Center for Strategic Decision Research

Paris '07 Workshop


Polish Chief of Defense, General Franciszek Gagor

Gen. Franciszek Gągor
Chief of General Staff of the Polish Armed Forces

General Franciszek Gagor (left), Polish Chief of Defense, with Polish Attache.

"We...fully support new countries’ aspirations to join the Alliance. We believe that in the foreseeable future
our Alliance family will enlarge, strengthening the security of the Euro-Atlantic area."

I have the honor of representing a country for which NATO is the basic security pillar. My country has undertaken an enormous effort to join the Alliance and to adapt our armed forces to its standards. Poland’s ambition has been and still is to be not only the beneficiary of but also a security provider for the Euro -Atlantic area, according to our capabilities and potential. That is the reason why we deeply analyze all the new ideas and changes implemented in NATO and why Poland continues her efforts to strengthen NATO as the most powerful and effective political-military structure based on strong Euro-Atlantic links and supported by necessary military capabilities.


I would like to share with you our views on some of the most important issues that may influence NATO’s future. 

The Open Door Policy

Let me begin with general remarks. When we joined NATO, Poland perceived the organization, and still perceives it, as a community of nations sharing the same political, moral, and social values including freedom, a free market, democracy, and observance of the United Nations Charter. We have always recognized NATO as the key stabilizing factor that broadens Europe’s economic and social development sphere. For this reason we give great attention to the “open door” policy and fully support new countries’ aspirations to join the Alliance. We believe that in the foreseeable future our Alliance family will enlarge, strengthening the security of the Euro-Atlantic area.

The Indivisibility of Security

We also support the principle that no nation is entitled to restrain the NATO enlargement process in the name of its own interests. No nation can try to divide Alliance members and treat new Allies as second-class members. We therefore think highly of the Riga Summit Declaration’s affirmation of the indivisibility of security for all NATO members, which, when combined with solidarity, makes the Alliance capable of meeting the challenges of the 21st century.

Collective Defense

As I have already mentioned, Poland thinks of NATO as a fundamental guarantor of our security. We therefore expect that collective defense will remain the Alliance’s core purpose and that NATO will be capable of meeting not only the already defined challenges, but also those that may emerge in the future, including new, complicated, and multidimensional threats in which the military element is not necessarily the most important. Here, I will mention energy security and security from cyber-attack, from which Estonia suffered recently.

Flexibility and Adaptability

Flexibility and the ability to adapt to emerging challenges are two of the critical prerequisites for NATO if it is to remain the pillar of the world’s security architecture. As we face new challenges and threats, including those not yet fully defined, we cannot fall back to the positions occupied during the Cold War, including the Alliance’s narrow range of missions and capabilities. Our people expect that we will ensure their security with all the available means from the inventory of international law, and meet incoming challenges and needs. We believe that such an approach should be reflected in the Alliance’s new strategy. This new strategy should create a foundation for a transformed Alliance that will make the security and defense organization capable of countering the full spectrum of threats. In this context we recognize that the comprehensive approach concept is a step in the right direction.

Military Capabilities

It is in the military capabilities area that strategic ideas and political will are being transformed into tools for implementing the most critical NATO tasks. We are not surprised, therefore, to see that this issue is finding its proper place in the agenda of each NATO summit or ministerial meeting. It was also reflected in the June defense ministers meeting.

In our view, all NATO capabilities can be put into a few groups, depending on the criteria. When we think of usability, the capabilities may be split into those necessary to conduct current operations and those that would allow us, in the future, to preserve NATO superiority over potential adversaries. It is a bit disturbing that, facing tough difficulties in the field, the Alliance focuses mainly on those capabilities needed by operational commanders for current operations while leaving those capabilities needed for the future to the member-nations as their individual problems. As a result we are dealing with duplication of effort and widening the technology gap between our nations’ armed forces. The assumptions of the CDE (Concept Development and Experimentation) are rather difficult to be seen realistically. Some revision of the CDE—not its principles but its implementation policy—may be necessary.

The second criterion might be the amount of financial investment needed to possess or develop certain capabilities, which can be split into those that small and medium-size countries can afford and those that even the most powerful nations can barely afford. Because of the high-tech costs, the first group systematically decreases and the second increases. Thus, the ability to develop the latter group of capabilities will decide the future modernization tempo of NATO forces and whether we can maintain interoperability and technical superiority. Our militaries are facing growing challenges in the areas of interoperability and standardization and we need to create mechanisms that make it possible for every member-nation to enhance the development of essential future capabilities. Poland is very much interested in enhancing such mechanisms and processes.

The Polish approach to prioritizing military capabilities is in line with that of the Alliance—we are focusing our attention on strategic air transport, NRF, and C4ISR. The “green light” goes to the Lessons Learned from CRO.

The NRF is, for Poland, the only Alliance force of rapid reaction. For this reason we are concerned about ideas that involve restricting or weakening its role. Eliminating the most costly modules from the CJSOR (of the NRF) is not the best way to solve the difficulties. I also don’t understand the hasty aspiration to review the NRF concept when, in reality, we are at the beginning of the road. Why not take more time to better implement the agreed-upon concept?

            The PE review of the NATO Command Structure is of particular concern. During the process of rationalizing the NCS and adapting to the new LoA, we sometimes forget that it is the main link joining the NATO military structures and the Alliance’s tool for capabilities management. In this context we notice the growing reliance on the NATO Force Structure for fulfilling command missions.


As I conclude, I would like to stress once again our strong support for the idea of broadening the area of security stabilization and common values through further NATO enlargement and by transforming NATO into an organization that can better react to the new challenges. Regarding capabilities, Poland is for enhanced and increased cooperation in their development. As for operations, we see the need for deeper political debate and improvement of the efficiency of military activities. Also, public diplomacy should be scrutinized to increase its effectiveness, so that the efforts of our soldiers in the field are appropriately assessed and can be appreciated by the general public.  In regard to cooperation with partners, we wish to encourage more of it and to have fewer bureaucratic rules, making it possible for all partners to effectively reform their security sectors and to widen their participation in NATO-led operations.

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