With a resurgent threat from Russia, collective security and formidable deterrence are an evermore pressing duty for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), as it aims to safeguard member countries.
Central Europe has become essential in the West's resistance to an increasingly hostile and expansionist Russia. The invasion and sustained occupation of parts of Georgia and Ukraine are a significant part of Vladimir Putin's game plan. Russia does not want to wage conventional war against NATO and its member countries; all the same, Russia seeks to attain its objectives through nonlinear means whenever possible.
Russia has been escalating militarization in European Russia, including the Western Military District, and the North Caucasus, designated the Southern Military District. We must not only think of the Kaliningrad Oblast, but also of Russia's continuing unconventional warfare against the West generally, inclusive of its ongoing intervention in Ukraine and Moldova as well as present actions in Belarus.
The United States and Poland have agreed to a special pact, known as the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement or simply the EDCA. Under the EDCA, both countries build upon their prevailing security partnership as NATO allies with equitable burden-sharing needed to deepen defense cooperation, coupled with legal and infrastructural commitments.
The EDCA evinces a shared appreciation for the precedent Fort Trump concept in 2017 developed by the Ministry of National Defense under Minister Antoni Macierewicz, embraced by the Polish government, and the consequent declarations affirmed by Presidents Donald Trump and Andrzej Duda in 2019. Poland, on the other hand, must be industrious in further bolstering its national defense potential under the EDCA and beyond.
One could conceptualize Russia, with its powerful A2/AD capabilities, entering into a NATO member country in the Baltic region, seizing territory with Russian-speaking inhabitants, and aiming to create a quandary that might split the West. The EDCA plays a key role in making this scenario as implausible as the perspective of aggressors coming through the Terespol Gate.
Yet, in tandem with existing and proposed posture initiatives, Poland should continue to bolster her armed forces, as initiated by Minister Macierewicz, defense host of the 2016 Warsaw NATO Summit, and boost the fifth branch of her military, namely the Territorial Defense Force (WOT), which is dedicated to combating hybrid threats.
Owing to efforts by Minister Macierewicz, who established the WOT, Polish military expenditures statutorily increased to 2% of GDP with an automatic elevation to 2.5% by 2030. It was on account of Minister Macierewicz's steadfast leadership that NATO soldiers were deployed to Central and Eastern Europe, including the U.S. Army to Poland.
Drawing upon strategies in the United States, Poland could consider furthering programs modeled after the Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps (JROTC) in secondary schools and Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) at tertiary educational institutions. This not only helps foster patriotism, self-reliance, and military skills, but also nurtures Polish traditions from the interbellum period.
During his tenure, Minister Macierewicz embellished the Uniformed Classes program, similar to JROTC, and formed the Academic Legion, comparable to ROTC. An approach that could be undertaken would be the return of near-universal military cadet education to schools and, needless to say, providing officer training in a higher-educational setting as preparation for prospective service in the Polish Armed Forces.
In addition to the 4,500 soldiers already rotating in Poland, owing to the EDCA, the United States will provide a rotational presence of about 1,000 additional service members. Importantly, the forward components of the U.S. Army's V Corps headquarters will be situated in Poland. Notwithstanding, there is the challenge of deterrence in preventing aggression against Poland and other nations on NATO's eastern frontier.
Just as the Fort Trump concept was a milestone, the EDCA is likewise pivotal for collective security both within NATO as well as bilaterally between the United States and Poland. As we prepare to mark the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Warsaw, let us remember and commemorate the shared sacrifice, values, and heros that shaped both countries.
Notably, one American aviator who fought with the Poles, Merian C. Cooper, would later return to America to produce his most famous film, King Kong. The decisive Polish victory over the Soviets in what is also known as the Miracle on the Vistula halted the spread of communism westward, repulsing the Red Army and saving Europe.
Edmund Janniger is the Director of the International Security Forum, an institution under the patronage of the Minister of National Defense of the Republic of Poland. His work at the Ministry of National Defense encompasses academic affairs and global engagement. Mr. Janniger holds the record as the youngest sub-cabinet official in Poland's history. In the Parliamentary Office, Mr. Janniger has been the Deputy Chief of Staff to Minister Antoni Macierewicz and, during the 2015 elections, was the Deputy Campaign Manager for Law and Justice in the 10th District. Mr. Janniger has a proven track record directing complex political and policy-related matters. He holds an adjunct appointment at Marconi University, and was elected by the full Rutgers University Senate to three terms on its Executive Committee. Mr. Janniger splits his time between the Warsaw and New York metropolitan areas, has one young dog, and is an avid hiker. To read more of his reports
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