Country Listing

Poland Table of Contents


Border Troops

Under the communist regimes, the Border Guard Troops (Wojska Ochrony Pogranicza--WOP) was an agency of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, which was responsible for tight border security as well as a variety of less specific missions. In 1991 the military-style WOP was disbanded and replaced by the Border Guard (Straznik Graniczny--SG), whose commander was appointed by and reported directly to the prime minister. The force was reduced from 20,000 to 13,500 troops, with the top-heavy officer corps absorbing the largest cuts.

The newly configured force retrained the large numbers of lower- and mid-level cadre that remained in service and switched its operational strategy from tight border patrols to border reconnaissance. SG activity is now aimed at preventing illegal border crossings, smuggling, and the entry of environmentally harmful materials into Poland from adjoining countries. Between 1990 and 1991, border crossings into Poland increased from 2 million to 10 million. In 1991 and 1992, the major refugee movements from Eastern Europe and Southern Europe put great stress on Poland's reduced border force, which was responsible for customs and visa inspections at border crossings. A 1991 study showed alarming signs that Poland's borders were very porous. For example, 70 percent of goods declared as transiting Poland remained within the country once they entered (thus having avoided taxes and duties), and only 30 percent of automobiles going into the Soviet Union had proper transport documents.

Data as of October 1992