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The Warsaw Voice » Politics » July 2, 2010
Patriots in Poland
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Patriots in Poland
July 2, 2010   
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Defense Minister Bogdan Klich May 26 welcomed American soldiers who came to Poland to maintain a battery of ground-to-air anti-ballistic Patriot missiles. The ceremony took place in the town of Morąg in northeastern Poland, where the battery will be stationed on a rotational basis.

“This is the first time American soldiers will be stationed in Poland for a longer period of time,” Klich said. “It is not everywhere that they meet with such a warm welcome. Your presence here increases the security of my country.”

The Patriot battery will be stationed at the Morąg base with unarmed missiles until 2012, after which a battery with armed missiles is planned to arrive. According to the Defense Ministry, the American battery may become part of Poland’s air defense system with time.

The Morąg base will host over 100 U.S. troops from the 5th Battalion of the 7th Air Defense Artillery Regiment headquartered in Kaiserslautern, Germany. The arrival of the first Patriot battery contingent follows the Supplemental Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) on the status of U.S. forces in Poland, which Poland ratified at the beginning of this year.

The U.S. troops are expected to be replaced by a fresh contingent every quarter. They will conduct exercises to demonstrate the capabilities of the Patriot system to Polish soldiers. The exercises will last a month and involve 100 to 150 American soldiers.

The Patriot air and missile defense battery has been brought into Poland in conjunction with a 2008 agreement on the deployment in Poland of parts of the U.S. National Missile Defense system, widely referred to as the “missile shield.” Poland had asked that its short- and mid-range air defense system be strengthened as a condition for taking part in the U.S. National Missile Defense program. In September last year, the Barack Obama administration scrapped a plan to place missile interceptors in Poland and missile defense radar in the Czech Republic. Instead, it chose to use SM-3 Standard Missiles deployed in Europe and the Middle East—for now only a naval version is available. These missiles are to be adapted for launch from the ground. In the future, Poland may also host an SM-3 base as part of a ballistic defense system.

The SM-3 missiles are part of the Aegis system to track and eliminate air threats, developed for the U.S. Navy and installed on American ships since 1973. It has since been enhanced and used by the navies of other countries, including Japan, Norway and Spain.
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