In a most unanticipated decision, NATO member states have decided to finance the construction of a huge military storage site for U.S. military hardware in Poland. The project, which is the largest of its kind in recent history, will include storage for tanks, armored personnel carriers, general utility vehicles, artillery pieces, and other materiel. Its purpose is to serve as a forward-deployed depot in case of a conflict with Russia.
According to Defense News, Pentagon officials intend for the depot to be constructed near Powidz, an Air Force base located in west-central Poland. The construction of forward-deployed arms depots is an old concept with lineage dating back to at least the Second World War.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, whose mandate was unanimously extended for an additional two years, had previously indicated that the construction of the military depot will commence this summer.
Last fall, the Polish government also came up with an unexpected proposal to construct a new U.S. base in the country under the name “Fort Trump” (these two projects are unrelated), but Pentagon officials haven’t followed up on the proposition. For a good reason. At first glance, the Polish might seem harmless and a closer working relationship with them may appear beneficial to the U.S. But this would mean a permanent commitment of American troops in the country. Currently, there are rotating battlegroups that rove among the Eastern European countries, thus offering a less predictable target to potential Russian aggression.
Ever since his election, President Trump has been adamant that NATO allies must increase their contribution to the common alliance. NATO guidelines stipulate that all member states must commit at least two percent of their gross domestic product to military expenditure every year. But only seven of the 29 member states have done so in 2018. From first to seventh, these include the U.S., Greece, the United Kingdom, Estonia, Poland, Latvia, and Lithuania. Trump’s pugnacious style of diplomacy seems to be working, if we were to judge by this latest initiative.
A recent report by the Congressional Research Service (CRS), stated that, in regard to Congressional support for the transnational defense organization, U.S. lawmakers are standing firmly behind it.
“While many Members of Congress have criticized specific developments within NATO—regarding burden sharing, for example—Congress as a whole has demonstrated consistent bipartisan support for NATO,” stated the report. “During the Trump Administration, congressional support has at times been viewed as an effort to reassure allies troubled by President Trump’s criticisms of the alliance.”