The Polish government announced on Monday that it would expand an American military base in the city of Powidz to strengthen the capabilities of the U.S. Air Force in Eastern Europe amid growing tensions with Russia to the east.
Polish defense minister Mariusz Błaszczak made the announcement during a visit to the base on Monday. Błaszczak indicated in his remarks that the base’s expansion would include new hangars, a fuel storage site, and additional warehouses. He did not provide further detail on the aims of strengthening NATO’s eastern flank. However, they have widely been interpreted as intended to deter Russian military activity in Eastern Europe.
“[This base] is turning into a military complex, preparing to support Polish and NATO forces on the eastern flank of the North Atlantic alliance,” the defense minister said. He did not provide further detail on the aims of the strengthening of NATO’s eastern flank, although they have widely been interpreted as intended to deter Russian military activity in Eastern Europe.
The base expansion at Powidz is part of a more comprehensive agreement between the United States and Poland to expand American military installations in the country. The “Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement” negotiated between the two nations in 2020 provides for “a permanent, long-term presence of the U.S. Armed Forces in Poland,” according to the Polish defense ministry.
In addition to strengthening U.S. capabilities in Poland, Błaszczak indicated that Poland would seek to strengthen its armed forces by purchasing military equipment from the United States—chiefly large vehicles, including attack helicopters and Abrams tanks. In his remarks at the Powidz base, the Polish defense minister claimed that the ministry had ordered ninety-six Apache attack helicopters from Boeing, the helicopters’ manufacturer. If the order is carried out, Poland would have the second-largest Apache fleet in the world, behind only the United States.
Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, President Joe Biden has strengthened the U.S. presence across Eastern Europe, particularly in Poland, which maintains close security ties with Washington. It is unclear how many U.S. troops are presently in Poland. However, U.S. ambassador to Warsaw, Mark Brzezinski, claimed in May that more than 12,000 U.S. troops were stationed at various U.S. and NATO facilities in the country—the most significant number in history.
Trevor Filseth is a current and foreign affairs writer for the National Interest.