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Poland Recruitment and Service Obligations
Sources: The Library of Congress Country Studies; CIA World Factbook
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    In 1949 Polish law stipulated universal, obligatory military service for males. The Military Service Law of 1967 and its amendments set the age of mandatory service at nineteen and the age for volunteering for service at seventeen. Failure to register and failure to report after being drafted were punishable by fine or imprisonment. The basic term of service was two years, except in highly technical positions, where the term was three years. The Council of Ministers could add one year to the term in case of national need. Soldiers entered the reserves after completing active duty. For enlisted personnel, reserve status continues until age fifty. For noncommissioned officers (NCOs) and officers, reserve status continues until age sixty. With permission of the recruitment command, a conscript could perform alternative service in a civilian social service organization, a civil defense unit, or the civilian police force. The term of service, housing, and discipline of such individuals are similar to those for active-duty personnel. The rank and grade structure is similar to that of other armed forces organizations. There are some variations, however, in the number and titles of authorized enlisted, warrant officer and officer grades (see fig. 16; fig. 17; fig. 18).

    In 1960 mandatory military training programs were instituted in civilian colleges; upon completion, a student was eligible to enter reserve status as an NCO or to secure a reserve commission in a short officer training program. In 1980 social resentment of this privilege and the inadequacy of such a training program led to a nominally mandatory one-year term of active duty upon completion of university studies. In practice, however, the training and assignments of graduating college students usually were not arduous, and many evaded the obligation entirely.

    The first postcommunist regime immediately shortened the terms of active duty. Terms in the ground forces dropped from twenty-four months to eighteen months, and terms in the navy and air forces dropped from thirty-six months to twenty-four months. Planners projected an eventual twelve-month term for ground forces inductees. An alternative service option was continued from the policy established by the Jaruzelski regime in 1988.

    In the early 1990s, an average of 250,000 individuals were examined yearly by recruiting commissions; fewer than half entered active duty. Inductions were scheduled for spring and fall of each year, but the fall 1991 and spring 1992 calls were either limited or eliminated entirely. Experts speculated that the change in schedule was caused by a combination of low budgeting and the lack of eligible individuals; at the 1992 induction rate, Poland's active-duty forces would fall below the limitations of the 1990 Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty (see Glossary) that cut the forces of all NATO and Warsaw Pact nations (see table 22, Appendix). In mid-1992, some 220,000 billets were listed as filled, compared with the force level of 300,000 prescribed for that stage of force reduction. Of the 220,000 billets, about 100,000 were career military and more than half were in rear-echelon rather than combat units.

    In the early 1990s, cities provided the majority of recruits, and students normally received deferments. In 1991 the armed forces showed about a 20 percent shortage of officers, warrant officers, and junior officers, although interest in attending military schools had increased after military reform began. In 1992 policy makers discussed offering qualified individuals fiveyear contracts as a means of augmenting skilled military specialties outside CFE limitations.

    In 1990 the government enacted measures to improve military housing, living conditions of dependents, pay, and leave. By 1990 specialized personnel such as jet pilots had begun leaving the service in large numbers, partly because of personnel cutbacks but also because low pay, low prestige, and outdated equipment were not commensurate with the rigorous entrance and training requirements for their specialties. Because the military doctrine of the 1990s would rely heavily on sophisticated equipment and skilled personnel, improving service conditions for such individuals was an important planning goal in the early 1990s.

    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 Recruitment and Service Obligations information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Poland Recruitment and Service Obligations should be addressed to the Library of Congress and the CIA.

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Revised 10-Nov-04
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