The Polish Armed Forces remain the best guarantor of the security of Polish citizens. However, over recent years, those forces have been developed based on erroneous assumptions. There was a lack of both an accurate assessment of Poland’s geopolitical situation, and of a sound strategic diagnosis supported by the careful observation of trends in our neighbourhood. This resulted in a wrong conviction that the risk of an armed conflict in our part of Europe was marginal, and that any potential threats would be attributed mainly to non-state actors.
The Strategic Defence Review (SDR), initiated in July 2016, became for the Polish Armed Forces a trigger for the necessary reconsideration of the current and future challenges. Although similar processes had been conducted within the Ministry on two previous occasions, for the first time we based the review on realistic premises concerning our security environment. The strategic analysis of the current position of Poland on the international scene yielded a clear conclusion: the scale of threats resulting from the Russian aggressive policy had not been adequately assessed in the past.
Thus, after years of floating adrift, Polish defence policy finally has a clear goal that corresponds with our basic security objectives. For the team working on the SDR, the number one priority was the necessity of adequately preparing Poland to defend its own territory. We are going to realistically strengthen our deterrence capabilities, building them on our own national defence capabilities. This is the axiom of all SDR recommendations, the focus of which is the desired model of the Polish Armed Forces. Other important themes are the strengthening of bonds with Allies, the role of Poland in those relations, as well as our participation in crisis management and operations abroad.
The built-up of our defence capabilities should be considered in a wider context of the development of Poland. That is why we acted according to the guidelines of the country’s development and defence financing highlighted in the government’s Strategy for Responsible Development. For the first time in the history of the Third Polish Republic, we are creating prospects for effective defence and the realisation of the vital interests of our country.
A modern military must be flexible and responsive to increasingly diversified threats. Operational units remain the core of the Polish Armed Forces. The newly-established Territorial Defence Forces, trained to neutralise hostile activities below the threshold of an armed conflict, will play a supportive role.
In line with the decisions of the 2016 NATO Summit in Warsaw, future defence will not only take place on traditional battlefields, but also in cyberspace. We expect the role of remotely controlled weapon systems and equipment only to increase in importance. The dynamic development of technologies will unveil new possibilities in almost every aspect of defence.
A thorough analysis of the challenges we face is key, but it is just a beginning. The conclusions presented in a classified report summarising the SDR are already becoming the starting point for true changes in the functioning of the Polish Armed Forces in several domains: from defence planning to command and control arrangements, to increasing operational capabilities and combat-ready weaponry. The SDR’s first recommendations are ready to be put into practice. In this document, we show an overview of the assumptions and directions of reforms on which we have embarked.
One of our long-term goals is building a culture of critical thinking in the Ministry of National Defence. The stable development of the Polish Armed Forces can be guaranteed only by a systematic and objective analysis of our needs. Some results of our work will come to fruition not within the coming year, but in the perspective of over a decade. Consequently, the Strategic Defence Review will become a part of the regular planning cycle.
Our mission is supported by the great traditions of the Polish Military. Many a time did the soldiers fighting for Poland give evidence of valour, steadfastness, and a special ability to cope with difficult situations. Being faithful to the memory of the heroes of the past, supported by experience and reflection, we are creating another chapter of this history. The implementation of the SDR findings should become one of the main objectives of Polish political leadership in the coming 15 years. Guided by this idea, I encourage you to study this document.
Minister of National Defence