Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic joined NATO in 1999, despite strong Russian opposition.
Poland, a moderately large nation with a population of 38 million, 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.
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.
EXAMPLES OF POLAND-NATO COOPERATION
Increased military spending by Poland
Poland plans to devote an additional $55 billion to defense and military modernization by 2032.
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.
Participation in NATO military exercises
Participation in Baltic Air Policing protecting the airspace of the Baltic states
Participation in multinational NATO formations
Participation in and hosting the headquarters for NATO’s Multinational Corps Northeast in Szczecin
The headquarters of NATO’s Multinational Division Northeast are located in Elbląg, and a NATO Force Integration Unit (NFIU) – in charge of facilitating the deployment of rapid response forces – is based in Bydgoszcz (additional NFIUs are based in other eastern flank countries).
Participation in the Canadian-led battlegroup based in Adazi, Latvia. In addition, the US-led Battle Group Poland has its headquarters in Orzysz in northeastern Poland.
The four battle groups on NATO’s eastern flank – in Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia – are part of the alliance’s Enhanced Forward Presence. They are a 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.
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 (TFP)
The national troop contingents which make up the battlegroups are rotated every six months.
Contributions to the NATO Response Force - e.g., Poland was in charge of the special forces component in 2015 and the anti-WMD forces in 2016.
Participation in NATO and US-led out-of-area security missions
Hosting part of NATO’s missile defense system