Forces: April 3, 2001


The Polish government has approved the planned five-year program to convert the armed forces into a modern military, one that is smaller, more professional, and ready to participate in joint operations with its new allies. The modernization program will cost $5 billion, but the first year provides only $500 million. The defense budget will be stabilized at 1.95% of the gross national product. The percentage of that budget devoted to weapons procurement will increase from the current 12% to 22%. The Polish military (now 185,000) will be cut to 150,000; seventy-one military bases will be closed. Cuts in manpower, bases, and old equipment will save $2 billion through 2006. There will be 60,000 civilian employees of the military, and some logistical functions will be conducted by commercial contracts. By 2004, conscription will be reduced from the current 12 months to 9 or 10. By 2006, the Army will consist of four divisions and six independent brigades. About 1/3 of the Polish military will be compatible with NATO standards. NATO has warned Poland that it needs to spend more money buying modern equipment. The 4th Mechanized Division and 8th Coastal Defense Division will be eliminated during the manpower reductions. All 806 of the old T-55 tanks are to be discarded as quickly as possible, while the BMP-1s will be upgraded. New anti-tank guided missiles and armored personnel carriers will be purchased. The Air Force will retire 114 MiG-21s by 2003 and begin receiving a new Western multi-role fighter. The MiG-29s and Su-22s are to be upgraded, and a new transport aircraft will be purchased. The SAM-3s will be upgraded and new S-200s will be installed. By the end of the five-year plan, a new long-range air defense missile will be selected. The Navy will retire 23 old Soviet-era warships and buy new corvettes with new anti-ship missiles, and is looking to buy used submarines.--Stephen V Cole




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