Poland on track to build EU’s heftiest land forces: Politico

Poland is on track to build the European Union’s heftiest land forces and strengthen its role as a key US ally in Europe, the Politico news service has reported.

Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Błaszczak

Polish Defense Minister Mariusz BłaszczakPhoto: PAP/Przemysław Piątkowski

The country has what is arguably Europe’s best army, and it’s only going to get stronger, Politico said in an article published on Monday.

It cited Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki as saying that “the Polish army must be so powerful that it does not have to fight due to its strength alone.”

It also reported that a senior US Army official in Europe has praised Poland for playing a crucial role in supporting Ukraine and in shoring up NATO defenses in the Baltics.

’Our most important partner in continental Europe’: US official

„Poland has become our most important partner in continental Europe,” the US official said, as quoted by Politico without being named.

The US-based news service noted that Warsaw has vowed to raise its target defense spending from 2.4 percent of gross domestic product to 5 percent.

Meanwhile, Germany, traditionally America’s key ally in the region, spent about 1.5 percent of GDP on defense last year and is debating whether it can maintain NATO’s 2 percent target after it exhausts a EUR 100 billion defense investment fund it approved earlier this year, according to the politico.com website.

Poland aims to build strongest NATO army in Europe: defense minister

Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Błaszczak said this month that possible cuts in government spending next year would not affect defence. He added that defence expenditure was needed for the country’s development.

Błaszczak told reporters that the government in Warsaw was in talks with the US administration to „expedite the delivery” of American weaponry, including HIMARS rocket systems and Apache attack helicopters.

He declared that “Poland will continue to buy armaments for its military” after a series of recent major purchases, such as the US-made Patriot air defence systems, Turkish Bayraktar TB2 combat drones and the K239 Chunmoo rocket artillery systems from South Korea.

Błaszczak, who is also a deputy prime minister, said in the summer that Poland was aiming to build the strongest army among NATO members in Europe.

He was speaking a day after he approved a major contract for the purchase of South Korean fighter jets, tanks and howitzers for the Polish armed forces.

Poland’s government in the summer announced the start of deliveries of the C130H Hercules military transport aircraft, as well as the purchase of grenade launchersturret systemstank destroyers and military helicopters, among other equipment.

The government in late July approved the country’s budget for 2023, which expects defence spending to stand at 3 percent of GDP next year.

Poland in April signed a USD 4.74 billion deal to buy 250 new Abrams tanks from the United States in what officials hailed as a key step in boosting the country’s defences amid Russia’s war against Ukraine.

In July, the government in Warsaw reached an agreement with Washington to buy 116 used M1A2 Abrams tanks to replace equipment provided to war-torn Ukraine.

Poland already has more tanks and howitzers than Germany and is on course to have a much larger army, with a target of 300,000 troops by 2035, Politico reported on Monday.

Plan to set aside at least 3% of GDP for defence in 2023

President Andrzej Duda in March greenlighted plans to modernise and expand the country’s armed forces into one of the strongest in NATO amid Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Duda signed the homeland defence bill into effect after it was fast-tracked through parliament and overwhelmingly approved by both houses of the country’s bicameral legislature, state news agency PAP reported at the time.

Under the law, Poland plans to set aside at least 3 percent of its GDP for defence starting next year, up from 2.2 percent in 2022, and its armed forces are expected increase to about 300,000 troops, including 250,000 career soldiers, public broadcaster Polish Radio’s IAR news agency reported.

While signing the measure into law, Duda said it was the result of a massive collective effort to „map out the future of the Polish armed forces.”

He added that the aim was to bolster the ability of the Polish army to defend the country against the „voracious, imperial” ambitions of Russia, its giant neighbour to the east.

Poland 'must have a powerful army’: conservative leader

Meanwhile, Poland’s conservative leader Jarosław Kaczyński, who is deputy prime minister in charge of security, said at the time that the effort was „taking on a new meaning in the context of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.”

He added that Poland „must have a powerful army” and „be capable of effectively defending itself,” public broadcaster Polish Radio’s IAR news agency reported.

Kaczyński, who sponsored the legislative initiative, earlier said that the new rules were designed to „create the legal basis and financial instruments for a radical expansion of Poland’s armed forces in terms of both manpower and firepower.”

Kaczyński, who heads Poland’s ruling conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party, told reporters last year that “a country located at the external border of the European Union must have a major deterrence capability and be able to defend itself on its own for a long time.”

Meanwhile, the Polish defence minister has said that the measure will „lay the foundations for the development of Poland’s armed forces” by opening up new sources of funding for the military and helping increase its numbers through new incentives for voluntary enlistment.

(gs)

Source: dorzeczy.plpolitico.com

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