The Army now has a permanent garrison in Poland, a major milestone underscoring that country's central role as a hub of NATO support for Ukraine's fight against invading Russian forces. Thus far, however, the garrison is shaping up to be a fraction of the size of the service's other installations in three other European countries, all of which are much farther from Russian territory.
The Army's V Corps, headquartered at Fort Knox, Kentucky, has had a forward presence at Camp Kosciuszko in Poland since 2020, largely to manage logistics of the Pentagon's sprawling mission in the region bolstering NATO's front lines. President Joe Biden in 2022 promised to make it permanent, with that promise being realized Tuesday.
"We are proud of the declaration of President Biden regarding the permanent presence of American troops in Poland," Polish Deputy Prime Minister Mariusz Blaszczak said in a statement. "We have been striving for this for years, for the word 'permanent' -- and it has just become a reality."
It's unclear how extensively the service plans to man the newly established U.S. Army Garrison Poland. The garrison has a relatively small footprint in Poznań, one of Poland's largest cities far from its border with Ukraine, being only about the size of a city block.
The service just recently assigned its first two soldiers there, an active-duty sergeant and a sergeant first class with the Army Reserve, far from the typical size of a garrison -- which usually involves multiple units. However, there are roughly 200 additional soldiers at the garrison on rotation. It is unclear if being assigned permanently to Poland is akin to other duty stations where soldiers live for years and have their families move with them.
A spokesperson with V Corps did not respond to a request for comment.
Tadeusz Kościuszko, the garrison's namesake, moved from Poland to the continental United States in 1776 and served as a senior officer in George Washington's army, building fortifications at West Point, among other assignments. He returned to Poland after the war, where he was a key general in the Polish-Russian War of 1792 and led the Polish uprising against the Russian Empire in 1794.
There are some 10,000 U.S. troops in Poland, including elements of the 4th Infantry Division out of Fort Carson, Colorado, and the 101st Airborne out of Fort Campbell, Kentucky, alongside multiple National Guard units. All of those formations are there on roughly year-long deployments training alongside other European forces to deter Russian President Vladimir Putin from ordering his forces beyond Ukraine, which would likely trigger a massive European theater of war.
The U.S. Army Garrison Poland is the eighth garrison the Pentagon has in Europe, with others being in Italy, Belgium and Germany.
As the Pentagon continues to pack Europe with troops, the Army has had many of its formations on virtually constant rotations, to include overseas missions and assignments -- keeping up a pace resembling the peak of the post-9/11 wars, even as the Global War on Terror has wound down.
The service has a sprawling presence in Africa, particularly in Djibouti, and still has troops in Iraq, Syria and Kuwait. In addition to legacy missions from the GWOT era, Army planners have set 22 Combat Training Center rotations for next year at Fort Irwin, California, and Fort Polk, Louisiana, where units essentially mimic operating in a combat zone for about a month.
-- Steve Beynon can be reached at Steve.Beynon@military.com. Follow him on Twitter @StevenBeynon.