American, Polish troops begin joint training session

World Today

The United States and Poland have begun a historic, joint training session. Around 3,500 American troops have been deployed to Poland, along with 2,400 pieces of military equipment. Poland is just one of seven locations in Eastern Europe the deployment will reach.

It’s seen as a show of U.S. committment to its allies.

CGTN’s Aljosa Milenkovic reports.

American, Polish troops begin joint training session

The first joint training exercises in Poland for U.S. troops and their Polish counterparts are underway.

The warm welcome received by the newly arrived US military personnel – largely motivated by perceived threats coming from the East.

It is a fear that pushes Poles into seeing security riding in on US tanks.

“In general, there is climate of fear here in Poland. So yes for us this will be next stage, we’ll feel much safer. You know, Poland always needed big brother, let’s say. Before it was Russia, but now we look to United States and we want them to be here,” said Adriana Borovic, a Polish journalist.

But General Frederick “Ben” Hodges, Commander of Allied Land Forces in Europe, said he sees Russian aggression in the region as unlikely, as long as the West remains vigilant.

“And the best way to keep it unlikely is to show a strong deterrent capability. That’s why the 28 nations of NATO at Warsaw last summer agreed that we need to make this transition from assurance to deterrence,” General Hodges said.

In downtown Zagan, U.S. soldiers are more than welcome but not just for the added security.

The presence of thousands of U.S. troops has brought a boon to the local economy – creating more than 300 new jobs — as shops, hotels and local businesses all profit from their patronage.

But there are questions, whether the benefits may come at a cost.

One of the questions is whether the citizens of Zagan are afraid that they might find themselves on the target list of the Russian military, because 4000 American troops are based in their town.

“Zagan was always safe town and we feel safe now when the Americans are here. It doesn’t change anything for us. So we are not afraid of any attacks. It’s not a problem for us, we don’t think about it,” Karolina Galazka, a member of the Zagan Town Council said.

How long they’ll stay is another question. It will be up to new U.S. President Donald Trump to decide if they’ll stay in Eastern Europe after their nine-month deployment ends.

Russia is not hiding its dissatisfaction with U.S. troops at its borders and President Trump’s pledge to thaw relations with Moscow may not mix well with the sounds of tank tracks rattling.