It would seem that the Polish MoD has a well thought through strategy in regards to the development of the Armed Forces. Unfortunately I start to doubt that is the case.
Not that long ago, I reported about the changes to Polish Special Operations Forces Command (POLSOFCOMM), which involved a division of responsibilities between the reformed POLSOFCOMM and the SOF Inspectorate. This was part of a general reorganization of the command structure in the Polish Armed Forces and all of our allies had been well aware of this change. Shocking as it may seem, three days after it officially went operational, POLSOFCOMM received an order to be disbanded.
The most surprised of all were the SOF guys themselves, with a good bit of them finding out that they no longer work for POLSOFCOMM from the media. With the initial reorganization, everyone had time to prepare and give our allies a heads up; this time no such liberty was given by the MoD. On January 3, just three days into its work, an order was issued by the MoD to disband the new POLSOFCOMM and establish a Special Operations Centre (SOC) by January 10.
This was to be a severe change compared to the reorganization that occurred just days before. The Command would lose its ability to command the units, set-up strategies, or provide training and logistical support, which were all reasons why POLSOFCOMM was actually created six years ago. Additionally, of the 250 staff, about 100 were to lose their jobs.
One could think that something like this clearly suggests a push to cut spending on SOF and Armed Forces as a whole. But I do not see the logic. Why would they set up what they now call a “temporary structure” (reformed POLSOFCOMM), spend God only knows how much money on it (administrative expenses, signs, stamps etc.), only to throw that away after three days?
One of the reasons why POLSOFCOMM was actually established was to provide autonomy to SOF in regards to equipment purchases, training and logistics, all of which were big issues when SOF units were subordinate of the General Staff. This allowed POLSOFCOMM to establish a Force User-Force Provider method that sky-rocketed Polish SOF into the 21st Century; a method created based on combat experience that gives a command structure the possibility and responsibility on all aspects of work carried out from training and logistics up to execution of actual operations.
Does the MoD Know What It Is Doing?
Pretty much a better part of last year was utilized by POLSOFCOMM to prepare for the reorganization of the chain of command of the Armed Forces. One of the key aspects was to reassure our allies that the change would not have a significant impact on the readiness and performance of POLSOF. After all, many countries contributed greatly over the years to bringing POLSOF up to top NATO standards. Everyone had hoped that the changes would be for the better, and in this spirit Poland was awarded the prestigious title of being capable to deploy a NATO Response Force (NRF) Special Operations Component Command (SOCC).
This all changed just three days after the reform.
When asked for the reasons behind the change, an MoD spokesman said: “We have decided that SOC was ready and there was no use to further delay its creation, the reformed POLSOFCOMM was in this case only a temporary structure.” Too bad no one in the command structure knew about this plan.
Absolute Chaos in Polish Chain of Command
A few weeks later, it turned out that the SOC was also a “temporary structure” and no one has any idea or plan regarding how Polish SOF should work. All we see is a struggle between the General Command and the Operational Command of the Armed Forces over their “privileges” in regards to commanding SOF.
Some documents made public indicate that the General Command has only just begun work on establishing a new plan for the SOF, and are engaging the Operational Command in a quarrel over which of these would be responsible for which aspect of SOF work. A new structure should have been ready and tested by January 1. As we now know, nothing, apart from the initial reform, was done.
Last Six Years Down the Drain?
This situation has a devastating impact on POLSOF. It is exactly the opposite of the reason why POLSOFCOMM was established in the first place. Six years of careful development and reorganization have practically been deleted.
Where does this put POLSOF in the eyes of our allies, who on many occasions invested heavily into the development of our SOF? One of the many repercussions is the likely loss of the prestigious SOCC title, as the operation of such a structure has not been written into the responsibilities of the Special Operations Centre (SOC).
With the current state of affairs and growing tensions in regards to Ukraine, discontent among SOF members is on the rise. The actions of the MoD and High Command seem anything but aimed at ensuring security and stability for both the country and the Armed Forces. This has got to stop. It questions the very intentions of the government in providing national security.
We can only hope that this whole mess gets cleaned up ASAP, the people responsible are held accountable and we are not caught with our pants down and our armed forces in complete disarray. NATO has got to step in and demand that this whole situation be addressed, especially in regards to the recent declaration by US officials of further financial help for the Polish Army in response to the Ukrainian crisis. I do not want to see that money invested and then wasted after a few years.
NATO… Time to wake up.