By Rebecca Grant, Stars and Stripes
Poland’s making a major commitment to modernizing its defense systems. This creates a chance for Washington to shape a new model for security cooperation in Europe, if officials can escape the doldrums of sequester and work closely with Poland.
The head of the Polish government, Prime Minister Donald Tusk, recently emphasized the need for “smart” defense that fully harnesses new technologies. Unlike many NATO allies, Poland isn’t content to coast on America’s military might.
A major element of the modernization project is a stand-alone Polish missile defense shield. Poland’s leaders are willing to put down serious cash to build one. Currently, they’ve set aside $10 billion for the shield and are actively soliciting bids from outside developers. As a wealthy country with serious intentions, they have several options, once of which is the American-made Patriot system.
The main impetus for the Polish missile shield project is the emerging threat from rogue nations, chiefly Iran. “Iran is known to be working on missiles with a range of 2,000 miles,” The New York Times reported in February 2012. Tehran to Warsaw is 2,308 miles. Big chunks of Europe are even closer to Tehran — Naples, Italy, is just 2,034 miles away.