Washington and Warsaw today signed an accord on the legal status of U.S. soldiers stationed in Poland that is a prerequisite for the deployment of Patriot air defenses in the European country, Agence France-Presse reported (see GSN, Dec. 1).
"This [Status of Forces Agreement] allows the stationing of U.S. soldiers and material in Poland," Polish Defense Minister Bogdan Klich said after signing the agreement in the Polish capital. "For Poland it means that its security will be strengthened."
Deployment of the Patriot missiles is expected to begin next year, U.S. officials have said.
U.S. Undersecretary of State Ellen Tauscher signed the agreement, calling it "the latest example of the very strong and enduring relationship that we only want to make deeper between the United States of America and Poland."
U.S. military personnel would come before the Polish justice system for any crimes committed off base that do not fall under the scope of their military duties, according to the agreement.
"We have entered a good agreement because it reflects well our interests as the host country," Klich said.
Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said in October that his nation was ready to participate in a newly revised U.S. missile shield for Europe, which emphasizes use of sea- and land-based versions of Standard Missile 2 system to counter short- and medium-range Iranian missiles (see GSN, Sept. 18). U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the United States intends in 2015 to field SM-3 interceptors in Poland and the Czech Republic (Agence France-Presse/Google News, Dec. 11).