Remarks by Secretary Mattis at an Enhanced Honor Cordon Welcoming Poland Minister of National Defence Macierewicz to the Pentagon

Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis; Poland Minister of National Defence Antoni Macierewicz


SECRETARY OF DEFENSE JIM MATTIS:  Welcome, Minister Macierewicz.  I would just tell you, you and your officers and the members of your delegation are a welcome sight here in the Pentagon.  And it's good to see you again so soon after our meeting in June at the defense ministerial.

As we were listening to the national anthem, out in front of the Pentagon, I was reminded that Poland and the United States have a very long shared history of military cooperation.

And here in Washington, we have statues to General Pulaski, and to General Kosciusko.  And these were officers that came to our aid during our Revolutionary War, when our upstart little country decided to rebel against a king in Europe.

But, in more modern times, the Polish people have demonstrated their strength of resolve when you fought on after Poland was occupied during World War II.  And from the cities and from the forests, your guerrilla fighters fought on with grit and courage.

And, of course, flying British Spitfires out of England and jumping paratroopers into Arnhem, you fought all the way through the war.  But the victory that you gained over the fascists was lost to the Soviet occupation.

But Poland never gave up, and their solidarity showed up again to show that the Polish people never accept domination.  And today, you're a valued member of NATO, and Poland leads by example.  And an American-led NATO battle group, with troops from the United Kingdom and Romania, stands with your nation that came to our aid in 1776.

So the work to protect freedom continues, as we stand together against any threat from the East, two countries that are bound by democratic values and by the NATO alliance.  And our government here in Washington notes proudly that Poland continues to meet the NATO pledge, leading by example.

So today, we look forward to discussing how we can further strengthen our military relationship, strengthening both defense capabilities and our NATO interoperability.

So ministers -- ministers, members of the delegation, you're very welcome here.  Thanks again for traveling to come for these discussions.

Minister.

MINISTER OF NATIONAL DEFENCE ANTONI MACIEREWICZ:  Mr. Secretary, it was in our history, which you described, and it will be our future.  Thank you for this -- (inaudible), and thank you especially for your invitation and possibility to meet you.

On behalf of Polish nation, I would like also to thank all American soldiers serving in Poland for excellent cooperation and effort they make to defend the eastern flank of NATO, and eastern flank of Poland, too.

I'm also very pleased to visit the United States at the same moment, same time, when President Trump delivered his address to the United Nations.  It is a great continuation of his speech, presented in Warsaw in July.  We appreciate very much that Mr. President mentioned Poland among the three European states defending the Western values and security of the -- Europe.  I want to thank once more for this.

The main goal of my visiting Pentagon is the same as the main goal of the Polish security police:  to consolidate the strategic Polish-American alliance, which is fundamental to safeguarding peace in Poland and the entire eastern flank of NATO.  In our view, broader U.S. military presence in our country will be required to ensure that.

Poland remains a credible ally.  Recently, we adopted, like yourselves, a new law that guarantees defense spending at the level no lower than 2 percent GDP, and gradually increased to 2 1/2 percent GDP.  We are building up our army to 200,000 soldiers, and we are equipping it with the most modern weapons produced both in Poland, and in the United States.  For it, I want to thank you especially.

We participate in military missions abroad, and to why asking for sending more troops to our country, we are ready -- we are ready to send ours where our allies will feel endangered, and where they can be of help.

I'm convinced that our talks will be productive and successful.  Together, we will defend peace in these unstable times.  Thank you, Mr. Secretary, for possibility to -- talk and to discuss -- (inaudible) -- in this moment.  Thank you once more, and thank you for all your staff. (.

SEC. MATTIS:  Thank you, sir.  And, ladies and gentlemen, if you'll excuse us, we'll get down to work.  Thank you.

(CROSSTALK)

Q:  Mr. Secretary, the Russian -- the Russian Ministry of Defense threatened to retaliate against U.S. troops today in Syria, saying that U.S. forces and their global allies had attacked Russian and Syrian troops.  Are you worried about relations with Russia in Syria?  Were there any actions being taken to safeguard U.S. forces there?

SEC. MATTIS:  No, I'm not worried.  We continue to deal with the Russians there in a collaborative way.  And we'll sort this out.

Q:  Thank you, sir.

SEC. MATTIS:  Thank you.