Reports have surfaced that the Polish Defense Ministry is planning to purchase 250 M1 Abrams tanks from the U.S. The Abrams is a third-generation American battle tank used in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Defense News, citing a Polish source, reported on the yet-to-be-confirmed deal, remarking that the announced acquisition occurs two months after Poland bought 24 Bayraktar TB2 drones from Turkey, becoming the first fellow NATO state to do so; though Turkey had provided them to Azerbaijan for last year’s war against Nagorno-Karabakh and more recently to Ukraine for its war in the Donbass.
The purchase of the American battle tanks would cost Polish taxpayers between $3-5 billion (the Polish GDP is $596 billion.)
A Polish Defense Ministry spokesperson told Defense News, “as part of the ongoing analyses related to the operational needs, we have identified the necessity to provide [Polish] armored military units with modern tanks that would comply with the requirements of the modern battlefield.”
Neither the spokesperson nor Defense News indicated which battlefields they would be deployed to and used on. In The Murders in the Rue Morgue, Edgar Allan Poe used the words of Thomas Browne paraphrasing Tiberius as the epigraph: “What songs the Syrens sang, or what name Achilles assumed when he hid himself among women, although puzzling questions are not beyond all conjecture.” It can safely be surmised those battlefields will be in areas bordering Poland; say, Belarus, Kaliningrad, Ukraine (the Donbass).
In the past two decades Poland has also obtained some 250 German tanks. There may be Poles still alive who remember earlier German models.
Two years ago Poland expressed interest in the Main Ground Combat System program developed by its Weimar Triangle partners France and Germany to upgrade their main battle tanks (the Leclerc and Leopard 2, respectively).
As coincidence would have it, a few days ago The National Interest featured an opinion piece titled Providing Poland With the M1 Abrams Would Help Secure NATO’s Eastern Flank, which title confirms the hypothesis above as to where and against whom they will be deployed.
Late last year the U.S. and Poland signed an Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement that provides for the Pentagon deploying additional troops and military equipment to the European nation. Provisions of the agreement include the rotation of an American armored brigade combat team, long-range fires and drones, and a forward element of the recently reinstated U.S. Army V Corps. The U.S. already has troops and armored vehicles in Poland as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve, and the U.S. is in charge of the NATO Enhanced Forward Presence Battlegroup there with an American battalion.
Four years after joining NATO in 1999 Poland bought 48 F-16s from the U.S. in a deal that was worth $3.5 billion for General Dynamics, its lobbyists and obliging congresspersons. It was the largest military expenditure in Poland’s history.
The purchase of Abrams battle tanks may exceed even that amount.
As the song and the bumper sticker in the U.S. in the 1960s had it, freedom isn’t free.