Конфліктологія

The territorial defence in Poland – the influence of the ukrainian conflict experiences
Jakub ŻAK, Paweł GOTOWIECKI
22.12.2016, 11:29

УДК 94:327

АНОТАЦІЯ

Конфлікт у Східній Україні показав, що час відносного миру в Європі (особливо в Центрально-Східній) минув та держави мають переглянути їх систему оборони. Зміни мають стосуватись не тільки покращення Збройних Сил, а й прийняття нових рішень. Згідно з думкою багатьох експертів, територіальна оборона розглядається як один з ефективних засобів завдяки відносній дешевизні та високій моралі її учасників, котрі бажають захищати Батьківщину. Український досвід інтеграції батальйонів територіальної оборони в систему безпеки може бути корисною практикою, проте територіальна оборона є унікальною для кожної держави та конкретних умов, фінансових можливостей, кількості населення і т.д. Дана стаття ілюструє концепції Польщі щодо імплементації територіальної оборони та вплив поточного конфлікту на завдання і роль територіальної оборони.

Ключові слова: український конфлікт, територіальна оборона, Польща, Збройні Сили Польщі.

The initial phase of the Ukrainian conflict caused a serious change in the conflicts perception. The Russian aggression devaluated the existing paradigm of thinking about the war and about the warfare. Bloodless annexation of the Crimean Peninsula and the following hybrid war in the Eastern Ukraine showed how this country (in fact not only Ukraine, but also various countries of the region, including NATO countries) was unprepared for asymmetric or hybrid warfare - the activity which is now the basis of the Russian military strategy.

Nearly since the beginning of the conflict military analysts from all over the Europe, paid their attention to the situation in Donbas region. One of the main conclusions, after the first few months of the struggle, was the conviction of the necessity of readiness of the armed forces to resist the new level of aggression - much more different and complicated than in not so distant times of the stability in the Central-Eastern Europe. The Russian aggression met the Ukrainian Armed Forces completely unprepared for the military actions - poorly trained, without the combat experience, not modernized, dislocated far from the area of combat action. Additionally, even bigger problem was the extremely low morale level of the Ukrainian officers, NCO's and conscripts, which led to a common desertion and even treason. This situation has - in fact - paralyzed the Ukrainian defence capabilities.

The Ukrainian conflict, as well as the process of the Ukrainian Armed Forces transformation, was observed very attentively in the countries, which were not involved in the military actions in the Donbas region, but were deeply concerned about the possibility of the Russian aggression in the near future. In Poland, the virtual paralysis of the Ukrainian army, and its inability not only to wage a hybrid war but even to defend against the conventional conflict, was the reason of a wide-scale debate on the condition of Polish Army, its capability and readiness to repel the possible invasion. In 2010 Polish Armed Forces has ended the process of transition from the conscript's army to a fully professional one. Four years later, at the outbreak of the Ukrainian crisis, the average annual ceiling of the Polish Armed Forces establishment was 120.000 soldiers high, including slightly above 97.000 of the professional (active) soldiers and 20.000 high National Reserve Forces. According to many military and security experts the full professionalization of the Polish army and its relatively small size, quite understandable in the times of the region's geopolitical stability, was a very insufficient guarantee of the safety of Polish borders and state's security in the face of the events in Ukraine.

This situation caused the public debate on the reactivation of the Territorial Defence Forces in Poland. It was not a new idea - Poland had such military formation before. According to the definition, the Territorial Defence is "a militarized form of a common defence". Therefore, the Territorial Defence is "a part of the military system, ready to act together with the operational forces, non-military structures and civilians, a true part of common defence". Its main goal is "to prepare and maintain the area's defence systems and crucial infrastructure across the country, to support the operational forces activities, to conduct the irregular warfare and to support any non-military defensive actions". It is worth to notice that the theorists of the Territorial Defence role and activity define its objectives not only as strictly military ones. For example Ryszard considers the participation of the Territorial Defence forces in the process of increasing the military and patriotic education of the society, as non-military objectives. This demand is a very significant one in the face of the weakened link between the civil society and the armed forces (or, as a result of the lack of conscription, the total lack of this link) and the necessity to sustain at least a basic military knowledge amongst the civilians.

The essential idea of the Territorial Defence forces functioning is their close tie with the territory (the place of residence, well known area) and with the local community. Those ties lead to the ground and informational advantage over the potential enemy in the area of operation, to the creation of ability to conduct the irregular warfare, to the effective management of the defensive position (using small guns and light weapons), and - last but not least - to the high morale ("we are defending our homes").

The history of Polish armed conflicts and experience in irregular warfare played a very important role in the discussion on the Territorial Defence implementation in Poland. Polish uprisings in the 19th century (e.g. the January Uprising 1863-1864), and Polish underground movement during the Second World War were based on self-organization of the fighting units, self-defence and support of the local communities to the guerrillas. In 1939-1945 such cooperation led to the establishing of the Polish Underground State with its highly extensive military structure (a unique example in Europe). Polish guerrilla experiences were also an inspiration for other countries' military theorists - for example Franz von Erlach, a member of the Swiss General Military Staff was an observer of the January Uprising and his work titled "Die Kriegsführung Der Polen Im Jahr 1863 Nach Eigenen Beobachtungen" [Polish people's warfare in 1863 according to my observations] had become an important landmark in Switzerland's military history. On the other hand the usage of Polish National Defence units (Obrona Narodowa - Polish territorial forces) in the Polish Campaign 1939 as a reinforcement of the operational forces in the manoeuvre warfare was - according to many military theorists - improper and became one of the negative factors which fastened the defeat.

In the post-war era, the Territorial Defence Forces were officially established in 1959, responsible for the internal security and separate from the Polish Army. In 1970 the Territorial Defence Forces numbered more than 200.000 soldiers in land forces units, air defence units and costal defence units. In 1989 during the armed forces reduction the land units of the Territorial Defence Forces were disbanded. Even though two years later those units were partially restored, the general conception of the Territorial Defence in Poland (changed several times) envisaged a very limited role of the territorial forces in the state's defence system (f. e. in 1999 it was assumed that the Territorial Defence Forces peace-establishment will be 10.000 high and their service will be equal to the regular army units). In practice, during the following years the Territorial Defence system was partially reduced and units disbanded. In 2008 the last Territorial Defence battalion was transformed and incorporated into the regular army units.

Despite the professionalization and modernisation of the Armed Forces many experts claimed, that in the face of the Territorial Defence Forces liquidation the reduction of the army to the level below 100 000 soldiers was wrong decision. One of the most prominent participants of the public debate on the Territorial Defence restoration was Prof. Romuald Szeremietiew - former activist of the anti-communist opposition, right-winger, vice-minister of the Ministry of Defence in 1992 and 1997-2001. In 2010, a few years before the Russian aggression in the Ukraine, Prof. Szeremietiew tried to convince about the benefits of the territorial forces using the Russo-Georgian War as an example: "The Georgian professional army failed to conquer the tiny South Ossetia, where they faced the so called militia Ossetian, that is the local territorial defence forces backed by a relatively weak garrison of Russian "peacekeeping forces". And after the Russian offensive - only over a dozen thousands of soldiers (conscripts) with 150 tanks and air support - it turned out that the Georgian regular army in unable to defend the cities, ports and communication lines". Prof. Szeremietiew added ominously: "Tactical Standard Operating Procedures provide a 20-30 kilometres wide defensive belt for a single brigade. According to these guidelines a regular army brigade is capable to defend the area of 150 km2, which means, that the professional Polish army will be able to defend only 300-450 km of Polish border or the area of 2250 km2 - more or less 1 percent of the Polish territory."

The idea of restoration of the Territorial Defence Forces found a support in Polish pro-defence non-governmental organizations. The most influential and well organized pro-defence NGO, ObronaNarodowa.pl - Ruch na Rzecz Obrony Terytorialnej (ObronaNarodowa.pl - Movement for the Territorial Defence Reconstruction - www.obronanarodowa.pl) was established in 2011. Its members support the ideas and views of the most prominent theorists of the Territorial Defence restoration - the opinions of Prof. Szeremietiew, Col. Prof. Józef Marczak, Col. Prof. Ryszard Jakubczak and Dr. Paweł Makowiec. In 2015 ObronaNarodowa.pl issued a project of creation of the National Territorial Defence System - establishing a Civil Component of the Armed Forces, subsidiary to the regular army units, consisted of about 60.000 members of pro-defence NGO's. According to the project the NGO's (of military and rescue/life-saving character) should be registered and certified by the army. Such decision would allow the inclusion of the pro-defence NGO's in the national defence system. Members of such NGO's would have their personal weapon and equipment stored at home (in a safe) to haste the mobilization process (of course this requires the law changes in an area of firearms possession). The project refers to the tradition and inheritance of the WW2 Polish Home Army, and the media campaign of the ObronaNarodowa.pl NGO was called "Let's rebuild the Home Army" ("Odbudujmy AK").

It is worth to notice, that the ObronaNarodowa.pl association not only built a theoretical background but also started to conduct the practical exercises and manoeuvres to prepare the pro-defence NGO's to be a part of the national defence system. The most important, and spectacular manoeuvres are the company's field training exercises - conducted in the inhabited urban area, testing the usage of pro-defence organization in military and non-military crisis situation. The manoeuvres help to integrate the "militias" with the local authorities, local crisis management centres, local business and technology. Since 2013 the manoeuvres were organized in Białobrzegi, Mińsk Mazowiecki, Wodzisław Śląski, Świdnik and Ostrowiec Świętokrzyski. The last mentioned exercise was co-organized by the College of Business and Entrepreneurship in Ostrowiec Świętokrzyski (Wyższa Szkoła Biznesu i Przedsiębiorczości - WSBiP), under the honorary patronage of the then Chief of the National Security Bureau Gen. Stanisław Koziej. Gen. Koziej's patronage was not only the prestigious distinction, but also showed the interest of the authorities in the pro-defence NGO's potential. The result of the interest was participation of the pro-defence organizations, as the partner of the Polish Armed Forces, in the combined multinational exercise "Anakonda 2016". According to the official post-exercise statement: "Members of four organizations: FIA Defence Association (Fideles et Instructi Armis), Obronanarodowa.pl, Legia Akademicka and ZS "Strzelec" realized regional defence exercises in four locations: Wędrzyn, Biała Góra, Orzysz and Dęba. These associations were invited to present their capabilities in this year's manoeuvres. Operations of FIA company was realized together with 2nd and 9th Reconnaissance Regiments and soldiers from 25th Air Cavalry Brigade during the exercise of medics."

The increase of the importance of the pro-defence organizations since 2014 was undoubtedly connected with the Ukrainian crisis and the disassembly of the Ukrainian professional army forces, and relatively successful attempt of the implementation of the voluntary territorial battalions into the Ukrainian security system. As it was noticed at the beginning of this article, a catalyst for the debate on the Territorial Defence restoration was, to a great extent, the situation in Ukraine. What, in 2013 was a poorly significant debate of a group of theorists and almost unknown pro-defence NGO's, two years later became an official concept of the Polish Ministry of Defence.

In November 2014 the Polish Ministry of Defence made a crucial decision which fastened the cooperation with the pro-defence NGO's - Maj. Gen. Bogusław Pacek was appointed as the ministry's Agent for the Civil Pro-defence Initiatives. His main objectives were to foster and coordinate the cooperation with the NGO's, be the liaison unit between the government and organizations, prepare the legal and system framework of such collaboration and support the pro-defence ideas and initiatives. One of the main results of this partnership was the partial consolidation of the pro-defence NGO's. On 20th - 21st March more than 450 from 120 associations, NGO's, paramilitary groups took part in the first Congress of the Pro-defence Organizations where seven of the biggest organizations established a federation. Their main tasks were to support the Polish defence and security, assist the emergency management system and built the patriotic attitude, especially amongst the young Poles. Even though the federation's influence on the defence policy was inconsiderable, its foundation (and the congress itself) was one of the milestones in the creation of the civil pro-defence awareness and debate.

The first official Ministry's of Defence concept of the territorial defence forces was announced in October 2015. According to the official and unofficial information, the so called National Guard was to be an organization responsible for complementing the fighting army units at war, and supporting the crisis management (e.g. during the natural disaster) at peacetime. Its strength was estimated to be 300.000 members - army reservists, the pro-defence paramilitary organizations members, fire-fighters (especially the Volunteer Fire Departments members), customs officers, Rifleman's Associations members, hunters etc. Unfortunately, the idea was a part of the electoral debate, and was hastily and only roughly prepared. Shortly after the parliamentary elections on 25th October 2015, and the change of the government in Poland, the debate on the Territorial Defence was restored.

In November 2015, in his first address in the Sejm's National Defence Commission, the Minister of Defence Antoni Macierewicz stated, that the Territorial Defence implementation will be one the main tasks of his department. On the beginning of 2016 Ministry of Defence announced, that the first units of the territorial forces will be ready in the same year - according to the initial plans it was to be three brigades (partially deployed) established in the North-Eastern Poland, near the Polish-Russian and Polish-Belorussian border. Ultimately the ministry wanted to create at least one brigade in each voivodeship (one company in each county). Its command structure and dependency was not officially announced, as well as its equipment and weaponry. According to some of the officials, the ministry was considering establishing of two components - the territorial one, armed with small arms, anti-armour launchers or light mortars, and the highly mobile one, armed even with the old T-72 tanks.

In April 2016 a Polish think-thank the National Centre of Strategic Studies (NCSS) issued a report on the conceptions of the territorial defence in Poland undertaking a comprehensive analysis of the conditions and recommendations of territorial forces implementation. According to the report the Territorial Defence Forces main tasks are:

A. military combat operations - the regular combat activities including defence, attack, delaying operations etc. in close or direct contact with the enemy forces;

B. military combat support - the combat activities with no or very rare direct contact with the enemy forces, usually behind the own lines, such as the defence and protection of the critical infrastructure, provision of logistic and supply lines, traffic control, protection of the civilians and anti-sabotage actions;

C. non-military policing actions - any non-combat activities supporting the Police forces against smuggling, illegal immigration, organized crime, destabilization etc.;

D. non-military rescue actions (including natural disaster crisis management);

E. pro-patriotic and pro-defence actions amongst the civilians in a peacetime.

The report indicated three main conceptions of the Territorial Defence Forces in Poland, indicating their main premises, assumed structures, armament and training activities. The main differences are visible in "A", "B" and "C" tasks, "D" and "E" tasks are treated as secondary in each concept.

1) Territorial concept - realisation of "B" tasks mainly, and limited actions of "A" tasks (defensive and delaying actions), avoiding of the battle with the regular enemy forces, supporting the regular army. This concept assumes the "territorialisation" of the units - a TDF brigade operates on the area of its original voivodeship (one brigade in each voivodeship, two brigades in Mazovia voivodeship), attached to its area of operation. According to the report the main part of the territorial forces should be the light infantry which determines the armament and equipment - light vehicles (f.e. Honker multi-purpose all-terrain truck from army surplus or pick-up trucks), AKMS assault rifles, RPG-7 grenade launchers and also new armament produced by the Polish military industry, f. e. Grom air-defence system or LM-60D mortar. The main advantages of this concept are: relatively easy training course (local training) and very low cost of implementation. However, in case of a full-scale conflict such forces may be insufficient.

2) Mobile (mechanized) concept - it assumes the creation of two components: the territorial one (as in the "territorial concept") and the mobile one able to the manoeuvre operations outside the area of province. Such mobile component should be an enhancement of the regular forces, ready to execute the "A" tasks. Its structure should consist of 3-4 mechanized brigades as a mobile component (in the selected provinces), and the territorial component (similar to the "territorial concept"). The armament should consist of a T-72 tanks (from army surplus) and BMP-1 (or similar) infantry fighting vehicles, artillery etc. for the mobile component, and the small arms for the territorial component. The mobile forces training process was envisaged as an expensive (due to the propellants and usage of the combat vehicles), long-term (the need to prepare well trained operators, especially vehicle crews) and extraterritorial (including tank firing ranges and training grounds). The main advantage is the increase of the combat capabilities of the Polish Armed Forces.

3) Policing (militia) concept - realisation of "C" tasks. The forces armament and equipment should be similar to the police units (small arms, bare-barrelled guns, batons etc.) or to the light infantry armament, but without the anti-armour and air-defence systems. This concept however, was not considered by the Ministry of Defence.

It is certain, that the report was a very important document, reckoned by the ministry's officials. In July 2016 the Ministry of Defence established the Bureau for the Territorial Defence Implementation and announced the initial information about the plan of the future Territorial Defence Forces foundation, in which the one could find a strong influence of the report's "territorial concept". The plan assumed establishing of 17 brigades: three brigades in the Eastern Poland in the first half of 2017 and three more in the North-Central Poland till the end of 2017, next five in the Central Poland in 2018 and the last six on the West in 2019. The TDF strength was announced as 45.000 soldiers (364 companies in 86 battalions in 17 brigades). Their main tasks were nearly the same as "B", "D" and "E" tasks mentioned in the NCSS report.

In the following months the issue of the Territorial Defence Forces implementation was the subject of parliamentary, experts and public discussion. The opponents pointed out many uncertainties and worries, such as lack of legislation, expenditures (concern whether the creation of the territorial forces will not weaken the financing of the regular armed forces), tasks of such forces (concern of the malfeasance during the potential policing actions) or the problem of the weapon storage. Some military experts (f. e. Lt. Gen. Waldemar Skrzypczak, Col. Stanisław Kulczyński) indicated that the training process - 16-days-long unitary training and two-days-long weekend trainings during a year (approx. 30 days of training a year) - is completely insufficient in a modern battlefield reality. In the beginning of September 2016 Polish military industry companies introduced their offer towards the Territorial Defence Forces including Beryl and MSBS assault rifles, UKM-2000 and WKM-B machine guns, sniper rifles, mortars, air-defence system, anti-armour grenade launchers, optics, drones etc.

Despite many uncertainties, the legislation works were undergoing in the Polish parliament. On 16th November 2016 the Polish Sejm approved the "Territorial Defence Act" (amendment for the General Defend Duty Act). The amendment indicates the creation of the Territorial Defence Forces as the fifth branch of the Polish Armed Forces (next to the Land Forces, Navy, Air Force and Special Forces) with strength of 35.000 soldiers (reservists and also non-trained volunteers) in 17 brigades, with Polish-made armament.

The significance of the Territorial Defence Forces in the defence system in Poland will undoubtedly become a subject experts meetings and discussion. The first debate on this matter - the international scientific conference "Territorial Defence and its Significance in the Contemporary Security Systems", under the honorary patronage of the Chief of the National Security Bureau Mr. Paweł Soloch, took place in Ostrowiec Świętokrzyski on 17th - 18th November 2016, the next day after the Sejm of the Republic of Poland (the lower house of the Polish parliament) approved the "Territorial Defence Act".

Bibliography:

1. Jakubczak R., MarczakJ., Obrona terytorialna Polski na progu XXI w., Warszawa 1998

2. Jakubczak R., Współczesne wojska obrony terytorialnej, Warszawa 2014

3. Kajetanowicz J., Wojska Obrony Terytorialnej Kraju w systemie bezpieczeństwa Polski w latach 1959-1989, "Poligon", 2013, No. 2

4. Mendershausen H., Territorial Defence in NATO and Non-NATO Europe, A Report prepared for Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defence, Santa Monica 1973

5. Paszyn M., Kordowski M., Zalewski W., Koncepcja obrony terytorialnej w Polsce, Narodowe Centrum Studiów Strategicznych, Warszawa 2016

6. Szeremietiew R., Siła złego... Niemcy-Polska-Rosja, Warszawa 2015

7. von Erlach F., Die Kriegsführung Der polen Im Jahr 1863 Nach Eigenen Beobachtungen, Darmstadt & Leipzig 1866

8. Decyzja nr 460/MON Ministra Obrony Narodowej z dnia 20 listopada 2014 w sprawie powołania Pełnomocnika Ministra Obrony Narodowej do Spraw Społecznych Inicjatyw Proobronnych, Dz. Urz. MON z 2014, poz. 373

SUMMARY:
The conflict in the Eastern Ukraine showed, that the age of a relative peace in Europe has ended, and European - especially Central-European - countries should revive their defence systems. Such improvement regards not only the regular Armed Forces development, but also requires new solutions. According to many military experts the Territorial Defence is considered as one of the effective mean of deterrence - relatively cheap, with high morale and will to defend the homeland. The Ukrainian experience in the implementation of the territorial battalions into the security system may be a good practice, however the Territorial Defence is highly unique for particular country's possible threats, financial abilities, the population potential etc. This article is to illustrate the Polish conceptions of the Territorial Defence Forces implementation,and the influence of present conflict on their main role and tasks.

Key words: Ukrainian conflict, Territorial Defence, Poland, Polish Armed Forces

АННОТАЦИЯ
Конфликт в Восточной Украине показал, что время относительного мира в Европе (особенно в Центральной и Восточной) прошло и государства должны пересмотреть систему обороны. Изменения должны касаться не только улучшения Вооруженных Сил, но и принятия новых решений. Согласно мнению многих экспертов, территориальная оборона рассматривается как одно из наиболее эффективных средств за счет относительной дешевизны и высокой морали ее участников, желающих защищать свою Родину. Украинский опыт интеграции батальонов территориальной обороны в системе безопасности может быть полезной практикой, однако территориальная оборона является уникальной для каждого государства и конкретных условий, финансовых возможностей, численности населения и т.д. Данная статья иллюстрирует концепции Польши по имплементации территориальной обороны и влияние текущего конфликта на задачи и роль территориальной обороны.
Ключевые слова: украинский конфликт, территориальная оборона, Польша, Вооруженные Силы Польши.

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