Poland Ground Forces
Sources: The Library of Congress Country Studies; CIA World Factbook
The ground forces underwent the most dramatic change in the Polish Army in the postcommunist era. They are administered in four military districts (the fourth of which, the Kraków Military District, was being established in 1992). The districts defend the northeast, southeast, northwest, and southwest quadrants of the country, respectively. Once forces were redeployed to balance defenses of the eastern and western borders, Poland would have a truly omnidirectional ground defense in which two districts would engage the aggressor and the other two would serve as reserves, depending on the direction of the attack. In 1992 the Pomeranian Military District (formerly the Bydgoszcz Military District) in the northwest included three mechanized divisions (formerly designated as motorized rifle divisions), one coastal defense unit, one artillery unit, one Scud missile installation, one engineer brigade, and one SA-6 missile installation. Between 1989 and 1992, a fourth mechanized division in the district had been converted into a supply base, and a tank division had been disbanded.
In the Silesian Military District (formerly the Wroclaw Military District), two tank divisions were converted to mechanized divisions between 1990 and 1992, and one mechanized division was converted to a supply base in 1990. In 1992 those changes left the district with four mechanized divisions, two artillery units, one Scud missile installation, two engineer brigades, two SA-4 missile brigades, two antitank brigades, and one SA-6 missile regiment. Between 1990 and 1992, the Warsaw Military District, which covered all of eastern Poland pending organization of the Kraków Military District, went from one mechanized division to two mechanized divisions, plus one engineer brigade, three ceremonial guard units, one artillery battery, and one SA-6 missile regiment. Once completed, the Kraków district was to have two mechanized divisions, one air assault unit, and one mountain infantry brigade. One mobile mechanized division was held in reserve in 1992.
In addition, Poland contributes small components to U.N. peacekeeping forces in several countries. In 1992 Polish forces abroad included 176 soldiers in Cambodia, one battalion (899 troops) in Croatia, seven soldiers in Kuwait, eighty-four soldiers in Lebanon, 159 logistical support personnel in Syria, and two observers in Western Sahara. Poland also contributed staff to the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission for Korea (NNSC Korea).
Restructuring of the ground forces centers on eventual creation of a single type of multipurpose division emphasizing mobility and featuring limited offensive capability. Four active tank-heavy divisions, suitable for the Warsaw Pact era but not for Poland's new defensive doctrine, would be retired or redistributed (see Military Doctrine , this ch.). Equipment from two divisions would go into storage while equipment from the other two divisions would go for replacement in divisions remaining active. Two additional divisions were scheduled for reductions in personnel.
By 1992 the ground forces were reduced by nearly 40,000, to 194,200 troops, including 109,800 conscripts. Logistical units numbered 28,100; training personnel, 25,900; and centrally controlled staff, 2,900. The chief small arm of the Polish ground forces, the Kalashnikov rifle, is rated at the top of its class. The Radom Lucznik Works, a sewing-machine plant, is the domestic manufacturer. In 1992 main battle tanks totaled 2,850, of which 2,065 were T-55 and 785 were T-72. The Soviet-designed T-55 tanks, introduced in the 1950s, were considered extremely limited against much more sophisticated Western tanks. Although the Soviet-licensed and Polish-produced T-72 is comparable to top Western tanks in maneuverability and traction, its effective range is less than that of the best German and United States tanks, and night vision is inferior. Poland's last fifty-eight light amphibious PT-76 tanks were eliminated as obsolete in 1992.
Some 685 amphibious reconnaissance vehicles were in use in 1992. Two types, the Hungarian-designed FUG and the Sovietdesigned BRDM-2, were included in that inventory; Poland began using the FUG in 1966 and the BRDM-2 around 1981. In 1991 Poland had 1,409 fully amphibious BMP-1 armored personnel carriers and 62 BMP-2 carriers. The BMPs were considered the only world-class armored vehicles in the Polish Army (although the BMP-1 had been in service since the early 1960s). Some 928 SKOT wheeled armored personnel carriers, a joint Polish and Czechoslovak design of 1959, remained in use in 1992. Many of these vehicles had been refitted as specialized command and communications vehicles, although the class was considered obsolete.
In 1992 the Polish ground forces had a total of 2,316 artillery pieces. Of that number, 883 were towed, including 715 M-1938 howitzers (122mm), 166 D-20 gun-howitzers (152mm), and 2 D-1 howitzers (152 mm). Another 617 artillery pieces were selfpropelled , including 498 of the 2S1 model (122mm), 111 of the Dana (M-77, 152 mm), and eight of the 2S7 (203-mm) variety. The Soviet-built M-1938 howitzer had been upgraded and replaced several times in the Soviet arsenal since its introduction in 1938. The D-20 was designed shortly after World War II, and the D-1 was first used in 1943. The Dana (M-77) was the most modern self-propelled gun in use in 1992.
The artillery arsenal in 1992 also included 262 multiple rocket launchers, of which 232 were BM-21 and thirty RM-70 (both models 122mm). The BM-21 had been in Warsaw Pact arsenals since at least 1964; the RM-70 was added in the late 1980s to replace the older BM-14. Some 554 Soviet-designed 120mm mortars were also in service in 1992. In the surface-to-surface missile category, Poland had forty FROG and twenty-five Scud B launchers. Four types of antitank guided weapons were in use in 1992. There were 271 AT-3s, 115 AT-4 Spigots, eighteen AT-5 Spandrels, and seven AT-6 Spirals. In the 85mm antitank gun class, Poland had 722 D-44 guns, which were of World War II vintage. .
In 1992 Poland had 945 antiaircraft guns in the 23mm and 57mm classes. The former were ZU-23-2 and ZSU-23-4 SP, the latter S60 , which were introduced in 1950. Some 260 surface-to-air missile launchers were of the SA-6, SA-7, SA-8, SA-9, and SA-13 types.
Data as of October 1992
NOTE: The information regarding Poland on this page is re-published from The Library of Congress Country Studies and the CIA World Factbook. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Poland Ground Forces information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Poland Ground Forces should be addressed to the Library of Congress and the CIA.