As we all know, the presence of US military forces in Poland has always been a crucial aspect of the country’s defense strategy. The majority of American soldiers are currently stationed in western Poland, however, the government is taking steps to expand the presence of US military personnel in eastern garrisons as well.
Soldiers come to Poland for a few months, usually nine, and participate in training exercises on the poligons. After their training is complete, they return to their homes and families.
Subsequent rotations are made up of different military units, some of which bring heavy equipment and armament with them from across the Atlantic. This is a costly and difficult process, but it also serves as an important logistical exercise for Poland.
When it comes to American military’s presence in Poland, it’s important to understand the different contexts in which they operate. A portion of American forces are present in Poland under the flag of NATO, as part of collective actions taken by the alliance. In these cases, American soldiers are integrated into multinational structures.
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However, there is also a significant presence of soldiers in Poland operating under the flag of the United States, as part of a bilateral cooperation between the two countries.
Where Are the American Bases in Poland Located?
One of the key locations is Poznan, where the Command of the 5th Corps of US Land Forces is located. The Armored Brigade Combat Team Command, also known as the ABCT, is based in Zagan, Poland. It has additional troops located in Skwierzyna, Swietoszow, Boleslawiec and Torun.
The primary responsibility of the 5th Corp Command is to coordinate and oversee the activities of US land forces stationed in Europe. They are also responsible for operational planning and cooperation and synchronization of actions of US forces with the armed forces of other NATO countries.
These troops arrived in Poland in 2017, and although primarily stationed in western Poland, they carry out exercises and training throughout the country, and operate throughout the region, in other NATO countries on the Eastern flank.
NATO Presence in Poland
Here are locations of NATO Bases which are also homes for US soldiers in Polnad.
One of NATO’s four groups, the NATO Multinational Battalion Battle Group, is currently stationed in Poland. This group was established as part of the enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) initiative. The eFP was one of the most significant outcomes of the NATO summit held in Warsaw in 2016.
The United States is the framework country for the group, meaning it commands the group and provides most of the forces. The US contingent is reported to be more than 800 soldiers, according to the Ministry of Defense.
Szczecin is the location of the Headquarters of the Multinational Corps Northeast. This is NATO’s highest command in the Baltic Sea region and has functioned as the High Readiness Forces Command since June 2017. The Corps is responsible for all units and NATO ground forces located on the eastern flank.
Elbląd is home to the Multinational Division Northeast, which is responsible for coordinating the activities of the enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) groups deployed in the Baltics and Poland. The Division plays an important role in ensuring that training and situational awareness are closely coordinated among the various eFP units.
Bydgoszcz is a key location for NATO defense operations, and is home to several important organizations.
- The Combined Forces Training Center, provides support for exercises of Alliance forces and partner countries, conducts training courses and provides knowledge to various audiences.
- The North Atlantic Alliance Force Integration Unit, responsible for enabling rapid deployment of the NATO Response Force (NRF) to improve the Alliance’s response capabilities.
- The Allied Counterintelligence Command, responsible for detecting, deterring and neutralizing the threat of terrorism, espionage and sabotage directed against NATO.
Kraków hosts the NATO Counterintelligence Expert Center, which is dedicated to enhancing the North Atlantic Alliance’s ability to counter the activities of foreign intelligence services. The center is responsible for conducting specialized courses and training in the area of NATO counterintelligence to improve the alliance’s counterintelligence capabilities.
American Bases Presence in Poland – Location
Here are the most important American Bases in Poland.
A missile defense base is located in Redzikowo, near Slupsk. The construction of the base began in May 2016, and it is a part of the European Phased Adaptive Approach, which is a program of the European part of the anti-missile shield.
As part of Operation Atlantic Resolve, the U.S. Armored Brigade Combat Team (ABCT) is continuously stationed in Poland and currently rotates at units in:
- Żagań, where the ABCT command is located
The soldiers of the ABCT rotate every nine months, this rotation system is essential for maintaining readiness and ensuring that the unit is always prepared to respond to any threat.
According to the Ministry of Defense, the ABCT in the first wave in 2017 numbered about 3,500 soldiers, however, the US Embassy stated that the number is even more than four thousand soldiers. The unit is equipped with state-of-the-art military equipment such as Abrams tanks, Bradley infantry vehicles, and Paladin self-propelled howitzers.
Poznan is home to the U.S. Land Forces V Corps Advanced Command. This command plays a crucial role in the defense strategy of both Poland and the United States. Its main task is to coordinate and oversee the activities of U.S. land forces stationed in Europe. It also is responsible for operational planning, and cooperation and synchronization of U.S. forces with the troops of other NATO countries.
Powidz is a crucial location for the defense operations of both Poland and the United States, as it is home to several key military organizations. One of these organizations is a task force of the Combat Aviation Brigade (CAB) which is stationed there on a rotational basis. This task force is equipped with four UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters and four AH-64 Apache helicopters.
Another unit based in Powidz is the Combat Sustainment Support Battalion (CSSB). This logistical unit consists of over 750 personnel and 160 pieces of equipment, and has been deployed to Poland and other countries on NATO’s eastern flank as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve. Additionally, soldiers are stationed in Łask and Mirosławiec on a rotational basis.
This rotation system of units in Powidz, Łask and Mirosławiec is an important aspect of the defense strategy of both Poland and the United States, ensuring that the Combat Aviation Brigade, Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, and the soldiers are always ready to respond to any threat.
Historical Context: US Military Presence in Poland
The Russian aggression against Ukraine in 2014 brought to light the need for increased security measures for NATO allies located on its eastern flank. The alliance quickly established the “Spitz,” a rapid reaction force of several thousand troops, capable of moving anywhere in Europe within a few days. However, it was soon realized that this was not enough to fully address the security concerns in the region.
In 2016, NATO made the decision, confirmed at the Alliance’s Warsaw summit, to create four multinational battalions in the NATO member countries that directly border Russia, which includes Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia.
These small units, numbering between 1,000 and 1,400 soldiers, were established to enhance the defense capabilities and readiness of these Eastern flank countries. The leaders of the battalion in Poland are Americans and they are the ones who provided most of the troops for the battalion, about 850 out of the 1,200.
The battalion is also made up of troops from Great Britain, Romania, and Croatia and the whole unit is under American command.
The “Polish” NATO battalion, which comprises of troops from multiple nations, has been training near Orzysz and Bemowo Piska since 2017. This location is strategically important as it is close to the Kaliningrad region, which is a Russian enclave, as well as the Polish-Lithuanian border, the only land connection between the Baltic states and the rest of NATO. Please read my other article I wrote about this very specific way Poland border Russia.
The area has been referred to as the “Suwałki Isthmus” by former U.S. land forces commander in Europe Gen. Ben Hodges.
Initially, the core of the battalion was a subdivision separated from the US 2nd Cavalry Regiment, armed with fast and light Stryker armored personnel carriers. This is such a rapid response force.
Now there are better-armored but slower Abrams tanks and Bradley infantry fighting vehicles from the National Guard in Orzysz. However, this is a short-lived change caused by the rearming of US troops with a better-armed version of the Stryker. The U.S. cavalry will once again stand guard at the Suwałki Isthmus.
Are American military bases in Poland a good idea?
The Russians will not miss the appearance of a new military base in the east of NATO. Its establishment, however, is not more aggressive than expanding the alliance to new countries. In the profit and loss calculus, the permanent presence of the American military means for Poland the availability of modern weapons that we do not have in our own warehouses.
Of course, in the event of armed aggression, such a military base will be a target, and it is a pity that it is located so far to the west of the country. Nevertheless, we could not get any better security guarantees at the moment.
It is also worth being more optimistic. Wars end someday, and an American military base in a Polish province is a very good foreign investor. Let’s look at our neighbors to the west. The air base in Germany’s Ramstein has existed continuously since 1958. It is much larger than the one being developed in Poland, but for the local community, it is a profitable enterprise.