Talking to reporters on Monday, U.S. Defence Secretary Jim Mattis said that the Pentagon was in the early stages of examining potential locations for a permanent U.S. military base in Poland, the Washington Examiner reported.
“What we’re doing right now is with Poland, alongside Poland, we’re examining what land they are talking about”, Mattis said. “The first thing we have to do is look at what are they offering, because then you size up what it can actually hold and sustain. So we are in the exploratory phase of doing just that”.
Although the U.S. hasn’t made any decision yet, the topic has been widely debated ever since the Polish government’s plans to establish a permanent U.S. military presence were made public last June. One of the only NATO countries where defence expenditures account for more than 2% of its GDP, and historically one of the U.S.’s strongest allies in Europe, Poland has been intensely lobbying Washington to convince them to put boots on the ground, and promised to set aside up to 2 billion dollars for the base. Although experts are divided on the issue, this would be an absolute “game-changer”, German Marshall Fund’s Michal Baranowski was quoted as saying by the Financial Times: “There would be absolutely no ambiguity about where Poland is geopolitically”.
Polish President Andrzej Duda tried to sell the idea to Donald Trump during his visit to the White House on September 18, jokingly arguing they could call it “Fort Trump”.
An obviously flattered U.S. President said he was “very seriously” considering the offer: “We’re looking at it from the standpoint of, n°1, military protection for both countries, and also cost, a term you don’t hear too often and you haven’t heard too often over the last 25 years”, Donald Trump said during the joint press conference.