July 9th, 2016 10:21 EST
Obama: U.S. to be Lead Nation for Enhanced NATO Presence in Poland
On the first day of the NATO Summit in Warsaw, President Barack Obama announced that the United States will be the lead nation for an enhanced NATO presence in Poland, which will see an increase in NATO and American forces and military equipment.
Obama spoke during a joint press conference with Polish President Andrzej Duda after a bilateral meeting between the two leaders.
When I first came here five years ago I promised to increase our commitment to Poland`s security, and that`s exactly what we`ve done, " the president said.
We now have a continuous presence of U.S. troops in Poland with our aviation detachment at Lask Air Base [and] we continuously rotate personnel and aircraft into Poland, " he added.
Under the European Reassurance Initiative that Obama announced in 2014, the United States increased training, exercises and readiness, and earlier this year the president said he increased the effort four-fold, proposing $3.4 billion to preposition more U.S. heavy equipment in the region and continuously rotate an armored brigade in Europe.
Today, taking more steps to bolster NATO`s defense and deterrence posture, Obama announced that the United States will be the lead nation for an enhanced NATO presence in Poland as the alliance prepares to boost its forward presence in Central and Eastern Europe.
That means the United States will deploy a battalion -- roughly 1,000 American soldiers -- here in Poland on a rotational basis to serve shoulder-to-shoulder with Polish soldiers, " he said.
And when the new U.S. armored brigade begins rotating through Europe early next year, its headquarters will be in Poland, the president added.
"NATO Will Stand With You`
In other words, he said, Poland will be seeing an increase in NATO and American personnel and the most modern, capable military equipment because we will meet our Article 5 obligations to our common defense. "
Obama also thanked Poland for its continued strong support for Ukraine`s efforts to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of Russian aggression.
The president said that he and Duda discussed the importance of continuing to provide Ukraine the help it needs to strengthen its military and pursue political and economic reforms.
Obama also noted that the U.S. and Poland support efforts led by Germany and France to resolve the conflict in eastern Ukraine diplomatically, and are united in insisting that sanctions stay in place until Russia meets its obligations under the Minsk agreements.
With the new commitments that I`m announcing today, " Obama said, the people of Poland and our allies across the region can remain confident that NATO will stand with you, shoulder to shoulder, no matter what, today and always. "
(Follow Cheryl Pellerin on Twitter @PellerinDoDNews)
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