Sunday, June 14, 2009

New gains for Poland in NATO amidst frustration

This week brought both good news and frustration for Poland.


1. Polish general in NATO HQ.
Poland will appoint seven generals to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. One of them will be deployed in the NATO headquarters in Norfolk, USA. According to NATO’s rules, each member country is allowed to have a certain amount of so-called ‘stars,’ which correspond to the number of generals employed by the alliance. So far, Poland has had four stars but after the command reform it will have seven stars.

“In NATO’s slang having seven ‘stars’ is synonymous to having a deputy commander in the Allied Command Transformation headquarters in Norfolk. The Polish General will have to share the post with his Italian counterpart, taking turns. Nevertheless, it is a great success for Poland as we have never held such a high office in the NATO,” said Defence Minister Bogdan Klich.
2. NATO Joint Battle Command Centre in Bydgoszcz, nothern Poland
Defense Minister Bogdan Klich has announced that NATO will locate the Joint Battle Command Centre in Bydgoszcz, northern Poland, following the decision by defense ministers at a NATO meeting in Brussels. The NATO battalion will be made up of six joint mobile modules from member countries.

“In Bydgoszcz, we will have the permanent commanders of the battalion and other components: one of the six joint mobile modules, a security component and logistics and support operators,” claimed Klich, adding that the unit stationed in Poland will be composed of about 200 NATO soldiers.

The Defense Minister would like to make Bydgoszcz Poland’s NATO centre. Since 2004, the city has hosted NATO’s Joint Forces Training Centre.

According to Klich, the decision carries a lot of weight for Poland. “The more alliance institutions in Poland, the greater is our sense of security,” claimed Klich, highlighting the fact that NATO has decided to heavily invest in Poland by modernizing military infrastructure including air and sea bases.
1. NO MRAP-type vehicles for Poland
During talks in Brussels, Polish Defence Minister Bogdan Klich was told that Poland will not receive MRAP-type vehicles. The MRAP-type vehicles, or Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles, are specifically designed to survive attacks from IEDs, which have been the most dangerous to coalition troops in Afghanistan. The vehicles, weighing in at over 14 tonnes, have significantly reduced the number of deaths since their introduction to the war in Iraq, and the Polish military had hoped to protect its soldiers in Afghanistan through their use.For now, Polish soldiers in Afghanistan will continue to use MRAPs borrowed from the American military, as well as the Polish-made KTO Rosomak (Kołowy Transporter Opancerzony, or Wheeled Armored Vehicle) that is already in use.After the meeting with his American counterpart Robert Gates, Minister Klich explained that "The Americans at the moment have their own substantial needs, and these additional vehicles, which are being transferred to Afghanistan, will be used primarily for personal use." Link
2. Poland will receive the promised Patriot missiles, but the missiles will be unarmed.
The declaration on strategic cooperation from August of last year clearly says that the installation of the first battery of Patriot missiles should take place no later than the end of this year,” Bogdan Klich, Poland’s defense minister, said this week in interviews. “We stick to this date in talks with our American partners.”
Despite the optimistic assessment on the Patriot negotiations this week from Mr. Klich, the Foreign Ministry said negotiations on stationing those missiles still faced several hurdles before the missiles could be delivered.

Poland is insisting that after a certain period of time, the Patriot missiles should be based permanently on its soil. So far, the United States is prepared only to rotate the missiles, sending them for a couple of months at a time from Germany to Poland, where U.S. personnel would train the Poles.

“Poland eventually wants the missiles to be based permanently in Poland,” said a U.S. official who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. “If not, then Poland might even consider purchasing them.”

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