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Poland Table of Contents


Transition and Reform

In 1989 the peaceful transition from the Jaruzelski regime to the popularly elected Solidarity-led government had little immediate impact on the organization of the Polish military. General Florian Siwicki, who had been Jaruzelski's minister of national defense, served in the first cabinet of noncommunist Prime Minister Tadeusz Mazowiecki, even though Siwicki had been closely involved in the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia and the imposition of martial law. Under Mazowiecki, Siwicki directed a first phase of military reforms until he was replaced in mid1990 . General Czeslaw Kiszczak, Jaruzelski's minister of internal affairs throughout the martial law period, also was held over in Mazowiecki's first cabinet. Kiszczak began redirecting the charter of the infamous special police services away from their traditional communist role of support for the government in power and toward protection of society as a whole.

In 1989, for the first time since the interwar period, the military came under open scrutiny by the Polish media and parliament. Public resentment of the armed forces as a tool of communist repression was increased by exposures of brutality and corruption under Jaruzelski. The military responded with a campaign of openness and humanization that finally led to substantial reform and reduced hostility between the military and Solidarity. Reform measures taken by the end of 1990 included removal of all political organizations from the military, further budget and manpower reductions, conversion of thirty military installations to civilian use, shortened terms of service for draftees, and freedom of religious practice in the military (see The Military and Society , this ch.). Shortages of personnel already had forced passage of an alternative service law in 1988. Lech Walesa, the first popularly elected president, who came to power in December 1990, became commander in chief of the armed forces, and the Ministry of National Defense began a transition from a basically military body into a civilian agency of the government in which military authority would be distinctly subordinate (see Evolution and Restructuring , this ch.).

Externally, Poland's chief military goal in the first postcommunist years was ending the Warsaw Pact obligations that still placed Soviet troops on Polish soil in the early 1990s, then moving as quickly as possible to a new set of national security agreements. In 1990 Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and Poland began urging the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact, citing new geopolitical conditions that made such an arrangement superfluous for the security of both the Soviet Union and the East European member nations.

In late 1990, the Poles then entered long and difficult bilateral negotiations on the Soviet troop issue, including the timing for withdrawal from Poland and the method by which Soviet troops leaving Germany would cross Polish territory. Soviet negotiators resisted an early timetable (Walesa's initial bargaining position required complete withdrawal by the end of 1991) and demanded compensation for installations that Soviet forces had built. The Soviet position on Poland was determined by existing agreements for complete Soviet withdrawal from Czechoslovakia and Hungary, and by the recent reunification of Germany. After those events, Poland was perceived as the last pillar of the Soviet Union's European security structure. The issue was finally resolved in late 1991 with Soviet agreement to remove all combat troops from Poland by the end of 1992 and all support troops by the end of 1993. A separate agreement defined terms for transit of Soviet troops from Germany through Poland (see Threat Perception , this ch.).

Data as of October 1992