WASHINGTON (AP) – President Donald Trump welcomed the Polish President to the White House on Wednesday, with a US decision to send more US troops to Poland to bolster NATO’s eastern flank against Russian aggression at the top of the US agenda. leaders.
Even before Andrzej Duda arrived, the US ambassador to Poland, Georgette Mosbacher, told TVN24 in Poland that the US will send another 1,000 troops to Poland – in addition to the 1,000 declared last year. But she said they wouldn’t necessarily be transferred from Germany, where Trump plans to withdraw about 10,000 U.S. troops.
This is Duda’s third visit to Washington since Trump took office and the first visit by a head of state to the White House since the coronavirus pandemic shut down things. The US and Polish delegations and members of the media were tested before the two leaders met in the Oval Office, although none of the officers wore masks.
Trump warmly greeted Duda and emphasized that it was both his close personal relationship with the leader and the close ties between the two nations that made Duda the first foreign leader to visit since the pandemic began.
“We’ve never been closer to Poland than we are now,” Trump said.
The two leaders also discussed energy security, including a natural gas pipeline Russia wants to transport more gas to Europe. U.S. sanctions have hindered the construction of the pipeline, creating tensions between the US and its European allies who want the gas. Other topics discussed include cybersecurity, telecommunications, 5G networks and economic cooperation.
According to an agreement announced last year, the US already plans to send about 1,000 more troops to Poland, and progress is being made, officials say, to lay the groundwork for those movements.
Lieutenant Colonel Carla Gleason, a Pentagon spokeswoman, said it “works with the United States European Command in accordance with the President’s directive.” She said the department’s priorities are countering Russia’s deterrence, which is an important part of any build-up in Poland. Under the agreement with Poland, the US will add a division headquarters, combat training center, unmanned aerial squadron, and structure to support an army brigade that could turn in and out of the country.
The Ministry of Defense is investigating the possibilities of withdrawing troops from Germany, but while some are being moved to neighboring Poland, the withdrawal will still pose complex logistical challenges and will not happen soon. US officials said no final decisions have been made regarding the destination of the troops currently stationed in Germany.
Trump has said he is determined to reduce the number of troops in Germany from about 35,000 to 25,000. The rumors of troops have been leaving the country for quite some time and are in line with the Pentagon’s efforts to place more troops in the Indo-Pacific. But Trump’s comments last week suggested the move is more directly related to his anger at Germany’s failure to meet NATO’s defense spending goals.
“Several thousand troops currently assigned to Germany could be transferred to other countries in Europe,” said Trump’s national security adviser, Robert O’Brien, in an opinion published Tuesday in The Wall Street Journal. “Thousands of people can expect to be transferred to the Indo-Pacific, where the US has a military presence in Guam, Hawaii, Alaska and Japan, but can also be deployed to locations such as Australia.”
A number of congressmen have objected to Trump’s decision, and some republicans sent him a letter outlining their concerns. Republican Michael McCaul, R-Texas, “pulls out the troops” and can do more to harm the national security interests of the US and our NATO allies and partners than to encourage Germany to contribute more. “
In total, the US has approximately 47,000 troops and civilian personnel in Germany, spread over a number of bases, headquarters and smaller facilities. The majority of the 35,000 active units are located in a handful of larger army and air base bases, including Ramstein Air Base, a hub in the region. There are also 2,600 national guard and reserve troops in Germany and nearly 12,000 civilians work for the services or the Ministry of Defense.
Associated Press writers Lolita C. Baldor in Washington and Monika Scislowska in Warsaw contributed to this report.
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