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US transfers 100 tanks, 152 M2A4 IFVs, 18 M109A7 SPHs to Poland

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BULGARIAN MILITARY

According to Top War, citing the Press Service of the U.S. Army, 100 American tanks, 152 M2A4 infantry fighting vehicles, 18 M109A7 self-propelled howitzers, along with security vehicles, assault bridges, and armored cars, are set to be relocated from Mannheim, Germany to Powidz, Poland.

The storage facility in Powidz is part of the U.S. Army’s Europe-based storage system known as APS-2 [Army Prepositioned Stock 2]. This equipment transfer will be executed by the 405th Field Support Brigade. Until the Polish and American teams completed the construction of the storage facility in Powidz, the equipment was stored in Germany.

This move is a strategic effort to bolster NATO’s eastern flank. Positioned near an airport, these warehouses ensure that personnel from an armored brigade can be swiftly transported, equipped with necessary military hardware, and stocked with ammo, spare parts, fuel, and other essentials. Consequently, they can proceed directly to their deployment zones.

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Long-term planning

This transition has been in the works for years. Previously, the United States transported equipment to Mannheim due to its suitable warehouses. Now, with the equipment bases in Powidz finally constructed—contracts were signed in 2019 after earlier decisions—the equipment is being transferred to Poland.

The U.S. Army has seven APS depots available. They include APS-1, situated within the continental United States; APS-2 in Europe; APS-3 on the island of Diego Garcia and aboard ships in the Pacific region; APS-4 in Japan and the Republic of Korea; APS-5 in Kuwait and Qatar; APS-6 in Charleston, Kansas, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and Diego Garcia Island; and APS-7 in Italy.

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The base in Powidz

The 33rd Air Base, located near Powidz, is a crucial hub for the Polish Air Force. This base operates within the structure of the Polish Air Force and is part of the three wings of the Powidz Air Transport Command.

Since the summer of 2019, the base has also served as a storage facility for United States Army combat vehicles stationed in Poland. Construction of this depot began later than planned, with funding sourced from NATO’s Security Investment Program. Initially, costs were estimated at around $210 million, with the United States covering approximately 20-25% of the total expenses.

US transfers 100 tanks, 152 M2A4 IFVs, 18 M109A7 SPHs to Poland - Powitz air base
Photo credit: Picryl

The base isn’t just about vehicle storage. It also houses a bulk fuel storage facility valued at over $21 million. Furthermore, about $14 million has been allocated to improve railway infrastructure, including an extension and railhead, facilitating the transportation of heavy American military equipment by both air and rail.

NATO’s Eastern flank

Experts and senior officers believe NATO’s eastern flank is potentially vulnerable. While additional heavy military equipment could strengthen defenses against Russian aggression, the critical issue is the lack of anti-aircraft systems. According to a Financial Times report, NATO’s internal calculations reveal that the alliance currently has “less than 5 percent” of the air defense capacity required to protect the eastern flank in the event of a “full-scale attack.”

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“Air and missile defense capabilities are a core part of the Eastern European defense plan. And at the moment we don’t have that,” a high-ranking NATO diplomat disclosed. Another NATO official added, “[Air defense] is one of the biggest holes we have. We cannot deny it,” as cited by the Financial Times.

NATO’s latest defense strategies include measures to “significantly increase” the quantity and readiness of air and missile defense systems. The transfer of existing equipment to Ukraine has “depleted” Europe’s stocks, further emphasizing the urgency of addressing this gap.

Problems to solve

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Recent acknowledgments about NATO’s air and missile defenses being insufficient, especially along its eastern borders, prompt us to wonder what European politicians are counting on.

Interestingly, this gap in NATO’s air defense comes despite the alliance spending a whopping $1.3 trillion in 2023 alone—over 55% of the world’s total defense expenditure and more than 13 times what Russia allocated that same year.

This information supports claims from officials and military leaders in countries like Belgium, Italy, and Germany, who say they would have enough ammunition for only 24 to 48 hours if faced with a direct, full-scale attack.

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