Territorial Defence Forces
Polish MoD: 125-130 Thousand Soldiers in the Polish Army in 2017. Command System Reform - Recovery of the “Management Unity”
Polish Minister of Defence, Antoni Macierewicz, announced that thanks to the fact that the territorial defence component of the Army has been established, the quantity of personnel serving in the military is expected to go up to 125-130 thousand troops this year. At the same time, Macierewicz noted that reform of the command and control system would make it possible to recover the unity of management in the Polish Army, and to focus it around the General Staff. Moreover, hosting the NATO and US Forces in Poland would also become a significant task for the Polish Ministry of Defence and for the Armed Forces. The foreign elements are expected to be stationed in Poland, within the framework of reinforcing the Eastern Flank of NATO.
During a joint conference held with the Polish PM Beata Szydło and with the Minister of Interior and Administration, Mariusz Błaszczak, Macierewicz outlined the priorities that are to be pursued in the Polish Army during the year 2017. Alongside the modernization plans, including the contracts concerning the Wisła air defence system and the Orka submarines, intention has been expressed to further develop the Territorial Defence branch, expand the army quantitatively, and to transform the command and control system.
Macierewicz noted that reform of the command and control system would make it possible to recover the unity of management in the Polish Army, and to focus it around the General Staff. He added that this would require advanced works to be undertaken, when it comes to new legislation. At the same time the Polish official stressed the fact that the internal arrangements in the Ministry have come to an end already. The existing command system, implemented between 2013 and 2014, has been criticized quite often, by the representatives of the current government.
Polish Ministry of Defence is also willing to create another three Territorial Defence brigades, one in the Mazovian, and one in the Warmian-Masurian voivodeship. On 1st January, the Act which formalizes the process of creating the new branch of the Armed Forces became valid. The aforesaid process would result in a quantitative expansion of the Polish Army, up to the level of 125 – 130 thousand troops, by the end of this year.
Meanwhile, until the year 2019, the aforesaid legislative step is to make it possible to increase the number of soldiers up to even 150 thousand. According to the information available, the Territorial Defence component may involve up to 53 thousand troops, at the same time, the Operational Forces would also be expanded. Polish Ministry of Defence emphasizes the need to have full structures within the units stationed in the East, such as the 15th “Giżycka” Mechanized Brigade, or the 1st Armoured Brigade of Wesoła.
The Territorial Defence is going to utilize the state of the art weapons, such as UCAVs and weaponry related to short range missiles.
Polish Minister of Defence also discussed the tasks related to becoming a host nation for NATO and US forces. Besides the ongoing deployment of the armoured brigade elements in Poland (with those elements involved in a plan, which assumes that they would be relocated around Europe in the future), here we are also referring to establishment of presence of an Armoured Battalion Combat Team commanded by the Americans in the Orzysz/Bemowo Piskie area. The unit is going to include soldiers of the US Army 2nd Cavalry Regiment, supported by a British reconnaissance element and a Romanian unit.
On the other hand, Powidz is going to become a base for the US Army Aviation assets, including helicopters of a variety of types. According to the Polish Ministry of Defence, the number of the allied troops remaining in Poland, is to exceed 6 thousand. Alongside the permanent presence, Poland also became an arena for organization of NATO exercises. Here, Bison Drawsko 2017 exercise may be viewed as a good example – it is the first, since several years, exercise organized by the Dutch land forces, at the Brigade level, taking place in Drawsko Pomorskie. The operation is expected to involve more than 4 thousand soldiers, with at least 1000 soldiers of the aviation units stationed in Powidz, which means that more than 6 thousand NATO troops would remain in Poland, as Antoni Macierewicz has noted.