20 years of Poland in NATO
On March 12, 1999, Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary were the first countries from the former Eastern Bloc to join NATO. In 2019, we celebrate the 20th anniversary of Poland's membership in the North Atlantic Alliance.
On this occasion, the Ministry of National Defence has prepared a special spot:
Poland's many years of diplomatic efforts, as well as reforms carried out in the field of defence, have resulted in the admission of Poland to the member countries of the North Atlantic Alliance. On March 12, 1999, in the city of Independence in the United States, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland handed over to the US Secretary of State the ratification instrument of the North Atlantic Treaty.
Twenty years of Poland's membership in NATO meant for the soldiers of the Polish Armed Forces a time of intense service and dynamic development. The Polish Armed Forces were active in creating NATO security structures and participated in many military missions abroad.
The accession to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization has considerably improved Poland's security. On the 20th anniversary we can undoubtedly say that our country has built a strong position in NATO. By allocating at least 2 percent of GDP to military forces and over 20 percent of the defence budget to modernize the armed forces, we are one of the leaders of the Alliance. In accordance with the amended Act on modernization and financing of the Polish Armed Forces in 2017, defence spending will increase to 2.5 percent of GDP in 2030.
During 20 years Poland has come a long way, becoming one of the leaders of the North Atlantic Alliance. During this time, the Armed Forces have changed as well as the way they are perceived by our society. The army was not only professionalized, but also modernized and adapted to NATO standards. Our Armed Forces has the potential and capabilities far above those with whom we started our efforts to join the Alliance. Old post-Soviet equipment was replaced with modern solutions relevant to the capabilities and needs of a large European state. We are consistently strengthening the potential of the Armed Forces. The soldiers are perfectly prepared professionals, aware of their capabilities and the role they play in the service of their homeland.
The position Poland is taking in the Alliance is systematically growing. This was confirmed by the largest ever NATO summit organized in Warsaw in July 2016, at which resolutions on strengthening NATO's eastern flank were taken, important for the security of Poland and the region, including on the establishment of an enhanced forward Presence. Polish officers, diplomats and civilian employees occupy important positions in the NATO Headquarters and in the Alliance's command structures.
The Armed Forces of the Republic of Poland make a measurable contribution to NATO initiatives - such as: the eFP (enhanced Forward Presence) and tFP (tailored Forward Presence). In the eFP initiative, Poland plays a special role. It is one of the host countries, it is also a country delegating its forces to one of the battle groups. It creates on its territory a multinational divisional headquarters in Elbląg, which has the task of coordinating the activities of all eFP groups.
Since joining NATO, NATO has launched in our country the following allied structures:
- MNC NE (Multinational Corps North-East in Szczecin) - 1999;
- JFTC (NATO Joint Force Training Center in Bydgoszcz) - 2004;
- 3NSB (3rd NATO Signal Battalion in Bydgoszcz) - 2010;
- MP COE (the NATO Military Police Center of Excellence in Bydgoszcz) - 2013;
- NFIU (NATO Force Integration Unit in Bydgoszcz) - 2015;
- CI COE (NATO Counterintelligence Expert Center in Krakow) - 2017;
- MND NE (Multinational Division North-East in Elbląg) - 2017.
Investments in key infrastructure, the establishment of the Joint Force Training Center in Bydgoszcz, the creation of the Multinational Corps North-East or the Multinational Division North-East, as well as the assignment of Polish military contingents to key NATO missions and operations are just examples of the growing importance of Poland in the North Atlantic Alliance.
The presence of Polish soldiers (as part of the Partnership for Peace and full membership of NATO) in foreign missions conducted under the Alliance flag testifies to the fact that we are concerned about security in the regional and global dimension.
Poland took an active part in operations in Albania (AFOR in 1995-1996), Kosovo (KFOR from 1999), Bosnia and Herzegovina (IFOR in 1995-1996 and SFOR in 1996-2004), Afghanistan (since 2002 , ISAF and RSM missions) or Iraq.
Aircraft of our Air Force systematically protect the air space of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. The Polish Navy operates actively for the safety of sea routes in the waters of the whole world. In 2005-2006, Poland also provided engineering assistance after the earthquake in Pakistan.
From 2016, the number of Polish soldiers on foreign missions is growing again. As a consequence of the resolutions of the NATO summit in Warsaw, Poland assigned in 2017 two contingents to Romania and Latvia (about 200-250 soldiers in each of the Polish Military Contingents) as part of the enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) and tailored Forward Presence (tFP) on the eastern flank of the Alliance.
In 2017 - 2018, Poland was the leading country (in the strength of 80 to 130 soldiers) in the field of training of Iraqi personnel in repairing and servicing post-Soviet equipment as part of NATO's training and capacity building mission in Iraq (NTCB-I). Earlier, from 2005 to 2009, Poland participated in the NATO training mission in Iraq (NTM-I).
Currently, in addition to service in Latvia and Romania, the Polish Armed Forces take part in NATO missions:
- KFOR in Kosovo (about 300 soldiers and civilians);
- Resolute Support Mission (RSM) in Afghanistan (from about 200 to about 400 soldiers);
- NATO Mission Iraq (NMI, about 100 soldiers, including a mobile training team, security and engineering platoons);
- Baltic Air Policing in the Baltic States (about 140 soldiers in the 8th PMC rotation, including 4 F-16 fighters with pilots and ground and security personnel).
- Standing NATO Maritime Group 1 - ORP Pulaski.
In Poland take place the greatest and most important exercises of the Alliance, such as "Noble Jump 2015", "Brilliant Jump 2016" or earlier "Steadfast Jazz 2013". Organized by Poles in the two-year cycle "Anaconda" military exercise was granted the status of the largest international exercise of allied and partner troops in the region.
The Polish Armed Forces through participation in operations, missions and allied exercises achieved full interoperability.
In addition to celebrating the 20th anniversary of Poland's membership in the North Atlantic Alliance, in 2019 we also celebrate the 70th anniversary of NATO. On April 4, 1949, the North Atlantic Treaty was signed in Washington, which entered into force on August 24 of the same year. It was the obligation of the parties to defend themselves in case of aggression to any of the Alliance's countries.