|Polish troops will be trained to use F-16s and C-130 transport planes|
Courtesy of US Airforce
Poland and the US signed a memorandum of understanding in Warsaw last week that paves the way for a permanent US Air Force detachment on Polish soil starting in 2013.
The deal, which was endorsed by US President Barack Obama during his trip to Poland in late May, means Poland has achieved a key goal of stationing US troops on its territory as it continues to cast a wary eye towards a resurgent Russia.
The Americans would train Polish troops in the use of F-16 fighter jets and C-130 transport planes.
“This memorandum of understanding means that by the end of 2012 we will have in Poland a detachment allowing for the permanent rotation of American military aircraft, both combat and transport aircraft,” Defense Minister Bogdan Klich was quoted by Reuters as saying.
“From 2013 we plan the regular and periodic presence of aircraft and the training of pilots four times a year,” Mr Klich told reporters after the signing ceremony with the US Ambassador to Poland, Lee Feinstein.
Poland currently hosts rotating unarmed US Patriot missile batteries, which Wiki-Leaks revealed an angry Polish official had referred to as “potted plants.” When the deal for stationing the Patriot missiles in Poland was brokered in 2008, the Polish side had understood that the missiles would be armed.
Despite warming relations between Warsaw and Moscow in recent years, Poland sees a permanent US presence on its soil as important to bolster its security.
Poland will also host a portion of the US’s planned missile-defense system from 2018, a program that the Czech Republic dropped out of this week (see article, p. 5).
Moscow has said the US’s involvement in the region amounts to a “new arms race” and has repeatedly threatened to station Iskander ballistic missiles in the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad, which borders Poland, if the missile-defense program were to go through.
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