US begins first permanent military presence in Poland

AV-DET Poland

From  Ian Brzezinski, New AtlanticistOn Friday, the United States will inaugurate its first permanent military presence in Poland by deploying an air force aviation detachment (AV-DET) at the Polish 32nd Tactical Airbase in Lask.  The detachment will further institutionalize US-Poland military-to-military engagement and is a needed and useful boost to the bilateral security relationship. 

The detachment consists of some eight to ten personnel led by a US Air Force major.  It will plan and coordinate the activities of USAF elements that will rotate into Poland for exercises that will involve US and Polish F-16s and C-130 transport aircraft, among other assets. 

While there are currently no plans to permanently station US aircraft in Poland, the US- Poland Memorandum of Understanding signed on 13 June 2011 creating the AV-DET outlines a robust annual exercise agenda. It states:  

The USAF AV-DET will facilitate combined training exercises and military-to-military engagement, through periodic rotation (four annually, with a goal of quarterly rotations no shorter than two weeks each) of US aircraft, and continuous engagement, including combined skill development and exercises, between the USAF and PLAF. . . . It is intended that the four rotational deployments each year to Poland will consist of F-16 or C-130 aircraft. It is intended that two rotations of F-16 aircraft will be conducted each year.  Additional combined PLAF and USAF training exercises, including the use of fifth generation fighter aircraft, may be undertaken. . . .

The AV-DET is a very positive development in the US-Poland relationship, and it offers great potential to serve NATO.   In addition to reinforcing the credibility of NATO Article V planning, the AV-DET could support the Alliance’s efforts to expand its global relationships, including with the Arab world.  One can envision the AV-DET and its Polish partners serving as the nucleus for multilateral air force exercises engaging, among others, air forces, from the Persian Gulf, Jordan, or Morocco.

Ian Brzezinski is a senior fellow in the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security and is on the Council’s  Strategic Advisors Group (SAG).

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