|President Komorowski said Poland is currently "defenseless" if it were attacked by air|
Courtesy of Flickr/president.pl
Poland, one of a handful of European countries that have increased defense spending over the last decade, including throughout the European financial crisis, is planning to build a several-billion-złoty missile- and air-defense system.
The country “needs an anti-missile shield,” said President Bronisław Komorowski in a speech on August 15. Without a modern air-defense system, Poland is “defenseless” in the face of what happens on modern battlefields, where the first hours of combat see plane and rocket attacks, said the president. If Poland cannot defend itself against those, then huge resources spent on modernizing the Polish armed forces would turn out to be “pointless” in the case of an attack, he said.
Initial estimates put the cost of the Polish missile shield at between zł.8 billion and zł.15 billion over the next 10 years. The project is set to be part of a broader and ongoing modernization of Poland’s army and defense system.
A new direction
It is not a coincidence that Mr Komorowski made these declarations at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Warsaw on Army Day. Both are powerful reminders that the independence Poland has enjoyed over the last 23 years follows seldom-interrupted centuries of occupation and domination by its powerful neighbors.
After joining NATO in 1999, Poland has been heavily involved in international missions, including in Iraq and in Afghanistan. President Komorowski said Poland had spent around zł.5 billion “over the past few years” on the NATO-ISAF mission in Afghanistan alone. This compares to a total planned military budget of zł.29.5 billion for 2012. Poland’s defense budget has almost doubled from zł.15 billion in 2001, when parliamentarians voted to allocate 1.95 percent of GDP to defense each year.
It now seems Poland is shifting its focus to territorial defense over expeditionary missions, with Mr Komorowski saying that money saved after Poland withdraws its 2,457 troops from Afghanistan in 2014 will be directed to the shield.
“The building of our own national defense capability is our chief duty,” said Mr Komorowski.
The planned Polish missile shield will be part of the NATO Missile Defense System, and will count as part of Poland’s contribution to the organization. “The idea is to not build a system that would ensure the safety of some NATO countries exclusively, but to build a system that would defend the whole territory of NATO member countries, including Poland,” said the president.
Mr Komorowski did not mention links between the missile shield he proposed and the US-initiated missile defense system.
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