The Polish Army has officially begun assembly of the 18th Mechanized Division. In early November, defense minister Mariusz Blaszczak approved the schedule for the formation of the unit. It will be based in the Eastern part of the country near the borders to Belarus and Ukraine. That reports bmpd.
With this new division, the Polish Land Forces will have a total of four divisions. The number of divisions has fluctuated a bit in recent years. Until recently there were four divisions, but this was reduced to three when the 1st Mechanized Division was dissolved in 2011. The decision to return to four was made in 2016 as a result of increased tensions with Russia.
The existing structure consists of the 11th Armored Cavalry Division, and the 12th and 16th Mechanized Divisions, which include a total of 10 brigades. In addition to these, Poland also has six independent brigades.
The 18th Mechanized Division will adopt some of the existing brigades, so it is not an entirely new formation. The 16th Division has four brigades today, so they will have to give one away. Also the new division will subsume the independent 21st Podhale Rifles Brigade. A third mechanized brigade will be formed from scratch, and it will be ready by 2022. The new brigade will be based in Lublin. Divisional structures will be formed gradually until 2026. This includes intelligence, artillery, air defense etc.
The Polish armed forces are in the midst of an ambitious expansion which doubles the number of personnel under arms from 100,000 to 200,000 and brings defense spending up to 2.5 percent of GDP. Of these new soldiers, there will be 50,000 professionals and reservists respectively.
Recently, Poland has had surprising success with a push for a permanently based American armored division in the country. Poland has offered to contribute up to $2 billion to the construction of the base. I think permanent stationing of U.S. troops in Poland is a bad idea, and Michal Kofman has presented the arguments well. In short, it makes more sense with a rotational scheme on NATO’s Eastern flank and permanently based structures in Germany. And if you were to permanently base something in Poland, an armored division is probably not the tool to choose. But the Polish president Andrzej Duda has managed to gain some traction in Washington for the proposal, perhaps not least because he suggested to name the base “Fort Trump”.