Poland offers $2 billion for US boots on the ground

Poland, looking anxiously to the east, where Putin's Russia has made some menacing moves toward Eastern Europe, is offering $2 billion for a permanent U.S. base to house an armored division.


"This proposal outlines the clear and present need for a permanent U.S. armored division deployed in Poland, Poland's commitment to provide significant support that may reach $1.5-2 billion by establishing joint military installations and provide for more flexible movement of U.S. forces," the defense ministry document states.

It adds that Warsaw is committed "to share the burden of defense spending, make the decision more cost-effective for the U.S. government and allay any concerns for Congress in uncertain budgetary times."

The administration of President Donald Trump has pushed NATO allies to increase their defense budgets up to 2 percent of GDP, as the alliance suggests.  Poland has been at or above 2 percent since 2015.

The defense ministry press office confirmed that the paper, called "Proposal for a U.S. Permanent Presence in Poland" and dated 2018, is genuine and said it is not classified.

The document contains information on the proposed locations of military bases, hospitals – including their capacities – and possible schools or even gyms for the families of personnel.  It was delivered to the U.S. government and Congress.

Dominik Smyrgała, who served as a deputy to former Polish Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz, under whom the proposal first started to take shape last summer, told Onet the proposal was drafted by senior ministry officials and a group of Polish military officers.

Poland currently hosts U.S. armed forces and NATO units, who are stationed in the country on a rotational basis, moving between Poland and three Baltic states to the north.

One armored division would be considered a "tripwire" force that would ensure an American response to any incursion by Russia.  Beyond that, it is little more than window dressing.  As a NATO member, Poland could already call on the alliance for defense if it were threatened. 

More to the point, Putin will likely be enraged at a permanent U.S. presence in Poland. He still looks at the Baltic States and Eastern Europe as within his sphere of influence, and any move to strengthen Poland's position in the NATO alliance he would consider a challenge to Russia. 

Two billion dollars is a nice chunk of change, although it is unclear over what period of time the payments would be made.  It will probably cost several hundred million dollars a year to maintain our presence in Poland, so any help the Poles could give us would be welcome.

In 2009, Poland was forced by the Obama administration to give up deployment of an anti-missile system in order to placate Russia.  This was the "reset" with Russia period, and the Obama administration didn't want to upset our good friend Vladimir Putin. 

Times have changed, as have the Russians.