Potentially increasing the American military presence in Poland will be among the topics when U.S. President Donald Trump and Polish President Andrzej Duda meet at the White House on Wednesday. But officials will not say whether those talks will be directly connected to the planned withdrawal for service members from Germany.
Senior administration officials said the visit — the first by a foreign head of state since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in America — will include an emphasis on the importance of Poland as “a reliable security partner” for the United States and NATO.
U.S. Army officials have already begun planning for rotational deployments of an armored brigade combat team to Poland in coming years, and White House officials said the leaders will discuss additional needed infrastructure improvements related to that influx of personnel.
However, for now the discussions will not include the possible move of troops from Germany to Poland. Those will occur once “final determinations are made” on troop levels in Germany, senior officials said.
Earlier this month, President Donald Trump confirmed rumored plans to draw down American military personnel levels in Germany in coming months, stating that the NATO ally has been “delinquent in their payments” to the security alliance.
Trump did not announce any specific numbers. But on Sunday, in an essay for the Wall Street Journal, White House National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien said the U.S. will reduce its permanently stationed force in Germany from 34,500 troops to 25,000.
“The Cold War practice of garrisoning large numbers of troops with their families on massive bases in places like Germany is now, in part, obsolete,” he wrote.
“Modern warfare is increasingly expeditionary and requires platforms with extended range, flexibility and endurance. While air bases and logistics hubs remain important, the Cold War-style garrisoning of troops makes less military and fiscal sense than it did in the 1970s.”
Troops currently assigned to Germany may be reassigned to other countries in Europe, the Pacific, Australia or U.S. locations, O’Brien wrote. Pentagon officials are still finalizing details of the plan
Poland has been viewed as one of the potential landing spots, given its proximity and recent increases in defense spending.
White House officials have not commented on the potential for permanent cap of 25,000 U.S. troops in Germany at any given time, another rumored part of the military footprint change.
Defense advocates have noted that a hard cap on troop numbers may create significant logistical problems for Pentagon planners, since Germany serves as a major travel hub for units deploying to locations in the Middle East, Europe and other foreign theaters.
O’Brien wrote that the 25,000-troops level still represents a “strong” commitment to Germany by the United States.
White House officials on Tuesday said that Duda’s visit will also include discussions about regional security and Poland’s increasing reliance on the U.S. defense industry.
Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.