The U.S. officially established Friday the first full-time U.S. military presence in Poland.
President Barack Obama and Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk agreed to the U.S. presence in Lask during the president’s visit to Poland last year.
The occasion was marked by a ceremony at Lask Air Base, about 100 miles southwest of Warsaw, in which U.S. Air Force personnel flew the American flag.
The ten personnel of the initial detachment will be joined by up to 200 visiting airmen conducting quarterly training rotations.
According to the American Forces Press Service (AFPS), U.S. Ambassador to Poland Stephen D. Mull and Navy Adm. James G. Stavridis, the commander of U.S. European Command and NATO’s supreme allied commander, were joined at the ceremony by Poland’s Defense Minister Tomasz Siemoniak, Chief of Staff Army Gen. Mieczyslaw Cieniuch and Air Force Commander Gen. Lech Majewski.
AFPS reported that the arrival of the 10-man team at the base represents “a new kind of U.S. ‘boots on the ground’ here in Poland,” said Derek Chollet, the assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs. Chollet represented Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta at the ceremony.
“The alliance between the United States and Poland is rooted in shared history, shared values and deep ties among our people, cemented through NATO and the ironclad commitment to Article 5,” Chollet was quoted by AFPS as saying. “The Polish people have been our partners for over two centuries, and since joining the NATO alliance in 1999, your troops have been shoulder-to-shoulder with ours in the Balkans, in Iraq and in Afghanistan.”