Poland Welcomes US Paratroops
24.04.2014 – Poland welcomed a company of American paratroops on Wednesday as the Russian-Ukrainian crisis continued to spread unease across the region.
About 150 soldiers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team arrived at a military airbase in Swidwin, north west Poland, and over the coming days, about 450 more soldiers will be sent to fellow NATO member states Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
Poland’s minister of defence Tomasz Siemoniak took part in negotiations in Washington last week, finalising a programme that Warsaw had been strenuously pushing for.
“According to some, this is perhaps just a small step,” he said at the welcome ceremony in Swidwin.
“But we should bear in mind that our American friends are specialists in small steps that are a giant leap for mankind,” he added, alluding to the 1969 landing on the moon.
Prime Minister Tusk noted in Warsaw that more paratroops could be brought in “at any moment”, bringing the contingent to a full brigade. The US soldiers will carry out joint exercises with their Polish peers.
US Ambassador in Warsaw Stephen Mull said in Swidwin that “it’s our duty within the NATO framework to assure Poland about our security guarantees.
“Poland has always stood by the United States,” Mull stressed (Polish soldiers served in Iraq and continue to be stationed in Afghanistan).
“And today the Transatlantic Community is facing an inadmissible wave of aggression on Poland’s neighbour, Ukraine.”
Companies stationed in Poland and the three other NATO member states are scheduled to stay about a month before other companies replace them on a rotational basis. Pentagon press spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby said on Tuesday that other NATO members may also join the programme. (nh)
Source: PAP/IAR Polskie Radio