James Middlebrook

President Donald Trump and Polish President Andrzej Duda held a bilateral meeting where defense issues were at the top of the agenda. Poland is interested in purchasing 32 F-35 jets and bolstering U.S. military presence in their nation to deter Russian aggression. President Trump welcomed both proposals and thanked Poland for meeting its financial commitments to the NATO alliance. President Trump indicated America will sell Poland F-35s and increase American troop presence, possibly by pulling troops away from Germany.

In 2014 at the Wales Summit, member nations agreed to contribute 2% of their GDP towards defense. By the end of 2018, 21 of 29 member nations did not live up to their promise. Germany is one of the nations falling short, designating 1% of GDP towards defense. The Trump administration has previously expressed frustration with Germany’s shortcomings, considering it is the wealthiest nation in Europe.

Poland meets its financial commitment and is looking to increase its involvement in NATO. President Trump is rewarding their behavior by tentatively granting their requests saying,

“We’d be taking them [American troops] out of Germany or moving them from another location… Germany is not living up to what it’s supposed to be doing with respect to NATO, and Poland is.”

Poland will provide the “basing and infrastructure” to support the military presence of 1,000 American troops at no cost to the United States. In addition, in May 2018 the Polish government offered to spend up to $2B to establish a permanent U.S. military presence. This has yet to be approved but the willingness of Poland to provide the financial backing for American support is a welcoming offer. President Trump is sending a clear message to NATO allies: honor your commitments and you will be rewarded.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has indicated that NATO Allies will increase their defense spending by 2024. Allies need to live up to their commitments to keep NATO strong and relevant. By rewarding nations that are already complying with the expectations of NATO membership, President Trump is incentivizing nations to hasten their compliance timeline