There is a briefing at the head of the Ministry of National Defense, and the generals are waiting in the hall. “They were humiliated so much that they had no other choice”
Photo: Sławomir Kamiński / Agencja Wyborcza.pl
Civilians and other officers attended the briefings with Defense Minister Mariusz Błaszczak, but two generals – the Chief of the General Staff of the Polish Army, Rajmund Andrzejczak, and the operational commander, Tomasz Piotrowski – waited in the hall because they were only informed afterward what they were supposed to do. Artur Molęda from TVN24 writes about the behind-the-scenes of the departure of the most important commanders.
May 11, 2023. Lieutenant General Tomasz Piotrowski observes the Anaconda maneuvers at the training ground in Ustka, which are the most important exercise for Polish army. Among the guests are partners and commanders from FOR THIS. It has to be spectacular and professional. Such a display of the best in our military. – Suddenly we get news that Błaszczak is accusing him of something on TV. He didn’t call him, he didn’t meet him. He did it through TV – a man from General Piotrowski’s entourage tells us the behind-the-scenes of the whole mess. This is how the largest conflict in Poland’s recent history began publicly between the Minister of National Defense and the army.
The rocket that fell near Bydgoszcz became famous only when a woman on a horse found it in the forest. Previously, the army, on orders Mariusz Błaszczak and the Operations Center of the Ministry of National Defense did not talk about this matter.
And here’s a short explanation. The Operational Center of the Minister of National Defense is a unit in the ministry that is responsible for Mariusz Błaszczak’s communication. Formally, there is no full-time press spokesman in the ministry. They are the ones who organize his statements to the media and monitor the frames on government television cameras so that the PiS vice-president looks as good as possible.
– It’s a troupe following him. Arranging frames, everything. It’s theater and parody. These are not Wołoszański’s programs, but real actions in many places. Stand-up speeches – says General Jarosław Stróżyk, former deputy director of the NATO Intelligence Directorate and defense attaché in the United States, currently associated with the University of Wrocław and the Stratpoints Foundation.
It was the Operations Center that took over all crisis communication. Even though both the General Command of the Armed Forces and the Operational Command of the Armed Forces now have media specialists. People open to cooperation, a new quality in the army. But Błaszczak prefers to take care of it himself. How does it look in practice? Here are some examples of what advocates told me when I called them about current issues:
Did something fall in Przewodowo? Please call CO MON. Did Belarusian helicopters fly in? Please call CO MON. Will we evacuate people from Israel? Please call CO MON.
I found out at the end of April that the Ministry of National Defense would interfere with communication regarding the discovery in the forest near Bydgoszcz. Then we were invited to the operational command “for an important announcement” by General Piotrowski. People from CO MON appeared there. I was surprised because those who monitor Błaszczak’s message, i.e. the political message, never came to the soldiers’ statements or conferences. Afterwards, I asked Piotrowski’s people what was going on. They shrugged and said: Artur, what can we do?
– I think that the minister could have given the general such a task, ordering him to make a reassuring statement that was written quickly by someone and it is not known what it referred to. If I had come to Poland a day earlier and listened to his speech, I would not have known what he was referring to. No general likes to be pushed like that by a civilian. Evidently, since then, the gentlemen have stopped liking each other, says reserve colonel Artur Goławski, former spokesman for the General Command of the Armed Forces and the Air Force Command.
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