Defence Min. flies to US for high-powered military base meeting with NSA chief
Minister of National Defence Mariusz Błaszczak is in Washington, D.C. to seek support for a US base in Poland.
At a meeting with Donald Trump’s National Security Adviser John Bolton, Błaszczak will build on earlier bilateral talks between the two countries, highlighting the base’s significance for Poland’s security.
With the security situation to Poland’s east fragile, Warsaw has been calling for a permanent US military presence on its soil to deter potential aggression by Russia.
America currently rotates troops in the country as part of NATO and bilateral deployments. Most of its European forces are stationed in Germany.
President Andrzej Duda discussed the idea with Trump at the White House in September. After their meeting, the US president said that he is taking the request “very seriously”.
Duda suggested that Poland could invest 2 billion dollars in the base, which he dubbed “Fort Trump.”
Building on that White House meeting, Błaszczak is continuing talks on the base with Bolton today.
“The presence of American troops in our country is the fundamental argument deterring a potential opponent, a potential enemy,” he said before leaving for Washington.
“All my visits to the US have been related to the project known as Fort Trump. I hope that this process will culminate in the establishment of Fort Trump in Poland,” he added.
This is Błaszczak’s fourth visit to the US focused on bilateral cooperation since his appointment as Minister of National Defence in January. On previous visits, he met with senators who support the project and with Secretary of Defense James Mattis.
America is considering Poland’s request. A report on the feasibility of permanently stationing US troops in Poland is expected to be submitted to Congress by March 1, 2019.
Up to 55 percent of Poles support the idea of a permanent US base in Poland, according to a poll commissioned by the Ministry of National Defence conducted this month by Kantar Public S.A. Meanwhile, 27 percent of their countrymen oppose it.
A similar percentage (56 percent) of respondents think that a permanent US military presence in Poland will increase security. Just 4percent held the opposite view.
Two-thirds of the people polled assess Polish-American relations as positive, with more than half of respondents convinced that they have improved over the past twelve months.
For Błaszczak, cooperation with the US is one of the foundations of the country’s security, alongside NATO support and its own military forces.
“A more numerous Polish Army, modern equipment and strong embeddedness in the structures of the alliance and Polish-American relations – meeting these goals will ensure Poland's security,” he said before his trip to Washington.