NATO already has new plans ready for the defense of Poland and the Baltic countries, Gazeta Wyborcza has learned. The Alliance has identified the specific divisions and ports which would serve in a potential operation.
Such contingency plans guarantee a country not only armed assistance from the Allies. They also constitute an outline of the combat operation that could be carried out on that country’s territory in the event of an attack. All the older NATO countries have such plans still dating from the times of the Cold War.
Poland had such plans dating from 1999, its NATO accession, but they needed to be updated (among other factors, in view of the withdrawal of some US units from Europe). At the same time, we were seeking to have the Baltic countries, Lithuania, Lithuania, and Estonia, encompassed by such plans as well.
The Polish efforts have ended in success. “Plans for Poland were prepared this September, after consultations with the defense ministers of the Baltic countries and Poland,” our source at NATO command says. “They encompass actions during the first phase of an operation. The plans for Poland are already quite detailed, for the Baltic countries this is a preliminary version.”
“After two years, contingency plans have been successfully prepared for Poland,” Polish Defense Minister Bogdan Klich confirmed for us. However, he refuses to talk about the details — which are NATO secrets.
Off the record we know the plans have already been accepted by NATO command. The NATO member states are meant to approve them at the Lisbon summit two weeks from now.
According to unofficial information, command of an operation to defend Poland and the Baltic countries will be assumed by the NATO Joint Force Command in Brunssum in the Netherlands, which is responsible for the security of Central and Eastern Europe. Importantly, this command center was not affected by cuts in the NATO reform now underway.
Brunssum will establish what is known as a high-readiness headquarters to directly run the operation in Poland.
In the event of aggression against Poland, NATO plans to deploy as many as nine divisions into battle. Four of them Polish, the remainder from Western countries, including British, German, and American ones. They will be transported by all possible routes: by land, by rail, by airplane, and by sea.
The ports meant to receive large assault units have already been named. The most important among them is Swinoujscie. This port is currently carrying out a thorough modernization using NATO money, so that it can receive large warships longer than 200 m and submerged more than 10 m.
The port in Gdynia was also modernized with NATO assistance. Poland was very anxious for Allied troops to be able to land not just on the country’s western border.
NATO also anticipates that Western forces will be deployed to the German ports in Rostock, Wismar, Stralsund, and as a last resort, if not possible further to the east, to the port in Hamburg.
“The naval units that will defend the Polish coast have been named,” adds our source has NATO. “They are British and US warships.”
The Polish air defense system is already integrated with the NATO system. Among other things, the Alliance has expanded the radar stations on Polish territory.
The Baltic Air Policing system is also included into the NATO system. This is a rotating system of air defense, performed over the Baltic countries by the air forces of the individual NATO countries. Already several times they have chased away Russian fighter planes that came close to the air space of these countries, or even violated it. This month, large exercises will take place over the Baltic countries, involving US combat airplanes, among others.
The NATO Response Forces could be used in Poland’s defense. These are units from various NATO countries that perform security duty in Europe on a rotating basis. T he problem is that they still have not achieved the kind of readiness that NATO commanders and the Polish Defense Ministry would like.
Defense Minister Bogdan Klich feels that the NATO Response Forces are forces “on paper,” and is pressing for them to be able to conduct exercises on Polish territory as quickly as possible. This is one of the Polish demands for the summit in Lisbon.