Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic joined NATO in 1999, despite strong Russian opposition.
Poland, a moderately large nation with a population of 38.6 million (2019), is a key frontline member of NATO. Along with the Baltic states, it serves as a buffer (as it has historically) shielding Germany and Western Europe from Russia and other attackers from the east (2018).
Warsaw takes its obligations to NATO very seriously, cooperates with the alliance on multiple levels, and is one of the few member-states honoring the commitment to devote at least two percent of its GDP to defense (2019).
EXAMPLES OF POLAND-NATO COOPERATION
Increased military spending by Poland:
Poland announced plans to spend roughly €43 billion on modernizing Polish armed forces by the year 2026 (2019).
Participation in NATO military exercises:
Participation in multinational NATO formations:
Poland has participated in and hosts the headquarters for NATO’s Multinational Corps Northeast in Szczecin (2019).
Elbląg is home to the headquarters of NATO’s Multinational Division Northeast (2019), and a NATO Force Integration Unit (NFIU) – in charge of facilitating the deployment of rapid response forces – is based in Bydgoszcz (2019).
Poland has participated in the Canadian-led Battle Group based in Adazi, Latvia (2018). In addition, the US-led Battle Group in Poland has its headquarters in Orzysz in northeastern Poland (2018). The national troop contingents which make up the battlegroups are rotated every six months (2018).
The four battle groups on NATO’s eastern flank – in Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia – are part of the alliance’s Enhanced Forward Presence. This was formed in response to Russian aggression against Ukraine in 2014, and the decision to deploy them was made at the NATO summit in Warsaw in July 2016 (2019).
On NATO’s southeastern flank, Poland has contributed a contingent to the Romanian-based Multinational Division Southeast (MND-SE) as part of NATO’s Tailored Forward Presence (2018).
Joint training centers to improve interoperability:
Established in 2004, the Joint Force Training Center (JFTC) in Bydgoszcz focuses on combined/joint training to improve the interoperability of NATO military forces (2018).
Other alliance training centers in Poland are the Bydgoszcz-based NATO Military Police Center of Excellence (established in 2013) and the Kraków-based NATO Counter Intelligence Centre of Excellence (established in 2017).
Participation in NATO and US-led out-of-area security missions (2018)
Hosting part of NATO’s missile defense system (2019)