US to Have Permanent Troop Presence in Poland as Defense Pact Agreed

July 31, 2020 Updated: August 1, 2020

WARSAW—The United States will establish a permanent military presence in Poland as it deploys around 1,000 additional U.S. troops there, Poland‘s Defense Ministry said on Friday.

Poland is setting growing store by its bilateral defense relationship with its NATO partner, fearful of an increasingly assertive posture from Russia to the east since Moscow annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.

On June 12 last year, U.S. President Donald Trump agreed, with Polish President Andrzej Duda beside him at the White House, to send 1,000 more troops to his NATO ally.

US troops Poland
U.S. soldier gives high five to a child in the Wesola district of Polands capital Warsaw on March 29, 2017. (Janek Skarzynski/AFP via Getty Images)

But negotiations on the details of where the troops would be stationed and how much Poland would pay dragged on for years.

“We did it. We have finished the negotiations on military cooperation,” Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak said in a statement.

Poland currently hosts a rotating contingent of over 4,000 U.S. troops. A permanent presence, which the statement says will now number at least 5,500 troops, is likely to cost Poland more.

The deal also involves the development of expertise for Polish forces in the areas of reconnaissance and command, with the possibility of more U.S. forces coming to Poland in case of an increased threat, the statement said.

Polish Defence Minister Mariusz Blaszcza
Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak waits for the arrival of U.S. Secretary for Defence Mark Esper prior to a meeting at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium Feb. 12, 2020. (Virginia Mayo/Pool via Reuters)

The financial details of the new deal were not revealed in the ministry’s statement.

The U.S. military on Wednesday expanded on plans to withdraw about 12,000 troops from Germany and indicated that some of them could be moved to Poland or the Baltic states.

It was unclear from Friday’s statement where the additional 1,000 troops would come from, and whether some would be reassigned from Germany. Poland‘s Defense Ministry was not immediately available to comment and the U.S. embassy declined to do so.

U.S. officials have insisted that the agreement with Poland and the decision to pull some U.S. troops out of Germany are separate matters.

By Joanna Plucinska