Poland could double army size thanks to voluntary service, says minister

Shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine, the Polish government began talking about its plans to boost the country’s defensive capacity against a potential Russian invasion. Many projects were discussed, from increasing the country’s defence budget to compulsory shooting classes for children as part of the school core curriculum. [Shutterstock/Bumble Dee]

Voluntary basic military service is such a tempting option that Poland will be able to double the size of its army, said Polish Defence Minister Mariusz Błaszczak.

Shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine, the Polish government began talking about its plans to boost the country’s defensive capacity against a potential Russian invasion. Many projects were discussed, from increasing the country’s defence budget to compulsory shooting classes for children as part of the school core curriculum.

A plan to increase the Polish army was also mentioned. The Armed Forces of the Republic of Poland currently numbers 144,000 soldiers – 111,500 professional soldiers and 32,000 soldiers of the Territorial Defence Forces. In addition, there are 1.7 million people in the Polish reserve.

The Poles have a plan to double the size of their army and bolster the military reserves – the goal is to have 300,000 professional soldiers ready to defend Polish borders at any time.

A new law has been introduced, which increases military spending to 3% of Polish GDP and introduces a new way of joining the army – voluntary basic military service. Błaszczak outlined its details: a volunteer to become a soldier will go through two stages of training – 28 days of basic training, followed by 11 months of specialist training in his unit. During this time, the soldier will be able to live in his home instead of barracks and will receive a private’s salary (around €1,000 a month).

“Our goal is to create such a strong Polish Army that a possible aggressor would not dare to attack our homeland,” the minister said during a press conference yesterday (26 May).

Błaszczak also reported that on the first day of recruitment (21 May), as many as 1,600 people across the country had signed up for military service.

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