As I have noted repeatedly, President Trump’s realignment of U.S. forces in Europe has not been a sign of lessened commitment to NATO, but the opposite — a stronger commitment to countering Russia at the front lines. Redeploying U.S. forces from ‘delinquent’ Germany in the rear, to other NATO partners such as Poland, Romania, and the Baltics, on Russia’s borders is a far greater deterrent to Russian adventurism.
This new forward defense focus is best demonstrated by the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDC), signed earlier last month by Poland’s defense minister and the U.S. secretary of state, Mike Pompeo.
As noted in Military.com, “the agreement significantly increases the U.S. rotational presence in Poland — from the current 4,500 troops whose deployment started in 2017, to 5,500 troops. This includes the 200-strong Poznań-based forward command post.”
To bring the point home, two weeks later, the forward-based headquarters of the U.S. Army’s reactivated V Corps was inaugurated in Poznań.
Stanisław Żaryn, the head of the National Security Department in the Chancellery of Poland’s prime minister, recently wrote about the increased U.S.-Polish defense cooperation and its effects on NATO and Russia.
Based on the level of belligerent Russian propaganda and vitriol about the increased U.S. military presence in Poland, Żaryn says it is clearly a “pain in Russia’s neck.”
Żaryn explains that:
…apart from setting the practicalities of military cooperation between Washington and Warsaw, the EDCA carries two powerful messages: one of deterrence against a potential aggressor and another of assurance to NATO. First, should Poland feel threatened, the infrastructure it undertook to prepare (some of it is already in place) will allow for an immediate deployment of additional U.S. troops to our country, bringing their total number to 20,000. Second, Poland, the biggest country on NATO’s eastern flank, has just become host to a U.S. Army outpost at a very high level of command — the highest to date in this part of Europe.
The aim of all these efforts is to significantly boost the alliance’s defense capabilities in the region, period.
Żaryn continues by detailing various Russian propaganda and smear campaigns against U.S. troops in Poland, noting that “the Kremlin will overhype even the least important or least harmful incidents connected with the U.S. presence in Poland.” He adds:
The Kremlin will do its utmost to smoke U.S. troops out of Poland. The intensity and level of aggression of Russian propaganda demonstrates that keeping the eastern flank strong is a necessity for all of NATO. The American presence on Polish soil plays a key role in safeguarding the West against the Kremlin’s hostilities.
Trump’s “Shifting NATO’s strategic area of defense in the East toward the territory of Poland undermines Russia’s operational possibilities in Europe and makes Central and Eastern Europe less vulnerable to the Kremlin’s influence,” explains Żaryn, adding: “So, the presence of Americans in Poland is a pain in Russia’s neck.”