On Wednesday, the Senate National Defense Commission positively opined (and without any amendments) the State defense spending budget for 2017.
The State defense budget for 2017 is planned for 37,152,000,000 PLN, that is, in accordance with the statutory requirement to allocate 2% for this purpose, as based on the projected GDP for the previous year.
Compared to the 2016 allocation, the defense budget has increased by 1.3%, or by about 1,253,000,000 PLN. Defense spending is additionally complemented by a special-purpose reserve of 200,000,000 PLN for the purchase of VIP government aircraft for the transport of highest level government officials. A contract for two such aircrafts was signed by the Defence Ministry in 2016.
As Undersecretary of State in the Defence Ministry Bartłomiej Grabski pointed out, the defense budget will allow for improvement of the key operational capacity of the armed forces. He added that efforts have been directed towards achieving the targeted structure of the armed forces along with higher training standards and equipment, along with the implementation of tasks arising from decisions taken at the NATO Summit in Warsaw.
Furthermore, the defense budget will allow for expansion of the military infrastructure in order to smooth the way for the adaptation of the arriving Allied forces in Poland, the expansion of military units in the eastern part of the country and the formation of the Territorial Defense Force (WOT). Among the financial priorities of the Defence Ministry is the further development of cooperation with the United States, pursuant the presence of U.S. troops and installations in Poland, and the development of cyber security.
As the Director of the Budget Dept. of the Defence Ministry, Maj Gen Sławomir Pączek said, a 4% increase in the Defence Ministry budget is slated partly for the purchase of additional munitions, an increase in soldiers’ and civil employees' salaries, as well as for the formation of the Territorial Defense Force—from the ground up.
In terms of hard assets—the purchases of arms and military equipment, construction investments and investments for a common NATO infrastructure under the NSIP, the Defence Ministry has earmarked 10,221,400,000 PLN, or 27.7% of its budget (The Law requires a minimum of 20%).
The Technical Modernization Plan that includes the most important purchases of arms and military equipment, will have at its disposal in 2017, a budget at a level just short of 9.2 billion PLN (0.7% less than in 2016). Priority tasks in terms of technical modernization are, among others, air defense systems, combat support and security helicopters, modernization for armored and mechanized troops, modernization of the Navy and unmanned aircraft.
Among the most important construction projects indicated are for infrastructure for the Territorial Defense Force, modernization of training centers, staff and barracks and necessary infrastructure in connection with bringing the new equipment into service. Further investments include upgrades in access to military facilities, the modernization and upgrades of networks serving bases, storage facilities and fuel depots. NSIP program-related investments included, among others, funding for infrastructure needs required to accept the Allied Forces in Poland.
Expenditure on the maintenance of military units and training will amount to 6,334,700,000 PLN. As Director Pączek stated, this will allow for the intensification of troop training in comparison to 2016, in which the pace of exercises was higher than in previous years anyway, as well as strengthening military units in the eastern part of Poland.
On military pensions and other benefits, the Defence Ministry is slated to spend 7,601,300,000 PLN. Expenditure on staff, salaries for soldiers and civilian workers, should reach 9,272,800,000 PLN. The Defence Ministry budget assumes that the number of professional soldiers should rise by 3,500 to a level of 105,000 postings (the actual number of soldiers is smaller).
Gen. Pączek said that the Defence Ministry guidelines indicate that out of the new posts, some 1,600 will go to the Territorial Defense Force command (where the highest percentage of professional soldiers will be assigned, and not according to territorial assignment), and the rest on the strengthening of the “eastern wall,” including the expansion of postings for privates and non-commissioned officers in the 15th Mechanized Brigade in Giżycko and the 1st Armoured Brigade in Warsaw-Wesoła.