Mariusz Błaszczak on Thursday said the Polish-American alliance was being further stepped up as Maj. Gen. Adam Joks left the country to become deputy commander of US Army V Corps in Fort Knox, Kentucky.
Speaking at Gen. Joks' send-off ceremony in Poznań, western Poland, Błaszczak said that "today is another important step on the path towards making the alliance between Poland and America stronger and building co-operation between the Polish and American militaries."
Błaszczak emphasised that Gen. Joks "is the first Polish man to assume such an elevated position in the US Army command since Tadeusz Kościuszko and Kazimierz Pułaski."
"Such developments ring positive for making Poland and NATO's eastern flank safe," Błaszczak also said.
"They also constitute very significant evidence of the cohesion of the North Atlantic Alliance and of the very good military co-operation between Poland and the United States," he added, noting that in August last year, the two countries signed an agreement to enhance defence collaboration.
As a result, "we are working together to create the conditions for up to 20,000 US soldiers to come to Poland, if necessary," Błaszczak told those at the ceremony.
He pointed out that these forces would be led by the V Corps Headquarters Forward in Poznań, the most important US Army command in this part of Europe.
Poland's Defence Minister Mariusz Błaszczak speaks during a send-off ceremony for Maj. Gen. Adam Joks in Poznań on Thursday. Photo: PAP/Marek Zakrzewski
To enhance co-operation, Błaszczak said, Poland is also upgrading its military equipment, for example with the purchase of state-of-the-art Abrams tanks, a deal that was announced on Wednesday.
He also argued that the appointment of Gen. Joks, "an experienced commander," would "positively affect the security of Poland and of the countries on NATO's eastern flank."
Błaszczak said that Joks' "following in the footsteps of Kościuszko and Pułaski” was a "historic event" for Poland, while the general himself said he felt "honoured to assume such a high post" in the US Army.