Poland is one of the US's closest security partners - US dep commander

Basham visited the 33rd Transport Aviation Base in Powidz, western Poland, on Friday where the army conducted an operation of refuelling an American B-1B strategic bomber without shutting down the engine. Jakub Kaczmarczyk/PAP

Poland is one of the countries with which the USA cooperates most closely in the field of security, the deputy commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe said on the occasion of the 22nd anniversary of Poland's accession to NATO.

"Today, we are celebrating with you 22 years of Poland as an ally in NATO," Lieutenant General Steven Basham said. "Poland's membership has been an important pillar of our common success over the years, and the modernisation that has taken place thanks to your commitment to common defence has opened a new door for the alliance."

Basham visited the 33rd Transport Aviation Base in Powidz, western Poland, on Friday where the army conducted an operation of refuelling an American B-1B strategic bomber without shutting down the engine.

Polish Defence Minister Mariusz Błaszczak also commented on the NATO membership anniversary.

"We joined the countries that lead the security policy, set its trends," Błaszczak said. "The initial period was not an easy time, but today, from the perspective of 22 years, we can say that we belong to the group of leaders of the North Atlantic Alliance."

In his view, Poland enjoys this status because it spends more than 2 percent of GDP on defence, and plays a key role on NATO's eastern flank.

Błaszczak also pointed to the importance of strengthening the Polish presence in the North Atlantic Alliance, especially in relations with the United States, "because the US presence in Poland, American troops in Poland, deter a potential aggressor."

He added that during his conversation with US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin, he was assured that that the process of increasing the number of US soldiers stationed in Poland would continue.