With Rajmund T. Andrzejczak on the vision of the Polish Armed Forces in 2035 and the multi-domain joint operations concept talks Krzysztof Wilewski.
General, what should the Polish Armed Forces be like?
Modern, mobile, combat-effective, capable of operating in any environment, at any time, and of winning, deeply rooted in their culture, ready to make sacrifices.
Let’s break this sentence down. Modern, meaning what?
Modern Polish Armed Forces is not only equipment. What I have in mind is modern management, motivating people, recruitment, development model. We also need knowledge to better understand the processes around us. All this is crucial for building a competent army. Detailed decisions on purchasing equipment are actually taken in the last phase of this complicated process.
And then using the equipment should be easy?
Of course. It’s not enough to own, for example, the HIMARS, and be able to use it to hit a designated target. We must be sure it is the most effective and the safest measure of influence, the implementation of which will bring the desired outcome.
Let’s move on. Mobile, meaning what?
The literal meaning of the word “mobile” will not be of much help here. I once said that we need to step outside our comfort zone, and some people actually thought I wanted to order officers to bring sleeping mats and camp in tents. Above all, I mean mental mobility, so that we can say: today I’m an operator, tomorrow I’m a logistic manager.
Capable of operating in any environment?
We must be ready to operate within the multi-domain joint operations concept, according to which we won’t be focused on quantity only. We have to be aware that our state’s security is more than just the number of shelters or tanks. We don’t need ten divisions – their quality is more important; and when it’s necessary to attack, we will attack without hesitation and with full power.
Deeply rooted in culture – what does that mean?
We can’t forget who we are. The ideals we follow, developed and fostered in the times of our ancestors, are of great importance. Our history is, among other things, a fight for freedom, and later for maintaining the freedom. That’s why we should reach back to the values followed in the times of the Second Polish Republic.
Ready to make sacrifices?
We must verify our attitude to the Polish Armed Forces, their role and tasks. For the last two, three decades, we have been engaged in expeditionary operations of completely different character and scale when it comes to suffered losses, than in the case of typical war; and the truth is that in the event of war people will die – both soldiers and civilians. That’s why we need to prepare for it properly.
Will the NUP2X35 project be the tool to create the multi-domain joint operations concept?
In order to understand what NUP (Nowe Urządzenie Polskie – New Polish Array) will be, some organizational and doctrine-related issues need to be clarified first. In our army, there are procedures on planning and programming development. There is the procedural algorithm, the national security strategy, documents, laws and regulations, development programs, such as the technical modernization plan. All of that pertains to the programming stage. Then, there is the operational part. The president issues the Political and Strategic Defense Directive of the Republic of Poland, and on its basis we prepare the plan on the employment of the armed forces. This is the whole methodology of work, step by step. Discussions undertaken with soldiers and civilians made me realize that we perceive and understand the security environment differently. We are focused on kinetic operations and military issues. We often concentrate solely on the map of Poland, while in fact we should be looking much wider. We deal with military matters taken out of context, so in order to increase effectiveness, we must revise our doctrines, concepts and programs.
Quite a bold thought.
Maybe, but it’s high time to think about it. The previous year, the one hundredth anniversary of regaining independence, was a good opportunity to do that. In my analyses, however, I looked back further than 1918, in order to ask a different question – not how we regained independence, but why we had lost it in the first place, and what consequences it has in the modern world.
Are there any?
Yes, enormous. The 123 years of captivity, the 20-year-long inter-war period, too short to make up for all this time, then World War II and the Soviet captivity up until 1989. All that has left a stamp on us, which now makes it necessary to think about mature strategic culture. In order to prepare the operations concept properly, we must understand the processes that are currently going on around us, and make use of many years of experiences, including the two decades in NATO.
Is history really this important, considering the fact that the modern world is a global village?
Implementing solutions without taking into account historical, technological or cultural determinants, will not allow us to take full advantage of them, and, consequently, to act effectively. I’ve asked myself what has happened in the world since 1700, what has influence on the present. Let’s take the industrial revolution with all its consequences. It led to the quick development of world trade, as ships could suddenly be powered with steam engines, new machines appeared in England, the textile industry began to develop, and so on. All this influenced social relations, a new class was created.
What about Poland? What are the consequences of that for our armed forces?
In 1772 we lost our statehood and three invaders exploited us, so there were no state-building effects of the industrial revolution. At the time when great things happened around the world, we were being taken advantage of. The soldiers’ mentality is a reflection of the whole society’s mentality. Let’s keep in mind that for the last 300 years Poland was ruled first by the partitioning powers, and later the occupants, Germans and Soviets. There is a lot of truth in what Zbigniew Brzeziński wrote – that we will go back to zero for as many years as we were under occupation.
At what point are we now?
An exceptional one. In my opinion, never have there been such intensive cultural, civilization, technological changes as there are now. Today, when a grandfather, his son, and his grandson or granddaughter sit at one table, it is like a clash of three galaxies, as those people live in completely different dimensions.
Considering these conditions, how does one prepare a multi-domain joint operations concept?
Exactly. In order to do that, we need the NUP project. The name refers to the Old Polish Array – the basic Polish battle formation in the 14th and 15th century. It was our national idea, extremely effective in battle.
Did you draw inspiration from the Americans?
Yes, to some extent. Americans had think tanks tasked with preparing analyses on what the future organizational doctrine of their armed forces should be. Creating a separate board for demographic and urbanization analyses would be absolutely counter-productive, so I decided to use the resources of the Doctrine and Training Center of the Polish Armed Forces in Bydgoszcz. There, we created a team, which we called NUP.
Who does this new team cooperate with?
Everyone. NUP is a project that can be joined by absolutely anyone, regardless of their views. We cooperate with various institutions, such as the Polish Institute of Meteorology and Water Management, which prepares climate analyses for us, and the Central Statistical Office, which helps us with demography-related matters, as well as with 20 universities. We don’t have any limitations. We care about knowledge. We are fully aware that alone we would not be able to recruit as many experts as we need to conduct necessary analyses for us, so we make use of other people’s knowledge. We want to have an alternative, outside tool to objectify our opinions.
What is the role of the arms industry in all this?
The General Staff of the Polish Armed Forces is to be the main element, indicate that the army needs particular capabilities, including ground, unmanned, urban warfare platforms, and so on. That’s how we operate – we take into account all matters significant for the state’s security.
What kind of analyses is NUP going to conduct?
We’ve decided we must study demography in a wide context – world, regional, national, as well as urbanization processes. There is also connectography, that is terrain with infrastructure – all communication lines, roads, bridges, airports, optical fibers, gas pipelines, electric power plants. Other issues are modern technologies and climate.
First and foremost, we need to firmly emphasize that demography does matter. The analysis of statistical data proves that in some time the number of people in Poland will significantly diminish, most probably by 2 million before 2050. If there are fewer of us, the recruitment process will become completely different. The army must react to this already today. The mobilization system must be changed. However, the problem is actually of a much wider scale. In Poland, the median age is 38.8, similarly to Ukraine, while in Africa it is 15.5. It is easy to predict what the consequences of this situation might be.
Does this mean Russia is not our biggest threat?
According to NATO, Russia is the so-called main threat, and we adhere to that, as this is our raison d’etat. It is a direct, or even physiological, existential threat. However, we can’t pretend that the world around us has stopped, that some social, technological or economic processes are not taking place.
You also mentioned analyzing urbanization processes.
For us, soldiers, urban areas mean suffering losses, so we very often avoid operating in cities. However, during conflict, confrontation in urban areas will be unavoidable.
Are we ready for it?
That’s why we need to alter our attitude to the security environment. Big urban agglomerations are of utmost significance, and it is crucial to understand the mechanisms governing them. It’s enough to look at Warszawa, a city of two, three million people, and the issues concerning water, energy, waste disposal, medical services, transport. We simply must work out a concept of organizing our operations in highly urbanized areas.
Now the hard word, connectography.
Connectography is everything that shapes the operating environment in the geographical space. We must understand that in Europe there are two points which are strategic for the Alliance as a whole – Poland for the center and the north of Europe, and Romania for the Black Sea region.
You mentioned technologies. Did you mean their application by the army?
Rather their influence on the Polish Armed Forces. One of the challenges is energy. Currently, the army uses incredible amounts of energy. Command posts consume a lot of electricity, which is like fuel to the army, as we usually use our own power-generating units instead of connecting to the network. Consequently, consumption of the fuel has risen enormously. We must take that into account not only in each phase of operation planning, but also much earlier, while preparing doctrines and plans.
What about technological innovations like 5G or Big Data?
Many people are thinking about mass transformation to 5G, but we should stop to consider what it would mean for the army. Do they need everything to work in 5G? Not necessarily. We already have to conduct analyses on how to operate in this environment. As to Big Data, massive amounts of data – mostly collected, monitored and managed in the civilian space – are a huge security challenge. It can suddenly turn out that their possessors want to have influence on some political or social processes. Therefore, the question is: what should the army’s contribution be in this scope? Should we control these processes? It is quite a challenge.
Last but not least, climate change.
It directly influences everything that is happening in the world. If Africa runs out of water, and we already know this might actually happen, the people living on the continent will have no choice but to move north. Even if they only reach Italy or Spain, it will still be our problem, as these countries are NATO members. The situation is similar with the Arctic – if the pace of the ongoing climate change increases, a race for its resources will begin, and this will also have impact on us.
When will NUP finish its work?
Hopefully, never. It may seem a bit strange if we consider our concept, but we don’t assume we will stop talking about the Polish Armed Forces in 2035. The whole point of the project is to conduct an analysis every three or five years and address systemic changes, which are taking place one way or another. We are interested in the journey, not the final destination.
NUP is just one of your many tasks. What are the priorities of the General Staff of the Polish Armed Forces for 2020?
I will shortly mention three areas. The first one is introducing changes concerning operational readiness, i.e. all things connected with processes revolving around it, like mobilization. The second one is training reserves. We’re going to organize several experimental exercises in search of an optimum mobilization process, adjusted to new challenges, as well as social and geostrategic conditions. The third one is the soldiers’ fitness and healthy lifestyle.
Are you going to raise PE requirements?
That’s not our purpose. We want to show it is worth to live a healthy life – eat properly, do sports, take care of yourself. It should be obvious to every soldier – from a private to a general, including the Chief of the General Staff.
Gen. Rajmund T. Andrzejczak is the Chief of the General Staff of the Polish Armed Forces.
autor zdjęć: Michał Niwicz