If fully implemented, Poland will emerge as one of the largest militaries in the region becoming an arsenal of Europe.
Poland stretches from western Europe to the Carpathian mountains to the east, the European plain is a geopolitical superhighway. Its lack of internal boundaries made its early inhabitants vulnerable to constant rides and invasions.
People from northern Europe had to strike first or be strake down themselves and when civilization finally come, militaristic culture developed and conflicts become the irony law of Europeans, and great military powers dominated the international scene.
In the 16th century, the Polish-Lithuanian commonwealth was such a state. At its height, it covered about 1 million sqm and compromised 15% of Europe’s population yet for all its glory and prestige, this great power vanished from the map when Austria, Prussia, and Russia conspired to curve it up and from then on polish identity survived only in language and memories.
It wasn’t until world war one that Poland regained its independence but this too was short-lived. In 1939, the Germany-Soviet pact divided Poland once more with one-fifth of its population perishing in the ensuing war before Poland fell under Russian influence only when the iron curtain started to crumble in 1989 did Poland regain its independence once more.
History weighs heavily on Polish conciseness hence skeptical of its neighbor’s powers and maintains a robust independent identity so despite its commitment to multilateral institutions, Poland priorities its own interests above everybody else.
Since leaving the Soviet block, Poland has persuaded its interests by integrating into the European economic and military eco-systems.
Poland joined NATO in 1999 and the EU five years later. This presented two advantages; first Poland gained powerful allies in the west that could guarantee its safety.
Second, Poland by securing its western frontier could concentrate its resources on balancing Russia in the east which has allowed Poland to maintain its independence while reaping the benefits of EU integration.
Since Poland joined the EU, Russia has intervened in Ossetia in Georgia, Crimea, and dumb ass in Ukraine, and what makes matters worse is that Poland’s interests are already colliding with Russia in Baltics, Belarus, and Ukraine and will continue to do so.
the odds of future conflicts are high, Russia’s posturing is inspired by US’s shift in strategic calculus and Russia is no longer America’s main concern but China and US want to scale down their role in Europe but weak former soviet allies prevent from doing so.
Although NATO provides a guideline on the military spending of 2% to the GDP, most European allies continue to fall short which makes Europe fall short of self-scuffing.
Poland is an exception because of its troubled history and country’s open geography, this anxiety means Poland enjoys public support for military expansion a rare sight in EU block.
So with the US declining commitment, Poland wants to pick up the slack and for good reason, because Polish armed forces are in poor shape and performed very poorly when put against much armed, well organized, and advanced Russian military.
In January 2021, Poland conducted one of the biggest military drills knowns as winter 20 and was the largest such military drill since the cold war but the results were not assuring as the report found out that despite NATO’s support and weaponry such as the f-35 fighter jets, Patriot anti-aircraft defense systems, and high-tech rocket launchers Poland front line forces would quickly lose up to 80% of the troops and equipment and would be pushed back to Warsow shortly after Russian forces would completely destroy Poland’s Navy and Airforce.
The military drills were expected to end in 22 days but they ended in just 5 days when Warsow surrendered. The results were described as being worse than 1939 and when the outcome of military drills was leaked to the press, the lawmakers capitalized on public sentiments to push for military spending.
A few months later in October, Polish officials introduced a bill to parliament intending to boost national defense capacity.
First and foremost; the bill would increase full military personal from 110,000 to 250,000 personal because numbers aren’t everything, the bill also intended to acquire more new weapons while modernizing old equipment and also building infrastructures of the Polish armed forces.
About 7.3 billion dollars have been set aside to upgrade Polish defense in the next decade including the procurement of missile defense batteries, cyberwarfare capabilities, and conventional staff like helicopters, tanks, frigates, and fighter jets.
This military modernization plan will provide Poland with many benefits such as great autonomy from the EU, increased rhetoric backed by the largest military in Europe, and add more firepower and capabilities to NATO at times when tensions are increasing between Russia and NATO over Ukraine.
But the recent border crisis with Belarus over migrants where Poland deployed more than 12000 military personals may hold or slow the military modernization plan.