Commentary V4

Szatkowski: Fort Trump is a network of smaller US bases in Poland

By calling the initiative to introduce permanent US military presence in Poland “Fort Trump”, there was the risk of associating the project with only one political option in the United States, said Polish ambassador to NATO Tomasz Szatkowski.

Szatkowski, one of the main negotiators of the deal with the Americans, told Dziennik Gazeta Prawna that the core and expectations of the agreement between the USA and Poland was written in the joint declaration signed by Presidents Donald Trump and Andrzej Duda. 

He explained that the declaration was negotiated between the Polish Ministry of Defense and the Pentagon with the intention that later legal agreements will be a technical transfer of its contents.

“The preliminary project bundle as part of expanding American presence is also written into it. This includes drone squadrons, division command, a military training center or a military air base for accommodating the forces,” said Szatkowski, adding that the practice shows that such projects can evolve into a larger scale of presence.

Szatkowski pointed out that a singular “Fort Trump” is not mentioned in the agreement because from a strategic point of view, a network of smaller bases is just as efficient as one large base.

The diplomat recounted the risks connected with term “Fort Trump”, which was first used by President Andrzej Duda during his meeting with President Trump in Washington in 2018. 

Szatkowski stated that although it was a recognizable term and a symbolic appreciation towards the current US administration, it risked being associated with only one political option in the USA. 

“Owing to the communication with both forces in Congress, we were able to minimalize that risk. The result was bipartisan support for our efforts expressed in the 2019 and 2020 budget acts,” the ambassador explained.

He clarified that the often quoted 2 bln USD Polish payment for the base is actually a small sum. “If we would correctly estimate the indirect costs, such as deforestation for training grounds, which will serve Polish and American troops, our support could be presented in the context of significantly larger sums,” he said. 

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