Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Poland's Open Invitation to the United States and Its Military Might

With Donald Trump making the following comments on NATO and the deadbeat nations that weren't paying their share:

...a recent publication from Poland's Ministry of National Defense is of particular interest.  Here is a summary of what is found in this document that received very little media coverage.

The document, "Proposal for a U.S. Permanent Presence in Poland" opens by noting Donald Trump's July 6, 2017 speech given in Warsaw as you can see here:

...where he made the following comments:

"Today, the West is also confronted by the powers that seek to test our will, undermine our confidence, and challenge our interests.  To meet new forms of aggression, including propaganda, financial crimes, and cyberwarfare, we must adapt our alliance to compete effectively in new ways and on all new battlefields.

We urge Russia to cease its destabilizing activities in Ukraine and elsewhere, and its support for hostile regimes — including Syria and Iran — and to instead join the community of responsible nations in our fight against common enemies and in defense of civilization itself.

As long as we know our history, we will know how to build our future.  Americans know that a strong alliance of free, sovereign and independent nations is the best defense for our freedoms and for our interests.  That is why my administration has demanded that all members of NATO finally meet their full and fair financial obligation.

As a result of this insistence, billions of dollars more have begun to pour into NATO.  In fact, people are shocked.  But billions and billions of dollars more are coming in from countries that, in my opinion, would not have been paying so quickly...  

Words are easy, but actions are what matters.  And for its own protection — and you know this, everybody knows this, everybody has to know this — Europe must do more.  Europe must demonstrate that it believes in its future by investing its money to secure that future.

That is why we applaud Poland for its decision to move forward this week on acquiring from the United States the battle-tested Patriot air and missile defense system — the best anywhere in the world.  That is also why we salute the Polish people for being one of the NATO countries that has actually achieved the benchmark for investment in our common defense.  Thank you.  Thank you, Poland.  I must tell you, the example you set is truly magnificent, and we applaud Poland.  Thank you."

Let's start this posting by looking at NATO's current infrastructure in Poland:

Poland is one of only five NATO members that spends at least two percent of its GDP on defense, with plans to expand that to 2.5 percent of GDP by 2030, as shown here:  

...however, as shown here, the size of its military in terms of armed forces personnel has declined significantly:

Poland joined NATO in 1999 along with two other post-Soviet states; Hungary and the Czech Republic, bringing the organizations total membership to 19 member states.  Poland currently hosts the NATO Multinational Corps Northeast, a NATO Force Integration Unit and a U.S. aviation detachment and units from a rotational U.S. Armoured Combat Brigade Team and will host a ballistic defence missile site under the European Phased Adaptive Approach, scheduled for completion in 2018.  Poland also hosted over 16,000 U.S. military personnel for various military exercises during 2017.  Nonetheless, the document goes on to note that:

"Given Moscow's predilection for aggressive posturing, now is not the time for a reduced U.S. presence in Europe, particularly on NATO's eastern flank along Poland's border...A permanent American military presence in Poland would significantly reduce security vulnerabilities in the region, particularly in the Suwalki Gap. U.S. military leaders, like U.S. Army Europe commander Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, have noted that a narrow piece of land connecting two NATO member states Poland and Lithuania (the Suwalki Gap) could be a target of Russian military aggression, thereby needlessly exposing Polish and NATO forces in the region to a period of potentially escalated conflict.
For your illumination, here is a map showing the Suwalki gap, a 64-mile long stretch of land along the border between Poland and Lithuania, searing Belarus from Kaliningrad which, if was controlled by Russia, would mean that the Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia would be cut off from the rest of Europe:

So, in light of the so-called Russian threat, what does Poland propose?  They propose that a permanent American military presence in Poland will result in a reduction in Poland's security vulnerabilities, particularly given that Poland's leadership feels that it is in the crosshairs of Moscow's invasion agenda (i.e. Georgia and Ukraine/Crimea) and that it is under the threat of Russian troops that could, in the future, be left behind following military exercises in neighbouring Belarus.  To encourage the United States to permanently station troops in Poland, the document suggests the following:

1.) establish a framework for financing the construction and upkeep of military installations including allowing American personnel to us additional infrastructure that belongs to Poland's Ministry of National Defense, state and local administrative facilities and other state-owned or state-managed entities.

2.) contribute $1.5 to $2.0 billion to cover the cost of facilitating the stationing of one U.S. armoured division or equivalent in Poland.

Since under Poland's tax law, Allied Armed Forces are exempt from most taxes, investments made by U.S.-based companies to build infrastructure will not be subject to Polish taxes, something that will make the American military-industrial complex very happy.  

Here's the conclusion of the report:

"Poland is a steadfast ally of the United States and is committed to advancing our shared interests and values, which are increasingly being threatened by Russian interference. A permanent U.S. presence in Poland will ensure that both nations can continue to advance, strengthen, and protect these values and interests.

The Government of Poland understands that such a burden must be shared, which is why the Government is committed to providing significant host-nation support for this undertaking. Such expenses cannot and should not be financed by one country alone.

A U.S. permanent presence in Poland will provide U.S. allies on NATO’s Eastern flank with increased security and strengthen transatlantic security. Additionally, it will underscore U.S. commitment to maintain peace and security in Eastern and Central Europe and serve as a deterrence against Russia, which has shown its increasing propensity for violating international norms by invading Georgia and Ukraine."

From this document, we can see that Poland is extremely anxious to see NATO and, in particular, the United States expand its presence in Eastern Europe in a desperate effort to fend off a future Russian invasion.  While the drums of war may not yet be beating, the drummer is certainly sitting on his stool, drumsticks in hand and the American military-industrial complex is just waiting for the music to start.

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