On the Polish Armed Forces’ Day and the Centenary of the Battle of Warsaw, a brand new Polish-American defence cooperation agreement is going to be signed, making it possible to enhance the US-military presence in Poland. The Enhanced Defence Cooperation Agreement is to be signed during US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo’s visit to Poland. Defence24 has confirmed the details of the agreement via two independent, off-the-record sources.
The agreement assumes that the US military presence in Poland would be enhanced in line with the memorandum of understanding signed between Donald Trump and Andrzej Duda back in 2019. The agreement covers matters such as the establishment of a forward division command in Poznan, stationing of a rotationally-present armoured brigade in Żagań-Świętoszów, deployment of Reaper UAVs squadron to Łask, the establishment of a Polish-US combat training centre (CTC) in Drawsko Pomorskie, the establishment of an airlift cargo hub for USAF in Wrocław-Starachowice, the establishment of the presence of an Army Aviation Brigade on a rotational basis, and a logistics battalion as well as special ops facility in Powidz, and another special ops facility in Lubliniec. Apart from the aforesaid, previously known elements, forward command of the US Army V Corps is also going to be established in Poland, as of October this year.
Defence24.pl found out, off-the-record, that the Agreement shall also establish a legal framework for enhanced US military presence. It also creates a foundation for further reinforcement of that presence in the future and for organizing a higher number of military exercises with US involvement. The extra infrastructure that is going to be established thanks to the aforesaid agreement would make it possible to rapidly increase the number of US troops stationed in Poland up to 20 thousand, especially in crisis circumstances, thanks to the enhancement of Poland’s capacity to act as the host nation.
The infrastructure would be owned by Poland. It is going to be shared with the Americans, remaining the Polish property. The new facilities would also be accessible for the Polish personnel - officers and services. The responsibility for the establishment of the new facilities is also assigned to Poland primarily. Warsaw is going to coordinate the completion of work in collaboration with the US side.
The estimated cost associated with the implementation of the Polish-US defence cooperation agreement that is scheduled to be signed tomorrow is said to be around 500 million dollars per annum. The amount is to cover the accommodation, board, and annual definition of fuel quantity, selected elements of equipment/armament storage support, and infrastructure maintenance support. The sum is not defined by the agreement specifically, it is an estimate of the expenditure that is to be made by the Polish Ministry of Defence, in line with the agreement provisions.
The Agreement does not specify the amounts, it rather outlines the scope of responsibility. One needs to remember that other states also share the cost of the US presence.
For instance, the Republic of Korea pays around 1 bn. US dollars per year, with 28.5 thousand US soldiers based within its territory. Seoul has also paid more than 10 bn. dollars for the establishment of the new Camp Humpreys military base.
Japan’s spending on the US presence is estimated to be higher too - the country pays 1.5-2 bn. dollars for the stationing of more than 50 thousand troops.
On the other hand, some of the costs that Poland is going to cover pertains to civil-military infrastructure, whilst the US presence entails a certain economic benefit. This has been exemplified in the case of Germany. The announced withdrawal of the US Forces led to protests of the local politicians and worries among the communities, about the potentially dire economic ramifications a change like this could have. 500 million zlotys (less than 150 million US dollars) is tantamount to the achieved benefits.
When it comes to jurisdiction over the US soldiers, the Polish-US agreement is based on the NATO SOFA agreement signed by all of the allies. It was drafted in 1951.
The SOFA agreement states that the allied troops can stay outside the legal jurisdiction of the host nation (Poland in this case) solely when it comes to the matters of omissions related to their service duties. This means that any crime or offence not related to the duties would be subject to full jurisdiction, should the Polish side express will to treat the given case in this way.
Meanwhile, the provisions pertaining to breaches of the law related to the duty (exercises, combat activities) are similar to the ones contained in the NATO SOFA agreement and the first Polish-US SOFA agreement signed in 2009, with regards to the construction works on the missile defense system.
The Polish troops deployed abroad (to Romania, Italy, Latvia) have to follow analogous rules. If they breach the law, they would be under the jurisdiction of the Polish court. This is a general principle adopted by all of the allied nations The new Polish-American agreement also assumes that in case of the matters covered by the US jurisdiction, related to the US troops’ service, the US side would be obliged to employ rules identical, with regards to the Polish witnesses and victims, to the ones that remain in force in the United States of America. This is a novelty when the new agreement is compared to the previous one signed in 2009 - and it is a benefit for the Poles.
The memorandum signed would become a foundation for reinforced and enhance US presence in Poland, making that presence a long-term one at the same time. Making the presence more “embedded”, with regards to elements already present in Poland (such as the armoured brigade) would have a critical role here. The same applies to the expected qualitative changes. These would be introduced thanks to the establishment of a Combat Training Center or new forces-reception infrastructure.
One should also appreciate the command facilities, facilities for the special operations forces, or reconnaissance assets (such as UAVs). These may have a decisive value in a potential crisis scenario, for a rapid and adequate response.
Jędrzej Graf, Jakub Palowski