With Mariusz Błaszczak on enhanced American presence in Poland and increasing security on the eastern flank talks Łukasz Zalesiński.
The newly reactivated V Corps of the US Armed Forces will be deployed in Poland. What does it mean for us?
The establishment of the US Army V Corps Headquarters (Forward) in Poland is a quality change, significantly increasing the level of security of not only Poland, but also NATO’s entire eastern flank.
The V Corps Headquarters (Forward), which is going to be established in Poznań, is the European part of this unit, regularly stationed in the USA. It’s worth emphasizing it is going to be the only US Army structure at such high level of command in this part of Europe. It is a source of particular satisfaction for us. Such a solution will quicken the response time of these forces, which is crucial if we take into account the effectiveness of potential combat activity. Importantly, the US Army V Corps Headquarters (Forward) is superior to the US Division Headquarters (Forward), which has already been functioning on our territory since last year.
The main task of the Corps will be to coordinate and supervise the activities of the US armed forces deployed across Europe. The Corps will also engage in operational planning, as well as cooperation and synchronization of the American troops’ tasks with other NATO forces. This means that all US army forces located in Europe will be commanded from Poland.
In this context, the multi-dimensional nature of the headquarters is crucial. Despite the fact it is the US Army Headquarters, it also has certain capabilities to supervise operations involving various armed forces.
The headquarters will play a key role in the integration of American forces deployed in Poland and synchronizing their cooperation with our armed forces, also in terms of doctrines, trainings and plans. It will be a great opportunity to enhance interoperability of our forces. I would like to emphasize that a decision to locate the forward command post in Poland is yet another proof that our defense cooperation with the USA has entered the next, higher level, and that the United States attach significant importance to the security of our country.
What are the obligations of Poland?
According to the agreement on enhanced defense cooperation signed with the USA on August 15, we are obliged to prepare infrastructure for the American forces permanently present in Poland. We have to remember that this infrastructure will be used also by Polish soldiers and will serve our needs regardless of whatever happens in the future.
Just like in the case of other countries where the US forces are stationed, Poland will provide free board and lodging, annually allocated amount of fuel, and selected elements of support in storing armament and equipment and maintaining the used infrastructure.
The US forces presence in Poland is beneficial for the local economy – new jobs, expenses on the local market. Worth noting is that in Germany alone 14,000 citizens found jobs in the businesses working for the US Army. Estimates show that German economy gains about 5 billion dollars a year from the presence of the US soldiers. In Great Britain, it is about 1.3 billion dollars a year, and in Spain – about 600 million euros.
The contract guarantees that in the case of infrastructure and logistic support, Polish materials and products will be used in a widest possible extent and services will be delivered by Polish providers. Also, some investments are related to civil or military-civil infrastructure, such as airports in Kraków-Balice, Wrocław-Starachowice or Katowice-Pyrzowice, which increases their transport and service potential.
How are we preparing for the US forces’ presence? Does the stationing of the Corps in Poland require, for example, new investments or law modifications?
As I said, we are working on – for the needs of the V Corps Headquarters – necessary military infrastructure. These will not be brand new investments, because for a long time now we have been working on providing suitable infrastructure for headquarter components of the US armed forces. Therefore, in this case, it is more about the continuation of efforts we already started some time ago.
As to law modification, it’s not necessary. Worth noting is that one of the objectives of the agreement on enhanced defense cooperation signed on August 15 was in fact the adjustment of legal regulations to the increased military US presence in our country. This phase is already behind us, now we will focus on implementing the provisions of the contract.
When will the V Corps come to Poland, and do we know in what strength?
The process of forming the headquarters starts in October, and should take up to 12 months. The V Corps Headquarters will be located in Poznań in force of over 200 American soldiers commanded by an officer in the rank of major general. LtGen John Kolasheski has been appointed the first commander. However, the most important thing is that the V Corps will command all US army troops in Europe.
Will Poland seek to enhance American and generally NATO’s military presence on our territory?
Our deep concern about the security of Poland is a permanent process. Especially now, considering the unstable international security environment where we are now operating.
Enhancing American military presence, as well as the presence of other NATO allies, increases the defense and deterrence potential not only of Poland, but also of the entire eastern flank of NATO. We will continue our efforts to increase the number of allied forces in Poland. What’s more, our agreement on enhanced defense cooperation assumes consultations, which can result in a decision on further enhancement of the US military presence in Poland.
Mariusz Błaszczak is the Polish Minister of National Defense.
autor zdjęć: st. szer. Wojciech Król / CO MON