Recently, documents that should not be the subject of public debate have become the subject of public debate. I mean the media speeches of a few retired generals, who, in harsh words, undermined the preparation of the Polish Army to carry out its basic mission, that is the defense of the country. We could read that, de facto, there are no documents shaping the system of state security management and that there are no plans to develop this system, and that the National Security Strategy of the Republic of Poland is out of date.
The evaluation of this type of speeches is not the role of the head of the General Staff of the Polish Army. The documents referred to are secret and I can not speak openly about their content. It is important to understand the complexity of the environment, in which we operate. Unreflective criticism and indicating that it should be one way or another is quite easy. I would prefer that the energy devoted to proving each other’s wrong’s would be used to repair what is possible. All those, who have the competence to speak about this highest level of security policy, I invite you to talk. The army is a team job. If all of us care about the good of the homeland and the Armed Forces of the Republic of Poland, let us act together.
Returning to the essence of the question, I would not dramatize, the security of the country is assured. These are not the times of Moltke [Helmuth von Moltke, a 19th-century Prussian general and strategist], when plans could be devised and then sleep soundly, because they were valid for the next ten years. Nowadays, the situation is changing very quickly. Therefore, we must place greater emphasis on adaptability, so that we adapt quickly and effectively to changes. The processes of analysis are inherently slower than the changes taking place in the environment so reality will always escape the planners.
We can hear in these words an echo of the well-known, to your subordinates, saying "speed is key".
Lieutenant Gen. Rajmund T. Andrzejczak: This term was adopted in the 12 Mechanized Division. The soldiers understood it as the ability to efficiently move and deploy fire positions and to command, which was associated with the dynamic organization of the combat and communication system. It worked. In the General Staff, you also have to say "speed is key", although this saying is understood here differently - as the speed of adaptation to changing conditions. I will not count the speed by the pace of issuing orders and the number of videoconferences carried out. I think about the synergy of resources, so that I can gain more. It will also be a systemic acceleration of certain processes that are proceeding at their own pace.
Such as technical modernization, for instance?
We must quickly define our expectations, adapt the law to the current conditions, so that the conceptual work, based on modern technologies, becomes more effective. We must be ready for change, to adapt. This is a challenge, because we feel comfortable in our comfort zone, doing what we can, what we like, but this is not exactly desirable by the system. But "speed is key" works in the General Staff also on a different level. I give the command by sending an e-mail. The number of papers on desks was reduced by half. It is a matter of organizational culture. A few e-mails, several phone calls, and many things can be speeded up. I am working on changing the communication culture, it is a broader mental, systemic problem, not only administrative or technical one.
So where are the bottlenecks of the modernization process and how "speed is key" can contribute to its acceleration? Soldiers and commanders are waiting for these results.
Some processes take place slowly, because there are huge amounts of money involved. And so it should stay, because shortening procedures, which would make it easy to spend round sums, would be dangerous. I see two areas that we need to work on. We have come to such saturation of the army with modern technologies in some areas that we must ask ourselves what is really needed and rational. We need to find a balance between technologically advanced and expensive solutions and the cheaper ones, but proven and effective, for which a wider access is needed. It seems to me that we have fallen into the trap of analyzing the needs of the army in the light of military contingents sent to foreign missions and market pressures. We must also remember that at the culminating moment of our involvement in the NEC were the size of the brigade. In order to ensure both the maximum level of soldiers' safety and the highest operational efficiency, the contingents were really saturated with the most modern equipment possible. Today, it is worth asking if, when we think about the entire Polish Army, such a level of saturation is possible, available in a short time. A reasonable balance is needed. We have threats here and now.
We must also look at modernization in a broader context. I believe that many types of weapons and equipment should be manufactured in Poland. Even if it means that we will have to wait for delivery. The army pays, and so demands, and I assure you that we will be relentless in our requirements, but if we think about composite security, then expanding the capabilities of the domestic defense industry is essential. We must work out a compromise between what is needed now and what we must buy now, which is already ready, and what we can and should develop in Polish enterprises, between what is most modern and expensive and what is rational, accessible, common.
Does this mean that the modernization programs are being reviewed in terms of priorities and the rationality of their implementation?
As for now, I do not want to say which specific types of equipment or weapons I mean, but this process keeps going all the time. In many cases, we are stuck at the discussion stage and the time flies. This is the case, for example, in the navy or in the armored forces. The latter are particularly close to me and I have been watching this process for a long time. We have been waiting for directional decisions regarding their development for years and meanwhile, it turned out that the tanks that we could buy are simply gone. We are in a situation where the only solution is to modernize our weapons. Therefore, we must lead the T-72 to a standard that will allow us to perform combat tasks. These are still good cars, we also have prepared reserves, training system, security and support cars as well as logistics for them.
Is this not the effect of charging the General Staff with the tasks of the current management of the army, which we have dealt with for many years? The job "for today" will always supersede the strategic analysis on the future. Are not you afraid that one of the negative effects of the planned reform of command will be just a return to the "here and now" policy?
Strategic analysis must be mature, carried out on the basis of many sources, civil and military, so that its effects allow to understand the processes taking place in the army and its surroundings. On this basis, it is possible to create plans and program the development of armed forces. And so I perceive the tasks of the General Staff of the Polish Army, also after the reform. And as for the role of the chief of staff, history shows that the most effective proved to be those command models that assumed focusing all competencies in one hand. The return to such a solution in the Polish Army is therefore justified and necessary. Let's stop discussing this because it is a long-settled dispute.
For me, it is more important to determine the proportion between current management and strategic planning. Zacznijmy w ogóle od zdefiniowania, co dla szefa Sztabu Generalnego oznacza bieżąca działalność. Let's start by defining what does the current activity mean for the head of the General Staff. After all, not to judge every soldier in the shooting range or to deal with discipline in the subdivision. The head of the General Staff of the Polish Army is the creator of processes, deals with planning the development of the armed forces, determining the direction of changes, developing a training and modernization concept. That is why the current activity for me is the 2018-2020 period. It is all "today", because only in this perspective, my visions and intentions can be transformed into concrete effects in the army.
I have already begun to implement changes in the work culture in the General Staff. I would like us to implement the principles of command by objectives. I see my role as setting parameters to achieve, not issuing very precise commands and constant control, or checking if every step has been done exactly as I planned it. The commanders at all levels must be more independent, task oriented and not just waiting for an order. In the 21st century, the environment changes very dynamically, on the modern field of battlefield, in the blink of an eye, and we must be aware that the order issued an hour ago, based on data from two hours ago, might be out of date. As for now, the task to be performed and the role of the commander, who will always be closer to the topic than his superior, is to choose the strengths and resources in such a way that the task can be properly carried out.
Is the officers' staff of the Polish Army ready for such a challenge?
I'm an optimist. The first signals announcing the new approach have already been sent. The army, like any organization, defends itself against change, but there are many people who have said "finally". I focus on the positive sides and I assume that one day negotiations must end and I will use the powers that the first soldier of the Republic will have after the reform of command enters into force.
The president Andrzej Duda and the minister Mariusz Błaszczak have announced that the first stage of the reform of the army's command and control system will be carried out this year. What is the schedule for completing this process?
We are constantly conducting the operational and financial analyses, which will decide on the date and pace of entry into force of the second stage of the SKiD reform. There are many challenges ahead of the Polish Army - the construction of the fourth division, the integration of territorial defense forces, participation in the reform of NATO command structures - which may affect our plans. If we are talking about completing the reform, it will happen, in my opinion, in two or three years.
Have you already encountered the typical thinking in such a situation that if structure reforms were announced, there will be opportunities for rapid promotion?
This phenomenon can be measured by the number of calls that I received after the nomination for the head of the General Staff [laughs]. Thank you for all the congratulations, but I am approaching it chilly. I would like my subordinates to be aware that I will not please everyone and changes will be costly, even painful. If we agree on the vision of the commander, which I intend to promote - that he is to be independent, flexible, and mobile - this applies to everyone. And in short, I will have to move out, because perhaps the skills and experience of a given officer, a non-commissioned one, will be needed elsewhere. If I am to fulfill the mission entrusted to me, everyone must play the role entrusted to them. I will not do anything myself. I will try to ensure that all costs and sacrifices are compensated, but I will not provide comfort to everyone. I will say more, this is not my goal. I care about more intensive training in a complex environment, independence in command, responsibility of commanders, availability, standards, improvement of combat readiness. I want to take the army from their specific comfort zone, in which they have been stuck for a long time.
Lieutenant Gen. Rajmund T. Andrzejczak
In July, he became the youngest, in the history of the Third Polish Republic, Chief of the General Staff of the Polish Army. Previously, he was the commander of, among others The 12 Mechanized Division and The 17 Wielkopolska Mechanized Brigade. He is an experienced mission commander - he was the head of the Operational Department in Iraq and commander of the Polish Task Forces of the 4th and 5th change of the Polish Military Contingent in Afghanistan.
autor zdjęć: Michał Niwicz