According to final results, while PiS has earned the largest percentage of voters (35.38 percent) it is unlikely to form a majority in Polish parliament, and most likely three opposition parties: Koalicja Obywatelska - Civic Coalition (30.70 percent), Trzecia Droga - Third Way (14.40 percent) and Lewica - the Left (8.61 percent) will aim to form a coalition government. Defence24.pl has discussed further defence capability development with KO and Lewica experts.
The largest of the opposition parties, KO, announced that the modernization would be continued, with a remark, suggesting that the domestic industry«s interest needs to be taken into account during that process. Lewica is also a proponent of technical modernization, in the air/missile defence area in particular.
”We do see, obviously, a necessity to continue the modernization of the Armed Forces. The most serious doubt of ours is one associated with the closure of Krab sph manufacturing (a design that could be further developed) and the procurement of the Korean self-propelled gun-howitzer”, Defence24.pl was told by the former Deputy Head of the Polish Ministry of Defence, Czesław Mroczek (KO). „That matter illustrates a very serious issue: the leaving-out of the Polish industry which has no share in most of the current procurement. That has weakened the domestic industrial potential already, and the war in Ukraine clearly shows that own industry is a pillar of defence potential, alongside the Armed Forces”, Mroczek added. He declared that „a contract with a foreign entity would not be possible, without a Polish industrial participation”.
As Mroczek said, procurement of multi-role, and attack helicopters, or rocket artillery for the army, are mostly aligned with the 2013 technical modernization plan.
He said that “conclusions drawn from the war in Ukraine need to form a foundation for contract analysis, especially when it comes to the framework agreements that are a kind of declarations”, that are then fulfilled by the performance agreements. “We do not assume, by default, that the value of those contracts is going to be lowered, but the numbers need to have a foundation established in the needs of the Armed Forces”, he noted.
The KO notes that new equipment would require training for the soldiers who would be using it. The Party also declares “a serious expansion” of the Armed Forces, quantitatively, especially when it comes to the operational branch. As in the case of equipment, the numbers also need to stem from analytical efforts here.
”The recent years have shown, that an army of 300-thousand men is just pure propaganda branded by Minister Błaszczak. Last year we have been experiencing record-breaking numbers, when it comes to people leaving the military, the annual increase in personnel numbers is very low, especially when it comes to the professional soldiers. The establishment of a 300-thousand-men-strong army, at that pace, would take several years”, Mroczek said. ”The numbers need to stem from the defence plans and be aligned with the procured equipment. If we are to buy 100 Apache helicopters, we will need 400 pilots for them, pilots that we do not have. This shows what kind of challenges we are facing”, he added.
The KO announced that the defence expenditure levels would be kept high, especially when it comes to the budget. ”We do see that there is a need to finalize the technical modernization and to maintain the equipment later. The PiS government has been acquiring valuable equipment that is incredibly costly to maintain, such as the Apache helicopters, or Abrams main battle tanks. The equipment maintenance cost and personnel costs would still require us to maintain a high level of defence expenditure, and this is what we are declaring”, Mroczek said.
KO is not ruling out the possibility of using „outside-the-budget” financing. „The idea behind the Armed Forces Support Fund is a maintainable one, however, we will scrutinize all loans. Resigning from low-interest rate loans drawn from the KPO (National Reconstruction Programme), and preferring high-interest rate loans from foreign banks is an action detrimental to the state finances”, he said.
He also reiterated a declaration on keeping the Territorial Defence branch alive. ”But these forces would become a part of the general military command chain, they would be subordinated to the Chief of General Staff”, he announced. He added that WOT (Territorial Defence Forces branch) „needs to adopt a purely military profile, not to act as a crisis response service”, which is aligned with WOT becoming a part of the structure including the remaining branches of the Armed Forces.
KO also stresses the meaning of the Polish relations in NATO, and further willingness to support Ukraine. “Our credibility, as an ally, has been shaken by the shocking actions taken by the Minister, and by the unveiling of a fragment of defence planning documents. We need to restore credibility and good relations. We will also be working towards enhanced allied presence”, Mroczek said. He noted that “bilateral allied relations with the US are important, but the most important matter is for NATO to work efficiently as an organization, and for us to be credible as an ally”.
According to KO, “what the government has been doing in the recent years has stemmed from pure, election-driven calculation, that has seen the party interest become more important than the national security interest”.
”It is in Poland«s best interest to support Ukraine, in a group of more than 40 states of the free, democratic world. Russia cannot win this way, this would decisively increase the levels of threat for our country. Another matter here is to guard our own, national economic interest. The PiS«s reaction, a major shift in the relations with Ukraine, from a major friendship to a serious diplomatic conflict, stems from the errors made in the area of agriculture, the lack of competency of the Minister of Agriculture, but also from a simple arithmetic - you can damage the relations with Ukraine, our strategic partner, if this wins you a couple of votes”, he assessed.
Lewica also states that “supporting Ukraine is aligned with the Polish interest”. “Supplying of munitions, and brand-new, contracted military equipment, needs to continue. Transfer of elements of other weapons systems will be possible, within the framework of Polish procurement of new equipment”, said the press spokesman for the Lewica Parliamentary Club, Marek Kacprzak.
Lewica perceives the presence within NATO to be a “foundation of Poland’s security”, and states that Poland “shall participate in initiatives established at the allied level”.
Kacprzak noted that the size of allied forces stationed in Poland, primarily, depends on the decisions made by the allies. ”It is in Poland«s interest for the character of the allied presence to be permanent, not rotational”, he stressed.
According to the Left, Poland, by default, shall meet the NATO requirement to allocate 2% of GDP to defence spending, while 20% of that amount should be spent on procurement. ”In case the modernization procurement gets especially intense, we would see it permissible for this factor to go up; given the intense profile of the armed forces modernization, financing that effort exclusively with the use of budget means would be irrational and not sound”.
According to the Left, among the modernization programmes, ”the highest priority should be ascribed to the establishment of a modern, multi-layered air defence system. Poland is at the beginning of a path, towards a modern, layered, integrated, and strong air and missile defence system. Unless the current plan does not change, the full implementation would happen post-2030 and it would take PLN 120 bn.”, the spokesman noted.
Similarly to KO, the Left also assumes that ”the target number of troops in the Armed Forces shall be a subject of an in-depth analysis of threats to the Polish security, the economic potential of our state, and the international situation”. „Currently, a wave of people resigning from duty in the Polish Armed Forces is a grand problem. Throughout the period between 2021 and 2022, 35 thousand soldiers resigned from service. The main reason for that is the financial situation in which the soldiers find themselves. People who want to pay back the mortgage getting more expensive would like to get a flat allowance, paid out when they transition to being a civilian. Other reasons for the wave of resignations include poor interpersonal relations, economy of insufficiency, no equipment, problems with supplies”, spokesman for the Left listed.
To fill in the generation gaps among the specialists, the Left calls for re-recruiting the younger military retirees. „Poland cannot afford, now, for the experienced officers to remain retired”, Kacprzak stated. Lewica also considers it necessary to keep the more experienced officers in service. Other important matters they point out include the development of logistics through improvement of attractiveness of military service for the logistics specialists, and education of logistics specialists in classes of military profile.