The Land Forces (Wojska Lądowe) are a military branch of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Poland. They currently contain some 65,000 active personnel and form many components of European Union and NATO deployments around the world. Poland's recorded military history stretches back for hundreds of years – since the 10th century (see List of Polish wars and History of the Polish Army), but Poland's modern army was formed after 1918.
Eagle of Polish Land Forces
|Allegiance||Polish Armed Forces|
World War II
War in Iraq
War in Afghanistan
EU Force Chad/CAR
|Commander||Lieutenant General Zbigniew Głowienka|
|Chief of Staff||Major General Andrzej Malinowski|
Banner of the Commander in Chief
When Poland regained independence in 1918, it recreated its military which participated in the Polish–Soviet War of 1919–1921, and in the two smaller conflicts ( Polish–Ukrainian War (1918–1919) and the Polish–Lithuanian War (1920)).
Initially, right after the First World War, Poland had five military districts (1918–1921):
The Polish land forces as readied for the Polish–Soviet War was made up of soldiers who had formerly served in the various partitioning empires, supported by some international volunteers. There appear to have been a total of around 30 Polish divisions involved. Boris Savinkov was at the head of an army of 20,000 to 30,000 largely Russian POWs, and was accompanied by Dmitry Merezhkovsky and Zinaida Gippius. The Polish forces grew from approximately 100,000 in 1918 to over 500,000 in early 1920. In August 1920, the Polish army had reached a total strength of 737,767 people; half of that was on the frontline. Given Soviet losses, there was rough numerical parity between the two armies; and by the time of the Battle of Warsaw Poles might have even had a slight advantage in numbers and logistics.
The German invasion of Poland began on 1 September 1939, and the Wehrmacht seized half the country quickly despite heavy Polish resistance. Among the erroneous myths generated by this campaign were accounts of Polish cavalry charging German tanks, which did not, in fact, take place. In the east, the Red Army took the other half of the country in accordance with the Nazi-Soviet Pact. Following the country's fall, Polish soldiers began regrouping in what was to become the Polish Army in France. Both the Polish Armed Forces in the West and the Polish Armed Forces in the East, as well as interior (partisan) forces, primarily represented by the Home Army (AK) had land forces during the Second World War. While the forces fighting under the Allied banner were supported by the Polish air force and navy, the partisan forces were an exclusive land formation.
However the army operational today has its roots in the surrogate force formed in support of Soviet interests during the establishment of the People's Republic of Poland after the Second World War. Two Polish armies, the First Army (Poland) and the Second Army fought with the Red Army on the Eastern Front, supported by some Polish air force elements. The formation of a Third Army was begun but not completed.
The end of the war found the Polish Army in the midst of intense organisational development. Although the implementation of the Polish Front concept was abandoned, new tactical unit and troop types were created. As a result of mobilisation, troop numbers in May 1945 reached 370,000 soldiers, while in September 1945 440,000. Military districts were organised in liberated areas. The districts exercised direct authority over the units stationed on the territory administered by them. Returning to the country, the Second Army was tasked with the protection of the western border of the state from Jelenia Gora to Kamien Pomorski, and on the basis of its headquarters, the staff of the Poznan Military District was created at Poznań. The southern border, from Jelenia Gora to the Użok railway station (at the junction of the Polish, the Soviet and the Czechoslovak borders) was occupied by the First Army. Its headquarters staff formed the basis of the Silesian Military District.
In mid-1945, after the end of World War II, the Polish Army, as part of the overall armed forces, the People's Army of Poland, was divided into six (later seven) districts. These were the Warsaw Military District, HQ in Warsaw, the Lublin Military District, HQ in Lublin, the Kraków Military District, HQ in Kraków, the Lodz Military District, HQ in Lodz, the Poznan Military District, HQ in Poznan, the Pomeranian Military District, HQ in Torun (formed from the staff of the short-lived LWP 1st Army Corps) and the Silesian Military District, HQ in Katowice, created in the fall of 1945.
In June 1945 the 1st, 3rd and 8th Infantry Divisions were assigned internal security duties, while the 4th Infantry Division was reorganised for the purpose of creating the Internal Security Corps (KBW). The rule was that military units were used primarily against the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), while the Internal Security Corps was used to fight the armed underground independence. Often however army units fought the underground resistance, and vice versa. The culmination of the UPA suppression operation was the so-called 'Wisła Action' (Operation Vistula) which took place in 1947. At the same time demobilisation took place, moving the armed forces to a peace-time footing. On 10 August 1945 a "decree of the partial demobilisation" of the armed forces was issued. The next demobilisation phase took place in February and December 1946.
One of the most important tasks facing the army after the war was national mine clearance. Between 1944 and 1956 the demining operation involved 44 engineering units or about 19,000 sappers. They cleared mines and other munitions in a clearance area of more than 250,000 square kilometers (80% of the country). 14.75 million munitions of various types and 59 million bullets, bombs and other ammunition were found and removed. The mining operations cost the lives of 646 sappers.
In 1949 the military districts were reduced to four. They were the Pomeranian Military District, HQ in Bydgoszcz, the Silesian Military District, HQ in Wroclaw, the Warsaw Military District, HQ in Warsaw, and the Kraków Military District with its headquarters in Kraków. In November 1953, the Kraków Military District was dissolved and until 1992, Poland was divided into three Districts.
Following victory and the movement of Polish borders these troops and other Polish soldiers thought loyal to their Soviet overlords were built up into a force which was to form part of the Warsaw Pact. Polish Army troops would have formed part of the second strategic echelon deployed for an attack on NATO's Allied Forces Central Europe. A Polish Front headquarters was formed in 1958, along with three armies formed from 1955, the First Polish Army, the Second Army, and the Fourth Army, mobilisation-only headquarters that were to be formed within the three districts. The Polish Front headquarters was eventually deactivated in 1990, and the three army mobilisation scheme was likewise abandoned.
Until the fall of communism the army's prestige continued to fall, as it was used by the communist government to violently suppress several outbursts of protest, including the Poznań 1956 protests, the Polish 1970 protests, and protests during Martial law in Poland in 1981–1982. Troops of the Silesian Military District also took part in the suppressing of the 1968 democratisation process of Czechoslovakia, commonly known as the Prague Spring.
In 1989 the Pomeranian Military District controlled the 8th, 12th, 15th, 16th, and 20th Divisions, the Silesian Military District controlled the 2nd, 4th, 5th, 10th, and 11th Divisions, and the Warsaw Military District the 1st, 3rd, and 9th Divisions, plus the 6th Airborne Division earmarked for Front control. The 7th Sea Landing Division was based within the Pomeranian Military District but probably earmarked for Front control. The two districts facing Germany each controlled four divisions in 1990, which had been recently reorganised, in line with the late 1990s Soviet defensive doctrine, from a 3:1 mix of motor rifle : tank regiments into a 2:2 mix of motor rifle and tank regiments. The Warsaw Military District in the east controlled only the 1st Mechanised Division. Two other mechanised divisions in that district had been disbanded in 1988. There was also the 6th Airborne Division and the 7th Sea Landing Division, possibly intended to form part of a Warsaw Pact attack on Denmark, to open the Baltic straits to the North Sea and beyond. Strength counted 205,000 personnel of which 168,000 were conscripts.
Following the end of the Cold War the Wojska Lądowe was drastically reduced and reorganised. In 1992, the Kraków Military District was recreated. From nine divisions, the total was planned in 2001 to fall to four, plus six independent brigades. Since 1 January 1999, Poland has been divided into two military districts. These are the Pomeranian Military District (Pomorski Okręg Wojskowy) with HQ in Bydgoszcz, covering northern Poland, and the Silesian Military District (Śląski Okręg Wojskowy) with HQ in Wrocław, covering southern Poland.
From that date the former Krakow Military District became the headquarters of the Air-Mechanized Corps, which in turn later became the headquarters of the 2nd Mechanised Corps. On 1 September 2011 the 1st Warsaw Mechanised Division was disbanded.
General Edward Pietrzyk served as commander of the Polish Land Forces from 2000 to September 2006. He was succeeded by General Waldemar Skrzypczak (2006–2009).
In May 2014, Defence Minister Tomasz Siemoniak announced plans for the future acquisition of attack helicopters in response to the Ukraine crisis. On 25 November 2015, chief of National Defence Commission Michał Jach, indicated the necessity to increase the number of Polish troops from 100,000 to 150,000. However, Jach stressed that the process was complicated and should not be rushed.
From the 1950s the Polish Land Forces have contributed troops to peacekeeping operations, initially the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission in Korea. Poland contributed troops to UNIFIL in Lebanon since 1982, but it was announced in April 2009 that Polish troops would withdraw completely by October 2009. Poland sent a divisional headquarters and a brigade to Iraq after the 2003 Iraq war. Poland sent ten rotations of troops, manning a significant portion of Multinational Division Central-South. At its peak Poland had 2,500 soldiers in the south of the country. Poland deployed about ten attack and transport helicopters as part of its force in Iraq between 2004 and 2008. These helicopters formed the Independent Air Assault Group (pl:Samodzielna Grupa Powietrzno-Szturmowa). The division was disbanded in 2008, though Polish advisory and training personnel, seemingly a Military Advisory Liaison Team (MALT) stayed until at least 2011 (see pl:PKW Irak). One of the most recent missions was MINURCAT in Chad and the Central African Republic, where Poland despatched troops from 2007–2010. Among the deployed troops were two Reconnaissance companies, a Military Gendarmerie unit, a component of the 10th Logistics Brigade, elements of the 5th Military Engineers Regiment, and three Mil Mi-17 helicopters.
|Equipment of the Polish Land Forces|
|Photo||Name||Place of origin||Number||Notes|
|Leopard 2 A5||Germany||105|
|Leopard 2 A4||Germany||142||In December 2015, Bumar-Łabędy signed an agreement with German Rheinmetall Landsysteme Gmbh concerning the technological support of the Polish modernization program for Leopard 2A4 tanks.
The company will design, document and execute six prototypes. The first upgraded Leopard 2PL will reach Poland in March 2018. The upgrades include: third generation night vision systems (the production of the Warsaw PCO), new additional armor modules and anti-splash lining, removal of flammable components (tower propulsion system and main propulsion system), installation of new fire protection system, modernization of the tank's integrated monitoring and testing equipment, Possibility of using new types of ammunition (programmable DM-11 and DM-63), auxiliary generator set (APU). Construction of all 142 units will be completed by the end of 2020
|Leopard 2 NJ||Germany||2||Training version|
|PT-91 "Twardy"||Poland||232||In 2016, over a dozen tanks have undergone modernization using the PCO Modular Thermal Imaging (PCM) Modification Package.|
|528||Designed for the replacement of the new design of the Direct Support Cars (WWB) code-named "Cheetah".
As expected, these are tracked vehicles equipped with a turret with a 120 mm caliber cannon.
|690||Under the 2013 contract with Finnish Patria Vehicles Oy, the delivery of the next batch of 307 units is planned in 2014-2019 in various versions.|
|BMP-1||Soviet Union||1268||By 2019, the prototype of the successor of the floating BWP is planned. The program is nicknamed "Badger".|
|Humvee||United States||217||Their total in number in all versions|
|LPG||Poland||Built on the basis of the Opal-II transporter. Command vehicles will be an integral part of REGINA and Cancer.|
|M-113||United States||35||Total number of all vehicles in all versions. Purchased with Leopard 2 tanks.|
|WR-40 Langusta||Poland||75||It has an automated Topaz artillery fire management set.|
|BM-21 Grad||Soviet Union||75|
|2S1 Goździk||Soviet Union
|342||Equipped with automated Topaz artillery fire management.|
|wz. 1977 Dana||Czechoslovakia
|111||It has an automated Topaz artillery fire management set.
Designed to be replaced by AHS Kryl.
|AHS Krab||Poland||24/120||By 2025 it will hit five squadrons of 24 each.|
|Bergepanzer 2||Germany||28||Purchased with Leopard 2 tanks and used to operate them.|
The armed forces of the Polish Republic have a long-term plan for the modernization of the army. It has the task of replacing used equipment over a decade with new equipment. Some of this system already works. The new Leopard 2 A5 and Leopard 2 A4 tanks will be upgraded to Leopard 2PL (first Leopard 2 PL arrive in March 2018) by the end of 2020. Now the Polish Army has a stock of 1009 tanks (2017). There are a total of 249 Leopard 2 tanks in 142 Leopard 2 A4, 105 Leopard 2 A5, 2 Leopard 2 NJ, 232 PT-91 tanks that underwent modernization in 2016 and 528 T-72. T-72 tanks will be replaced by direct support vehicles. The program is called "Gepard". The Polish army has about 690 vehicles of the KTO Rosomak. BWP-1 will be replaced by the end of 2019 by the Borsuk infantry fighting vehicles (the first prototypes are already in place). Introduced are the WR-40 Langusta rocket launchers equipped with state-of-the-art Topaz fire control. The BM-21 Grad and RM-70 rockets will be replaced by the "Homar" Rocket artillery of 300 km range. The AHS Krab self-propelled new AHS Krab, which will replace 2S1 Goździk, new AHS Kryl will replace wz. 1977 Dana. The RAK Mortar (built on the basis of KTO Rosomak) was purchased. From 2016 to the service are new technical recognition vehicles Rosomak WRT. In 2022, the so-called soldier of the prodigal TYTAN. This is an integrated combat system that includes a personal soldier's computer, new protective uniforms, night vision devices, etc.
1 Until 2004 Generał armii
18th Reconnaissance Regiment (Polish: 18 Pułk Rozpoznawczy) is a unit of the Polish Land Forces and is based in Białystok. It was formed from the former 18th Territorial Defense Battalion, which in turn was the former 18th Mechanized Brigade. It is the most recently formed unit of the Polish army, and one of three reconnaissance regiments.7th Coastal Defense Brigade
The Polish 7th Pomeranian Coastal Defence Brigade is a mechanized infantry brigade of the Polish Land Forces (based at Słupsk).
It was formed in 2001 from the 7th Pomeranian Mechanized Brigade (of the 8th Coastal Defence Division). Now it is a brigade of the 12th Mechanized Division based at Szczecin. It bears traditions of the disbanded 7th Sea Landing Division (known as the Blue Berets), previously themselves the 23rd Landing Division (pl:23 Dywizja Desantowa) from 1958–63, therefore it is sometimes referred to the marines of Poland, modeled after the French Troupes de marine of the French Army. The 7th Sea Landing Division was reportedly involved in internal security tasks during the disturbances of 1981-82, according to contemporary NATO assessments.However, as of 2007 there are no plans by the Polish Land Forces to create an active marine unit. Therefore, the 7th Brigade carries out only limited-scale exercises of amphibious assaults.
It consists of the following subunits:
7th Coastal Defense Brigade in Słupsk
Command Battalion in Słupsk
1st Mechanised Battalion in Lębork with BMP-1 infantry fighting vehicles
2nd Mechanised Battalion in Słupsk with BMP-1 infantry fighting vehicles
3rd "Academic Legion" Mechanised Battalion in Trzebiatów with BMP-1 infantry fighting vehicles
Artillery Group with 2S1 Gvozdika 122mm self-propelled howitzers
Anti-aircraft Group with Hibneryt anti-aircraft systems and Grom surface-to-air missiles
Logistic BattalionAir-to-ground weaponry
Air-to-ground weaponry is aircraft ordnance used by combat aircraft to attack ground targets. The weapons include bombs, machine guns, autocannon, air-to-surface missiles, rockets, air-launched cruise missiles and grenade launchers.Anti-Fascist Military Organisation
Antyfaszystowska Organizacja Bojowa (Polish for Anti-Fascist Military Organisation), AOB, was an underground organization formed in 1942 in the Ghetto in Białystok by former officers of the Polish Land Forces. It took part in the Białystok Ghetto uprising.
Its tasks included organisation of escape routes for the people incarcerated in the Ghetto as well as gathering arms and equipment for the future fight against the Germans. Since February 1943 it carried over many attacks on German authorities and armed forces operating in the Ghetto. On August 15, 1943, the AOB members started an ill-fated struggle against the liquidation of the Ghetto, which is known as the Białystok Ghetto Uprising.Edward Pietrzyk
Generał broni Edward Pietrzyk (born 3 November 1949) is a Polish military officer, diplomat and general in the Polish Army. He is also a former commander-in-chief of the Polish Land Forces.Equipment of the Polish Army
The Polish military continues to use some Soviet-era equipment; however, since joining NATO in 1999, Poland has been upgrading and modernizing its hardware to NATO standards. The General Staff has been reorganized into a NATO-compatible J/G-1 through J/G-6 structure. Recent modernization projects include the acquisition of (48) F-16 fighter jets from the United States, (256) Leopard 2 MBTs from Germany, ATGM technology from Israel (as well as possible future acquisition of Rafael Python 5 missiles), and (957) Patria AMV AFVs from Finland.KTO Rosomak
The Kołowy Transporter Opancerzony "Rosomak" (pol. Wheeled Armored Vehicle "Wolverine") is 8×8 multi-role military vehicle produced by Rosomak S.A. (formerly Wojskowe Zakłady Mechaniczne) in Siemianowice Śląskie, a Polish Armaments Group company. The vehicle is a licensed variant of Patria's Armored Modular Vehicle.List of equipment of the Polish Land Forces
List of equipment of the Polish Land forces.Military districts of Poland
Military districts of Poland were created in the aftermath of World War I, at a time when Poland regained its independence.
Initially, right after the First World War, Polish Land Forces had five military districts. (1918–1921):
Kraków Military District (Krakowski Okręg Wojskowy), HQ in Kraków
Łódź Military District (Łódzki Okręg Wojskowy), HQ in Łódź
Lublin Military District (Lubelski Okręg Wojskowy), HQ in Lublin.
Poznań Military District (Poznański Okręg Wojskowy), HQ in Poznań
Warsaw Military District (Warszawski Okręg Wojskowy), HQ in Warszawa.In 1921, due to reorganization, the military districts were replaced with Dowództwo Okręgu Korpusu (DOK – Corps District Command). In the Second Polish Republic there were ten DOK's:
I – Warszawa
II – Lublin
III – Grodno
IV – Łódź
V – Kraków
VI – Lwów
VII – Poznań
VIII – Toruń
IX – Brześć nad Bugiem
X – PrzemyślEach DOK consisted of four large units (three infantry divisions and one cavalry brigade).
For district arrangements after World War II see Polish Land Forces. The Kraków Military District disbanded in 1953.
From 1999 Poland has been divided into two military districts, the Pomeranian Military District and the Silesian Military District, both were disbanded by the end of 2011.Opal (armoured personnel carrier)
The Opal-I is a multi-purpose fully amphibious armoured personnel carrier developed and produced by HSW S.A.. APC is a development of MT-LB that was produced in HSW on licence. Major changes are with reworked nose section and propellers for better in water speed and manoeuvrability, new turret with 12.7 mm NSVT machine-gun instead of old with 7.62 PKT and powered-up engine. Opal-II is a stretched variant with longer chassis with 7 road wheels on each side, like the 2S1 and MT-LBu and 300 hp (220 kW) SW680T engine.Ordensburg Krössinsee
Ordensburg Krössinsee (also Crössinsee) was the first of three NS-Ordensburgen, educational centers constructed in Germany in the 1930s for cadres of the Nazi Party. It was built near what was then the city of Falkenburg in Pomerania, today Złocieniec in Poland.
Today, this former Nazi training centre is used by the 2nd Battalion, 12th Tank Brigade of the Polish Land Forces.PZL W-3 Sokół
The PZL W-3 Sokół (English: "Falcon") is a medium-size, twin-engine, multipurpose helicopter developed and manufactured by Polish helicopter company PZL-Świdnik (now AgustaWestland Świdnik). It was the first helicopter entirely designed and produced in Poland.Polish Armed Forces
The Armed Forces of the Republic of Poland (Polish: Siły Zbrojne Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej, abbreviated SZ RP; popularly called Wojsko Polskie in Poland, abbreviated WP—roughly, the "Polish Military") are the national armed forces of the Republic of Poland. The name has been used since the early 19th century, but can also be applied to earlier periods.
The Armed Forces of the Republic of Poland are the Wojska Lądowe (Polish Land Forces), Marynarka Wojenna (Polish Navy), Siły Powietrzne (Polish Air Forces), Wojska Specjalne (Polish Special Forces) and Wojska Obrony Terytorialnej (Polish Territorial Defence Force) which are under the command of the Ministerstwo Obrony Narodowej Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej (Ministry of National Defence of Poland).
From 2002 until 2014, Polish military forces were part of the Coalition Forces that participated in the ISAF mission in Afghanistan led by NATO. Poland's contribution to ISAF was the country's largest, since its entrance into NATO.
Polish forces also took part in the Iraq War. From 2003 to 2008, Polish military forces commanded the Multinational Division (MND-CS) located in the South-Central Occupation Zone of Iraq. The division was made up of troops from 23 nations and totaled as many as 8,500 soldiers.Scorpion aerobatic team
Grupa Akrobacyjna Skorpion ("Scorpion" Aerobatic team) is an aerobatic demonstration team of the aviation arm of the Polish Land Forces, flying 4 Mil Mi-24 Helicopters. It is one of the few helicopter aerobatic teams in the world and one of only 2 flying the Mi-24. Originally formed in 1999 at the 49th combat helicopters regiment in Pruszcz Gdański, the team made its début in 1999 at an air picnic in Pruszcz Gdański, and later performed at the 1999 Radom Air Show.
The team is currently suspended, as some of its pilots are on duty in Afghanistan.Stalag VIII-E
Stalag VIII-E (also known as Stalag 308) was a German World War II prisoner-of-war camp located next to the village of Neuhammer, Silesia (now Świętoszów, Poland). It was about 15 km (9.3 mi) south of the camps Stalag VIII-C and Stalag Luft III at Sagan, Germany, (now Żagań, Poland). It was built on a large German Army training ground that is still in use today by the Polish Land Forces' 10th Armoured Cavalry Brigade.Tadeusz Kościuszko Land Forces Military Academy
The Tadeusz Kościuszko Land Forces Military University (Akademia Wojsk Lądowych imienia generała Tadeusza Kościuszki) is a Polish Land Forces Military University in Wrocław, Poland.Waldemar Skrzypczak
Waldemar Skrzypczak (born 19 January 1956 in Szczecin) is a Polish general. From 2006 to 2009 he was the commander of Polish Land Forces. From 8 September 2011 he is an adviser at the Polish Ministry of National Defence. At 25 June 2012 he became deputy minister of defence, responsible for armament and modernisation.
He was the 4th commander of the Multinational Division Central-South (in 2005).Zygmunt Kiszkurno
Zygmunt Kiszkurno (6 January 1921 – 24 August 2012) was a Polish sport shooter who competed in the men's trap event at the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne, where he finished 15th in a field of 32 competitors. He was born in Brudzew, Turek County and completed high school in 1939 in Warsaw. He trained in Łódź to be a dentist and received a medical degree from the University of Warsaw in 1969. During this time he also served in the Polish Land Forces, eventually achieving the rank of Pułkownik.Kiszkurno continued shooting competitively following his Olympic appearance and was the Polish national champion in trap shooting in 1957 and 1969. Additionally, he won a silver medal at the 1964 European Shooting Championships. His father Józef competed in the same event in the previous year's Olympic Games and placed 9th.
|Maritime land forces|
|Air force land forces|
|Maritime forces aviation|
|Land forces aviation|
Armies (land forces) in Europe