Country Listing

Poland Table of Contents


The Communist Tradition

Under Poland's communist regimes, the Politburo of the PZPR was ultimately responsible for major military policy decisions, with nominal responsibility lodged with the Council of Ministers. The Administration Department of the PZPR's Central Committee closely supervised military affairs, monitoring such items as promotions and budgets. The minister of national defense, who was always a general officer and usually a full member of the Politburo, was supreme commander of the army and chief of operations. Beginning in 1982, however, Jaruzelski delegated this responsibility (which he nominally retained after becoming head of state) to General Siwicki. The Polish People's Army included all branches--ground forces, navy, air force, and air defense-- but lines of command differed among the services. Commanders of the naval and air forces reported directly to the minister of national defense. The ground forces, on the other hand, reported to the minister of national defense through the General Staff. In practice, the minister of national defense often commanded all aspects of a military exercise, and the General Staff, which nominally commanded only the ground forces, made policy binding on all branches.

The armed forces were divided into the operational army and the National Territorial Defense Forces (Obrona Terytorium Kraju- -OTK). The former was organized as an integral part of Warsaw Pact forces, whereas the latter was limited to service in Poland and had no role in Warsaw Pact activities. The operational army forces were administered in three military districts--Wroclaw, Bydgoszcz, and Warsaw--each of which had a two-division corps and a rapid-reaction corps.

Data as of October 1992