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US establishes first permanent military garrison in Poland

US establishes first permanent military garrison in Poland
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Tuesday, 21 March, 2023, 22:12

The US has opened its first military garrison in Poland. It follows last year’s pledge by President Joe Biden to establish a permanent base – America’s first on NATO’s eastern flank – in Poland following Russia’s invasion of neighbouring Ukraine.

“We have been striving for this for years – for this word ‘permanent’ – and it has now become fact,” said Polish defence minister Mariusz Błaszczak at today’s opening ceremony. While Poland has long hosted US troops on a rotational basis, it had lobbied Washington for that to be turned into a permanent presence.

“This is a historic moment, a sign that the United States is committed to Poland and NATO, and that we are united in the face of Russian aggression,” declared Błaszczak.

The garrison – housed in Poznań at Camp Kościuszko, which is named after the 18th-century hero who fought for both Polish and US independence – will act as the headquarters for the US Army’s V Corps in Poland.

It is the eighth garrison of the US land forces in Europe, with the others located in Germany, Belgium and Italy.

“This garrison is a sign of the United States’ commitment to the security of Europe and Poles,” said Lieutenant General John Kolasheski, commander of the V Corps, quoted by RMF24. “It is evidence of strong NATO ties” and “essential for maintaining combat readiness…from the Suwałki Gap to Poznań and further west”.

Błasczak, addressing the US troops present, said that he was “proud that Polish soldiers can exercise and increase interoperability with you”.

“In the situation that Europe finds itself in, when Russia has invaded Ukraine, when Russia is trying to rebuild an empire, it is very important that the Western world is united, and that it feels safe,” he added. “And it feels safe when our armed forces are working together.”

The US ambassador to Poland, Mark Brzezinski, declared that the inauguration of the garrison was a sign that “the United States is committed to Poland and the NATO alliance, and that we are united in the face of Russian aggression”.