We have long proposed at Strategy&Future to increase Poland’s activity “in the eastern direction”, in particular in Ukraine. We’ve written about the importance of a policy aimed at keeping Russia outside the European system, which Poland would not be able to achieve on its own without Ukraine’s participation. We’ve emphasised the importance of supply chains and control over the flows of goods and commodities.
Last summer, we called for the development of a Polish strategy in connection with the law adopted by the Verkhovna Rada releasing the land market in Ukraine, and we described the announcements of a great privatisation formulated by Zelensky’s team. If the authorities of the Polish Republic had picked up at least some of our proposals and started taking action, today the situation, including Polish interests, could have looked a bit better.
The war changed a lot, also by abruptly improving Poland’s strategic and political position in relations with Kyiv, as evidenced by, for example, the law adopted by the Verkhovna Rada granting citizens of the Polish Republic a special, privileged status. Thousands of personal testimonies and public opinion polls show that Poland and Poles, in the eyes of Ukrainian citizens, have become the closest, unique, partner, ally and friend. It is also obvious that without the military and logistical support of Poland, the continuation of the fight by the Ukrainian armed forces would be much more difficult, if at all possible. This is one of the important lessons of the war in Ukraine. Currently, Ukrainian entrepreneurs, preparing for the reconstruction of the country, talk about the need to build alternative logistics channels to those that have so far led through the Black Sea ports. For obvious reasons this also increases the importance of Poland. The ties of sympathy, political capital, logistical importance and direct military support are all factors that can increase the possibilities for Polish entrepreneurs during the upcoming reconstruction of Ukraine. Already now, as noted by one Financial Times commentator, we should begin to prepare for this, because reconstruction plans must be drawn up before there is even peace. Such, in his opinion, was the way during the Second World War, when the framework of the Marshall Plan was being built. Similar actions were taken during the Korean War. However, the difference between the present situation in which Ukraine has found itself and historical reconstruction plans is fundamental. The authorities in Kyiv calculate that the recovery of the country from the present devastation will “cost” at least $750 billion, while the scale of the economic involvement of the West, both in connection with the Marshall Plan and the reconstruction of the potential in South Korea after the war was much smaller. Financial Times analysts have calculated that in the reconstruction of Europe after the devastation of World War II, the Americans under the so-called Marshall Plan committed $156 billion in today’s prices. Various forms of aid for Afghanistan have reached a total value of $195 billion, and for Iraq $292 billion. This means that the scale of needs will be greater than ever in history, and this means both greater opportunities and much more serious challenges.
At Strategy&Future, we are convinced that Poland cannot miss this opportunity. The reconstruction of Ukraine, in which we should engage, gives us the opportunity to overcome the geostrategic consequences of the fall of the First Polish Republic, which can only be achieved by permanently pushing Russia out of European politics, and from a generational perspective, it enables us to make an economic and civilisational leap, offering a chance to rebuild relations with the EU so that they are more partnership-based and for our homeland to enter into the group of 20 most powerful economies in the world.
For this reason, we decided to initiate a new project within the framework of S&F, which we have tentatively titled Poland in Ukraine. We appeal to our subscribers, readers and listeners, especially entrepreneurs, to formulate tasks for public administration when describing the realities of the industries in which they operate and the previous experience related to attempts to enter the Ukrainian market. We want to show that Polish companies, both private and public, are already large players on a European scale that, independently or by creating capital consortia, can think about permanently establishing themselves on the Ukrainian market. We have experience, we have knowledge, we have capital and staff. What we lack, compared to our rivals from Germany or France, is that usually we are not, I mean our entrepreneurs, consistently supported by the Polish state. And that’s what we want to change. We want to write what the public administration in Poland, our state, should change in its policy, but specifically without a general ideology, so that the participation of Polish companies in the reconstruction of Ukraine would be beneficial, both from the perspective of Kyiv and for our economy to become a factor accelerating the development, modernisation and growth. Therefore, we appeal for participation in our project.
Why is the prudent involvement of the Polish state in this work of supporting private capital investment in Ukraine necessary? Let’s start with the theoretical issues. Michael J. Mazarr, a former researcher at the US Army War College, now at RAND, has — for the past 15 months, along with a group of other researchers — been looking for answers to the question of what makes certain nations grow faster, achieve a better position on a global scale and win the ongoing competition as others lose. These analyses were commissioned by the Office of Net Assessment, a key unit of American strategic planning, which, incidentally, makes us realise that Anglo-Saxon strategy is much more than just military matters. The result of their work is a very extensive report, 406 pages long, which means that probably hardly anyone in Poland will read this work, and in political circles, both governmental and the more oppositionist, certainly no one, but Mazarr has published in the prestigious Foreign Affairs magazine, a much shorter article on the same topic, the reading of which is a convenient starting point for looking for an answer to the question of what causes some nations to win in international, historical competition, while others fail. The main conclusion drawn by American scientists in their report is as follows – in their opinion, “In the fight for supremacy between world powers, it is not military or economic power that is of decisive importance, but the basic features of society: the characteristics of the nation that generate economic productivity, technological innovation, social cohesion and national will.” Historical winners, Michael Mazarr argues, can lose battles, even wars. They can lose allies, they can fight alone, and yet they can ultimately turn out to be winners. According to the RAND experts, who for this purpose conducted a series of analyses of historical cases, political science and economic research, the historical advantage is determined by a combination of several, and precisely seven factors that play a key role. These are: ambitions and will to act, strong identity and national cohesion, a common view on opportunities and areas of success, an active state, effective institutions (both social and state), a society that learns and easily adapts to new situations, as well as a culture of competition and pluralism. Each of these factors is important and it is a suitable mixture of them, in which synergistic effects will lead to increasing the possibilities of a given nation. A society internally at odds and divisive in terms of diagnosing the best political strategy in the long run, not temporarily, will not achieve much in historical competition. But even the greatest degree of unification of national goals and efforts will not do much if we do not have an efficient, modern state that will actively and intelligently strengthen and promote national goals.
The Americans strongly emphasise the well-structured balance of these factors, arguing that “competitive societies tend to be open, tolerant, full of intellectual energy and commitment to science; have a strong sense of their role in the world and a sense of mission or will to act; they almost always use strong public and private institutions, as well as a state apparatus that actively promotes their advantage; they embody the pluralistic clash of ideas and the ability of people from all walks of life to offer their talents and be successful. We call this specific mixture of features the spirit of the Renaissance.” If the energy and ambition of society is not accompanied by a strong and active state, the chances of success in international competition in the historical dimension will be lower. Thus, what counts is the area of will, the sense of a community of goals and aspirations, as well as political and national ambitions that must support strong and efficient public institutions. This mix is just the beginning of success, of course: not its guarantee, but the lack of a sense of community, divisions, internal conflicts, lack of agreement as to the most optimal great national strategy, is a sure source of failure.
As Mazarr argues in his article, “perhaps the basis of all forms of relative national strength is some version of national ambition.” It is about a sense of mission that motivates individuals and the whole society, the common pursuit of a goal that binds the nation and the will to achieve success. Of course, it is easy to get led astray in this area. History knows many examples where the belief in one’s own uniqueness and striving to take a privileged place in the family of nations led to tragedy on a global dimension. These dangers must always be kept in mind, but that is not what this is about. I think the American researchers mean a common goal that unites the efforts of an entire generation and motivates society to make greater efforts. Mazarr writes that “to develop national ambitions requires the involvement of the entire nation in gaining knowledge about the world and a common will to influence it: discovering and controlling, understanding and guiding. This impulse can easily go wrong. Excessive national ambition is a common path to defeat, be it through destructive wars of choice or imperial conquests that unduly distract the nation’s resources and provoke negative reactions. But without such ambitions, countries rarely build efficient “economic” and technological engines or win the competition for power.” Ambitions do not guarantee success if it is not accompanied by an inclusive, open society that creates favourable conditions for the development of human capital. Excessive hierarchy, systems of inheritance of influence, importance and position, the advantage of the corporate approach, but also excessive income inequality in the long run reduce social vitality, preserving the structures of power and influence, and thus weaken the power of the state. As the RAND analysts argue, “highly competitive societies also benefit from some version of an active state: a cohesive, powerful, goal-oriented and effective government that invests in national capabilities and beneficial social characteristics.” Thus, it is not the “free hand of the market”, the liquidation of the state, or its gradual withdrawal to the position of the “night watchman” that is the source of historical success, but on the contrary — an active state defending national interests (although not necessarily omnipotent, wishing to solve all problems) is the source of success. And again, as in the previous areas, it is about finding the best, individual model in which synergies can be realised, meaning that the strength and dynamism of society would be supported and not limited by a strong and efficient state. Such a rational system of equilibrium must be based on efficient institutions, both social (family, school) and public, although not necessarily the domain of the state or administration (parliament, the judicial system, the financial system). This should be accompanied by social respect and appreciation for learning and the learning process itself.
In this context, we must also see the announcements of positive changes in Ukraine, the awareness of the fundamental decisions facing the local political class and the numerous opportunities that, if properly used by us, can program the development of both Poland and Ukraine for years. I’ve written recently at S&F about the reform plans announced by Deputy Prime Minister Julia Swidirienko, which, if successful, will be a free-market breakthrough. Now the Ukrainian government is announcing the acceleration of its universal privatisation program. The Supreme Council passed a law on rapid privatisation, and already this month the government announced the liquidation or sale of 420 enterprises. Ultimately, out of the current 3.5 thousand state-owned enterprises (1.8 thousand of which are no longer working, although they still have assets) about a hundred are to remain in state hands. Julia Swidirienko also declared the government’s readiness to accept, in the case of new foreign investors, the jurisdiction of the British legal system in order to guarantee the security of trading and investments. It should also be noted that Ukrainian journalists specialising in economic issues, supporting the privatisation plans of Zelensky’s team, justify the necessary radicalism and the need to carry out deep and not mock changes with the needs of the country’s reconstruction. Gleb Kanewskij, head of the StateWatch organisation, wrote, that the privatisation of public property should be a method of mobilising Ukraine’s own resources in connection with the reconstruction needs and fears, or the international funds that Kyiv is going to obtain will prove to be adequate to the needs. Balázs Romhányi, director of the Budapest Fiscal Responsibility Institute, published an article in Dzerkalo Tyzhnia, which aroused a discussion in the Ukrainian expert and political environment, and the presented proposals were taken seriously, as one of the possible institutional options for how Ukraine should start reconstruction and win the favour of capital markets. Romhanyi proposed that Ukraine relinquish some of its economic sovereignty for a while. He meant Kyiv’s voluntary submission to the supervision of international “steering committees” composed of representatives of countries providing aid to Ukraine, as well as the adoption of all EU regulations, mainly anti-corruption ones. In this case, it is not about implementing all the proposals of the Hungarian financier into the Ukrainian legal system, but about the willingness of the political class in Kyiv to consider such far-reaching ideas in terms of rational political options. The war also changed the way Ukrainians themselves think about the future of their country. They want to be firmly rooted in the institutional world of the West, to move away from the oligarchic system, to equalise development opportunities, also in the social sense, and to break with the tradition of building an economy based on arrangements, networks and connections. Therefore, it seems that this type of social pressure may constitute, if properly strengthened and directed, a necessary guarantee of accelerating and consolidating changes in Ukraine.
In the context of the opportunity for Polish business, it is worth mentioning two more phenomena. Europe is facing the most serious energy crisis in decades. This is not about the energy rationing perspective, but the changing price relations that will affect the competitiveness of European economies. If currently the price of electricity in Germany is 1000% higher than the average for 2010-2020, it is hard not to expect revolutionary changes. How does this relate to Ukraine? Well, today Ukraine produces more energy than it consumes and is therefore ready to export 30% of what it produced, the more so as it has four times lower costs due to the developed nuclear energy sector. We have a similar situation on the labour market. The unemployment rate in Ukraine rose to 35% in the second quarter of this year. Real incomes are therefore expected to decline by 27% by the end of the year, and at the end of 2024 they will still be lower than before the war. This means that in the foreseeable future, the migration pressure from Ukraine will not weaken, and Poland, with the lowest unemployment rate in the European Union (besides the Czech Republic) and due to its geographical and cultural proximity, will be the main direction of movement of Ukrainian citizens. The Polish industrial sector is already working for the needs of the Ukrainian market, both in terms of consumer goods and others, including military goods. Logistics systems are connected, there are talks about joint ventures, including a Polish-Ukrainian “drone valley”.
If the economy is developing because it has cheap energy, a large and absorbent market, investment potential and a young, educated and willing-to-work workforce, then Poland and Polish entrepreneurs, together with their Ukrainian partners, are now able to have all these advantages. They only lack the rational support of the state, which should build institutional conditions, investment security and our competitive advantages. We would like to initiate a project at S&F, Poland in Ukraine, which forces our country to make it easier for our business to take advantage of the historical opportunity that the reconstruction of Ukraine may be for it, and to some extent “by the way” to modernise itself.
Since the publication of my guide calculating how many battalion tactical groups (BTGs) the Russian Armed Forces could generate against Poland, a couple critiques have been levelled at whether this is the best way to understand how Russia would fight Poland and/or NATO at large. My guide was intended only to demonstrate how many of Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu’s declared 168 BTGs  were available to mass on the Polish border and has been taken somewhat out of context. Nevertheless, some of the critiques raise important points worth addressing.
The most important is the nature of Russian mobilization today, especially after the reforms started in 2008. The nature of mobilization has changed dramatically since the Soviet era, as Andrew Monaghan has described at some length.  Mobilization since 2008 is far greater than shifting men with guns, instead primarily optimizing the Russian government for conflict both administratively and operationally. In both the August 2014 September 2015 Russian military interventions, no Soviet-style mobilization of troops preceded the action. Though considerable Russian forces were moved to the Ukrainian border in March 2014, seemingly in anticipation of a classically styled invasion, these were largely (but not entirely) withdrawn over the following months. Instead, isolated artillery strikes from over the border numbed anticipation that anything more significant than combat support for officially non-governmental separatists would come from Russia.
It should be noted that the “100 BTGs” buildup of Russian forces on the Ukrainian border is US intelligence’s projection of a Russian war plan and does not yet reflect the reality on the border. Russian presence on the Ukrainian border approximates roughly 50-60 BTGs: 15-20 deployed from elsewhere  and nearly 40 local forces from the 20thGuards and 8th Guards Armies. However, this massing of forces has attracted so much attention that it should be read as a signaling exercise and not an actual prelude to war. If this buildup spills into conventional war, it would break with Russian practice in the 21st century; far more likely would be a withdrawal of troops and subsequent attack beginning with local forces and then deployment of other forces after the fact to hold territory.
As of 2021, Russia has three sources of manpower for the conduct of a military operation: the contractor force of the Russian Armed Forces, the BARS reservist force, and Rosgvardiya or the Russian National Guard. Russia’s conscripts no longer feature prominently in military operations. Conscription remains as a means of identifying talent in the youth population and for filling out necessary numbers for more perfunctory billets in the Russian Armed Forces.  Of these three forces, Rosgvardiya, possibly assisted by the Ministry of Emergency Situations, will be responsible for occupations. Russia only published some details of the BARS reservists’ organization this year during Zapad-2021  and so its role is not yet fully clear, though its primary purpose is likely to be rear area operations and unit replenishment. The Russian Armed Forces’ contractor force will take the lead in offensive and most defensive operations and has adopted the BTG as a standard unit not for its flexibility as some have suggested but because of its ability to operate in isolation. 
Moreover, the BTG is not as flexibly sized a unit as has been suggested. In Zapad-2021, the Russian Armed Forces started trialing “mobile tactical groups”  as more adaptable units seemingly as an experiment in different-sized units, albeit primarily to facilitate integration of heavy indirect fires into isolated maneuver units. BTGs are required for presence;  ground- and air-delivered intelligence-directed indirect fires are anticipated to be the primary strike capability of the Russian Armed Forces, thus the ability to rely upon mere battalion-sized units rather than brigades or other larger groupings.
Using a military district- and army-centric system for determining total BTG generation reflects that Poland, as part of NATO, would be unlikely to be completely isolated in a war. Though I ultimately found that only 64 BTGs would be likely available to fight Poland, the total number of BTGs Russia has available – including Southern and Eastern Military District assets as well as those Western and Central Military District assets unlikely to face Poland directly – reaches 150-175 depending on how to count certain exercise patterns, i.e. almost exactly as Shoigu claimed. Even if Russia successfully isolated a war to Poland alone, certain Western Military District BTGs would be needed to screen Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Ukraine. The Southern Military District would be almost fully devoted to Black Sea region security given the possibility of NATO horizontal escalation in this region. Imagining that more than 50% of Russian BTGs would be allotted against Poland would be difficult to rationalize in this environment. Mobilization of other manpower options would not primarily to generate more BTGs as these are composed of professional contractors; additional mobilization would primarily serve to offer means of consolidating BTG- and fires-led gains.
Poland’s defense remains easier than Ukraine’s because Russia must screen against more potential adversaries because of Poland’s NATO membership and because deploying troops in any substantial number would require deploying through Belarus. However, those observations also underpin key points that Poland must prepare: because we assume that Russia would need to redeploy significant forces to Belarus to mount an attack, how would Poland respond to an initial non-contact air- and missile-delivered strike if there was no warning buildup in Belarus? Would it counterattack into Kaliningrad Oblast if there was no border infraction beyond missile launches?
Calculating BTGs in peacetime is necessarily hypothetical but, under current conditions, more useful than alternative methods of imagining Russian preparations for a possible war with Poland. The dispersed nature of forces in both Zapad-2017 and Zapad-2021 suggests that Russia anticipates both defensive and offensive military scenarios in Europe require dispersed units operating independently. Russia will not dump all assets across military districts to fight a single country in NATO: the entire point of the force buildup since 2014 has been to reduce the necessity for this.
 ‘Shoigu zayavil, chto v armii Rossii naschityvaetsya 168 batal’onno-takticheskikh grupp’, TASS, 10 August 2021, https://tass.ru/armiya-i-opk/12099255.
 Andrew Monaghan, Power in Modern Russia: Strategy and Mobilisation, Manchester University Press, 2017.
 Konrad Muzyka, ‘Tracking Russian deployments near Ukraine – Autumn-Winter 2021-22’, Rochan Consulting, https://rochan-consulting.com/tracking-russian-deployments-near-ukraine-autumn-winter-2021-22/.
 Author’s interviews with military intelligence officers
 ‘Komandyyushchiy voyskami YuVO provereil polevoy lager’ podgotovki boevogo armeyskogo rezerva na poligone Tarskoe v Severnoy Osetii’, Russian Ministry of Defense, 14 September 2021, https://function.mil.ru/news_page/country/more.htm?id=12383975@egNews.
 The BTG concept was first developed in the 1980s as a concept for offensives in areas where echeloned warfare would be impossible. E.g. http://militaryarticle.ru/voennaya-mysl/1986-vm/8128-k-voprosu-o-nastuplenii-v-gorah. After the 1990s, as Russia lost its ability to rely upon mass, this concept became more generalized as it became clear that mobilisation of a front line was likely beyond the capability of the Russian state. Since 2008, they have become endemic.
 ‘BMPT “Terminator” v sostave mobilnykh takticheskikh grupp pri podderzhke udarnykh BLA “Inokhodets” i “Forpost” obespecheli perehod koalitsinnoy gruppirovki voysk v nactuplenie,” Russian Ministry of Defense, 13 September 2021, https://function.mil.ru/news_page/country/more.htm?id=12383889@egNews.
 CPT Nicholas J. Fiore, ‘Defeating the Russian Battalion Tactical Group’, US Army, 2017, https://www.benning.army.mil/armor/earmor/content/issues/2017/spring/2Fiore17.pdf
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.
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.