The event was devoted to the capability of the Polish Land Forces to carry out effective military operations. Is the Polish Army able to face the awaiting challenges? - that question was crucial during the debate hosted by the Warsaw Institute for Strategic Initiatives (WISI) on September 30. The event, dedicated to Land Forces Potential was a part of the Programme for Development of the Polish Defence Capabilities. After Dariusz Lasocki, president of WISI, opened the conference with welcoming remarks, the keynote speech was delivered by Anna Maria Siarkowska MP, member of the Parliamentary National Defence Committee. She stressed the importance of the role think-tanks play in formation of discourse on “strategic matters, most significant for Poland’s security”. Subsequently, Dr. Andrzej Wilk from Centre for Eastern Studies presented the report, listing some of the conclusions pointing to areas that need improvements. A notable one is the recommendation not to rely on experience from previous conflicts because of their unrelated nature. He declared, that ‘a potential confrontation would not look like the conflicts in Donbass and Syria, but like a classic panzer formation clash’. Also, he pointed to the need to modernise the equipment, create an integrated command system on all levels, and focus on ammunition and supplies, so often forgotten in the process of modernisation. However, he noted that a positive change in thinking occurred, which is not visible at first sight: ‘we started to think that armed forces serve to protect the country and a need to use them might arise”.
The panelists concentrated on the same issues, sorted into two thematic areas: Land Forces & Artillery, and Air Support. The first panel, moderated by Mariusz Cielma, Chief Editor of Nowa Technika Wojskowa, the role of the Rocket and Artillery Forces in modernisation was brought up by general Jaroslaw Wierzcholski, their former chief commander (2010-2013). He highlighted the constant need to develop Polish Army, and indicated lack of the right ammunition as the greatest challenge: “We need large quantity of rockets, and enough launchers to fire effectively”. The next two issues he listed was the disappearance of operational fire after cuts in 2008-10 and the need two create an integrated command system. That problem was elaborated on by general Slawomir Kowalski, commander of the Land Operations Centre, who referred to his experience gained at Anaconda-16 multinational exercises. “Through elimination of the operational fire, there is no tool to fight with”, he declared. He advocated for the formation of 4th general-military division. Andrzej Wilk’s contribution allowed the comparison of Polish Armed Forces with the Forces of the Russian Federation. In his words, Poland’s eastern neighbours have respect for Polish Army, but there are plenty areas to improve, and other panelists agreed. The issue of the Territorial Defence Forces appeared later and the new army branch was defined to be “a formation well suited to protect the supply lines while operational forces fight on the front”.
The second panel touched the topic of Air Support of the Land Forces. The moderator, Juliusz Sabak from Defence24, asked the participants whether Air Force can be of real help for the Land Forces. General Miroslaw Jemielniak, acting chief of the Air Force Inspectorate, answered that the Air Force is not in the best condition because of the lack of military bases and unreasonable spending. He suggested buying “the amount of equipment we need, not buying as much as possible whatever the cost”. Poland does not have its own system and aircraft have to be bought abroad. General Dariusz Wroński, similarly to general Kowalski, postulated introduction of an integrated command system through creation of a “single command post” - an all-military commander. In his speech, General Wroński, mentioned helicopters and stated that the most crucial factor is a “system to destroy enemy’s fire”, and asked to use common sense, because “helicopters will not be able to eliminate enemy’s panzer targets”. Colonel Krystian Zięć noted a positive change in debate over Polish Armed Forces: “three years ago there was no discussion on position system, then, thankfully, we began talking about it”. He focused his speech on F-16 fighters, being professionally associated with the aircraft.
The debate, concluding three workshops engaging diverse military, industrial and academic subjects was organised as a part of the Programme for Development of Polish Defence Capabilities hosted by Warsaw Institute for Strategic Initiatives. The programme has been granted patronage of Minister of National Defence, Minister of Maritime and Inland Navigation and the Ministry of Digital Affairs. The subsequent element of the programme devoted to other components of the Polish Armed Forces will be realised in the upcoming months.