East Shield “de facto a European project”. Tomczyk: we are talking about financing

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Deputy Minister of National Defense Cezary Tomczyk said that the East Shield border reinforcement project “is de facto becoming a European project.” – This is how both the European Union and NATO approach it today – he stated. He informed that talks have recently been held with, among others, the European Investment Bank on the possible financing of part of the project.

Deputy Ministers of National Defense Cezary Tomczyk and Paweł Bejda and the head of the General Staff of the Polish Armed Forces, General Wiesław Kukuła, appeared at a joint press conference on Wednesday.

– The Eastern Shield project is de facto becoming a European project – said Tomczyk at a conference devoted to actions aimed at strengthening Poland's eastern border and work within the Eastern Shield program.

He stressed that the Polish side wanted this both from the point of view of financing the project, but also because of the feeling that Poland cannot be put in a situation where its borders, eastern and northern, are not only its borders, because they are also the borders of the EU and FOR THIS. – And this is how both the EU and NATO approach it today – added the deputy defense minister.

The fundamental goal of the East Shield – emphasized Tomczyk – is deterrence, building infrastructure and capabilities that will allow for creating such awareness among our potential opponents that no one will dare to attack Poland, and in the event of an “extremely black scenario” the East Shield is to allow for pushing the enemy away, preventing him from entering Polish territory. – And that is why this program has strategic significance – emphasized the deputy head of the Ministry of National Defense.

Tomczyk informed about the recent talks with partners from the Baltic States and the European Investment Bank regarding possible financing of part of the project. He emphasized that the East Shield is the largest project of this type since World War II “not only in Poland, but in Europe in general”, and the line of planned fortifications also applies Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.

Operation Safe Podlasie

Tomczyk also announced the launch of Operation Safe Podlasie on August 1, the aim of which is to support the Border Guard by Polish Army soldiers, maintain anti-surprise capabilities and secure and support forces assigned to build the future infrastructure of the East Shield. Tomczyk noted that so far, the GRYF and RENGAW operations have been conducted on the Polish-Belarusian border, which were managed by different commanders: operational and general. – We need to standardize this process, so that the soldier knows who is commanding him and so that there is uniformity when it comes to the eastern and northern borders – he added. Bejda announced that one of the elements of the operation is to increase the involvement of the armed forces on the border to 17 thousand soldiers. He explained that this concerns 8 thousand soldiers serving directly at the border (currently it is 6 thousand) and 9 thousand in the so-called reserve.

– If anything happens on the border, these 9,000 soldiers with all equipment and weapons will reach the border within 48 hours to protect it. These will be rapid border reaction forces – he said.

Tomczyk, Bejda, KukułaPAP

“The Polish sky and border areas will be monitored very thoroughly”

– We have started activities to acquire 150 armored military vehicles that will transport our soldiers and at the same time protect them from various external attacks. These vehicles will serve on the border. We will acquire them in case of urgent operational need – said Bejda.

The deputy head of the Ministry of National Defense confirmed that procedures have already been launched to select the best offer in order to equip soldiers protecting the eastern border with this equipment as soon as possible. He added that these vehicles will join the light armored vehicles of the Polish Army and the Military Police already present there.

Bejda also announced actions aimed at “expanding the situational awareness” of soldiers, i.e. better recognition of the terrain and possible threats. This is “multi-layered protection” using satellites and early warning aircraft. – All this means that the Polish sky and border areas will be monitored in a very reliable and solid way – he said.

He also informed about the acceleration of equipping soldiers individually, so that “they have full comfort of service”. He added that the equipment that has already reached the border includes over 7,200 bulletproof vests and 150 smoothbore shotguns. In the future, this list is to be expanded with modern helmets, night vision equipment, thermal underwear and shoes. Tomczyk, summarizing the actions taken so far to strengthen border protection, mentioned the increase by one thousand soldiers, the launch of the POSG Operations Coordination Center common to all services and the improvement of cooperation between the services involved. General Kukuła assessed that over the last 6 months there has been “a great reassessment and changes” in the functioning of the forces sent to support the Border Guard on the border with Belarus – this includes improving reconnaissance and logistics and leaving soldiers choice light and heavy equipment variants. Kukuła also emphasized that the army plans more training for soldiers with a “police character”

Shield East

In June, the government adopted a resolution on the establishment of the “National Deterrence and Defense Program – Shield East”. It is to create “a comprehensive defense infrastructure on NATO's eastern flank to counter threats from Belarus and Russia”. The program, which is to be implemented in 2024-2028, has been allocated PLN 10 billion. It includes preparation for the defense of border areas by building a detection, warning and tracking system based on a network of base stations, forward operating bases, a network of bunkers/hiding places for destruction systems and the development of infrastructure for the needs of anti-drone systems.

Main image source: PAP



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