'Fort Trump' Still a Possibility as 1,000 More Troops Head to Poland

Cavalry scouts assigned to 1st Platoon, Bravo Company, 1st Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, use the Polish terrain to hone their skills while executing area reconnaissance during a recent training exercise in Swietoszow, Poland, in April 2019. Sgt. Kris Wright/Army
Cavalry scouts assigned to 1st Platoon, Bravo Company, 1st Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, use the Polish terrain to hone their skills while executing area reconnaissance during a recent training exercise in Swietoszow, Poland, in April 2019. Sgt. Kris Wright/Army

The military base Poland has pledged to build for the U.S. could still be named "Fort Trump," but that is up to the Poles to decide, President Donald Trump said Wednesday.

"Poland wants to build a great military facility" to give U.S. troops a permanent presence in Poland, and "we are giving it very serious thought," Trump said at an Oval Office meeting with Polish President Andrzej Duda ahead of a later joint news conference.

As part of the effort to bolster Poland's military, Trump said the U.S. may send an additional 2,000 troops to the country, but stressed that they would not be coming from the U.S. They would be in addition to the 4,000 U.S. troops who now rotate through Poland.

"We're talking about 2,000 troops" who would come from bases outside the U.S., most likely Germany, Trump said.

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But a document published Wednesday on Duda's official website entitled "Joint Declaration on Defense Cooperation Regarding U.S. Force Posture in Poland," stated that the near-term growth of U.S. troop strength in Poland would be about 1,000 personnel and "would focus on providing additional defense and deterrence capabilities in Poland."

A package of additional measures Poland plans to support free of cost to the U.S. include the following, according to the document:

  • Establishment of a U.S. Division Headquarters (Forward) in Poland.
  • Establishment for joint use by Polish and American troops of a combat training center in Drawsko Pomorskie.
  • Establishment of an Air Force MQ-9 Reaper Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance squadron in Poland.
  • Establishment of U.S. Special Operations Forces capability within Poland to support air, ground and maritime operations.
  • Development of infrastructure that would support an armored brigade combat team, a combat aviation brigade and a combat sustainment support battalion.

When asked whether the proposed base in Poland might be named "Fort Trump," the president said "that's up to them," but he appeared to be leery of the possibility.

"You people would have a field day with that," Trump said to reporters at the meeting. He added, "We haven't finalized anything."

At a previous White House meeting with Trump in October, Duda said, "I would very much like to ask to set up a permanent American base in Poland, which we would call 'Fort Trump.' I firmly believe this is possible."

In addressing the troop additions, he renewed his criticism of Germany for what he said is a failure to fulfill its spending commitments to NATO.

"Germany is not living up to what it's supposed to be doing," Trump said.

Although Trump spoke of 2,000 troops going to Poland, and the joint declaration said 1,000, Duda said at the joint news conference that the eventual number is at discretion of the U.S.

"This is going to be decided" by the U.S., he said. "It's always going to be up to the U.S. to decide."

Poland's efforts will be aimed at "trying to create the best possible conditions" for however many U.S. troops deploy, Duda added.

"We're going to be there [in Poland] with limited force, but we'll be there," Trump responded.

Then he added, "I hope Poland is going to have a great relationship with Russia," prompting a lengthy response from Duda on how difficult that would be for the Polish people, given the long history of Russian and Soviet invasion and aggression.

Duda recalled that the Soviet Union joined with Nazi Germany to invade Poland at the start of World War II and cited the Cold War subjugation of Poland by the Soviets. He also pointed to Russia's recent aggression against Georgia, Crimea and Ukraine.

"We never had a great friendship with Russia" through all of Polish history, he said. "We would like Russia to be our friend," but Moscow continues to show an "unkind, imperial face."

-- Hope Hodge Seck contributed to this report.

-- Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com.

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