When Defense Minister Lloyd J. Austin III received the Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak for a meeting at the Pentagon yesterday, the Navy Band played the cheerful airs of the Polish national anthem – a mazurka.
American-Polish relations have grown closer and closer since joining NATO in 1999, Austin said. The United States sent troops and assets to Poland to deter a resurgent Russia. The United States is the framework nation for NATO in Poland, where it is joined by NATO allies Romania, Croatia and the United Kingdom.
In addition, as part of NATO’s ballistic missile defense capability, the United States is building an Aegis land facility in Poland.
The American-Polish friendship goes back to the War of Independence. Tadeusz Kosciuszko joined the emerging US Army and served as an engineer for George Washington. He left the service as brigadier general.
This friendship continues to this day. Austin noted that he had fought alongside Polish soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq and praised their courage and professionalism in combat.
In 2014, as the security environment in Europe became more unsafe, the United States began deploying rotational forces over NATO’s eastern flank, “most of which have operated in Poland and continue to do so to this day,” he said. “Last year our countries signed an agreement on enhanced defense cooperation, which gives US personnel in Poland even more support. It’s a great example of your commitment to shared responsibility. “
Austin wants to build on the progress that has already been made. “Our two countries are more committed than ever to the collective security and regional stability of NATO, especially along NATO’s eastern flank,” he said. “We will continue to work together to enhance NATO’s defense and deterrence capabilities and ensure that the transatlantic bond remains strong.”
Blaszczak said the US military presence in Poland “continues to be a central pillar of our current and future bilateral cooperation and our joint response to NATO’s security challenges”.
The Secretary of Defense welcomed the activation of the US Army’s V Corps Forward and the appointment of a Polish general as deputy commander. Poland is also continuing its efforts to improve defense capabilities by purchasing state-of-the-art US-made military equipment. These include the F-35, Abrams tanks, HIMARS missile systems, and Patriot batteries.
“The growing Polish-American defense cooperation is making a decisive contribution to mastering a number of common security challenges,” said Blaszczak. “A sustained and robust US commitment in Europe and in particular on [the] NATO’s eastern flank is fundamental to the cohesion of the Alliance, an effective deterrent and the stability of the entire Euro-Atlantic area. “