Ambassador Mark Brzezinski’s Interview with TVN

18 July 2023

Piotr Kraśko, TVN:  Mr. Ambassador, what a pleasure to have you here.

Ambassador Brzezinski:  Hi, Piotr.  Thank you for having me.

Piotr Kraśko, TVN:  Thank you, and please let me be personal at the very beginning because this is my biggest dream, and you have realized it.   You were on board yesterday of the largest aircraft carrier in the world, USS Gerald Ford.  How does it make you feel to be a U.S. citizen, ambassador on board the largest warship ever constructed, which is, in my opinion, the best symbol – if we could choose just one – the best symbol of the might of the U.S. military.

Ambassador Brzezinski:  Piotr, how does it make me feel?  It makes me proud of the American-Polish special friendship because yesterday, I was able bring General Rajmund Andrzejczak, the chief of Polish defense to the USS Gerald Ford, America’s newest aircraft carrier.  Our brand new, nuclear power aircraft carrier, that is state-of-the-art, and we were able to bring top Polish military officials to show them a state-of-the-art platform that projects American power around the world.  The USS Gerald Ford houses 70 F-18s and other aircraft.  It is on its first tour, which happens to be going by Europe.  And to be able to show the different technologies on that aircraft carrier to Polish military officials shows me how close our militaries have become.  When our militaries get together, it’s not just a photo opportunity.  This is a meshing together and a sharing of science and technology and warfare tactics so that we can be safe going forward together.

Piotr Kraśko, TVN:  And General Andrzejczak was allowed to see all of the greatest secrets, to be honest, of the U.S. military on board this aircraft carrier?

Ambassador Brzezinski:  General Andrzejczak and 15 other Polish military officials were able to tour the most closely held components of this incredibly important platform for the American military, a U.S. aircraft carrier.  Seeing things like, for example, our electromagnetic launching system.  When you launch an aircraft, previously, you used a steam powered system that could only launch heavy aircraft.  Now we use a launcher that can launch an F-18 aircraft, or it can launch a 400lb drone; the same kind of launcher.  That’s important for Polish security because whether it’s an F-18, or whether it’s a drone, we have a dynamic set of technologies in the sky, over Poland, and around Poland, to make sure that Poland is safe and secure.

Piotr Kraśko, TVN:  It’s amazing.  One more question, because I was sure that you would be boarding the aircraft carrier using a helicopter, but you boarded using a plane.

Ambassador Brzezinski:  Yes, yes.  Just like you see in the Top Gun movie, we landed a plane on the aircraft carrier using the tail hook to grab the wire and to slow the plane down on the aircraft carrier.  And, Piotr, I have to confess, I’m a little afraid of flying, so I was sitting next to one General Andrzejczak’s colleagues, a Polish general, so I kind of had my arm wrapped around his arm.  I’m glad there are no photos of that.

Piotr Kraśko, TVN:  One last question about the aircraft carrier because I think for us it is hard to realize how complicated is this organization on board the aircraft carrier.  Is it true that there is a dog on board the aircraft carrier for mental health of the military?

Ambassador Brzezinski:  Yes, you know, our leadership is as modern as we find the situation in 2023.  The aircraft carrier is home for six months, eight months, twelve month deployments for 4000 American men and women.  They have all the needs that’s all of us [have].  So they have, yes, a mental health dog — what they call a facility dog — on the boat called Sage, and we were able to meet Sage, a Labrador, yesterday.  The aircraft carrier is over 20% women; a number of the pilots are women.  The USS Gerald Ford is named after President Gerald Ford, and when it was christened, when it was christened with a bottle, the bottle was not of champage, it was a bottle of water, because Betty Ford, as is well-known, had addictions. The First Lady of America had addictions.  One of her great contributions to America was to be public about her mental health challenges and her addictions.  So the boat was christened with a bottle of water.  That’s the kind of leadership that recognizes the challenges of today and tomorrow that I am proud of.

Piotr Kraśko, TVN:  Wow, that’s an amazing story, Mr. Ambassador.

Ambassador Brzezinski:  It is.

Piotr Kraśko, TVN:  I want to go back a little bit further in the past because three days ago you were in Redzikowo where [an] anti-missile shield is created.  Can we be optimistic that the system – which is part of the future European Phased Adaptive Approach, which is composed of bases in Turkey, Romania, and command center in Ramstein – it will be operational this year?

Ambassador Brzezinski:  It will be operational in a matter of months, and I was so proud to show the Polish Prime Minister our Aegis Ashore missile defense system.  I want to say to the Polish people, thank you, because that missile defense system that you have in Redzikowo, in Słupsk, that also protects us – us the Americans – because of the angle, the arc, in which the missile intercepts, it’s position using the geography of Poland.  And on that base, also like on the aircraft carrier, like in Łask with the F-15s, like in Rzeszów with the 10th Mountain Division, like in Powidz with the Abrams tanks, or in Szczecin with the destroyers, all across Poland, you see state-of-the-art American military technology being manned, supported, engaged with alongside Polish soldiers.  Never before have the American and Polish militaries been as closely connected.  As I said before, military-to-military connections in the past used to be basically a photo opportunity.  Today, we Polish engineers and Polish soldiers working along American soldiers on the most sophisticated technologies.

Piotr Kraśko, TVN:  But this is absolutely amazing because since you arrived here as U.S. Ambassador, it looks like decades happened in months and [one] year since you came here, since the beginning of the war; this Polish-American military cooperation has now so many different dimensions.

Ambassador Brzezinski:  Well you know Piotr, there’s a saying that goes:  never miss a chance to seize opportunity from a crisis.

Piotr Kraśko, TVN:  Exactly.  Winston Churchill.

Ambassador Brzezinski:  And that’s the story of the Ukraine crisis, for both today and tomorrow.  Today, the American and Polish militaries are keeping the eastern flank of NATO secure, unmistakably secure.  Today, the Polish people are helping Ukrainian refugees like never before.  And tomorrow, there will be a rebuilding and transformation of Ukraine in which many countries come together.  But Poland, and the young generation in Poland, will be in such a pivotal position to rebuild Ukraine and to draw Eurasia into Europe, and that will be an incredible opportunity for the next generation of Poles.  And it is imperative that we don’t miss that chance for Poles and Americans alike, to seize it.

Piotr Kraśko, TVN:  And what a surprise for Putin, who I think was gambling for division among Allies in NATO, and the result is the opposite:  we are never closer, we are never stronger, as the Alliance.

Ambassador Brzezinski:  Putin hoped to break NATO and he hoped to fragment Central and Eastern Europe.  He got exactly the opposite:  Sweden and Finland are in NATO; America and Poland have never been as close militarily or strategically as we are now.  I know this is a political year in Poland; this is not a left issue or a right issue.  The fact is, is that America and Poland are centered and grounded around the same security concept.  There is a unity and there’s a shared definition of the challenge that bring our two countries together, like never before.

Piotr Kraśko, TVN:  And you just mentioned, these are not right or left issues; we share a definition of defense; we share values, right?

Ambassador Brzezinski:  Yes.

Piotr Kraśko, TVN:  … that are so important in a time of crisis.  The most simple issues, the simple values, like freedom, freedom of the press, freedom of speech…

Ambassador Brzezinski:  Look, when our American soldiers go abroad, and you can see the projection of American power on this aircraft carrier yesterday.  It had come down from Norway to the Mediterranean, and it’s doing a European tour to send a message to our adversaries that American troops go abroad to protect values, not a political leader or a political party.  They go abroad to protect democracy, freedom of the press, freedom of the media, rule of law, and human rights.  And on that, we don’t budge a millimeter.  That is why we had the opportunity to share with our special friends the Poles, what it is that the American military can do with this multibillion dollar boat, which happens to be a floating airport, when we go around the world.

Piotr Kraśko, TVN:  Mr. Ambassador, like always, it’s such a pleasure to have you here.

Ambassador Brzezinski:  Thank you, Piotr.

Piotr Kraśko, TVN:  We do appreciate your countrymen, your fellow citizens, women and men in U.S. uniform are doing to protect our country.  We really appreciate it, Mr. Ambassador.

Ambassador Brzezinski:  It’s such an honor to be here, and it’s such an honor for me to serve as the United States Ambassador to Poland.

Piotr Kraśko, TVN:  Thank you so much.