The United States should give serious consideration to Poland’s requests for an increase in US military assistance so that the country is able to meet both its modernization requirements for NATO, as well as continuing to be an effective coalition partner in Iraq.
There are currently 1,500 Polish soldiers serving in Iraq, the third largest number of combat troops. For its participation, Poland receives from the US $100 million in military funding. During our discussions, Polish officials pointed out that this amount was insufficient as Poland has diverted the money that was originally allocated to modernize the military to cover the cost of fighting the war in Iraq. Moreover, with the war on terrorism, the Polish army now has to focus on extra-territorial defense, which requires changes in equipment and training. Polish officials mention that there are other countries that receive more assistance from the US, but deliver less than Poland does.
Both the Polish Defense Minister Radek Sikorski and Foreign Minister Stefan Meller have pledged that participation in Iraq will continue, but that Poland’s military role will change to largely humanitarian aid and training of Iraqi security forces. In addition, the government will also likely pressure the US to allow Polish firms to bid on lucrative reconstruction contracts from the Iraqi government which so far have been mostly awarded to American companies.