Poland’s Current Strategic Doctrine

Commentary: The central idea developed in Poland's National Security Strategy document is coordination of national security with all the other existing public or private security systems. The document, which was released on May 12, makes an excellent analysis of the general procedures of transformation between the economy and the social organization of peace and war, with sure and, above all, quick and invisible mechanisms.

Polish tanks at a parade in Warsaw. Photo: Reuters

On May 12, 2020, the Polish government released its "National Security Strategy", a Document that had been submitted to the Presidency of the Republic by Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki. 

It makes an in-depth analysis of all Defence and Strategy areas which, in the past, were defined as comprehensive and "global". It deals with economy, technological defence system, "hybrid" and conventional warfare, Poland's relationship with its NATO, UN, OSCE and other allies, as well as cybersecurity and the security strategy of Poland's financial, business and commercial networks in a world which - as the Document itself maintains - is globalised, but is showing "fault lines" and differentiations which will be increasingly relevant in the future.

Nothing to do with Italy’s Defence "White Books", which seem to be - or probably are - drafted by a "temporary research fellow" of some minor peripheral university.
In other words, in this document Poland defines and analyses its specific and complex "national interest", at unusual levels of depth for a European country that left the "Warsaw Pact" not so long ago.

It is not enough to invoke the national interest, you must also know it in detail.

The first aspect, together with the loyalty to the Visegrad Group and the "Three Seas Initiative" (also known as Trimarium, as we can Latinise it) is the close relationship with the United States. 

To make it clearer, despite the simplistic name, Trimarium is the alliance of as many as twelve countries, ranging from Slovenia, Croatia, the members of the above stated enlarged Visegrad group (Poland first of all, which coincidentally was the promoter of the agreement, as well as Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Austria, Romania and Bulgaria).

Quite simply, Trimarium was created to physically and politically separate Germany from the Russian Federation. 

The idea underlying the Trimarium system, which started for the creation and development of infrastructure, is to remain - rather hypocritically, as can also be seen in the current declarations of the Czech Republic - only within the modestly infrastructural sphere, without geopolitical implications. However, who can believe the story?

Therefore, the idea underlying Trimarium replicates - in different contexts - the idea of Marshal Pilsudski in 1920, who thought that a belt of countries should be created to physically and militarily separate Russia from Germany, which is always porro unum et necessarium of any Russian strategy westwards, be it Soviet Union or a country in diguise. 

On the other hand, there is the now stable U.S. idea, dating back to Kissinger and Brzezinsky, the Secretary of State of Polish descent, who theorized the inevitable separation between the Eurasian Landmass and the European peninsula, so as to avoid triggering a Third World War. If the United States does not separate Russia from the Eurasian peninsula, there will be little room for manoeuvre in contemporary geopolitics for the United States. This holds particularly true. 

In Marshal Pilsudski's mind, Trimarium was an inevitable separation between two "quarrelsome" countries.

Moreover, the Trimarium countries have not even particularly bothered the EU, but have only resorted to the usual "enhanced cooperation" procedures, without causing too much trouble in a system like the EU’s, which is focused only on the economy - without even being successful - and, as always happens in these cases, fails precisely where it concentrates its greatest efforts. 

Some Trimarium members have also signed bilateral and autonomous agreements with Ukraine for the defence of its territory, but this still happens above all with Poland, which trains many Ukrainian forces, supports its secret services and also directly manages Ukrainian strategic positions.

Furthermore, millions of Ukrainians immigrate to Poland. This creates special and stable political and economic relations. 

With pensions, reunited families, schools attended by Ukrainian children and trade that are now such as to counterbalance the economic cycle - almost exclusively energy-based - between Russia and Ukraine. 

Apart from its covert operations in Ukraine and in the rest of the world, Poland anyway wants to further pursue the policy of "open doors" for Ukraine into NATO. It supports the arrival of Ukrainian armed forces within NATO by the end of 2020 - as stated, however, but not verified yet.

The problem is that Trimarium is a project for containing the Russian Federation, which has been expanding for centuries towards Europe and the Mediterranean "warm seas" but also, Germany and hence directly the EU, especially in terms of infrastructure.

However, after the very special relationship with the United States, which went as far as to want to name a U.S. military position in Poland Camp Trump, as requested in 2019 to the U.S. Presidential Administration. 

The United States, at first, and then the EU. Poland does not compromise on this. It is not negotiable - and with good reason.

Camp Trump, however, will not materialize, but in the meantime 1,000 U.S. soldiers, rotating with Germany, will be stationed in Poland to organize the autonomous networks of drones against the post-Soviet area.

Poland, however, has offered to the United States a future Fort Trump for 4,500 soldiers, paying alone 2 million U.S. dollars approximately.

The "Bucharest Nine" (Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czech Republic, Romania, Slovakia and Hungary) and other possible and future groupings ad rationem, however, partially separated from Trimarium since, according to official documents, there was no mention of security. 

Trimarium, always in Polish strategic hands, is worth 105 million people and a joint GDP of 2.8 trillion euros.

The Visegrad Four (Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia) already have a higher GDP than France. 

The current Polish market, however, is larger than that of the entire Russian Federation.

If we focus only on economic matters - as the EU is used to do -  the strategic and geoeconomic problem of Trimarium is already huge, and we must particularly thank the cunning leaders of its Member States for having avoided the noise resulting from an explicit and clearly anti-Russian or, possibly indirectly, extra- or anti-German strategic agreement.

Obviously all this creates a strategic - or at least geopolitical - entity alien to the EU policy line. 

Hence a more stable and stronger alliance than the one currently maintained by the most important European countries precisely with the United States. This is currently Poland’s “North Star”.

The other pillar is the close cooperation between Poland and Central European countries, ranging from the above-mentioned "Bucharest Nine" to the "Weimar Triangle", consisting of Poland, Germany and France, which was created in 1991 and is characterized by a meeting held every year between their three Heads of State.

So far the "Triangle" has been a disappointment for Poland. 

In 2003, France and Germany failed to make Poland oppose the U.S. invasion of Iraq. It was their interest, not Poland's.

The Triangle also failed in 2005, when the E.U. and Russia agreed to build the NordStream gas pipeline, which bypassed Poland. The same happened also during the 2008 war between Georgia and Russia, when the Polish and French Presidents competed to be the first to arrive in Tbilisi. 

The real and definitive break in the Triangle occurred when the then Polish President, Lech Kaczynsky, cancelled a Triangle Summit because he had been offended by a cartoon about him published in a German newspaper. 

In this strategic Document - reading between the lines, but also very clearly - Poland wants to directly strengthen the sovereignty of Moldova, Georgia and obviously Ukraine, but - again between the lines - also of Nagorno-Karabakh.

As explicitly said in the Document, the Russian Federation is always the main danger for Poland, while it is also noted that Russia increases - beyond the normal level of presence and deployment - both conventional troops and above all the structures, organizations and networks operating according to the rules of hybrid warfare conceived probably by General Gerasimov, as well as by the long and wise chain of Russian experts in this particular all-pervasive model of war - "without limits", like the parallel Chinese systems - but, above all, "without final time".

For NATO, on the other hand, enemy hybrid operations can be countered only from the individual country affected - a sort of suspension of Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty - but collective reactions against hybrid threats are only within the classical projects of collective defence.

In 2018 - hence too late - the Atlantic Alliance created counter hybrid support teams providing selective support to the Allies, upon request, to "prepare" them against hybrid threats.

For NATO, the hybrid threats are all within "psychological warfare" and propaganda. If only it were so. 

Exactly what has nothing to do with the operations envisaged by the Gerasimov Doctrine (that, in fact, started at the beginning in the mind of Yevgeny Primakov, a KGB operative like Putin but, above all, a great expert on the Middle East). In any case, the current Russian doctrine of hybrid warfare makes use of some basic principles:

a) the search for a multipolar world - also with multiple and simultaneous clash - with the "gathering", under Russia’s umbrella, of many intermediate powers capable of stopping the U.S. unipolar temptations; 

b) Russia must integrate all the post-Soviet area under its power and manage the new integration in its old Warsaw Pact area and probably even in other countries. Serbia, for example, but also Albania, Croatia, Greece, Cyprus, probably even parts of Southern Italy and obviously coastal Libya and part of Sinai. All is still in mente dei, but it is an option.

(c) Hence Russia's fierce opposition to any attempt to expand/stabilise NATO. This is the real issue that the Polish strategists now have in mind. 

According to Polish analysts and decision-makers, Russia mainly operates through the area of Kaliningrad-Koenigsberg, the old city of Immanuel Kant, and above all with the Russian Anti-Access/Denial Area systems - a defensive system developed precisely by the United States, which uses different kinds of defensive layers to protect the land, air and sea dimensions of Defence, so as to block the advance of enemy troops in any case. 

As in the hybrid warfare typical of the post-Soviet tradition, this does not rule out the use of proxies, terrorists, paramilitary groups and even criminal organizations.
However, this is not written in NATO texts. Puritanism can be tricky and plays tricks.

A strategy that the United States had built as early as 2001, with China as its main target.

The Polish Document also speaks - at length - of the cyber threats and the now extraordinary strength of the Russian soft power throughout the Eastern system which - as seen above - Poland wants to hegemonize, alone or with marginal allies, with a renewed "Pilsudski’s doctrine". 

This will also lead to major problems for a brainless and empty global European strategy.

The central idea developed in the Polish Document is - or rather would be - an excellent idea also for Italy: coordination of national security with all the other already existing public or private security systems, which would in any case be a mechanism linked to the Council of Ministers and with the direct involvement of the Speakers of the Chamber of Deputies (Sejm) and the Senate.

The Polish Document makes an excellent analysis of the general procedures of transformation between the economy and the social organisation of peace and war, with sure and, above all, quick and invisible mechanisms. This transformation, however, should be as quick and painless as possible. These are procedures we should also study in Italy. 

Excellent food for thought, but we can rest assured that nothing will be done about it in Italy.

Either we drink from the sources of River Lethe - which in Greek mythology was the river of oblivion, forgetfulness and concealment - or we believe that, in a strategic context like the present one, a "white knight" will always come to save us, perhaps without asking us anything in return. Quos Deus lose vult, dementat

With specific reference to the Polish Armed Forces, the Document talks about soon reaching 2.25% of GDP for military spending. 

Training to a "multi-domain" scenario is being prepared also for the Polish troops, unlike the Italian ones. In this scenario the denial of a use domain for the civil or military opponent has, however, ripple effects on other domains. 

Just think about the possible integration - as adverse action - of e-commerce with phone systems, GPS, road navigation or commercial aviation.

Hence the definition of future war as a whole of government approach, while the multi-domain strategy (MDO) is the series of operations triggered against a flexible opponent with many options at the same time. 

The MDO actions are always synchronized between the various levels and they always create strategic dilemmas for the opponent. They operate simultaneously in different domains and are often not directly related to each other. 

We are already well beyond the old network-centric warfare and, therefore, the Document we are talking about will lead Poland to build an integrated satellite system, a network of air vehicles capable of operating within a network and with simultaneous operations, as well as an additional anti-aircraft and anti-tank missile network, especially long-range. All of them will obviously be interconnected.

Poland will also have its own Cyber Defence Force, integrated into the above-mentioned network and into the Intelligence Services.

Which are the internal threats for Poland? As the document shows, first and foremost immigration. Poland weighs also the strategic effects of this phenomenon, not only those concerning the patronizing and charitable attitude of jet setters and socialites. 

The issue had already been highlighted, in the same terms, in the 2014 Document.

There is also the protection of Polish identity and national heritage. 

In the future Poland will benefit from as much as 63 billion euros, under the Von der Leyen Plan totalling 750 billion euros. In any case, the careful management of public budget and accounts in Poland currently makes it a safe and stable ally for the EU, in clear competition with Italy, Greece, Spain and France, in the near future.

 

Professor Valori is President of the International World Group

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