Brigadier General (retired) Jarosław Stróżyk shares his expert thoughts on the planned redeployment of U.S. troops from Germany, its implications and effects.
Brigadier General (retired) Jarosław Stróżyk served for 28 years in Senior Executive positions in the Ministry of National Defense of Poland. He twice served at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, including as the Deputy Director of the Intelligence Division of the International Military Staff. In the United States he served as the Polish Defense Attache in Washington, as well as the Deputy Chairman of the Coalition Analysis Cell at CENTCOM. He also attended the NATO Defense College in Rome.
Currently, he is an adjunct professor at the University of Wrocław. He is deeply engaged in diplomacy, international business affairs, and intelligence analysis. His experience includes extensive work in military strategic planning, comprising multinational programs. He is a speaker on current European issues and professional intelligence matters at various academies and colleges.
Strike Source interviewed him about the planned redeployment of U.S. troops from Germany, its implications and effects.
Q: What is your overall assessment of the planned U.S. troop redeployment from Germany to other countries in Europe, as well as the overall reduction of about 4,500-5,500 U.S. service members in Europe that this will include?
A: In military terms, I assess this decision as a mistake. It simply benefits
President Putin and somehow it fulfills his demands and complaints
expressed in the Munich Conference speech in 2007. Each rifle taken out of
European theater weakens the deterrence effect which the U.S. and NATO have been building since Russia’s Crimea annexation and invasion of Ukraine in 2014.
In political terms, it might sour the transatlantic relationship. I spent two
tours at NATO HQ in Brussels and saw first-hand how much U.S. leadership
means for the Alliance. However, I understand shifting the risks and costs of the continent’s defense to the Europeans who should spend more on the
defense but I’m convinced this withdrawal crosses the threshold of
minimum U.S. engagement. U.S. bases in Germany provide immensely
important logistical and training facilities not only for Europe but also for
America’s operations in Africa and in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Q: What do you see as the potential implications of the redeployment in terms of regional security?
A: Redeployment within the European theater would be acceptable. But the math is simple; 6,400 U.S. troops come back to the U.S. while only 1,000 go to
Poland. The outcome is simple. We might not forget that the Pentagon has also decided to withdraw 700 Marines from Norway. At the same time, we see an increasing role of Romania and the Black Sea region in the U.S. strategic approach.
Q: What do you think this planned move means in terms of NATO cooperation and relationships among the NATO partners?
A: President Trump’s decision has unfortunately the potential for weakening NATO solidarity and the decision making process at the political level. I strongly believe it doesn’t raise the cohesion of Alliance and mutual understanding. With recent U.S.-Turkey disagreements over F-35 purchase and production lines and the Turkey-Russia contract to buy S-400 anti-aircraft systems, NATO doesn’t need yet another area of “misunderstanding”, especially between crucial NATO members.
Q: What does the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, which is related to this redeployment and was recently signed between the U.S. and Poland, indicate about the current state of the U.S.-Poland relationship and what effect might it have on the future of the relationship?
A: The agreement is the final achievement of all Polish governments since 1989. Poland as a NATO member has always invited American troops on
our soil. I did it wholeheartedly while serving as Polish Defense Attache in
D.C. Current U.S.-Polish relations are very positive however the Government of Poland has to look over the American political horizon, i.e. presidential elections in the short term perspective, to keep it at the same level.
Q: There are currently 4,500 U.S. service members in Poland. What are likely to be the economic effects on Poland of having an additional 1,000 U.S. personnel in Poland?
A: Local economies take advantage of the U.S. presence in those areas but the overall effect isn’t significant. However, based upon the U.S.-Poland agreement many facilities will be built in 19 locations all over Poland and this investment, which might be of a couple of billion U.S. dollars, will serve many local and national construction companies well.
Q: The Polish Foreign Minister, Jacek Czaputowicz, (who resigned as of August 20, 2020) has said that U.S. Troops in Poland, “enhances our deterrence potential because we are closer to the potential source of conflict.” Is this an overt reference to Belarus and Ukraine, and by extension to Russia?
A: War in Ukraine showed Polish public opinion that potential conflict could arise around the corner. The current situation in Belarus, to include military exercise and possible Russian so-called “friendly assistance’ is another vivid example of changing security environment. In the event that Russian “peacekeeping” forces are stationed in Belarus, Poland will effectively have 250 miles of additional border with Russia. That is why deterrence in real terms is key and will remain so for many decades.
Q: U.S. Army V Corps, whose main mission is operational planning, mission command, and oversight of rotational forces in Europe, was deactivated in 2012. However, the U.S. increased its rotational presence in Europe in 2014 following the upheaval in Ukraine and the Russian annexation of the Crimea. Could the increase of U.S. troops closer to the Russian border and Russia’s historic area of influence be seen by the Kremlin as an aggressive move?
A: Creation of command structure in our region is a required and positive step; however, no country nor organization will prevail in any war simply due to a headquarters as such. The Kremlin loves to present any NATO decision, exercise, or deployment as an aggressive one and it will be the case this time as well. We have to be ready to present our facts and try to win the information war with Moscow. I’m of the strong opinion that we as NATO have been loosing in this arena for many years.
Editor’s note: Jarosław Stróżyk is a Senior Consultant for Strike Source.