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Poland Table of Contents


Lines of Authority

Many proposals for restructuring the armed forces commands suffered the same fate as those for reforming military doctrine. In 1992 no clear apportionment of military and civilian policymaking powers existed in practice, and many civilian and military offices and directorates performed redundant functions. For example, the military Directorate of Logistics Planning and the civilian Department of Procurement performed similar tasks. The relative authority of officials at comparable levels of the two organizations (such as military chiefs of staff and viceministers of defense) also remained undefined.

The locus of ultimate military command remains a hot issue; Jan Parys, minister of national defense in the Olszewski government (and the first civilian to hold that position), was dismissed by President Walesa because Parys complained that his ministry was a powerless bureaucracy under Walesa's complete control. In mid-1992 Walesa ceded nominal approval of high military appointments to Janusz Onyszkiewicz, minister of national defense in the newly formed government of Hanna Suchocka. Although Walesa's move was presented as a concession to the stature of Onyszkiewicz, many observers believed that peacetime command of the Polish Army would remain an issue of contention between the presidency and the Council of Ministers.

Establishing civilian control over the Ministry of National Defense was a necessary move toward Western-style democratic rule. However, in the early 1990s high civilian officials often were named because of political influence rather than expertise, especially in the newly redesigned Department of Education (see Military Training and Education , this ch.). In fact, few civilians brought any military policy experience with them into Poland's postcommunist governments. This was mainly because Solidarity had avoided involvement with military and internal security policy in the contentious 1980s, fearing that opposition on those fronts might be a pretext for harsher government repression. Even after the fall of Jaruzelski, the first Solidarity government replaced communist officials in the defense and internal affairs establishments very cautiously to avoid antagonizing the PZPR in its last two government strongholds. Once the PZPR collapsed in 1990, however, the pace of reform increased.

Data as of October 1992