A senior Polish defense official said today that the United States is likely to field a Patriot battery in his nation this year even if the Obama administration curbs plans for missile defense installations in Europe, Reuters reported (see GSN, April 22).
"We expect the Patriot battery to be deployed on Polish soil by the end of 2009, as initially agreed with the Americans. This is important for Polish public opinion," according to Deputy Defense Minister Stanislaw Komorowski.
The Bush administration planned to deploy 10 ballistic missile interceptors in Poland as part of a European missile shield that would also include a radar base in the Czech Republic. In return, it promised military aid that would include deployment of the 100-missile Patriot battery to Poland for a limited time per year in 2009, 2010 and 2011, "providing an opportunity for training up our soldiers and our systems," Komorowski said. A U.S. Patriot battery would be placed permanently in Poland beginning in 2012.
The Obama administration has not formally stated whether it plans to pursue its predecessor's initiative.
"Regardless of the decision (on missile defense), President [Barack] Obama has said other cooperation with Poland, including strategic projects such as modernization of our armed forces, will definitely be continued," Komorowski told Reuters.
Warsaw and Washington by the end of July should complete talks on the legal deployment of U.S. military personnel in Poland, he said. The Patriot battery could be brought to the European nation afterward.
Russia has vehemently opposed the U.S. plan, vowing to respond by deploying short-range missiles near its border with Poland (see GSN, Jan. 28). That has not appeared to deter Warsaw.
"The more installations you have on your soil the easier, and also the more strategically important, it becomes to defend that territory. So more NATO installations on Polish territory would help to make us feel more secure," Komorowski said (Gareth Jones, Reuters, May 18).