Chief of the General Staff: Poland is preparing the army for a long war

Only 36 percent of Poles support the deployment of American nuclear weapons in the country

by Sededin Dedovic
Chief of the General Staff: Poland is preparing the army for a long war
© Omar Marques / Getty Images

The Chief of the General Staff of the Polish Army, General Wiesław Kukula, stated that over the next two to three years, his country will reform and strengthen its army to be prepared for "a bloody and prolonged war," with active reservists being trained and equipped as professional soldiers.

"Today, we are convinced that any potential war would be long, bloody, and the majority of professional soldiers would not endure until the end. Reservists will be the main force, and they will finish the war. We have to change our mindset so that reservists numerically enter the armed forces, equipped and trained like professional soldiers and trained on the same courses," General Kukula told Polish public radio.

Polish generals, in reforming the military, take Finland as a model where the armed forces have only 31,500 professional soldiers, but at any given moment their ranks can be filled with 280,000 well-trained reservists. Poland plans to strengthen its army to 300,000 soldiers, including professional soldiers, Polish citizens who have voluntarily served their military service, and the Territorial Defense Force, along with active reservists who are expected to reach 150,000 by 2039.

"Voluntary military service and territorial defense have proven successful, not because they were brilliantly conceived but because we simply met societal expectations. A large part of our society wants to be ready and learn to fight professionally," said the Chief of the General Staff.

Poland began rapidly modernizing its army even before Russia's attack on Ukraine, and the procurement of weapons continues under the new pro-European government, which has pledged to allocate four percent of GDP annually for defense, the highest in NATO.

There is concern that there are no guarantees that Russia would stop if it defeats Ukraine and that Poland would not be the next target until Moscow regains its sphere of influence from the Cold War era, publicly expressed by officials and the opposition alike.

"Can you guarantee that Putin won't attack any NATO country?" Polish Foreign Minister Radosław Sikorski asked a journalist in an interview for the new issue of the German newspaper Bild.

Members of a Polish army unit assemble prior to the arrival of soldiers of the U.S.

Army 173rd Airborne Brigade at a Polish air © Sean Gallup / Getty Images

He stated that "given how many times throughout history Russia has attacked Poland," Poles would not be surprised by an attack now, and that if Russian President Vladimir Putin reached Poland's borders, he would do the same as Hitler did before World War II with Czechoslovakia.

The proposal by Polish President Andrzej Duda to deploy US nuclear weapons on Polish territory under the "Nuclear Sharing" program did not receive support, as only 36.4 percent of those surveyed supported the old initiative of the current opposition party, Law and Justice.

In a poll for the Polish newspaper Rzeczpospolita, 36.4 percent of respondents supported the deployment of nuclear weapons, 31.9 percent rejected the deployment, 19 percent were undecided, and even 12.6 percent had not heard of such an idea.

The idea for official Warsaw to join the "Nuclear Sharing" program, under which US nuclear missiles are deployed in several European countries but can only be used for collective defense with US permission, came a few years ago from the leader of the Law and Justice party, former Prime Minister Jarosław Kaczyński, arguing that Poland cannot rely on acquiring such weapons alone.

President Duda, also from the Law and Justice party, mentioned the need for nuclear weapons on Polish territory several times this spring without consulting the government, but Polish Foreign Minister Radosław Sikorski warned last night that such a request must be submitted by the government, and it has not authorized or encouraged him to speak about it, especially not publicly.

"The President has been told at the highest levels, and not Polish ones, that there is no chance for that now. I don't know why he talked about it. The President implements the government's foreign policy. We didn't authorize him or encourage him to talk publicly about it.

But we already have a Russian response, clear, that any such depot would be a target," Sikorski said in an interview with Polish television Polsat. Duda last mentioned it earlier this week, without consulting the government, in an interview with the newspaper Fakt, saying that Poland is ready to deploy nuclear weapons on its territory if NATO allies make such a decision, especially since Russia is transferring its nuclear weapons to Belarus.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg immediately responded, saying that NATO has no such plans, and since Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk expressed surprise at Duda mentioning it, the President invited him for a meeting on May 1, but the meeting is in question as the Prime Minister is ill and recovering from pneumonia.

"Some think that 'Nuclear Sharing' means Poland will become a nuclear power, but that's not the case. These are very complex issues that we discuss at nuclear planning meetings. Such debates should not be held publicly," the Minister said.