Poland has participated in numerous NATO, EU, and US-led security missions, including many outside of its region, even before joining NATO (1999) and the EU (2004).
The number of Polish troops and civilian employees serving outside of the country has risen in recent years. According to Poland’s defense ministry, Poland deployed approximately 1,300 – 1,400 military personnel (at a cost of 100 million PLN/$27 million) outside of its borders in 2016, and approximately 2,500 (at a cost of 186 million PLN/$50 million) in 2017. These numbers are likely to increase.
Although the Polish government and many Poles prefer for the nation to participate in missions closer to the country’s borders – which seem more relevant to increasing combat readiness in the face of potential Russian aggression – Warsaw nevertheless treats its involvement in overseas security missions as a sign of its unwavering commitment to NATO and the US.
EXAMPLES OF POLISH CONTRIBUTIONS TO NATO, EU, & US-LED SECURITY MISSIONS
In the fall of 1994, Poland contributed a contingent – consisting of commandos from the elite special forces unit GROM – to the US-led mission to stabilize Haiti (Operation Uphold Democracy).
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Poland has been contributing a small contingent of troops (thirty-nine soldiers) to peacekeeping, training, and advisory efforts in Bosnia and Herzegovina for over two decades: first within NATO (1996 – 2004), and subsequently within EUFOR Althea (2004 – present).
From 1999 on, a Polish contingent has formed a part of NATO’s Kosovo Force (KFOR); it currently numbers 262 soldiers (data from May 2017).
Poland has also provided a police contingent – the largest police contingent in its history – to assist the UN (1999 – 2008) and, later, the EU (2008 – present) in Kosovo.
Poland currently has 247 troops serving in Afghanistan as part of NATO’s Resolute Support Mission
Polish troops have served in Afghanistan – under the aegis of the US and NATO – since 2002.
Polish soldiers assisted the US (2003 – 2008) and NATO (2008 – 2011), in Iraq in operational combat, logistical, training, and stabilizing administrative capacities.
From 2003 to 2008, Poland was in charge of the South Central zone in Iraq and headed the Multinational Division Central-South.
From July 2008 to December 2009, Polish troops assisted EU humanitarian operations in Chad on behalf of refugees fleeing genocide in neighboring Sudan’s Darfur region.
In 2013 – 2014, Poland sent a contingent of twenty soldiers to Mali (which was being ravaged by a civil war) as part of the European Union’s Training Mission (EUTM) Mali. The Poles helped train the pro-government forces and provided other kinds of logistical, anti-mine, and counterintelligence support.
Poland contributed a small contingent to an EU operation in the conflict-torn Central African Republic in 2014 – 2017. The Poles were primarily involved in training the local police.
Polish Military Contingent (PMC) “Czernicki” in the Mediterranean and Black Seas
The Polish multipurpose logistical support ship, ORP Kontradmirał Xawery Czernicki, participated in operations conducted by the Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 2 (SNMCMG 2) in the Mediterranean, Aegean, and Black Seas from January to July 2017.
The Czernicki had earlier taken part in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Polish vessels and sailors have taken part in NATO operations in the Mediterranean since the first half of 2005.
Operation Inherent Resolve against ISIS
From June 20 – December 31, 2016, two Polish contingents took part in the US-led coalition fighting against ISIS in Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, and Qatar. The two contingents were not directly involved in combat. However, PMC Kuwait (four F-16 fighters plus up to 150 soldiers) conducted air reconnaissance while PMC Iraq – consisting of sixty special forces troops – advised and trained their Iraqi counterparts.
Poland’s Iraq and Kuwait PMCs also participated in the anti-ISIS struggle from July 1 to December 31, 2017. Their role was extended by President Andrzej Duda until June 2018.
Operation Sophia in the Mediterranean
From February 1 – December 31, 2018, Poland is participating in the European Union Naval Force Mediterranean (EUNAVFOR Med), also known as Operation Sophia, combating human smuggling from Libya.