It is the biggest single concrete example of US support for Polish security on the ground. But the leaked embassy cables show that a battery of Patriot missiles in the north-east of the country lacked one crucial component - live missiles.
In May this year the Americans finally started rotating the missiles in and out of Morag, close to Kaliningrad, the Russian territory on the Baltic sandwiched between Poland and Lithuania. For two years, the Polish prime minister, foreign and defence ministers had sold the Patriots to the public as a great boost to national air defences (against Russia).
So when the Americans told them in late 2008 that the missiles would not be live, at least initially, the furious Poles complained they had expected an operational weapon, not "potted plants", the wikileaks cables report.
So is Poland truly a political puppet here of the two superpowers?