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DECEMBER 2020

A wave of resignations sweeps the Polish high command

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A wave of resignations sweeps the Polish high command

Original by Juliusz Cwieluch published by Polityka; translation by J.Hawk

A wave of resignation has swept Armed Forces General Command (DGRSZ), which is the Polish military’s key command apparatus. Nearly all of its most important officers have tendered resignations in the last few days. Out of 23 generals assigned to the DGRSZ, five have resigned, including three two-star generals.

The list of resignations is not being published. One of the generals who is unofficially mentioned as having resigned is Division General Janusz Bronowicz, Land Forces’ General Inspector who is in charge over the most important component of the Polish military.

General Bronowicz climbed nearly every rung of the career ladder. He was a successful commander of Poland’s 6th rotation to Afghanistan. He was also involved in planning the largest Polish military exercise since the end of the Warsaw Pact. The Anakonda 2016 exercise is to include 25 thousand soldiers, including 12 thousand from Poland.

This information is all the more concerning since Bronowicz’s resignation was accompanied by the resignations of both of his deputies, Generals Andrzej Andrzej Kuśnierek and Stanisław Olszański. The Naval Inspectorate has also lost its chief. According to unconfirmed reports, Vice-Admiral Marian Ambroziak has decided to hang up his uniform.

As if that was not enough, the DGRSZ is also losing its chief of staff. On February 29, Division General Ireneusz Bartniak has offered his resignation. General Bartniak is so far the only officer to have officially confirmed his resignation. In his letter to Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz, he asked for reducing the 6-month resignation notice for “personal reasons. Bartniak and his colleagues did not want to comment on their resignations.

Whoever is nominated in his place will lack his experience. Bartniak served on the 9th Iraq rotation where he was heavily engaged in combating Iraqi insurgency which nearly completely took over the city of Diwaniya. Bartniak has served for 35 years and is leaving at the age of 55, still at the peak of his abilities. Like the other officers.
The Polish military has not experienced such a wave of resignations in the last few decades. Even though they are voluntary, the officers unofficially blame the atmosphere in the military following Antoni Macierewicz’s assumption of the post of Minister of Defense. –As an officer, I can only express my opinion by leaving, one of the departing generals has stated.
The wave of resignations is not only bad news for Polish soldiers. In a few weeks, the first US units will arrive in Poland to take part in the Anakonda 2016 exercise (scheduled for June 7-17). The US decided to send a record number of 10 thousand soldiers to Poland. Addition 3 thousand will be contributed by other NATO countries. These exercises are supposed to serve as a great demonstration of NATO’s unity and power prior to the July NATO summit in Europe.
The decimation of the command system right before such an important event is fatal news which will no doubt be noticed, and not only by Poland’s allies. The US has already requested the Ministry of Defense to explain how this news is to be interpreted, and whether it will influence the exercises and further military cooperation. The Ministry so far has not issued a response.
J.Hawk’s Comment: Washington is right to be concerned, since Poland is asserting its own independence in ways that the earlier, pro-EU, government would not have. For all the militant rhetoric, the main political foe for the current Law and Justice (PiS) government is internal. Defense Minister Macierewicz is obsessed with pinning the Smolensk air disaster on the Russian government (which, remarkably, Washington has shown no interest in facilitating) and, especially, on the previous government which is tantamount of accusing them of high treason. Not for nothing is Washington, Brussels, and Berlin worried, because the resulting political divisions in Poland will leave that country far less capable of acting as part of NATO and will render it a less trustworthy adversary. It doesn’t help that Macierewicz has no interest in actually discharging his duties as Defense Minister, preferring instead to engage in political witch hunts.
 Can US and EU do anything about it? Probably not. There will be the usual EU commissions and threats, but they will probably not amount to much since the West has little influence over Warsaw, just as it has very little influence over Kiev. In both cases, these minor allies (if not clients) know they are indispensable to the more powerful EU and NATO powers, and therefore their internal political vagaries must be tolerated. In terms of the bigger picture, the fact that more and more countries are slipping out of the grip of Brussels and Washington is a sign that the post-Cold War predatory neo-liberal (or neo-colonial) model of development has run its course, and its crisis will redraw the geopolitical maps of Europe and other regions of the world.

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