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ARLINGTON, Va. — The U.S. military partnership with Poland is historic and strong, and suggestions that Warsaw is continually seeking money from Washington in exchange for putting bases on Polish soil is wrong, according to Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England.

England, in a letter-to-the-editor published in Stars and Stripes Friday, reacted to a Sept. 22 story in Stripes. In the story, an unnamed U.S. defense official was quoted as telling the newspaper that the Pentagon has lost interest in establishing expeditionary bases in Poland.

The U.S.-Poland relationship is “not reducible to simple dollar figures or bottom lines,” England wrote.

“Rather, it is based on the fundamental values shared by the American and Polish people, literally over centuries.”

In his letter, England noted in particular Poland’s contribution to the fight in Afghanistan, where Warsaw currently has about 100 troops.

Earlier this month, Poland was the first NATO country to respond to the alliance’s supreme allied commander, U.S. Marine Gen. James Jones, when he called for more troops to help fight a resurgent Taliban. It did so by agreeing to send an additional 1,000 Polish soldiers, beginning in January.

After Great Britain, Poland also has been among the most enthusiastic supporters of the Bush administration’s “coalition of the willing,” in Iraq, with 2,500 troops in Iraq at its peak, a Pentagon spokesman, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Joe Carpenter told Stripes Friday.

Poland currently has some 900 troops commanding a multinational division south of Baghdad.

“Their sacrifices are appreciated in the context of the global war on terror,” Carpenter said.

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