When Poland joined the NATO alliance in 1999, its military was saddled with rapidly obsolescing platforms and equipment largely of Soviet design. In response to the Russian seizure of Crimea and its massive military buildup, Warsaw initiated a major modernization program intended to provide its military with advanced capabilities. One key element of that effort is to upgrade or replace the Polish army’s fleet of old armored fighting vehicles, particularly its battle tanks. The Ministry of Defense acquired some 250 German-made Leopard tanks and would like to acquire more. Unfortunately, virtually none are available. Instead, Warsaw should consider acquiring U.S. M-1 Abrams tanks, the same platform that the U.S. Army plans to place in Poland as part of the rotational deployments of Armored Brigade Combat Teams (ABCT).
Russia’s seizure of Crimea and its ongoing efforts to destabilize Ukraine focused NATO’s attention for the first time in some two decades on the threat from Moscow. It became imperative for the alliance to rebuild the conventional military capabilities that had been allowed to atrophy. Moreover, it was recognized that NATO needed, in particular, to create a robust forward presence in Eastern Europe to make it clear that an attack on one member would be met by the military power of the rest.
The views and opinions expressed in this issue brief are those of the author.
|Daniel Gouré, Ph.D., is a vice president at the public-policy research think tank Lexington Institute. Goure has a background in the public sector and U.S. federal government, most recently serving as a member of the 2001 Department of Defense Transition Team.