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Poland - Military Personnel

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."

The army is the institution which is responsible for protecting the state and defending the community. Combat is its raison dtre, the very purpose of its existence, and it is bound by the specific constraints of rules regarding unity, hierarchy, discipline and compliance with orders.

With the end of the Cold War, given reduced force levels, fewer individuals were needed; however, reduced terms of active duty created faster turnover. At the same time, reliance on sophisticated electronics, especially in the air force, made recruitment, training, and retention of highly qualified individuals more important. And the availability of qualified personnel was influenced by society's general attitude toward the military and by availability of employment in the civilian economy.

In 1949 Polish law stipulated universal, obligatory military service for males. The Military Service Law of 1967 and its amendments set the age of mandatory service at nineteen and the age for volunteering for service at seventeen. Failure to register and failure to report after being drafted were punishable by fine or imprisonment. The basic term of service was two years, except in highly technical positions, where the term was three years. The Council of Ministers could add one year to the term in case of national need. Soldiers entered the reserves after completing active duty. For enlisted personnel, reserve status continued until age fifty. For noncommissioned officers (NCOs) and officers, reserve status continued until age sixty.

In 1960 mandatory military training programs were instituted in civilian colleges; upon completion, a student was eligible to enter reserve status as an NCO or to secure a reserve commission in a short officer training program. In 1980 social resentment of this privilege and the inadequacy of such a training program led to a nominally mandatory one-year term of active duty upon completion of university studies. In practice, however, the training and assignments of graduating college students usually were not arduous, and many evaded the obligation entirely.

In the early 1990s, cities provided the majority of recruits, and students normally received deferments. In 1991 the armed forces showed about a 20 percent shortage of officers, warrant officers, and junior officers, although interest in attending military schools had increased after military reform began.

The professionalization process had been an element of military/defence reforms in Poland since the early 1990s. Implementation of professional AF was recommended by the Strategic Defence Review (SDR 2006). Intention and indicative plan of professionalization was included in the "2007-2012 PAF Development Programme. This led the establishment of the Professionalization Team of the PAF and Department of Transformation in early 2007. The last conscription into military service came in December 2008. The realisation of the Armed Forces professionalisation program in 2008-2010 represented the period of the most important changes.

The final batch of conscripts were moved from full service to the Reserves in June 2009, thus ending 90 years of military conscription. For the first time there will be no conscripts in the Polish army, Defence Minister Klick told reporters. The month saw 12,000 soldiers discharged. Asked what would happen to those who had avoided conscription Klich replied Well find a mild solution to this issue - individual cases will be judged on an individual basis.

"I definitely wont agree for compulsory conscription, I wont support return to universal one. The quality of soldiers from universal conscription, in terms of skills, isnt what Polish defences need in the first place" the Prime Minister pointed out 07 March 2014.

According to the Prime Minister, what can be considered is an attempt at supplementing the defence capacity with trained groups which operate today as part of various other formations. "It is voluntary participation: we would like people who are ready to defend their homeland at critical moments to do it with full conviction" the head of the government said. "We have sufficient resources of trained people to include also them as a personnel reserve for the Polish army in case of future operations" Tusk concluded.

Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz signed on 10 March 2015 an executive order expanding the scope of drafting men for military exercises. Under the order, the government may draft all men deemed capable of military service, including those who had no prior experience of military service. Previously, only reservists with a stint in the forces could be called up. Poland abandoned conscription in the late 1990s, meaning that only men in their late 30s and older are likely to have served in the army - except those who have volunteered to do so since.

Some 12,000 were to be called for throughout the year 2015. The army may call up any male aged between 18 and 60 with a satisfactory medical history. They would not be informed about the whereabouts of the military unit beforehand so as to ensure reliable results of the test. Exercises are conducted in line with plans to check the operational and mobilisation readiness in the Armed Forces in 2015, and stem from the [armys] need to accumulate well-trained reserve troops. While the Ministry has refrained from disclosing the location of the military unit drawing its first reservists, officials put the number of summoned men at several hundred.

Reserve National Forces are an indispensable component of the PAF. While their main mission is the defense of home territory, they could be used to augment forces in operations abroad. The Law on reserves is in the Act of the General Defence Obligation of the Republic of Poland.

The first few months of 2015 witnessed a 7 percent increase in support for returning to universal military conscription. One should consider the rise in support as very dynamic and providing ground that the percentage of Poles willing to undergo military training [] shall keep increasing, Marcin Duma from Institute for Market and Social Research (IBRiS) told Polish Radio.

Poland has always been very active in peace-keeping operations. Until 1999, more than 45,000 Polish military personnel have participated in 52 peacekeeping and humanitarian missions established and organised by the United Nations. Already back in 1953, when the armistice agreement was signed on 27 July at Panmunjom, Polish military officers joined two international commissions established to supervise compliance with the conditions of the cease-fire agreement. More than 1000 Polish officers and NCOs have served in those commissions. The Polish Armed Forces have taken part in many other missions, among others on the Golan Heights, in Lebanon, Krajina, the Sinai Peninsula, Namibia and Cambodia. All in all, 25,000 Polish military personnel served in Afghanistan since Poland joined the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in 2002.

Defence training is an element of non-military defence preparation. It significantly contributes to raising the level of competence, skills and expertise of employees and management staff responsible for the efficient operation of elements of the state defence. The coordination of defence training courses conducted by ministers directing government administration divisions and voivodes is exercised by the Prime Minister through the Minister of National Defence.

Defence training at a central level is conducted through Higher Defence Courses for public administration authorities and for public administration personnel. Training is also provided to employees of organization units that implement defence-related production and service tasks. Major organizing functions relating to planning, conducting and financing defence training fall under the competencies of government authorities, while training courses for local government falls under the competencies of marshals, voivodes, district governors (starosta), heads of municipalities (wjt), town and city mayors.

Defence training is also conducted in the form of practical exercises, including trainings and games. They are an important element of the states defence preparations which serves the purpose of verifying adopted operational and strategic concepts and organization and functional arrangements in the area of national defence.

Training in general self-defence of the population is also conducted and its purpose is to prepare the population for self-defence against weapons of mass destruction, including also teaching practical skills of health, life and property self-protection and of providing aid to injured persons. Training of the population in general self-defence is done in the form of basic courses or practical exercises.



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