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Poland Table of Contents


Officer Education

In the communist era, officer education began with the precepts of Marxism-Leninism and their importance in defending the socialist system. The MPA directed the officers' indoctrination in these precepts. By contrast, in training both officers and enlisted personnel the postcommunist military education system emphasized the individual's role in maintaining Poland's military heritage and traditions rather than in preserving a particular ideology. The Education Officers Corps was abolished, as was the post of deputy commanding officer in military units, which had been obligatory billets for political officers. In 1990, public skepticism toward the initial reshuffling of the military education program led to a second stage of reform. The GZW was then reconstituted as the Department of Education and given a broad educational mission. These moves were seen as a clean break with political indoctrination of the military and an opportunity to improve the professional level of military personnel.

Higher officer candidate schools had been the major source of career officers in the Polish People's Army, although a few graduates of civilian schools switched to a military career after completing their active-duty obligation. Of the fourteen higher officer candidate schools in the 1980s, only the Technical Military Academy and the Medical Military Academy received sufficient qualified applicants. In the communist era, all schools offered programs for political officers as well. Graduation from a higher officer candidate school yielded a bachelors degree and a commission as a second lieutenant.

From 1949 to 1989 all instruction at Polish military schools was heavily politicized. At the higher officer schools and military graduate schools, mandatory courses included Marxist philosophy, political economy, and scientific socialism. The stated goal of such courses was "to instill the socialist outlook among soldiers."

Officer training reform in the early 1990s stressed defensive techniques and sought to blend military training with education to produce well-rounded officers who could be integrated more fully into Polish society. Low attendance and low budgets required closing some specialized schools, and several other specialized schools were merged. In some cases, joint programs were established with universities.

In another effort to depoliticize Polish military training, a single senior military school, the National Defense Academy (Akademia Obrony Narodowej--AON) was established in 1990. The AON merged the General Staff and military-political academies, which had been criticized as bastions of cronyism that provided nonfunctional instructor positions for senior officers. The AON's mission is to train commanders and senior staff officers as well as to prepare civilians for service in the upper echelons of the defense bureaucracy. Graduate programs have been established offering masters and doctoral degrees. The AON also develops policy recommendations for national defense, and its faculty often participates in intragovernmental working groups assembled to define future national security policy.

Data as of October 1992