Warsaw has announced plans to increase its defense budget 18% next year, becoming one of just five NATO countries living up to its commitment to devote a scant 2% of GDP to national defense.
The Polish armed forces have fought more wars for national survival than most, but they remain burdened by ageing Soviet equipment. The air force still flies MiG fighters; the army relies on T-72 tanks.
About 70 per cent of Poland’s armoury dates from the era when the country was in the Warsaw Pact. Only 30 per cent meets Nato standards.
An ambitious rearmament programme aims to reverse that ratio by 2022.
Whether that goal can be achieved is open to question. Already, the government stands accused of wasting money on high profile weapons of little military value.
Poland shouldn’t worry — yet — about buying jets and Patriot antimissile batteries. The USAF can do more in the short-to-medium run to bolster their air defenses. Instead, Poland should devote its new spending to tanks, anti-tank weapons, and training. Lots and lots of training.
Make Putin think twice (or at least once) before ordering the unthinkable.