Poland will be getting some United States military troops, in efforts to expand North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) presence in Eastern Europe. This presence includes the land, air, and sea. The move is in response to recent events in Ukraine, and pro-Russian militants refusal to leave government facilities, despite an agreement made in Geneva.
At the Pentagon on Thursday, the defense minister of Poland, Tomasz Siemoniak met with U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. According to Siemoniak, the political decision was made, but military planning and details still need to be worked out. Poland will play a large regional role strengthening coöperation, cyberdefense, special forces, air defense, and some other areas, “under U.S. patronage,” said Siemoniak. He expressed his belief that the bigger picture of making lasting movements in American and European defense postures, is more important than solely having a NATO response to the Ukraine crisis. He also believes that the U.S. should refocus on Europe, instead of “pivoting” to Asia. Siemoniak said “Europe was safe and secure” because of America’s presence there.
While U.S. military troops are sent to Poland, Ukraine will also get aid. Defense Secretary Hagel said on Thursday, that non-lethal military aid will also be sent to Ukraine to provide support. Supplies in the form of sleeping bags, generators, and helmets will also be sent, while further support is considered.
Hagel mentioned that a dozen F-16 fighter jets, that have been providing security to Poland since Russian efforts began to annex Crimea, will remain until December 31. Precautionary measures are being taken by Poland since Russia claims to have concerns of Russian minorities residing on Polish borders.
The U.S. military is preparing to relinquish control of NATO’s Baltic Air Policing Mission to Poland. This operation protects the airspace over several countries. These countries include Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia. A number of other allies are stepping forward to add to this mission, with specially equipped aircraft and several international fighter jets. The 12 aircraft involved in the mission will fly out of Amari Air Base in Estonia, and Šiauliai, Lithuania.
There are also plans for the U.S. to initiate ground-force exercises in Poland and Estonia, to help ease concerns of NATO’s Eastern European member. These concerns stem from the Russian military movements in and around Ukraine. The U.S. Army companies would only consist of about 150 soldiers, and last for a couple of weeks at a time. America is still contemplating more ways to keep a persistent presence of ground-forces in Eastern Europe, by carrying out training and rotating forces.
In line with its plans to expand military contingents, NATO prepares to send a maritime force to the Baltic Sea, in efforts to boost the security measures in that region. There is also another set of NATO ships available, and several international ships performing operations in the Indian Ocean, that could be reassigned if a situation calls for it.
President Obama expressed uncertainty about Russia handling the sensitive and volatile crisis in Ukraine. He said more sanctions are in store if Moscow doesn’t handle its commitments.
Poland will get military troops and other support from the United States, as other NATO members rally to fulfill its military expansion plans to provide support for Eastern Europe as a whole.
By Twanna Harps