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The Warsaw Institute for Strategic Initiatives hosted a debate on the topic of Poland’s defence policy after Warsaw NATO Summit, attended by the Undersecretary of State in the Ministry of Defence, Tomasz Szatkowski. The discussion was moderated by Dominik Jankowski, head of the Eastern Security Dimension Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The event served as the inauguration of the Institute’s activities. The attendees included representatives of various businesses, scientific institutions and public administration.

The decisions made at this years’ NATO summit could potentially have a critical impact on the national security of Poland as well as other members on the Eastern Flank of the alliance. In order for them to come into reality consequent execution of the commitments made by all members of the Alliance is crucial. For that reason, Tomasz Szatkowski, who was responsible for the organisation of the Summit, was invited by the Warsaw Institute for Strategic Initiatives to participate in the discussion. The issues mentioned by the Undersecretary of State included:

  • The current NATO’s deterrence policy, formed not only in the strategic and political sphere, but also based on creating real military capabilities;
  • Defence and industrial cooperation with Ukraine, the best example of could be the joint Polish-Ukrainian „Pirat” anti-tank missile programme;
  • The attempt to define Poland’s priorities for the small NATO summit in 2017, where the main aim will be to sustain the provisions of the Warsaw Summit and the review of the ongoing reinforcement of the Eastern Flank;

The focus of the discussion was put on the Russian A2/AD systems that put into question NATO’s ability to uphold its air superiority and strategic aerial transport, specifically on the Eastern Flank. It is particularly important due to the fact that air superiority has been a fundamental element of US strategic planning for decades. Currently, such circumstances are being revalued and Poland must consider how to tackle that challenge. The Undersecretary of State addressed the issue in his statement, noting that while planning as far as 20 years ahead, the Polish Armed Forces take into account acquiring means to counter A2/AD systems. In order to equip the army with such systems, an economic solution - meaning a system that could be acquired on a mass scale - will have to be found. Mr Szatkowski brought up non-kinetic weaponry as a possible leading direction in future counter-A2/AD developments.

A noticeable part of the discussion was devoted to the Strategic Defence Review (SDR), an ongoing project at the Ministry of National Defence. Undersecretary Szatkowski is responsible for the project and was able to meticulously present the main goals of SDR during the debate. As stated by Mr Szatkowski, one of the greatest advantages of SDR is the change of ministry’s attitude towards critical thinking and attempts to look for and eliminate weaknesses. It is a cultural change in strategic thinking within the field of defence. The most emphasis was put on reforming the command system, both for peace and war time. Currently, the system is faulty and require an urgent improvement so as not to prolong and impede the decision-making process. Mr Szatkowski stated that the work on the new system is in an advanced stage and that just before the debate he participated in a war game that tested a model that could possibly be suitable. Wargaming-based simulations are one of the best ways to evaluate and verify new ideas and solutions. The new system is meant to bring the war and peace time commands closer together, as, at the moment, they are too far apart. According to Undersecretary Szatkowski, the peace time command differs too much from the war time command, instead of being carefully based on it. He also announced that the full report on SDR will be presented to Antoni Macierewicz, the Minister of National Defence, in March 2017 and it will serve as a guidebook in creation of the new command concept for the Polish Armed Forces.

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