moja polska zbrojna
Od 25 maja 2018 r. obowiązuje w Polsce Rozporządzenie Parlamentu Europejskiego i Rady (UE) 2016/679 z dnia 27 kwietnia 2016 r. w sprawie ochrony osób fizycznych w związku z przetwarzaniem danych osobowych i w sprawie swobodnego przepływu takich danych oraz uchylenia dyrektywy 95/46/WE (ogólne rozporządzenie o ochronie danych, zwane także RODO).

W związku z powyższym przygotowaliśmy dla Państwa informacje dotyczące przetwarzania przez Wojskowy Instytut Wydawniczy Państwa danych osobowych. Prosimy o zapoznanie się z nimi: Polityka przetwarzania danych.

Prosimy o zaakceptowanie warunków przetwarzania danych osobowych przez Wojskowych Instytut Wydawniczy – Akceptuję

We Make the Alliance Stronger

With Władysław Kosiniak-Kamysz, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of National Defense, on Poland's position in NATO and the transformation of the Polish military, talks Magdalena Miernicka.

It has been 25 years since we became part of the North Atlantic Alliance. It was an extremely important day for Poland and the entire Alliance. Back then, both NATO and the Polish Armed Forces were very different than today.

I was in high school when Poland joined NATO. I remember when minister Bronisław Geremek signed the act of Poland’s accession to the North Atlantic Alliance in Independence, USA. It was an extremely emotional moment for me and many other Poles who still remember the event. It was about our future, but also our ambitions. After the changes of 1989, we again felt that we were a part of the West. However, in 1999 NATO was not the same alliance it is today. It had been changing gradually for the next 23 years, and very intensively for the last two years. I think that when talking about the changes in NATO, we should take into account these two particular periods of time. The first one is related to a sense of dignity, to us being a part of NATO, but also with the feeling of security, although at the time we didn’t face the same threats we are facing today. They were different times, a different situation and challenges. Russia was also in a different place. The last two years in NATO have been the time of changes connected with the war taking place behind our eastern border. It is important mainly for the states located on the eastern flank. We must also keep in mind that countries which had for years attached great importance to neutrality, decided to join the Alliance. Earlier, we would never have thought that Sweden or Finland might take such a step. The importance of the activities undertaken by the Alliance to help Ukraine also needs to be emphasized. The creation of the NATO-Ukraine Council, the support given to the fighting country by the allies – these are milestones on Ukraine’s path to joining the Alliance, although some time ago this possibility was not at all obvious.

REKLAMA

What kind of an ally is Poland today? During these 25 years, we have proved more than once that we not only draw from NATO, but we also make it stronger.

First of all, it should be emphasized that our membership in NATO has gone hand in hand with a radical improvement in the quality of the functioning of the Polish Armed Forces. Having talked to officers who were in active military service in 1999, I know that at the time there were concerns about whether we would be able to cope, not only in terms of the military strength, but also in terms of people – their language skills, for instance. Today, Poles hold important positions in NATO structures, and Poland is home to NATO corps and commands. Recently, a decision has also been made to create the NATO-Ukraine Joint Analysis, Training and Education Center. This is the first investment of this type, and it will be located in Poland. During these 25 years, we have not only become a full member of the North Atlantic Alliance, but also its co-host at military level. It is an enormous success of Polish soldiers. We must keep in mind that throughout this long period governments have changed many times, but the strategy concerning our presence in NATO has remained the same. We have proved that we are a reliable ally, also when it came to fulfilling the ambitious objective of contributing 2% of GDP to defense. Poland has become a leader in this regard – today we allocate 4.23% of GDP for this purpose, more than 50% of which is spent on modernization. Moreover, during these 25 years, our country has constantly been involved in many military operations carried out within NATO. All this proves that we are one of the strategic members of the Alliance, not only on account of our geographical location. Equally important are the interoperability of the armed forces, mobility or logistics. We make the Alliance stronger, but also sensitive to what is happening, particularly on its eastern flank.

You have stressed many times that we should be ready for any scenario. This does not sound very optimistic. What is your assessment of the situation on the eastern flank of the Alliance?

A moment of peace – because from the perspective of Poland's entire history it is merely a moment – namely, years without war, are unfortunately a thing of the past as far as this part of the world is concerned. For the first time since World War II, there is a full-scale war happening just across our eastern border. This is not a time of peace. We should consider any possible scenario very seriously. The armed forces must be ready to operate in times of peace, crisis and war. For many years we have only pursued a strategy for the first eventuality, the most desirable one.

Considering the changing security situation, should the number of allies stationing in Poland increase?

The presence of allies, not only in Poland, but also in other Baltic states, is fundamental and it is necessary to advocate that presence. It is crucial for both security and deterrence policy reasons. It demonstrates the strength and unity of the Alliance, at the same time confirming its credibility. Recently, Germany has deployed its forces in Lithuania, which was a good decision. German Patriot batteries also used to be stationed in Poland and provided very important support. I am all for strengthening our defense capabilities, and if the presence of allies can help with that, they are welcome in our country. However, we should not only host them, but also support them, which we are doing for example within the Baltic Air Policing mission. It would be difficult to fulfill allied commitments towards Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia if it wasn’t for Poland. We are also present in other parts of the world, for instance in Turkey, for which I was personally thanked by the Turkish minister of defense. I generally think the role of Turkey should be emphasized, as we often consider NATO to be only Europe, the USA and Canada. Turkey plays a very important role in the Alliance, due to its large production capacity. We should strengthen our mutual relations.

The allies also tighten their relations during exercises. This has been happening for several years, for instance during maneuvers such as Defender or Dragon, where a lot of emphasis is placed on troop mobility.

Dragon is part of Steadfast Defender 2024, which is the most extensive NATO military exercise since the end of the Cold War. It is true that troop mobility is a key issue. We are aware of that, so we are also modifying the agreements and understandings made with the allies. For example, we have signed a letter of intent regarding mobility procedures for the armed forces of Poland, the Netherlands and Germany. It is one of the fundamental decisions we have made recently, which would probably have been unthinkable 25 years ago. This decision was made on the basis of lessons learned from Ukraine. It is crucial to draw from them and translate them into the language of law and cooperation.

It is impossible not to ask about the Polish Armed Forces, as it is no secret some changes are underway, including the creation of new types of troops. Are we drawing from the experience of the allies in that regard?

Most of the changes, reforms and plans are to some extent determined by the lessons learned from the defense of Ukraine. It would be reckless, even inexcusable, to disregard the conclusions drawn from direct combat with the aggressor. We must be ready not only to deter the Russians, but also to defend ourselves effectively, because the prospect of a confrontation is, unfortunately, real. We also benefit from our own experience gained during numerous missions, exercises and trainings. In this regard, Poland is a very active member of NATO and the international community. This also allows us to draw inspiration from our partners. I am talking, above all, about cooperation and mutual sharing of solutions with our key partner, the USA. The Polish Armed Forces will indeed undergo changes. I am deeply interested in acquiring modern equipment and comprehensive transformation of the Polish army. That is why we are preparing a transformation command. This is a necessary step in order to make sure that the entire process of modernization, changes in equipment and functionality, is coordinated and that the responsibility for these issues is not dispersed. We are focusing on a plan-based, comprehensive and prompt increase in operational capabilities, raising combat potential, improving readiness and combat capabilities of units.

As for the new types of troops, the division of the various types of troops into separate commands remains an open issue. I am listening to the thoughts of current and former military officers here. I take every opinion into account. I can certainly promise that there will be no attempts to bypass key commanders, as was the case under my predecessors. We will address this project in more detail as soon as the law announced by the president reaches parliament. Here, it is also worth mentioning other commands – those being formed and those that are planned. Based on the findings from the conflict in Ukraine, we plan to form a new component of medical troops. We will also intensify the process of droning and automation, as well as implementation of artificial intelligence. We will be preparing to create a separate drone component. This is the future of our armed forces. Just like our cyber troops, that is the Cyberspace Defense Forces Component Command, which is also developing and operating in a modern and effective manner. In the near future, we will also work on subordinating the Territorial Defense Forces to the Chief of the General Staff. This is another step toward deeper and better integration and use of our troops.

You also said that Polish soldiers will perform active duty as part of the European Rapid Operational Force (EUROFOR). Doesn't the fact that the EU is involved in defense issues create competition for NATO?

As a matter of fact, European Union countries are part of NATO, and, second only to the United States, the European Union is the Alliance's largest partner. Thus, members of the Union not only can, but actually must, be involved in defense issues, along with the defense industry. There is no conflict here. On the contrary, stronger EU means stronger NATO, which in turn makes Poland and all of Europe more secure.

What is the biggest challenge NATO is currently facing? Is it still the threat from Russia?

There is no denying that the biggest threat comes from that direction. I'm talking about our perspective, of course, because if we asked the Americans, they would probably also emphasize the situation in the Pacific or the Red Sea. The countries in the south of Europe, which are struggling with migration, for example, would also have a different standpoint. Admittedly, this is primarily a challenge faced by the EU, but it is also important from NATO's perspective, as it has implications for security. The security situation is also viewed differently by the countries that have joined NATO relatively recently: North Macedonia, Albania or Montenegro. Everyone has a different perception, but if we look at this issue globally, the directions from which the threat may come have unfortunately remained the same for many, many years.

Talks: Magdalena Miernicka

autor zdjęć: MON, 18 DZ, Sławomir Kozioł/ 18 DZ

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