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Poland Military Cooperation and Exchanges
Sources: The Library of Congress Country Studies; CIA World Factbook
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    Poland's pattern of military cooperation changed as drastically as its political climate in 1989. Participation in Warsaw Pact joint exercises ended in 1988, and the Polish military establishment ended its close working relationship with its Soviet counterparts. The April 1990 appointment of Solidarity intellectual Janusz Onyszkiewicz as deputy minister of national defense for foreign military relations signaled a new orientation in the defense establishment. Once the disintegration of the Soviet Union altered the geopolitics of all Eastern Europe, however, Poland sought new, equal military partnerships with Russia and other former Soviet republics. A comprehensive cooperation treaty completed in late 1991 replaced the PolishSoviet friendship treaty of 1965, which had legitimized Soviet domination of Polish military policy. The new pact, given urgency on the Soviet side by the failed coup attempt of August 1991, rejects all interference in Polish affairs by the current Soviet state or by any state that might succeed it.

    With the goal of eventual close military relations that would guarantee military protection by the West, Poland took steps to prove itself a worthy military partner in the early 1990s. In the early 1990s, the Polish defense establishment was divided over the need for NATO membership because some officials believed that move would sacrifice Polish national integrity. Nevertheless, long-term military planning aimed at compatibility of Polish weaponry and doctrine with that of the West. In 1991 Minister of National Defense Piotr Kolodziejczyk visited NATO headquarters to promote Polish cooperation with the alliance and to establish information exchanges on doctrine and military exercises. Two months later, Chief of the General Staff General Zdzislaw Stelmaszuk presented Poland's plans for reorganization of its armed forces to the NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe, General John Galvin. Poland gained further concessions during Olszewski's visit to the United States in early 1992, and during NATO Secretary General Manfred Woerner's visit to Poland.

    In the Persian Gulf War, Poland provided a hospital ship, a rescue ship, and a ground field hospital to U.N. forces. Polish troops were among U.N. peacekeeping forces in Croatia and Bosnia and Hercegovina in 1991-92. In 1992 the Polish navy was scheduled to participate with the Russian navy in a joint NATO exercise in the Baltic Sea. Beginning in 1990, Polish officers and civilian officials of the Ministry of National Defense attended Western military academies. The aim was to gain familiarity with Western military practice and to identify the defensive systems most appropriate for Poland's new international position.

    Before the collapse of the Warsaw Pact in 1991, security specialists from the Visegrád Triangle member nations (the CSFR, Hungary, and Poland) discussed military cooperation to supplement the economic and political programs already underway (see Southern Neighbors and the Visegrád Triangle, ch. 4). National security cooperation within the grouping had already included decades of Warsaw Pact joint military exercises, use of standardized Soviet weapons, organization, and tactics, negotiation as a bloc for favorable arms purchase prices and joint licensing agreements for their arms industries, and collaboration in 1988-89 in demanding a restructured Warsaw Pact. Beginning in 1991, the Visegrád Triangle nations arranged group purchases of equipment from Western suppliers to reduce per-unit cost. The defense industries of Poland and the CSFR also began coproduction of specific armaments in 1991.

    The common objective that emerged in the Visegrád talks was regional stability based on links with existing European security systems and complete abolition of neutral buffer zones and opposing security sectors. The Visegrád Triangle nations extended their economic rationale to strategic doctrine, seeking integration into West European groupings by presenting a united security position to organizations such as NATO and the CSCE. According to that position, security depended on the broadest possible European integration, eliminating formal bilateral and multilateral military alliances that excluded parts of the continent (see Foreign Relations , ch. 4).

    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 Military Cooperation and Exchanges information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Poland Military Cooperation and Exchanges should be addressed to the Library of Congress and the CIA.

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Revised 10-Nov-04
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