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Poland 'centre of gravity' for US army in Europe: commander
by Staff Writers
Warsaw (AFP) Aug 14, 2017


NATO ally Poland has become key to US operations in Europe as Washington deploys troops across the alliance's eastern flank to deter nearby Russia, a top American general said Monday.

"Poland has become for the United States Army the centre of gravity for everything that we're doing in terms of deterrence," General Ben Hodges, commander of US ground forces in Europe, told reporters in Warsaw.

The US army set up a new European headquarters in Poland in May to command some 6,000 of its troops deployed in NATO and Pentagon operations across the alliance's eastern flank since the beginning of the year.

The move is one of the largest deployments of US forces in Europe since the Cold War and is meant to reassure NATO's easternmost allies spooked by Russia's frequent military exercises near the region and its 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.

"We have hundreds of American soldiers every day that are training... in different places across Poland because it is such an important location, the geography," Hodges said, calling Poland "a leader inside of the (NATO) alliance."

The US leads a multi-national NATO battle group in Poland. Germany, Britain and Canada command three others in nearby Baltic states Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania.

"Because of Poland's willingness to allow us to train here, to develop facilities here, we now have an American battalion here," Hodges said of the unprecedented US deployment on Polish soil.

"You heard our president say that just a few weeks ago -- that's America's committment to NATO, or an example of it," Hodges added, referring to US President Donald Trump public endorsement of NATO's one-for-all-and-all-for-one mutual defence pact in a speech in Warsaw in July.

Hodges' remarks come as a high-pitched row between Poland's president and defence minister has hamstrung the nomination of key new generals.

Dozens of generals quit or were ousted amid a series of controversial reforms by Defence Minister Antoni Macierewicz after his rightwing Law and Justice (PiS) party took power in October 2015.

Experts warned the exodus has left Poland short of experienced commanders as NATO and the US set up operations in the country.

Earlier this month, President Andrzej Duda pointed to what he called problems with the revamped military command structure introduced by Macierewicz and blocked his picks for new generals pending top level consultations.

SUPERPOWERS
China warns against stoking Korea tensions after Trump salvo
Beijing (AFP) Aug 9, 2017
China responded to President Donald Trump's apocalyptic "fire and fury" threat against North Korea by pointedly warning on Wednesday against any rhetoric that could inflame tensions over Pyongyang's weapons programmes. Calling the situation on the Korean Peninsula "complicated and sensitive", China's foreign ministry issued a statement warning that parties involved in the impasse should avoi ... read more

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