Defense expert: US unlikely to withdraw troops from Poland

Sven Sakkov.
Sven Sakkov. Source: ERR

The United States is unlikely to withdraw NATO personnel from Poland, director of the International Center for Defense and Security (ICDS) and potential new Estonian ambassador to Finland Sven Sakkov says.

Speaking in the light of the planned withdrawal of U.S. troops from Germany and Norway, Sakkov said that if anything, the numbers of U.S. personnel in Poland may get a boost, as some of those leaving Germany may be redeployed there, though the two events are not directly related.

"It is not directly related to the reduction of troops from Germany, although the Trump administration has tried to make that impression. In fact, more than a year ago, Presidents Trump and [Andrzej] Duda agreed to bring about 1,000 men to Poland," Sakkov told ERR Friday.

U.S. forces are not permanently stationed in Estonia in significant numbers, though some specialist personnel often are, Sakkov added, and this is unlikely to change, he said.

The NATO Enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) Battlegroups, set up in the wake of the 2016 Warsaw Summit which addressed the issue of Russian aggression in Ukraine, are U.S.-led in the case of Poland, and British-led in the case of the Estonian battlegroup, based in Tapa.

Latvia's eFP battlegroup is Canadian-led, with Lithuania's being German-led.

U.S. President Donald Trump approved a plan to withdraw 9,500 US troops from bases in Germany in late June, saying that country had not been contributing financially to NATO as much as he would have liked.

The U.S. announced Friday it would be ending its continuous rotation of Marines in Norway, which has seen around 700 personnel based there at any one time, on a six-month rotational basis.

Some training contributions will continue to be made by the U.S. in Norway after this withdrawal, in fall.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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