Poland - Land Forces
The Land Forces constitute the core of the Polish Armed Forces - two-thirds of the total number of soldiers serve in the Land Forces. "Polish security policy and Defence strategy" define the role and position of the Land Forces in the national defence system. According to the strategy, the land forces are the principal part of the Polish Armed Forces assigned to repulse enemy through active defence. It is assumed that the Land Forces will carry out combat activities in close cooperation with the Air Forces and the Navy.
The military composition of the Land Forces, their organizational structure and skills should enable them to face any form of military threat anywhere in Poland. The national defence strategy anticipates that the Land Forces shall participate in the realization of tasks resulting from Poland's international obligations related to security, peace and humanitarian missions as well as natural disaster recovery operations.
Poland joined the "Partnership for Peace" program on 2 February 1994 and was the first partner state to submit the Presentation Document to NATO General Headquarters three months later. In September of 1994, in Biedrusk, the Polish Land Forces organized the first multinational military exercise codenamed "Cooperative Bridge" - the first exercise with the participation of NATO subunits held outside NATO territory. Unlike previous exercises, "Cooperative Bridge" was more about creating bonds of sympathy rather than breaking defence lines or capturing enemy positions.
One year later, a US Army company practiced elements of peace operations in an exercise codenamed "Double Eagle", held in Poland (firing range in Wedrzyn). Shortly after that, a Polish airmobile forces platoon took part in an exercise codenamed "Cooperative Nugget" held on the US territory. A breakthrough moment came in December of 1995, when the 16 th airborne battalion joined NATO Implementation Forces (IFOR) in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The Land Forces prepared two battalions to serve within the framework of the international cooperation program: a Polish- Lithuanian and a Polish-Ukrainian battalions.
The Polish Armed Forces joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization on 12 March 1999. Polish Army reorganization efforts have been focused on attaining compatibility with NATO forces at all levels of command as well as on adapting Polish armaments and equipment to NATO standards. The process of adaptation of the Polish armed forces to NATO requirements encompasses several programs.
Top priority had been given to Communications and command systems, reconnaissance and electronic warfare equipment, air defence systems and anti tank defence. Many Polish professional soldiers have joined NATO Headquarters in Brussels, the NATO Military Committee, Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe, Supreme Allied Command Atlantic as well as numerous liaison teams at commands and the Rapid Reaction Corps. Apart from that, Polish forces have also joined the international counter-terrorist coalition in Afghanistan.
Amid growing tensions in neighboring Ukraine, Poland's Defense Ministry announced in March 2014 that the country would speed up its efforts for a missile defense system. "The issues related with Poland's air defense will be accelerated," spokesman Jacek Sonta said. "Poland plans to choose the best offer for its missile defense in the next few weeks." The European NATO member was due to limit the number of existing bidders by June 2014. Yet, despite calls not to exacerbate tensions in the region, Poland decided to quicken the process, citing concerns over Ukraine.
The Polish shield is not the same project as the proposed US missile shield to be installed in Poland by 2018. The shield is planned to be completed in stages. The first phase involves eight sets of mid-range interceptor rockets. The bill to ensure funding for the missile shield has already been passed, according to the spokesman.
Current bidders for the missile defense system include: France's Thales with European group MBDA and the Polish state defense group; the Israeli government; American Raytheon; and the Lockheed Martin’s MEADS consortium. The spokesman clarified that Poland intends to sign the final agreement for the construction of the missile shield this year. The project is projected to be built by the end of 2022. Military experts estimate that the project will cost up to $13.1 billion.
In January 2016, Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz said that Poland's armed forces, which currently numbered about 95,000 personnel, would grow to 150,000 in the coming years. Macierewicz announced 20 April 2016 that the Polish army had plans to increase in size in the coming years. Speaking to journalists at the opening of a new headquarters for NATO Force Integration Unit (NFIU) in Bydgoszcz, central Poland, Macierewicz said that the army would grow by at least 50%, and would include both new territorial defense forces and operating units. The three new territorial defense brigades will be deployed by the beginning of 2017, Macierewicz clarified. The reason for the massive planned increase, the minister claimed, was the "threat from Russia, and its occupation of parts of Ukraine."
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