at the highest level,” Trump said.
In a June 12 news release from the White House, the administration said that Poland is setting an example for other countries with its commitment of “more than 2 percent of its gross domestic product to defense spending.”
The release also said that the two countries have made “great progress” on Poland’s entry into the Visa Waiver Program. Both countries on the same day also signed a “Preventing and Combatting Serious Crimes Agreement”—a necessary precursor for Poland to join the program.
The increase in U.S. forces in the region also reflects America’s new national defense strategy that declares great-power competition with China and Russia as a top priority.
U.S. officials said earlier this week that Trump, in addition to the additional troops, would send a squadron of Reaper drones to Poland to aid its self-defense amid concerns about Russian military activity.
Polish leaders have lobbied for additional forces for months and had hoped for a permanent U.S. base they said could be called “Fort Trump.”
The United States already has troops in Poland as part of a 2016 agreement with the NATO military alliance in response to Moscow’s annexation of Crimea from Poland’s eastern neighbor Ukraine in 2014.
Trump will also meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in two weeks in Japan.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report