Aggressive Russia, You Say? Poland Set to Double Size of Armed Forces
AGRESSIVE RUSSIA, YOU SAY? POLAND SET TO DOUBLE SIZE OF ARMED FORCES
The belligerent rhetoric coming out of the Polish defense ministry is reaching new heights, and may soon be backed up by force, with Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz announcing that the Polish army has plans to more than double 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 on Wednesday, Macierewicz said that the army would grow by at least 50%, and would include both new territorial defense forces and operating units, Poland's Rzeczpospolita reported.
"The Polish army will be bigger; we envision a substantial increase in the size of the army, by at least 50 percent, in the coming years, including the creation of three brigades for the territorial defense of the country on the eastern flank," the defense minister said.
"I do not want it to be understood that the development of the army will be limited to territorial defense. This also applies to operating units," he added.
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."
Saying that he was grateful to allied and US forces in Poland, and "along the entire eastern flank" of NATO, for the important role they play "in ensuring peace and security," Macierewicz emphasized that nonetheless, "the key to achieving this goal is readiness of the armed forces of Poland and other countries of the eastern region to defend themselves," in coordination with NATO and US troops.
The defense minister's announcement follows on statements made earlier to a similar effect. In January, Macierewicz said that Poland's armed forces, which currently number about 95,000 personnel, would grow to 150,000 in the coming years. Moreover, last week, he said that the government has plans to spend nearly $62 billion modernizing its military, a figure close to double the $34 billion the previous government planned to spend through to 2022.