Poland Proposes Basing Sites in Offer to Host US Forces Permanently

In this photo taken Jan. 12, 2017, U.S. troops arrive at the Zagan base in western Poland as part of a deterrence force of some 1,000 troops to reassure against Russian activity.(AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)
In this photo taken Jan. 12, 2017, U.S. troops arrive at the Zagan base in western Poland as part of a deterrence force of some 1,000 troops to reassure against Russian activity.(AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

Poland's recent $2 billion pitch to convince the United States to permanently base a heavy division there offers up two "ideal" locations that could support the unit's barracks, training, housing and family support needs, according to the recent Ministry of National Defence proposal.

In early 2017, the U.S. Army began a continuous rotation to ensure that one of its armored brigade combat teams is in Europe at all times to deter potential Russian aggression on NATO's eastern flank. The armored brigade joins an airborne brigade and a Stryker brigade based in Europe.

The armored brigade maintains a presence in Poland and the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

But now Poland is pushing hard for a stronger American military presence within its borders, requesting to enter into a joint-basing agreement with the U.S.

"Poland is committed to contributing 1.5 to 2 billion USD to cover the cost of facilitating the stationing of one U.S. armored division or equivalent force in Poland," the proposal states.

Politico first reported the news.

The Polish government pledges to offer "significant host-nation support to cover the majority of costs required" for such an undertaking, according to the proposal.

U.S. military officials remain tight-lipped about the offer.

"This is the subject of private bilateral discussions between the U.S. and our NATO ally, Poland," Eric Pahon, a Defense Department spokesman, told Military.com in a written statement.

"We regularly address issues such as manning and equipping requirements with our NATO allies as part of our ongoing mil-to-mil dialogues. No decision has been made, and the content of these discussions will remain private," he said.

Poland's proposal names two cities -- Bydgoszcz and Toruń -- located northwest of Warsaw as potential locations for permanent basing.

"Polish regions of Bydgoszcz and Toruń meet all necessary requirements regarding ranges and training accessibilities, infrastructure, accommodations, as well as morale & welfare and are examples of the possible location of U.S. permanent presence in Poland," the proposal states.

NATO's Joint Force Training Center is headquartered in Bydgoszcz, and the area also includes an aerial port of debarkation, the proposal states. Additionally, there is a civilian airport in Bydgoszcz "that could be outfitted to military transport."

"Aside from constructing permanent installations, Poland may also allow for use of and access to additional infrastructure belonging to the Ministry of National Defence, state and local administrative facilities, as well as other state-owned or state-managed entities," the proposal adds.

The International School of Bydgoszcz provides "excellent education to the children of NATO personnel stationed in Poland, but also employ military spouses and relatives," the proposal states.

Prior to Poland's offer, U.S. Army senior leaders maintained that it is more beneficial to the service to keep up a permanent rotation because it will eventually offer all of the armored brigades an opportunity to experience the challenges of deploying roughly 3,500 soldiers and approximately 2,000 vehicles to a foreign country.

To further deter potential Russian aggression, the U.S military routinely participates in joint military exercises with its NATO allies, such as Saber Strike 2018, which is scheduled for June 3 to June 15. The exercise will consist of 18,000 troops from 19 countries, with the U.S. military contributing 12,500 troops.

Poland maintains that the current U.S. commitment in eastern Europe needs to be stronger to deter future Russian military incursions like the ones it carried out in Georgia in 2008 and in Ukraine in 2014.

"A U.S. permanent presence in Poland will provide U.S. allies on NATO's Eastern flank with increased security and strengthen transatlantic security," the proposal states. "The Government of Poland welcomes the opportunity to discuss this proposal further with its U.S. counterparts."

-- Matthew Cox can be reached at matthew.cox@military.com.

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