The Territorial Defense Forces should strengthen the operational forces and provide support to local communities – highlighted Brig. Gen. Wiesław Kukuła, Commander of the Territorial Defense Forces (WOT) at the opening of the conference dedicated to the Form of Territorial Defence Forces, organised by the Warsaw Institute of Strategic Initiatives on the 19th of June. As an introduction to the discussion Grzegorz Kwaśniak PhD, Director of the Office for the Creation of Territorial Defense and the author of introduced model, delivered presentation about the form of the Territorial Defence Forces. He emphasized in his speech the multidimensional nature of the Territorial Defence Forces.
As was pointed out by the Director Kwaśniak, units of Territorial Defense have other very important tasks to perform at the local level besides the military function: giving a good example and promoting the ethos of military service, initiating social and cultural activities, promoting cultural heritage related to the Polish military tradition and fulfilling other economic functions.
In his statement General Kukuła referred to numerous myths that accrued around the recently created Territorial Defense Forces, including, above all, criticism of the adopted training model in the context of the WOT's tasks. To justify the concept of WOT’s formation and training he outlines the solutions that have already been in place in other countries such as the United States, Sweden and the Baltic States, and pointed out promising experiences from the first WOT’s training sessions. In his opinion, the three-year preparation period for volunteers to achieve combat ready status is both real and possible – this purpose is served also by the adopted training model, which is essentially devoted to the practical aspects of combat.
Kukuła pointed out that the adopted system assumed that from the beginning of service until certification and obtaining combat ready status, the soldier ought to spent three years and participate in a minimum of 124 training days. These include 16-day basic training (popular "sixteenth"), two-day rotation training, and 14-day integrated training. Kukuła mentioned that in certain specialties the training will be extended by several dozen days (from 30 to 60), on a scale of three years.
The WOT Commander said that the training was divided into three stages. The first year - he explained – is dedicated to the study of individual combat skills and survival on the battlefield. He added that in the second year, there is a division into military specialties, and the third year time is devoted to the team training, developing tactical skills in combat and timing.
Regarding training, General Kukuła concluded that the WOT’s system is very innovative and that its implementation is a chance to re-evaluate some aspects of the training system in the entire Armed Forces.
Gen. Kukuła warned against thinking that "territorials" were soldiers only two days a month. He explained that there will be special E-Learning platforms available for them to download online materials and to train without having to be present at the barracks. Furthermore a similar solution is implemented in terms of improving physical form. Soldiers apart from time spent in training and exercises maintain a constant readiness to take action. The great value of WOT is the competence of young people who report to WOT. Looking for innovation, the search for solutions that are in the human and social potential, is one of the key objectives accompanying WOT forming – emphasized General Kukuła.
Referring to the subsequent negative myths about the WOT, the General asserted that the transition to the Forces by some professional soldiers would not reduce the combat capabilities of existing operational units. In his view, staff movement will naturally contribute to the natural inclusion of the ability to interact with other services and components of the Armed Forces. WOT should be seen as an investment that will soon start to make a profit.
The WOT Commander emphasized that the decision to create them was due to the evaluation of the combat model that would be implemented in the context of, for example, strategic defense operations.
We mathematically calculated issues related to comparing certain potentials (...), we looked historically at the power of alliances and on that basis we have worked out some conclusions. (...) The 100,000-strong professional army – without wide support, social framework, without extending it to other forms of service, without expanding its capacity catalog – will not be able to effectively address the threats that have emerged behind our eastern border - emphasized General Kukuła.
In the context of armament, it was agreed that equiping the Territorial Defense Force in MSBS (Modular Personal Weapon System) rifle is in the present situation the best solution and the introduction of the MSBS should take place right now, simultaneously with the beginning of the formation. Plans for development of fire support equipment, such as various types of anti-tank missiles, disposable anti-tank grenade launchers, large-caliber sniper rifles, 60 mm mortars and man-portable air-defence system, have been positively verified. At the same time, it is certain that the vast majority of supplies of this armament should be provided by the Polish entities, primarily those concentrated in the Polish Armaments Group. Such solutions may also become an important export element of the Polish defense industry. A very important element of the functioning of the Territorial Defense Force is their setting in the Poland non-military security system. This will increase public confidence in the formation and the entire Polish Armed Forces and at the same time strengthen our country's capabilities in crisis management and critical infrastructure protection.
It is necessary to build links between the Territorial Defense Force and the non-military system, and to create territorial command organs for state of peace, crisis and war – said MP Anna Maria Siarkowska.
Effective use of WOT as a support for other services, government and local government units is required to develop uniform procedures, orderly regulation and adequate division of finance. At the same time, the representatives of both the WOT and the institutions and services responsible for cooperation expressed their deep willingness to develop this cooperation, which would help to make the crisis response system at the local level even more effective.