Piotr Balcerowski

Piotr Balcerowski, Phd, MBA - specialist in human resources and communication management, editor of Europereactivation.eu

“The conditions of modern war require that all men capable of carrying weapons should take part in it, and because preparation for this service requires a long educational period, military ethics are not only valid for a soldier of permanent service but for all men in general. In other words, the profession of a soldier should be the second occupation of every man.” - Józef I.M. Bocheński OP

I.Genesis and creation of WOT ((Wojska Obrony Terytorialnej – Territorial Defence Forces) in Poland in 2016.

Poland has a rich tradition of institutionalized Territorial Defense. Leaving aside the traditions of the common uprising forces of the First Republic, when every citizen was obliged to defend its territory, the best contemporaneity examples are National Defense created in 1937 and ZWZ / AK (Home Army) created despite the occupation conditions in the very short period of 1940-42. In the communist Poland (1945-1990), due to the large, nearly 0.5 million army, the WOT did not function although there were units of similar profile in the main army. The Third Polish Republic was not kind to the idea of rebuilding WOT, although for example in 2000, Minister of Defence approved the document created by the team under the direction of prof. Romuald Szeremietiew. The formation of the WOT in the early 2000s, however, eventually did not happen. The events in Ukraine in 2013/2014 related to the indirect invasion of Russian troops into this country, have made the need to reformulate the Polish military doctrine, which was associated with the need to increase the number of soldiers and increase public involvement in the defense of the state. It was not a big problem because such an initiative could meet with a large social response in self-organized (since the end of the 90s) numerous pro-defense organizations of Polish youth. As a response to these events and trends, in 2014, the Ministry of National Defense undertook certain actions, including appointing a proxy for social pro-defense initiatives. Unfortunately, the formation of the WOT in the years 2014-2015 did not take place, and the Ministry of Defense's initiatives were rather simulated, which was completely incomprehensible. The real WOT was finally established in 2016 as a result of the political change in Poland at the end of 2015


II. What are WOT's main tasks?

In short, the WOT is a light infantry. WOT soldiers are volunteers, trained on the weekend system. Commanding personnel are professional soldiers. WOT in most countries usually have a structure corresponding to the administrative division of the country. Similarly in Poland (brigade at the level of each province, the exception of Mazowieckie Province - 2 brigades), gathering in total 86 battalions and 364 companies at the level of the county(powiat). As we can read on the Territorials website basic WOT tasks are:(i) conducting defense operations in cooperation with operational and support forces as well as elements of the non-military system (UPM); (ii)conducting independent unconventional, anti-diversive and anti-attack activities; (iii) participation in securing the acceptance and development of allied reinforcement forces in the ordered areas; (iv) implementation of projects in the field of crisis management; (v) conducting information activities. "

III. Current status and development prospects in the coming years.

After nearly 2 years since the creation of WOT, we can confirm a great success. First of all, 13 brigades (in 12 eastern and central provinces) were formed in which three years of training of soldiers began. Their number is approaching 20,000, of which about 10% are professional soldiers and the rest are new soldiers with the Territorial Military Service status. In 2019, formation and training in the next, last four brigades on the so-called western wall are scheduled. Not only the training process and the development of the training infrastructure (including the WOT training center in Kalisz) are progressing, but also the systematic arming of soldiers in the most modern Polish equipment for light infantry (exemplum modern "Grot" rifle). One needs to be pleased with the completion of conceptual work on the purchase of a light, single-purpose anti-tank grenade launcher, which should be delivered as soon as possible to the equipment of each WOT team. It seems that the process of timely formation of WOT to its final state,(ie. 53 thousand. soldiers in full combat readiness in 2022) is not threatened.

IV. Disapproval campaign against WOT in 2016-2018.

In fact, since the beginning of Polish efforts to join NATO, Russian disinformation agencies / communists have begun systematic work aimed at weakening the defense capabilities of the Republic of Poland. On the one hand, this was of course diplomatic action (which effectively resulted in, among other things, a reconciliation of non-deploying NATO troops in the territories of former Warsaw Pact countries), on the other, a number of operations were undertaken to influence public opinions of Western states, including the Polish state, using the old method " carrot and stick ". “The carrot” was an inspiration of public opinion that there will be no conflict with Russia any more, because Russia does not want it. That it is already a peaceful country that only wants its pride, size and spheres of influence to be respected. The sweet story went further telling for example that completely groundless “ thread of Russia” is nothing but eccesivelly reinforcing defence industry, which is a detriment to the national economy and citizens because "resources directed to the armaments are wasted resources". The variant of this pacifist narrative was the exclusion of war as a tool for practicing politics. The agents of influence argued that there would be no more war in Europe, because European countries are aware (after historical experience) of what this entails. In addition, there is an atomic bomb that prevents conflicts and conventional reinforcements are meaningless, etc. On the other side, “the stick” was the message "it's better not to irritate the bear". It was argued that although Russia is now ruled by people who love peace, there is still an influential group of "actuators" that can take power in a situation in which the West (NATO) etc. will continue to arm itself and expand its sphere of influence. Of course, breaking the great sadness after the collapse of the USSR, successive reform of the armed forces, very offensive actions of the Russian intelligence and an increasingly aggressive policy towards "close abroad" (the most striking example of which was the Georgian war in 2008), were increasingly difficult to hide from the world and hampered cohesion and effectiveness of this narrative. The real game changer was events in Ukraine in 2014, the occupation of Crimea and the war in Donbass. For most analysts, the well-known saying by Enoch Powell about "History that is littered with wars which everyone knew would never happen" and the current peaceful Russian declarations were de facto image-oriented masking or de facto offensive cognitive discredit to disturb the proper assessment of Russian reality among Western decision makers and societies. Competence discreditation of WOT as an element of the continuation of the strategy for weakening the reconstruction of the Polish Army. In the face of evident difficulties in building a narrative that helps to perceive Russia as a peace-loving state, it was deemed worthwhile to talk about strengthening defense, but at the same time convince that WOT creation is completely ineffective from the point of view of national defense, because "weekend soldiers" will not be able to duly perform their duties. It was very symptomatic to inspire journalists to ask decision makers and formation leaders questions like "Will Terytorials be able to shoot?" This narrative completely ignored the understanding of the tasks of a WOT formation soldier. For his tasks, after all, it is not necessary to carry out complicated offensive actions with the use of advanced equipment (including hi-tech electronic), which is the domain of operational troops and what is actually connected with the necessity of conducting permanent coordination and improving exercises. The tasks of every light infantry are security, in this case 2 or 3 lines of a possible front, which do not need such intensive training. Really shooting, mining, firing RPG etc. etc. are not so demanding skills that should be trained every day. This narrative completely ignored the fact that with the collapse of the relatively large Polish army, the pro-defense and grass movements were developing strongly, which created quite a strong base of people interested in the army, martial arts, etc. etc. Whatever you say about the shortcomings of training in such organizations (resulting from, among others, lack of funding, specialists), integrating enthusiasts is always half of the success. These groups contributed to the creation of the WOT in the first phase by grouping a large number of members who learned the elementary of light infantry before. The successes of WOT soldiers coming from this milieu (at least in various shooting competitions) are an emphatic confirmation of their potential.

In addition, this narrative completely ignored two very important elements for the soldier's craft, part of which is the training of a new soldier. First of all, high morale, which is usually characteristic to all volunteers, secondly their natural psycho-physical predispositions to become "warriors" (which potentially make them "natural born warriors" - in the literature on the subject called the analysis of fighting behavior, including Dr. Wigram research, there are hawks "(fighters) as opposed to "pigeons" (falling) and "chickens" (fleeing)). In order to discredit the morale of the new WOT soldiers in the eyes of the public, the focus was laid on their (alleged) financial motivations (the service is payable in the amount of PLN 500/month which is 10% of average wage in Poland). An element of this discrediting argument was the issuing completely false information about the education and lack of employment of new recruits. Another aspect of building a critical narrative towards WOT was to completely ignore the hybrid aspect of modern wars and its disinformation dimension in society. In this sense, the fact that soldiers are placed in society on a daily basis is a great asset. And this is not only about the possibility of direct use of WOT soldiers to stop, for example, provocateurs on city streets, etc, but their "preventive potential" manifesting themselves by the presence, vigilance and activity in social media. In the training aspect, which is of course very important, it was also noticed that the process of full training of WOT soldiers will last 3 years, while the commanding staff will be professional soldiers, often of the highest class, coming from elite special units. The latter asset was also tried to be turned into weakness, accusing the drainage of special and operational troops. These types of accusations were another stage of competence discrediting, aimed at inciting divisions and disintegration in the military milieu itself, opposing soldiers of operational troops and soldiers of the newly formed formation. Thus, for example, the fact that the WOT soldier's maintenance is six times cheaper than a soldier of operational troops does not affect and will not affect the systematically increased operational army budget (which btw was never 100% used and part of the money had to return to the budget every year etc.)

This narrative also ignores the obvious fact that the construction of the WOT will contribute to the development of the Polish defense industry, as it specialize in production of the equipment for light infantry (such as rifles, night-vision goggles, RPGs, radio stations, bulletproof vests etc.). Even the creation of the modern MBDS "Grot" rifle and a large order for the Radom factory "Łucznik" were used to divide soldiers by demonstrating that priority should be given to operational troops in receiving a new batch of rifles...

To be continued. In part 2 anatomy of ideological, judical and individual/personal discreditation will be described.