Poland Launches 53,000 Strong Reserve Force, European Military Build Up Continues
Amid a Russian military buildup in Eastern Europe, Poland has announced a new 53,000 strong volunteer force to prepare for any threat. The force will compliment Poland’s already standing military, as well British troops set to be stationed in the country. Polish leaders have cited Russia’s massive military buildup, and presence of nuclear-capable missiles in the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad, as among the key reasons for establishing the defense force.
Poland’s new volunteer force will be established on the American National Guard model. Civilians will train for military deployment, but won’t serve in the military full-time. This model is seen as a way to increase military capabilities without massive increases in spending.
In 2014, Poland spent 2.23% of its GDP on defense, making it one of the few European countries to not only met, but exceed the 2% spending levels stipulated in the NATO treaty. Estonia, in the Baltic, also spent 2.07%. Since 2009, defense spending for both countries has steadily increased, at least partially in response to increased Russian aggressiveness.
Russia has already annexed the Crimea, a territory of Ukraine, and has also been supporting separatists in other parts of the country. When invading the Crimea, Russian forces stripped off their insignias to look more like a militia, but given the massive number of troops and equipment, Russian involvement is unquestionable. Now, hundreds of thousands of Russian troops are massing on the country’s borders, particularly near the Baltic Sea.
USA, UK, Others Prepare For Possible Conflict
While the outbreak of war still remains unlikely, the United States military and its allies across Europe have been preparing for a worst case scenario. Earlier in November, before the election results were determined, the United States Army completed its largest ammunition deliver in more than 20 years. Since the end of the Cold War, weapons investments in Europe have steadily declined. Further, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have depleted the amount of available ammunitions in Europe.
With the prospect of war faintly on the horizon, a new build up has begun. The ammunitions will be delivered to NATO countries across Europe. Meanwhile, the American 3rd Armored Brigade and 4th Infantry Division are both preparing for deployment in January. They will arrive in Germany in January, and then disperse to Poland and the Eastern flanks.
The United Kingdom is sending 800 personnel and also armored equipment will be sent to Estonia. Drones, tanks, and military aircraft are believed to be part of the deployment. UK military aircraft are also being sent to Romania.
Beyond the UK and United States, other NATO countries are expected to deploy troops to Eastern Europe. In total, at least 4,000 additional troops will be stationed across the region. Still, this pales in comparison to the massive buildup being undertaken by Russia.