US military plans Polish storage site

US military plans Polish storage site

Nato says it plans a storage site for US military hardware in Poland, in response to what it says as increased Russian assertiveness.

The US$260-million site near Powidz, 200km west of Warsaw, would house enough armoured vehicles, ammunition and weapons for a brigade, Nato said.

Building work is due to start later this year and take two years, Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said.

Thousand-strong battle groups have been deployed in the three Baltic states and Poland and Nato has launched an overhaul of its command structure. The alliance says it wants to deploy faster to its eastern flank in case of an incursion after the 2014 invasion of Ukraine by Russia.

The practice of “pre-positioning” equipment, also used during the Cold War, is also aimed at making it easier to deploy resources during a crisis.

The US already has four storage sites in Europe: two in Germany and one each in Belgium and the Netherlands. They each hold enough equipment for most of an armoured division, said retired Lt General Ben Hodges, a former commander of US forces in Europe.

Stoltenberg said the Polish storage site would “underpin the increased US presence in Poland”.

Poland has been deepening its military ties with the US and last month agreed to buy US mobile rocket launchers which cost US$414 million and a year ago signed a US$4.75 billion contract for the Patriot anti-missile system, angering Moscow.

Poland’s nationalist ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) has also been pushing Washington to open a permanent military base.

Nato wants to increase its speed of deployment by implementing a so-called readiness initiative to have 30 battalions, 30 air squadrons and 30 naval combat ships ready to use in 30 days. It is also investing in infrastructure to move heavy equipment and personnel. The network was neglected after the end of the Cold War and its frontier has also moved east.

Almost 5,000 US troops are already stationed on a rotational basis as part of Nato operations.

Germany last week endorsed a draft budget that would see military spending increase next year but then decline, meaning Europe’s largest economy would miss the 1.5 per cent goal it pledged to Nato.

Stoltenberg said Germany had started increasing defence spending and pledged an 80-per-cent increase from 2014 to 2024 in a schedule submitted to Nato.

“I expect that Germany will do what it has told Nato,” the Norwegian national said.

Poland is trying to welcome more US soldiers. Picture credit: Wikimedia

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