Will the Polish Army Resort To Conscription This Year?

In the last weeks of 2022, a Military Recruitment Center (Wojskowe Centrum Rekrutacji – WCR) in the town of Sieradz began sending out calls for military exercises to civilians in the region. People without former military service or particular skills received letters calling them for 30-day long drills. Despite the initial statements of this particular WCR spokesman, the calls were no mistake.

A user of Polish social site Wykop shared a brief post on a call up letter they received for military exercises from WCR in Sieradz:

“As a civilian I was called to participate in military exercises for 33 days. I have to partake in month of military drills. According to the document I received I admitted myself to WCR in Sieradz and received mobilization card. I was also informed that the drills will be concluded with official military oath. I would like to remind that I am a civilian after initial military physical qualification.”

Regarding the call-up of individuals with no prior military experience Lt. Col. Justyna Balik, spokeswoman for the Central Military Recruitment Center, told PAP.PL that “we want to train mainly those who have already been assigned mobilization assignments. In addition, we plan for a small group of people without experience to take part in the exercises – up to a maximum of 3,000. – with qualifications that are attractive for the army”.

The qualifications attractive to the Polish Armed Forces include medical staff, IT specialists, translators and electricians. There are, however, exceptions which allow self-employed people, carers and single parents to appeal their call-up.

In one of our previous editorials, we mentioned Polish ambitions to build 250,000-strong Armed Forces. One of the first stages was the introduction of volunteer military service lasting 12 months with the possibility of choosing a full-time position in the military after completing the course. Territorial Defense Forces have been also steadily rising in numbers, securing the 30,000 members milestone.

In a statement marking the formation of the new 1st Legion’s Infantry Division, the Polish Ministry of Defense said:

“At the end of 2022, the Polish Army had 164,000 soldiers. The Ministry of National Defense consistently takes steps to increase the number of Polish soldiers by, among others, simplified recruitment and expanding the possibility of taking up service, e.g. in new forms, such as the Voluntary Basic Military Service, for which 16,000 volunteers applied last year.”

However, the latest purchases of the Ministry of Defense in heavy equipment show that the ambitions are huge but manpower is lacking. Despite the slow rise in numbers, there is no way to reach the desired levels of recruits in a state with only 38 million citizens.

Under the new “Act on the Defense of the Motherland,” civilians can be called for military drills and be moved to active reserve personnel which allows them to mobilize for further drills during the year. Some speculate that this might be the way to fill up the ranks sanctioned by law. While this may seem a bit of a ‘dirty trick’ to some of the public, it remains that despite its suspension, conscription and mandatory military service has not been ended by the Polish government.

Cover photo courtesy of 12th Mechanized Division “Szczecinska”