REMARKS BY VICE PRESIDENT PENCE
TO U.S. AND POLISH ARMED FORCES OF THE 33RD AIR BASE
Warsaw Frederic Chopin Airport
February 13 , 2019
VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: President Duda, Madam First Lady, Minister Błaszczak, and to all the members of the Armed Forces of Poland, all the members of the Armed Forces of the United States of America: Thank you for this inspiring welcome to the great nation of Poland. (Applause.)
And before I begin, would you join me in showing your appreciation — I couldn’t be more proud of her — my wife of 33 years, a Marine Corps mom, but someone who you just heard is dedicating her time and her energy to supporting military families and spouses. Join me in thanking the Second Lady of the United States of America for her presence and her inspiring words. (Applause.)
Mr. President, it’s an honor to be here in Poland, a bastion of freedom in Central Europe, to address the Armed Forces of the United States and the men and women of the 33rd Air Base in Powidz.
And to the men and women of the Polish Armed Forces who are here today, from the bottom of my heart, on behalf of the American people and on behalf of all the men and women in the uniform of the United States who stand shoulder to shoulder with you, thank you for standing strong in the defense of freedom. (Applause.)
I couldn’t be more proud of all of the Americans who are serving here. Nearly 5,000 strong deployed here across Poland as a part of our strong and unbreakable alliance through NATO. But I must say, I take particular pleasure, Mr. President, in the fact that there are a number of service members here from my home state of Indiana, my fellow Hoosiers. (Applause.) Deployed six months ago, the men and women of the 252nd Support Maintenance Company of the Indiana National Guard — I’ll tell you, the home state is proud of you and so am I. Thank you for your service. (Applause.)
And to all my fellow Americans who are here, to all of our friends across Poland, let me bring greetings from a great admirer of Poland and the Polish people, a great admirer and friend to your President. I bring greetings from the leader of the free world and the 45th President of the United States of America, President Donald Trump. (Applause.)
The President asked me to be here in Poland simply to say thank you. First and foremost, thank you to all of you for stepping up to serve, for standing united to defend our freedom and our collective security. You come from the rest of us, but you are the best of us. You are heroes all.
And as the Second Lady just said, we’re especially grateful to your families back home. They serve as well, and I hope before the day is out, you’ll send them word that they have our thanks and our admiration as well.
I’m happy to report to my fellow Americans here that, since the first day of this administration, President Trump has been taking decisive action to strengthen the Armed Forces of the United States, to rebuild our military, restore the arsenal of democracy. And we have made the strongest fighting force in the history of the world stronger still. (Applause.)
Just in the past two years, President Trump signed the largest investment in our national defense since the final days of the Cold War. And if you didn’t notice, we gave our troops the biggest pay raise that you received in nearly 10 years.
We released a national security strategy advancing peace across the wider world, as well — peace through American strength, and the strength of strong alliances with freedom- loving nations around the world. We initiated the modernization of our nuclear arsenal. And just last month, President Trump unveiled our nation’s new strategy for missile defense.
But I’m here in Poland, and before the week is out, I’ll travel to Munich in the coming days to bring a message, on behalf of our President, to the people of Poland, and to freedom-loving people everywhere. And it’s simply this: We are with you, we will stand with you, and the United States of America stands with Poland as a part of the most successful mutual defense alliance in the history of the world, and we always will. (Applause.)
Under President Trump, the United States will always put the security and prosperity of America first. But as the President has made clear, and as all of you demonstrate each and every day, America first does not mean America alone. And the United States will always stand with the people of Poland — just, frankly, as we’ve done through the long and storied history of friendship that ties together our two nations together.
It’s remarkable to think our ancestors fought side by side in my nation’s War for Independence more than two centuries ago. To this day, the American people honor the sacrifice of Polish heroes who shed blood alongside American patriots in the cause of our freedom, men like Tadeusz Kościuszko and Casimir Pułaski.
Last year marked the 100th anniversary of the rebirth of freedom here in Poland at the end of the First World War. And this year, we celebrate 100 years of restored diplomatic ties between Poland and the United States of America. It is a century of bond and an unbreakable friendship. (Applause.)
Thirty years ago, the Polish people cast off their Soviet oppressors and once again reclaimed your liberty. Just 20 years ago, joined the United States and our allies in that historic transatlantic alliance — the NATO Alliance forged to ensure our common defense.
And nearly two years ago, President Trump stood in the heart of Warsaw — in Krasiński Square — and declared to the people of Poland and all of the world that the United States will continue to stand, in his word, and defend “the priceless ties that bind us together as nations, as allies, and as a civilization.” We will always stand with the Polish people for liberty, democracy, the rule of law, and the respect for the dignity of every human life. (Applause.)
In so many ways, the world is even a more dangerous place today than it was since the fall of Communism a quarter-century ago. And to confront the threats that we face today, the people of Poland know, and the people of the United States know, that the free world needs the members of NATO to be strong and united. And so we are. We stand together in defense of our alliance and all that we hold dear. And each member nation, we know, has a vital role to play.
At the heart of our NATO Alliance is a solemn promise that an attack on one is an attack on all. But to keep this oath requires preparation, it requires investment. And for every NATO member to uphold their commitment to our common defense, we need to work together.
And because of your history, the people of Poland understand this all too well — which is why even in our first year in office, Poland was one of only four other NATO members that fulfilled their promise to spend 2 percent of your gross domestic product toward our mutual defense. And, Mr. President, you have our admiration and our thanks. (Applause.)
We thank you for your leadership. We thank you for your efforts and your nation’s commitment to increase military spending, to provide for our common defense, and to advance the common interest of freedom in our alliance.
You know, the United States has long supported this vital alliance. It’s a cornerstone of our common defense. And as President Trump said here nearly two years ago, we are once again demonstrating our commitment, as he said, “not merely with words, but with…actions.”
Around the world, the United States is once again standing with our allies and standing up to our enemies. And there’s no better proof than the steps we’ve taken to strengthen our relationship with the nation of Poland.
Last September, President Trump and President Duda signed the Joint Declaration on Strategic Partnership to reaffirm our nations’ ironclad commitment to our historic alliance.
And, in just a few moments, Poland is taking its place among the most capable and formidable nations in the world when we officially acknowledge an agreement by Poland to purchase a battalion’s worth of High Mobility Artillery Rocket System launchers from the United States of America. And, Mr. President, we are pleased to partner with you in Poland’s national defense. (Applause.)
Mr. President, because of your leadership, this new long-range, precision-fire system will provide a critical new capability to the Polish military. It’ll strengthen also the cooperation between our new nations — two nations, and it’ll help protect Central and Eastern Europe from air and missile attacks for decades to come. And we are grateful for your vision and your leadership in securing these resources.
You know, no matter what threats the future may hold, all of you gathered here today — the Armed Forces of Poland and the Armed Forces of the United States — can be confident of this: The United States will never waver in our commitment to our common defense. (Applause.)
We will be strong in arms, strong in resolve, and most of all, strong in our conviction that, as President Trump said nearly two years ago, and I quote, “The West will never, ever be broken. Our values will prevail, our people will thrive, and our civilization will triumph.” (Applause.)
This is our cause. It’s why NATO exists. It’s why the United States stands shoulder to shoulder with Poland and the Polish people — today and every day.
And standing here today, looking out at all of you, I say with confidence: Our combined military power is unmatched. Our strength-of-arms is unsurpassed. And I know our forces are ready to respond anytime, anywhere.
And so today, to my fellow Americans serving here in Poland, I urge you, on behalf of your Commander-in-Chief: Be vigilant. Do your duty. Mind your mission. And look after one another, even as you play a role in this vital alliance. And know that the American people and, I’m confident, the people of Poland are grateful to each and every one of you, and know they can count on each one of you every day.
As I look out across this hangar, I see men and women in uniform, American and Polish. All of you have answered the call to put on the uniform, to count others’ lives more important than your own, and to protect your families and ours, and to preserve freedom.
Your burden is heavy, full of uncertainty, for as the Bible says, and we know, the “soldier does not bear the sword in vain.” And so we know you are prepared.
We do not know what challenges lie ahead, but we will be prepared. And I know I speak on behalf of my President and yours when I say that we have confidence that you will confront and overcome whatever tests and trials may arise, just as those who came before you did in their day.
Because today, as in ages past, your commitment and ours is unwavering. Our courage is undiminished. And our spirit, in common cause for freedom, is unbreakable.
So in the name of the heroes who came before, with confidence in all of you, and with faith in God, I know that, by your service and through this alliance, we will protect our people. We will defend our freedom. And together, we will forge a future of security, prosperity, and peace for Poland, the United States, and freedom-loving nations across the world for generations to come.
So thank you for your service. God bless you. God bless Poland. And God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)