WARSAW, Poland -- Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak and U.S. officials attended a ceremony Tuesday to formally upgrade the U.S. military presence in NATO member Poland amid the war in neighboring Ukraine.
There are more than 10,000 American troops stationed in the former communist bloc country. They belonged to Area Support Group Poland, which has now been upgraded to form the first U.S. Army garrison on NATO's eastern flank -- a decision announced by President Joe Biden at the summit of NATO's 30 members last year.
The U.S. already has five army garrisons in Germany, one in Belgium and one in Italy.
"We appreciate it very much that U.S. troops are on a permanent basis in our country," Blaszczak said. "It is very important that the Western world remains united."
"This is good news for the security of Poland and of NATO's eastern flank," Blaszczak added at the ceremony in Poznan, western Poland.
He said Poland's cooperation with the U.S. is "exemplary" and aims to achieve interoperability between the two countries' armed forces.
Some of the U.S. troops are overseeing the military support being offered to Ukraine by foreign countries.
Many thousand U.S. troops have been stationed for years in Poland and other nations on NATO's eastern flank as a deterrent force but their numbers and role have significantly grown due to Russia's war on Ukraine that has entered its second year.
The garrison is based in Camp Kosciuszko.