A Good Year
Prime Minister Beata Szydło recalled that “a very important NATO Summit was held in Warsaw last summer, during which ground-breaking decisions as to the defense of Poland were taken. Finally, Poland can feel secure, because the Polish Army, the Polish Armed Forces are being modernized, reconstructed and strengthened. (…) The great work of the resurgence of the Polish Army, which is being undertaken by Defence Minister Antoni Macierewicz, aims to strengthen Poland’s security.”
“Poland, as a loyal member of international alliances, is required to fulfill declarations which we have previously made and to seek assurance that the security of Poland is connected with the security of Europe and the world,” stressed the Prime Minister.
During the conference held at the Chancellery of the Prime Minister, Defence Minister Antoni Macierewicz stated in closing on Tuesday that in summing up the year’s events on his agenda, among other points there is still the need to eliminate barriers that are preventing the development of the Polish Army. “The 12-year service barrier for soldiers, who could not continue in the military after reaching that many years of service has been abolished, along with quantitative limits, which were imposed to limit the possibility of rank advancement of NCO’s and officers. They were not accepted, despite the fact that there were very many of them, wanting to serve and to educate themselves in institutes of higher learning. It was necessary to also remove limits on admissions to officer training courses. These were the barriers imposed on the army so as to limit its development,” said the Defence Minister.
“This year, numbers of troops in the Polish Army and operational forces, will increase by nearly 5,000 soldiers. And if in addition to this, one adds the recently-created Territorial Defense Forces, the number will be closer to 8,000 soldiers. Territorial Defense Forces, the fifth type of armed forces in our service, is one of our biggest tasks associated with the further development of the Polish Army. The command structure of the territorial military defense forces has been called into being. By the end of this year, three brigades will be formed in the Podlasie, Lubelszczyzna and Podkarpacie regions, with a total number of soldiers and officers at 3,500 this year. This means that out of 10,000 volunteers who have already reported to the WOT (Territorial Defense Forces), most will be incorporated into these forces in the following year, when the WOT will reach more than 18,000 soldiers, so that in the year 2019, there will be a total sum of 53,000. This is the fifth type of armed forces subject directly to the Minister of National Defence, but the Commander, in accordance of course with the principle of hierarchy in mind of the Armed Forces and the Polish Constitution, is appointed by the President of the Republic of Poland,” explained the Defence Minister.
Part of the Defence Minister’s speech was dedicated to discussing achievements and plans related to the modernization of the army. “To this end, this year we have signed over 100 contractual agreements. This will be the first year in the past 8 years, when earmarked funding will be fully spent, as envisioned by our society, committing a portion of the country’s budget to military spending. This year we want to sign the most important contract which is ahead of us and associated with ballistic missile security, i.e., we want to sign a contract for the “Wisła” air defense system. The Americans agreed, which is unprecedented and constitutes a new benchmark in foreign contracts, to have more than 50% of the production associated with this contract, to be implemented by Polish companies.
Referring to the challenges of modernization of the army, the Defence Minister reported “that the most important orders were addressed to factories employing Poles, to factories in Poland. When it comes to helicopters, the tender that has been announced, is open also for bidding by companies in Mielec, Świdnik, though also foreign companies have expressed their willingness to price the works. All have equal rights, but we hope that Polish firms will be our helicopter providers.”
The Defence Minister also pointed out that, “from the point of view of our impact and cooperation with our Allies, there is no doubt that the most important agenda item that was to be carried out efficiently, from an organizational and political point of view, was the NATO Summit. The NATO Summit in Warsaw had historical significance. For the first time in 70 years, we Poles will decide which armies can be based in Poland, and those that cannot. In total, a decision was taken whereby 6,000 NATO and U.S. Army troops will be stationed in Poland. Next year, beginning in January, the deployment of these troops shall begin. Not the least important, is the fact that these NATO Summit decisions and the decisions about the deployment of troops in Poland during the election campaign year has been confirmed by President-elect Donald Trump. This is an important election promise made to the people of Poland, undoubtedly, upholding and maintaining our security.”