WARSAW — Special operations forces troops from Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic will organize joint drills and set up a multinational Combat Group operating within European Union structures.
Polish Defense Minister Tomasz Siemoniak said the agreement among the defense ministries of the four countries is intended to boost defense cooperation among EU member states.
Czech Defense Minister Vlastimil Picek said his country also wants to emphasize cooperation among defense industries that should be broadly inclusive.
“We are interested in cooperating on a multilateral level, on which it is necessary to involve not only … the V4, but also NATO and the European Union,” Picek said.
Military ties among the four Visegrad Group (V4) countries, all of which are members of the EU, are to be bolstered by Cobra ’13, a series of regionwide drills by special operations units that will take place in November in Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Lithuania.
The latter country is another NATO member state from Eastern Europe that recently signed a similar agreement with Poland aimed at improving the training capacity of the two countries’ special operations units, military officials said.
“[Poland] will make available our training facilities to Lithuania, and in return, we will be able to use theirs. This will be very beneficial for both sides,” said Brig. Gen. Piotr Patalong, chief of the Polish Special Forces Command.
Creating a Visegrad Combat Group is one of a series of initiatives by Poland to boost regional defense cooperation. The four countries will reportedly deploy 3,000 troops to the Combat Group, including 1,200 Polish troops. The Combat Group would begin combat duty in 2016.
Poland, the leading force behind the agreement, also has proposed that the Visegrad Group jointly develop armaments that could be used by the four armies.
Local news weekly Polska Zbrojna reported that the most likely cooperative projects would include tracked and wheeled armored vehicles, battleground systems, aircraft maintenance, ammunition and personal weapons.
With deep budget cuts affecting defense expenditures across the EU, cooperative armament development could greatly mitigate the impact of austerity measures, analysts said.
The four special operations forces also want to use their regional alliance to exchange warfare and tactical experience.
“We are seeing an increase in asymmetrical warfare in which special forces play a very significant role,” Patalong told Polska Zbrojna.
Poland has earmarked 31.45 billion zloty (US $9.9 billion) for the Defense Ministry for 2013, up about 7 percent over a year earlier. Of this, some 311 million zloty was set aside for the Special Forces Command, an increase of 3.8 percent.
Set up in January 2007, the Special Forces Command in Krakow oversees Poland’s five special operations units:
■ GROM, set up in 1990 as the Polish military’s first special operations forces unit, consists of two squadrons and specializes mainly in counterterrorism operations.
■ Formoza, the marine special operations forces unit stationed by the Baltic Sea shore.
■ The Special Commando Unit stationed in Lubliniec, in the country’s southwest, made up of three squadrons.
■ Nil, a special forces command and support unit.
■ Agat, created in 2011 and stationed in Gliwice in southern Poland. The most heavily armed unit of the Polish Special Forces, it is modeled after US Army Rangers.