In sum, President Duda is likely to be disappointed in his pursuit of “NATO bases” with permanently deployed allied troops in Poland or elsewhere in Eastern Europe. Despite their inadequacies, rotational bilateral deployments remain the most likely means through which individual NATO allies will adjust force posture in northeastern Europe. But it’s unclear whether this will satisfy Duda and other allied leaders in Eastern Europe, where the threat of a quick, decisive Russia military operation that would effectively cut off the Baltic States from reinforcement through Poland or the Baltic Sea looms large. How this plays out in the run-up to and during the July NATO summit could provide for a great deal of midsummer fireworks—even if only of the diplomatic variety.
John R. Deni is a Research Professor of Security Studies at the Army War College’s Strategic Studies Institute. This essay is based on a book chapter he has authored on NATO’s post-Ukraine force posture to be published in early 2017. You can follow him on Twitter at @JohnRDeni.