Poland’s Ministry of Defense has announced that in 2023, extensive exercises involving 200,000 members of the territorial army, reservists, and regular troops are to be held.
The exercises are going to involve individuals who have yet to serve in the military and those who are reservists as they have already served in the military. This means that volunteers over 18 years of age, people who have completed military services in other countries, and those returning to Poland may participate.
The exercises to be held next year involving 200,000 troops of different status will serve as a way of integrating the different types of forces and maintaining military capability. They are taking place as Poland aims to spend 3 percent of its GDP on defense starting in 2023, and eventually 4 percent; it will seek to increase the size of its regular army beyond 200,000 troops.
There are no plans at present to re-introduce military service in Poland. The provisions of legislation on military service were suspended over a decade ago, and there is no compulsory military service for Polish men. However, a program has been instituted by which people can volunteer for military service and have the option to join the regular army at the end of that voluntary military service.
Poland’s Territorial Army was created by the present conservative government during the tenure of the former minister of defense, Antoni Macierewicz. The creation of the force was controversial, with the opposition suspecting the government of trying to create a military force more loyal to it.
However, the force has made a significant contribution at times of national emergency and has been active both during the border crisis with Belarus last year and during the refugee crisis caused by the war in Ukraine.
In Ukraine itself, that country’s territorial army is a key part of Ukraine’s defense against the Russians. A territorial army has also been a key part of the defense of Finland since the Second World War.