It is very puzzling, the calmness with which public opinion received the statements of the most important politician in the country on the real possibility of a war with Russia (and Belarus) and the need to start major preparations for it.
Something like this should be expected in a great debate about the army and its modernisation, about the state’s strategy for the next decades, about the great civilisational change, which was actually announced by Jarosław Kaczyński and Mariusz Błaszczak, who accompanied him at the conference. In fact, one would even expect a shock in a society blissfully lulled by thirty years of geopolitical sleep.
Meanwhile, nothing like that happened. There is no shock, no great debate, no concept of the use of armed forces presented to us, no great “story” on the part of the government to drag society with it into this costly and difficult reform, and there are no meaningful voices from the opposition. As for the importance of the topic and the scale of the planned expenses, and above all because of consequences that may affect us all, it is shocking that this topic has not dominated all transmissions for a very long time.
What happened to our community, what about the level of our strategic culture, that we do not want to or know how to talk about it and in this process form this culture?
Meanwhile, Jarosław Kaczyński spoke openly about the change in the geopolitical environment, about Russian policy, about the deteriorating international situation, about our reaction to this change in the form of the expansion of the armed forces. Last week was a very important moment in the history of Poland and it was a historic press conference.
At Strategy&Future, we have been talking about these challenges for a long time. Over a year ago, anticipating the development of events, we launched the project of the twentieth war, which turned into the project of the New Model Forces. For years, we have believed that Poland should stand in this new strategic situation, as befits a subjective state. You can imagine how we feel today.
But most of all, we have a mobilising conviction that it is very late and that we are not ready as a country. Poland has potential, we have all the premises, unlike in the past, to cope with it, but for various reasons we have not started to prepare properly so far. As with many security issues in the last 30 years.
Now the status and security of Poland will be decisive. Jarosław Kaczyński made it clear when he spoke about a possible war. The manner in which we all proceed in this matter will be assessed in the long memory of the Republic of Poland. There were many things that the Polish Republic did not provide for its sons and daughters. However, one thing is always guaranteed: a long memory.
The line between respect and glory and disgrace can be very thin.
Ultimately, the phenomenon of senility enhances geopolitical change by giving advantage to one side and taking it away from others.
Suppose, for example, that a rocket carried by an individual soldier is invented, which is very cheap and very effective at destroying enemy tanks. Let’s also assume that the development of these weapons does not require an advanced industrial base meaning that they can be mass-produced by less developed countries. As was the case with computers: invented in the United States, but now mass-produced – for example – in Malaysia.
What would be the geopolitical consequences of developing such weapons? Smaller nations with a disciplined elite and a productive-innovation force could produce the modern means of waging a very modern war. In this way, countries such as Israel, Poland, Turkey, and Singapore can become quite powerful.
The numerical development of the army in recent centuries has posed great challenges to the echelons of command in their entirety. How to command and control troops when they are out of sight? This management problem was made even deeper with the introduction of indirect fire weapons, such as a howitzer, which fires at high speed (the so-called “lob”), from beyond the vision of the artillery battery commander. This caused an intelligence crisis that affects all armed forces to this day.
Despite the appearances that everything is visible everywhere today and everything is clear, the Clausewitzian fog of war has increased exponentially on the modern battlefield in the face of enemy countermeasures, and the pace of actions and decisions has also increased. The introduction of airplanes made commanding an almost real-time decision-making process, and the battlefield became as large as planet Earth. What is needed to manage it is, simply, outer space. How can a commander be sure what he sees is real? How can he be sure that it remains true the moment he learns it by reconnaissance, especially when he commands forces that he cannot see and hear?
These questions are actually philosophical in nature, but the solutions must be based on technologies that generate on the battlefield a stable, resilient network. This is the heart of the battlefield on planet Earth. Many things are required to achieve this, but the key is space-based systems that are not burdened by the constraints of the Earth’s curvature. If we can see the target, it means we can strike safely without putting soldiers’ lives at risk. We are entering a time when weapons fired from one continent will aim themselves at a target on another continent in a few minutes and at a minimal cost. Hyper-intelligent, hypersonic, low-cost, and intercontinental weapons are just around the corner. Where guns were rather inaccurate, the new shells will be super accurate.
Interestingly, the new weapons will limit war in terms of both the scale and the destruction of non-war civilian targets. The era of total war is over. Literally in the space of a few years – from 1967 to 1973 – first at sea, then on land and in the air, new types of weapons proved their worth in battle. Still in a very primitive form, new intelligent weapons faced the old platforms and proved their worth. In three places and at different times – near Port Said in 1967, North Vietnam in 1972 and Sinai in 1973 – a new culture of war had emerged. A new age was born.
On 21st October 1967, at around 5:20 p.m., two Styx missiles were fired by Egyptian Soviet-produced Komar-class patrol ships. The target was the Israeli destroyer Eilat on a course not far from Port Said. In fact, the missiles were fired from inside the Port Said anchorage, some 15 nautical miles from the Israeli destroyer. They were fired in its direction and initially climbed to a height of 150 metres. About 7 nautical miles ahead of the target, the missiles activated their radars and located the destroyer. Shortly thereafter, the ship burst into flames almost immediately on impact, and three hours later sank after being hit by another rocket. For the first time in history, a ship had been destroyed solely by a ship-to-ship missile system.
On 27th April 27 1972, 12 F-4 Phantom fighters from the (US) 8th Tactical Fighter Wing based in Thailand were ordered to bomb the Thanh Hóa Bridge south of Hanoi. This bridge connected the seaports and railways of North Vietnam with South Vietnam. Had it been destroyed, North Vietnam would not have been able to replenish logistical supplies in its war with the south. Since 1967, hundreds of American planes had tried to destroy this bridge and it was still standing. On 27th April, only 12 planes were enough to destroy it. Eight of them carried 2,000-pound bombs, and the other four carried containers of jamming material in order to deceive North Vietnamese radars. Their goal was to protect the remaining aircraft from enemy surface-to-air missiles and anti-aircraft guns on the bridge. The explosives in the bombs were no different from those used before. Except that after being dropped, they were not subject only to the force of gravity. They were smart bombs that could improve their course as they descended towards the ground. Using a laser and an electro-optical guidance system, the Phantom Aircraft Weapons Officer aimed the bombs at the targets. Twelve aircraft were spectacularly successful, while previously hundreds could not impact the target. The Thanh Hóa Bridge was destroyed. Although too late to influence the outcome of the war, this remained a clear signal of the changing nature of warfare.
The revolution in land war began on the afternoon of 8th October 1973, in the northwest of Sinai, a place where, from antiquity, armies had been marching from East to West and West to East for thousands of years. When Egyptian forces crossed the canal, the next day they were already occupying most of Israel’s Bar-Lewa line in the Sinai. The Egyptian attack was a brilliant success, but the general feeling in the world was that the Egyptians had no chance of staying on a bridgehead beyond the canal. After all, they were up against one of the most capable armies in the world – the Israeli Tzahal. The result of the coming battle was described by Chaim Herzog as follows: “Towards noon, the Israeli forces approached the canal and were attacked by Egyptian troops: tanks and infantry clearly visible behind the fortifications.” The left-flank brigade battalion was attacking along the Firdan road and had almost reached the Israeli fortifications along the Suez Canal. At this point, hundreds of Egyptian soldiers emerged from behind the dunes around the fortifications and began firing anti-tank missiles at a fairly close range. The battalion commander was immediately wounded, and the battalion itself retreated, leaving 12 burning tanks behind. After 15 minutes, another part of the Israeli brigade was under fire from anti-tank missiles. The subdivision on the frontline reported that two of its tanks had been destroyed and that the deputy battalion commander was dead. In addition, concentrated rocket artillery fire constantly blocked the progress of enemy Tzahal tanks. Tank crews could no longer see more than a metre away due to the smoke and dust covering the entire area. When the tanks were almost 800 metres from the water table on the canal, volleys of anti-tank missiles fell on them. Israeli tanks exploded one by one. Out of the entire unit, only four of them were able to withdraw from the hell they had entered. In short, the 190th Armoured Brigade attacked the infantry positions and was destroyed. A new era was born.
These three events mark the end of the era of blast projectiles. Guns were, of course, much better than arm-force projectiles such as the javelin or the bow, but they were inaccurate. The solution to this problem was the mass armies of the 19th and 20th centuries.
In Port Said and Sinai, a gun mounted on a combat platform met a new weapon that was highly accurate, initiating a new military culture and a new way of waging war. Before that, for two centuries, war had been an endeavour that required the involvement of the entire society and its economy, drawing on the wealth of entire continents. Countries smaller than the US or the Soviet Union were simply not big enough — they had too few people, minerals and factories to put up the troops necessary for modern warfare.
In fact, in the industrial war, the battlefield grew so large and expansive, devouring resources, that the fuel and food for the military itself became a logistical spectre, and the military’s logistic group became larger than its combat portion. All this way of fighting has already been included in the senility process. It still worked or, as some believe, it still works, but at a huge economic and organisational cost. Even the Russians have figured out that the old model is untenable and have consequently carried out reforms since 2008 under Serdyukov and Shoygu, so that now they have a completely different army than in the 20th century.
Suddenly, rockets that are carried by a small ship or a few planes, or even by infantry, are capable of destroying powerful behemoths on the battlefield — giant ships, huge tanks, powerful bridges — with relatively simple and inexpensive weapons. The era of total war is over. The era of a new type of war, a new generation of war, often resembling the so-called cabinet wars before the time of the mass army introduced by the French revolution. Additionally, there is now competition in cyberspace, information warfare, competition in the electromagnetic spectrum, i.e. navigation war, and various activities resulting from the impact on the daily strategic flows. This contributes to the minor impact of the new generation war on the mass consciousness of society, while at the same time having a huge impact on the way a modern state and economy function. This new kind of war, reminiscent of the old cabinet wars, requires a much greater understanding of its mechanisms by politicians and, given the pace of events resulting from the IT revolution, requires their direct participation, understanding, and even actions that are not so much reactive as anticipatory. The civilian sphere is mixed with the military, and the activities concern the entire broadly understood state immune system, where military kinetic activities are only a component.
Firearms dehumanised war due to their range, scale and inaccuracy, resulting in the killing of many bystanders. They were fired without seeing what and whom they were hitting. There were many victims and they were often not seen. With the advent of precision weapons, the victims are also invisible (except for information warfare), but there will be fewer of them. This important event in human history, especially after the tragedy of total wars — from the Napoleonic era to both world wars and later revolutions — is nothing new in military matters. For example, the invention of a composite bow consisting of wood and tendons around 2000 BC allowed soldiers to fire projectiles further and more accurately. Armed archers, chariots, or horseback archers became a formidable force on the battlefield and became the basis of the power of the Persian Empire. Another revolution was needed for heavily armed Greek hoplites organised in a phalanx formation to stop the Persians at Marathon.
The weak horse-chariot and archer system over time began to generate challenges and costs, and there were terrain restrictions for horse fighting and the use of the chariot. Other weaknesses emerged as more advanced methods of warfare were introduced. Likewise, the limitation of human vision and ballistic missile range imposed the logic of sight on tanks. Once broken, the tank loses its utility unless it finds a new role as simply an effector in the distributed battlefield system in the detection and fire network.
Expanding the depth of the battlefield thanks to sensors and effectors renders the tank gun in the line of sight an obsolete weapon. The sensor revolution that took place in the 1980s as part of the Reagan Star Wars made the tank too visible, and therefore too vulnerable, and therefore too expensive to survive on the battlefield. Now it is quite difficult to permanently hide a tank (especially a larger armoured unit in motion) and its thermal emission, which can be seen from space. Of course, you can use camouflage, including meshes that reduce thermal emission.
A vehicle so large and warm, set in motion that would make it effective on the battlefield, in the event of a confrontation with a modern enemy with satellites and sensors in the air, will be noticed by one of these sensors anyway. If not even by a satellite in a low orbit time window, then by a communication or electronic monitoring platform in space (COMMINT or ELINT). The options for tracking the enemy on Earth are various: imaging visible light transmitted by electro-optical systems; light amplification systems that increase the visible light a thousandfold, making it visible almost in the dark; laser – a narrow beam of visible light that is used to mark the point at which missiles are heading, and which obtains approach angle and distance data and other information on the target’s condition; infrared observations by locating the heat source; SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar) reconnaissance – used by some satellites and reconnaissance planes to locate tanks that are hidden or entrenched, millimetre wave radar (L-band) that can recreate images of objects invisible to the human eye – especially indicated for circulating ammunition or precision missiles that aim at targets that are invisible at the time of launch. Finally, acoustic sensors targeting the sound of the tank’s engine. Incredible layers of data collected by numerous sensors and in various ways are available to the side that is modern and wants to destroy the enemy tank. The only question is how to use all this data to destroy the tank.
Let’s consider such a scenario. A low-orbit satellite using radar reconnaissance moves in orbit over the assigned area and, as a result, identifies the area of concentration of tanks. This information is transmitted via a relay satellite to a theatre commander who orders aerial drones to travel over the battlefield 20,000 metres above the ground. They are equipped with a whole set of sensors of various types: optical, infrared, radar recognition. The drones scan the Earth’s surface and transmit data to a communications satellite traveling high above the Kármán Line, which then passes the data through a number of relay satellites to a command station on Earth located several hundred kilometres from the battlefield. Analysts and computers identify a battalion combat group moving towards combat contact with infantry and special forces operators. The commander in the theatre of operations, having several options for selecting the effectors, selects a cruise missile fired from a submarine, which after launch confirms its position in flight thanks to the GPS signal from a satellite in a medium Earth orbit. The missile receives a dataset including the target’s coordinates and accelerates towards the target’s location. As it approaches the attack area, the cruise missile releases circling sub-ammunition and changes course to an airport several hundred kilometres away. Sub-ammunition shells scan the area, locate tanks, maneuver in the striking direction of the tanks, and each shell has a more than a 50% chance of destroying a tank.
All this time, the tank is not able to threaten the missiles that are flying towards it to destroy it. And at the very end, it may only try to dodge or possibly have a very expensive Active Defence system, but it may be defeated by the direction, scale and number of attacking projectiles. A tank can only defend itself, but it cannot destroy the entire offensive system that is about to destroy this tank. The offensive system in question is an end-to-end network system several thousand kilometres wide, deep and high, connected by data flows between space and Earth, air and space, between satellites and drones, between sensors and command centres.
When the Americans announced the creation of the US Space Force in December 2019, President Trump spoke a lot about space domination. Americans want to dominate the orbits above the Kármán Line and become the “guardians” of the new World Ocean, and therefore its military hegemon, the arbiter of the rules of using strategic flows of data, people, goods, raw materials, technology, investments and knowledge. This will happen in parallel with the transformation of the battlefield on Earth described above. From mass to precision, from the necessity to concentrate forces to information dominance and dispersion. The breakthrough comes thanks to the presence in outer space and the control of this convenient position towering over the Earth’s battlefield.
Warsaw, 11th November 2021, Independence Day, 12:00 p.m., the long-announced speech of Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki in the presence of Jarosław Kaczyński, Deputy Prime Minister for National Security and Defence Affairs, Mariusz Błaszczak, the Minister of National Defence and the Chief of General Staff, General Rajmund Andrzejczak.
A typical November day in the capital city, the morning drizzle starts to clear from noon, during the speech the shy rays of the November sun appear.
Despite the bad weather and the cold season, the square is crowded; from the Saski and Królewska gardens to the Europejski Hotel and the former Victoria Hotel, the crowd even undulates. For weeks, the Warsaw streets have been full of rumours that the government is working on the New Model Forces. People hope that the “new” proceeds.
Today, taking advantage of the great and dignified anniversary of the breakout of our independence 103 years ago, we want to announce the creation of the New Model Forces. We want to announce it on behalf of the government, including Prime Minister Jarosław Kaczyński, Minister of National Defence Mariusz Błaszczak, who are present here, and the military commanders. Also on behalf of the President of the Republic of Poland, who fully supports what will be discussed today.
On Monday, a bill on the establishment and functioning of the New Model Forces will be submitted to parliament. We would like the act to enter into force on 1st January 2022 and change the entire system of regulations regarding the defence of the Polish state.
Thus, from 2022, a new stage in the history of the Polish Armed Forces will begin. But also a new stage in the entire state’s immune system. And even more, I am not afraid of this statement – a new stage for our society.
Everything seems to indicate that very turbulent times are ahead. Our answer is precisely this act and the fundamental change symbolised by it, one could say, civilisational change. This profound reform will change our approach to the state’s defence system and resilience.
There has come a time when there is nothing certain about the international arena, that for the last 30 years has given us great development opportunities. The world awaits changes. Turbulence is possible. We see and hear what is happening between the great powers – the United States and China, what is happening in the Pacific, what is happening with international trade, with broadly understood international cooperation, what is happening in the East. We can of course also see what is happening on our eastern border.
Taking advantage of structural changes in the world order, Russia is pursuing an aggressive policy of expansion and seeking to expand its political influence in a way that security professionals call a next-generation war. This is different from war as we know it from the 20th century. However, it is still a war, that is, in relations between states, forcing some states to accept unfavourable decisions made by others by force, and not by negotiation or persuasion. In this way, Russia wants to influence the political situation in Europe, especially in our part of the continent, which separates it from the countries of Western Europe. Therefore, our development is at risk, we also have a limited ability to choose with whom and on what terms we want to cooperate as Poland. And above all, on what principles we want to develop further.
Let me emphasise that this is not about a great war like the wars we know from the 20th century, nor about the occupation of our entire country, as we have experienced for most of the last 200 years. It is about negatively influencing our development. This is an extremely important matter that determines the sense of dignity of Polish society, determines our prosperity or lack thereof, and the freedom to choose and to follow (or inability to go) the path that leads towards modernity.
After 1991 and the December collapse of the Soviet Union, we believed that we would never face a similar challenge from the East. It turned out that the story was not over.
The sooner our society understands this, the better we will be prepared for possible turmoil. Therefore, we appeal to you for broad support for the New Model Forces and for the fundamental changes it will bring about.
We want to make it clear that the task of the New Model Forces is to successfully prove itself in both currently most likely scenarios of the developing international situation: both in the scenario of the strengthening of NATO by an increase in the will of the United States to have a political and military presence in Europe, despite their ongoing rivalry with China in the Pacific, and a scenario without significant American participation, when the European Union is faced with the necessity to conduct a new security policy based on hard power, that is, some kind of future European army. Perhaps this is also why the concept of the New Model Forces does not raise any major objections from the parliamentary opposition. We have been assured of their support, as will be demonstrated by votes in parliament in the coming week.
We may experience geopolitical uncertainty in the coming years. The nature of war is also changing, the state of war and peace are mixed, and the line between rivalry, conflict and war is blurred. This means that we have to take care of safety ourselves, and much more than we did after 1989. We need to catch up and be ready for the new nature of the confrontation.
I think we all agree that our society has made a great leap into modernity over the last 30 years. However, the military and the state security system, despite participating in numerous expeditionary missions, have not been modernised to an equally impressive extent. It’s time to make up for this difference and this is also the role of the New Model Forces. We gave it this name so that the public feels that a genuine change is about to take place, that it is not just powdering here and there. It is supposed to be a profound transformation of the entire system and structure as well as the way of thinking about the military in line with the 21st century, our geopolitical position and our economic possibilities, not small in comparison with 1989 or other periods.
The New Model Forces will be much smaller than the current military structures. But it has to be much more powerful by exposing real abilities. We do not need a large army, but a fully complete army in full combat readiness, an army consisting only of a combat component and only of services closely related to this component. Other military components will be transferred to the civilian component serving the military system. No more overly extensive rear services, pen pushers, unnecessary jobs not directly related to the battlefield, but generating personnel and pension expenses that are like a ball and chain to the military budget.
This means a positive revolution in logistics and rear services. We will slim down the Polish army and its excessively complex structures. We will slim them down from unnecessary and non-prospective equipment, we will quickly get rid of, for example, post-Soviet equipment. We will introduce civilian methods of managing logistics, repairs and maintenance. This will be outsourced to civilian companies. The military is to focus on fighting. The times of the army as a social organisation with a social function, where you receive pensions and salaries for doing things not related to risking your life for the homeland, these times are ending.
At the same time, we will increase the defence expenditures introduced by parliament to at least 3% of GDP, which will result in a jump in the salary of soldiers and officers who will pass the check-up to the New Model Forces. We are focused on high morale, the ethical side of staff and the innovative thinking of officers, non-commissioned officers and soldiers. We are putting an end to old habits, extensive back office services, the lack of staff rotation, comfortable jobs and sinecures.
Let me repeat: the New Model Forces will pay its soldiers very well. But for the service of the Republic. This is more than a job. For a very demanding service and the associated risks, and not for the jobs resembling life in the civil economy.
People will be the centre of gravity for reform and will be at the centre of the New Model Forces system. What matters will be morale and discipline, faith in the effectiveness of the New Model Forces and its value for our country. The service is to be prestigious. After its completion, a member of this army is to find easy employment in the economy, because they will have high interpersonal skills, good self-discipline habits and the ability to operate in a modern and dynamic environment. There are countries in the world where it works like that. This will also be the case on the Vistula.
We will deploy additional military units to the east of the Vistula in order to flexibly and rapidly respond to threats from the East. Today’s war is lightning fast and the threats are sudden. We cannot afford to transfer the army from west to east through the territory of Poland for too long only during a crisis or confrontation. We are also thinking about modern missile warfare and air defence of facilities on the territory of the country, and about new technologies that can help us strengthen our potential in this area.
We have created our own operational concept for the New Model Forces, intended for the next generation war. Its goal is to beat the opponent. We do not intend to imitate someone else’s holistic solutions anymore. The New Model Forces has no task to delay, slow down, or cover. The New Model Forces is called in to win.
So there are changes coming, dear compatriots. We finish with one to start new ones. Conceptual, cultural, organisational and then technological changes are necessary. This should be the order of our actions.
The Territorial Defence Force will remain as an auxiliary force for the standing army. The same rules of promotion will apply in them, taking into account the specificity of the temporary army, which is TDF.
We will introduce changes, starting with special forces, which will become the incubator of changes. We will start with them a review of human resources and training processes. This should be done quickly, because these forces are small but efficient, and they have been the incubator of modernity in the Polish army in recent years, and one that is highly rated by our allies. We want them to begin to meet the assumptions of the New Model Forces as quickly as possible and radiate them to the rest of the army.
Thereafter, the reform will include the 6th Brigade and the 25th Brigade, which will change their operational formula and become experimental units of a new type of light infantry equipped with robotics and various types of drones.
Together with the New Model Forces, an ultra-modern Information Centre will be created by the Prime Minister, acting in agreement with the General Staff of the Polish Army, which will be responsible 24 hours a day for shaping the information domain in the country and abroad (in English), thus strengthening the system of state immunity in the increasing competition for the narrative and perception of Poland by world public opinion.
With the entry into force of the law, the Battlefield Drone and Robotics Academy in Warsaw will be established, where the innovative operational art of the new weapon systems of the New Model Forces will be developed and the training of systems operators and experimental light infantry units will be conducted. There will be studies on a robotic battlefield.
As of the effective date of the act, the Space Communication Centre will be established to control communication with the satellites of the Polish Earth observation system, which will be established together with the New Model Forces. According to the act, 75% of the Centre’s orders are to go to private entities and Polish engineers in order to expand Polish knowledge and the Polish New Space sector. The law also says the same about the production of drones and robotics systems. The goal is for Polish engineering thought to flow from literally every garage. We mean the so-called fusion effect of knowledge and the civil-military economic ecosystem.
There will be a reform of military education. One military academy will remain, and the training of an officer will be shortened. An absolute obligation to rotate staff between units and the university will be introduced. It can no longer be the case that instructors and teaching staff do not have linear or combat experience.
As Prime Minister, I declare that we will cooperate more closely than before with the countries that share with us the fate of middle countries, such as South Korea, Australia, Turkey and others. These countries know what abilities they have to develop on their own, how to shape their military and how to cooperate with their own industry. We declare the end of purchases inconsistent with the model and objectives of the New Model Forces.
All purchases will be carried out in accordance with the plan of the entire government, and will no longer be solely the responsibility of the Minister of National Defence. These purchases will be subject to coalition and government plans. The purchasing system will be changed. In other words the military procurement act will be changed. We will introduce civilian purchasing methods, especially for the technical innovations required on the modern battlefield.
We want the entire army to be the New Model Forces by 2030, not only in name, but after all the assumptions of the reform have been implemented.
Finally, we will expand the ability to compete non-kinetically, be it through special operations, or cyber-rivalry or outside-the-box activities. We will not be afraid of offensive operations. The Republic of Poland will stand firm on its feet and defend its interests.
There is money for the New Model Forces. However, the important thing is how the money is spent. Reducing the number of jobs and increasing the percentage of budget expenditure is not enough. Mental change is important. The trademark is to promote competence, not protection, nepotism and feudal dependencies, as well as laziness, lack of development and aversion to modernity. There is no room for incompetent people in the New Model Forces. We will take special care to make the public feel that the New Model Forces means “new” and to make them believe in change seriously. Service in the New Design Army is to arouse respect among Poles.
We will reorganise industry, leave outdated combat systems behind us, and invest in robotics, drones, communication and observation systems, artificial intelligence and precision ammunition.
Some will be dissatisfied, the government knows it, but there is no way out. Deep reforms of the army were needed in the history of the Republic of Poland. The Reforms of the Great Sejm, Batory and Władysław IV aroused the resistance of the stakeholders of the political and military system at the time. But they had to be carried out.
War, like art, is derived from the soul of a nation. Some nations, being at the crossroads of history and geography, just like Poles, are forced by circumstances to innovate on the battlefield, and in the face of adversities they must transform their methods of warfare. The former Republic of Poland did not imitate the art of war. She created her own special one. We had our old Polish art of war, which in some respects surpassed both Western and Eastern competition, and certainly in terms of cost-effectiveness and the efficiency of the so-called decision loop, tailored to our specific military geography.
The New Model Forces is not only about the military, and not only about the political class and the country’s immune system. It is about society, about you, dear compatriots.
You deserve to be positively convinced that the transformation of our defence system is taking place seriously, and people in the system are selected according to a key, which is the pattern accepted by a rapidly modernising society. That there are moral principles in the New Model Forces that give a chance for success, and the belief that it is a great matter prevails. This is meant to be modern and an opportunity, including a development opportunity for the civil economy. Because this is what characterises the transformation of the armed forces towards a new model, a new way of functioning, that it ceases to weigh on the civilian economy and begins to pull it, also technologically and organisationally, becoming its flywheel, even – one might say pompously – the aspiration of citizens. New ways of organisation and technologies can then be absorbed by the civil economy, especially in new fields.
Time is pressing, we go to work. We are deeply transforming the entire system. It’s very late. We invite to the New Model Forces only people who have such a vision of the future army. We have to do this or we may lose the country’s future. It’s time for changes. I believe you will be with us.
Ultimately, it is society that fields the Polish armed forces. And it has to believe in them.
In 2021, any thinking about reform or innovation in the Polish Armed Forces, or more broadly – in the immunity system of the entire Polish state, should begin with the correct shaping of the so-called decision loop and the integration of its elements with completely in-house control. A properly shaped and integrated decision-making loop is the backbone of the modern military and the state’s capabilities in the event of the escalation or outbreak of a conflict, including, to an equal extent, a hybrid warfare.
We explained in detail in the spring at S&F what the strategic premises are for the urgent need for reforms in the Polish Armed Forces. Since then, due to international events, it has become clear to an increasing number of people (including political decision-makers in Warsaw) that the need for Poland’s preparation for the coming times is very urgent. Today we will start discussing the operational part.
At the same time, comprehensive reporting on the New Model Forces and the entire public campaign related to it is still ahead of us. We are working on this at S&F and we will be presenting the fruits of our work soon. Today’s text is to broadly introduce readers to how to go about operational changes, i.e. those related to the very functioning of the army as a “hammer”, with which we solve the identified problem when employing force.
There are many issues regarding the necessary military reforms that we will deal with at S&F, but we will start with the most important, now. At S&F we call it “the decision loop”. This is the starting point from which the New Model Forces should be built, and only then can we think about the remaining elements of the entire system.
Competition on the modern battlefield is primarily about information domination. Whatever we call it – modern scouting battle, situational awareness, battle network, or the ability to strike-recon complex, it is based on the mechanism of a decision loop, or more precisely, on the loop of the sequence of events: observation – orientation – decision – action. This loop is based on John R. Boyd’s concept of sequencing information flows between the nodes of observation, orientation, decision-making and action that dominate the modern battlefield, where accurate, timely and rapid information processing determines the outcome on the battlefield.
Observation was provided in the past by intelligence factors, i.e. spies, traitors, deserters, scouts, then planes and ground or air sensors. But the orientation in the situation, i.e. the processing of data towards the decision, took a long time. Recently, drones, satellites, networking of combat systems and soldiers made possible by the digital age and lightning-fast data transmission have completely changed the rules of this game, gathering masses of data at the speed of light.
Our enemy is the Russian Armed Forces. This sets a point of reference for the pace of moving through the decision loop sequence and we must compare ourselves to Russians. We must be faster than them and better at navigating through the decision loop.
Having the first stage of the sequence, i.e. a modern observation system on many levels and domains (which we do not have in the Polish Army to the extent required by the modern battlefield), we must then have an efficient system of analysis, processing and segregation of large amounts of data, synthesising situational awareness (all of which we do not have). Having the first two sequences of the loop, we must then have commanders and procedures that can and will allow us to make decisions faster and better than our foe – the Russian commander. In addition, it is necessary to train, educate and care for the characterological and moral quality of the military personnel for the new times. Independence, initiative, the ability to synthesise, understanding the balance of flows on the battlefield (data and troops) – this is the skill of a New Model Force commander. In addition, technology today can often distort the understanding of the battlefield. Those who’ve been at war know what I am writing about.
Intuition is still important in making decisions and commanders should be trained appropriately in this regard. Promotions should be assessed accordingly. The three steps of observation, orientation sequences and decisions allow a command to be issued quickly and correctly to the effector – be it an aircraft, a rocket, or a platoon of tanks. They are only effectors plugged into a network supporting the decision loop operating under enormous pressure of time and enemy scouting pressure. Therefore, they are not the most important element (this may be shocking for the military technology enthusiasts so common on the Vistula). Events in Afghanistan and elsewhere have demonstrated this clearly. The Taliban did not have to have great effectors to achieve military and political goals to seal victory. They certainly had a great understanding of their foes. They knew what they were doing, what they were going to do, and what was going on with them. They also had excellent decision loop processing.
The principle remains the same – the battlefield and victory are all about controlling the flows and correlations between them: data flows from intelligence, logistics, assessing the availability of one’s own resources compared to the opponent’s abilities. Modern warfare resembles escalation management, dancing to the rhythm as in ballet. Correct and timely rhythm ensures victory by sustaining actions, creating an advantage and establishing dominance in the desired time windows and selected domains, correlating this with the news that goes out into the world. Steady and coordinated flows in rhythm keep operations running smoothly today. Thus, the decision loop results from the prior information domination and its own resistant communication system, which preferably, in the face of the shock caused by the opponent, even improves its effectiveness. As Nassim Taleb might say, it should be “antifragile”.
The troops of the old Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth were very successful not so much because of the alleged heavy mounted cavalry and tactical mastery of the winged hussars (as we often think), but because of the mastery of the concept of using combined arms in proper timelines for a given military purpose; because of the proper movement of the army, maneuvering in the theatre and in the face of the enemy. Always trying to maintain the advantage of the maneuver and taking care of the knowledge of the terrain, including the detailed actions of the enemy and the asymmetric use of the enemy’s identified weaknesses thanks to a better decision loop. The old Polish operational concept known as the “old Polish device” (stare urządzenie polskie) was famous for this. Kircholm, Kłuszyn and other battle successes of the former Polish army were the result of the mastery of this art, not of our numerical or technological advantage, and not even of the tactical perfection of the winged hussars. It was necessary to know the how, when, where and what of the enemy, what to use and with what advantage. It can be said that the belief in our superiority in the decision-making loop gave arguments to those of the nobility who did not want to spend too much on the military. Paradoxically, indirectly for this reason, the old Commonwealth always had too few soldiers.
There was no proper control over the decision loop during the subsequent disasters in Ukraine in 1648, not to mention September 1939. Regardless of the terrible geopolitical situation that loomed over the September war, the weakness and then the collapse of the decision loop was the biggest military problem of the September war. Much more important than the lack of a similar number of tanks, planes or rifles to the German ones, on which too much emphasis is put in Polish schools. Meanwhile, the Polish army 20 years earlier in the 1919-1921 campaign clearly dominated the Soviet opponent in this element. Hence, in training during the interwar period, great emphasis was placed on offensive action and tactical initiative. This is possible only with the advantage of moving in the decision loop. It used to be thought that offensive initiative and the advantage of situational awareness was in our military DNA, especially in the face of weaker human material in our Russian and Soviet enemy. How is it now? It’s time to answer that question.
If one controls the flows and their sequence, as in ballet, and is more skilled at it than one’s opponent, he can also block or influence his opponent’s flows by disrupting their decision loop or even entering it, inside it and thus into his network, command centres, logistic flows. He can then disrupt or break the rhythm, including the information processing sequence. In addition, the first two sequences of the decision loop, i.e. observation and orientation, may merge into one in the future through the use of rapidly developing artificial intelligence. Here one should look for the asymmetric advantages of the Polish New Force.
The circulation of information in the decision loop is aimed at victory. Action must be precise, effective and coordinated. Whoever is more knowledgeable and faster at navigating the loop will be first to kill and survive. The losing side is hit and killed or eliminated accordingly. The best option would be to enter the enemy’s decision loop and thereby cut the chain of command and control. This is the centre of gravity of the modern battlefield.
It is from building an efficient and independent (from anyone) decision-making loop that the reform of the Polish Armed Forces and the entire immunity system of the state should begin, because contemporary conflict involves the entire non-military state apparatus much more than in the past.
This includes political decisions, establishing efficient chains of command, and making political and military decisions in a lightning-fast sequence of the decision loop. This also applies to legal regulations (so that they allow for immediate and even advance action in the so-called decision windows – so that it would be known at the time of the test who makes decisions and that this person is prepared for it – this applies in particular to politicians). Shaping the course of the loop sequence, linking commands and types of armed forces.
The decision loop cannot depend on anyone, including our closest allies, who, in the event of our conflict, would gain control of the escalation ladder, i.e. they would deprive us of decision-making, influencing what we want to achieve on the battlefield or during the growing crisis.
In a modern clash and the pre-kinetic conflict phase, including in the case of a hybrid war scenario or a scenario falling below the threshold of NATO article 5, the role of politicians is greater than ever before in history, because they are a key element of the decision loop, which has not been the case so far. They have to prepare for it now to bear the burden of responsibility. War does not belong to the military, let alone the modern war, where the pace of events and the circulation of information affect political decisions every minute.
Tanks, planes and artillery are just effectors aimed at executing the decisions made in the fourth sequence of the decision loop. Without an efficient loop, they do not matter, like trouser trimmings or a fashionable hairstyle in the rain. This is exactly where the Afghan failed, stripped of the key technological enablers within the decision-making loop following the American withdrawal. In addition, they lacked morale, i.e. the belief that the goal of the struggle, which is the existence of government and state, is worth the effort and worth taking a mortal risk.
Similarly, morale failed in our war in defence of the constitution of 1792, when after the battles of Zieleniec and Dubienka, the king joined Targowica and finally the new army collapsed, not believing in the final success of the war. There was no one to hold the king and stop the cascading process of collapse. Whatever can be said about the Germans at Wolrd War Two, until April 1945 they maintained a decent working capacity of the decision loop despite the overwhelming military disproportions in favor of the Allies.
We have to work on this in Poland. Morale in the military and in state institutions responsible for war, including hybrid war, must be set even higher than in the past, because the phenomenon of live war-streaming from the battlefield in combination with information warfare can cause a cascading destructive effect on morale, which causes the breakdown of war effort. This was seen in Afghanistan and Nagorno-Karabakh, and partly in Ukraine in 2014. The Russians will be playing it not only from the first minutes, but even before anything starts. An efficient decision-making loop supported by high morale of all elements of the state’s immunity system will be the focus of our effort.
The decision loop must be resistant to disruption and hostile takeover, and redundant – that is, it can be replaced in the event of a failure in a somewhat automatic way. Ideally, there should be several alternative technology systems that are interchangeable with each other. We also have to think carefully whether we want to centralise the loop completely or make certain elements amorphous so that they cannot be eliminated quickly with one sequence of the enemy’s actions. The centralisation of the decision loop was a sin in September 1939. Even with an amorphous model, even the powerful ally will not be able to “compel” us politically to make peace on terms that we do not want. The amorphous system also increases the risk of an attack by the opponent, because once set into motion, it performs actions regardless of pressure from above.
Demonstrating the development of such capabilities during peacetime would give the Russians, the Germans and the Americans a lot to think about. That we cannot be outplayed over our heads due to the lack of control of escalation by those stronger than us. The mere undertaking of a decision loop reform in this regard will be a strong signal to all parties that the Poles know what it is all about and that we are serious people. Implementing reforms by purchasing effectors without reforming all the sequences of the decision loop may have the opposite effect – the impression of Poland as a post-colonial, peripheral state.
The lack of integration of the decision loop leads to a disaster, even if you have better effectors. Let us remember that military reforms and innovations require, above all, conceptual and organisational reforms. We will talk about them in part 2 of this series.