On November 30, 2023, Marzyciele i Rzemieślnicy stage hosted two prominent experts, Dr. Jacek Bartosiak of Strategy&Future and Col. Res. Krystian Zięć, an expert from the Alioth Foundation, who shared their knowledge on the introduction of the F-16 program and innovative weapons programs of the future. This event, organized with the support of the National Liberty Institute, was not only an opportunity to explore the technical aspects of modern military hardware technology, but also to understand the strategic implications of these initiatives.
The report on the implementation of the F-16, prepared by experts such as Col.Pil. Res. Krystian Zięć, among others, is a valuable contribution to understanding the operations and challenges of modern defense equipment. The report is extremely reliable. Going through the topics of technical aspects, cooperation with politicians, up to implementation in the Armed Forces, it comprehensively illustrates how difficult and multifaceted the task is. It does not focus solely on the aircraft themselves, but provides a kind of testimony document of the functioning of the Armed Forces in the context of the state. It indicates whether we are properly allocating funds and whether we are reaping the benefits of these investments.
One of the topics that Colonel Zięć touched on was the differences in tactics and strategy in the use of military aviation between the US Air Force and the Polish Armed Forces. It is important that our defense is based on defensive capabilities, especially in the context of the growing potential for aggression from neighboring countries. We cannot afford to build the Armed Forces based on outdated models, especially now that the geopolitical situation has changed. Given Russia’s growing arms spending, we cannot ignore the changing reality. We must act and build an Armed Forces that precisely matches our current defense needs and capabilities. We need to be proactive, take advantage of discussions, take initiatives and talk about the things we not only buy, but, first and foremost, what capabilities we want to acquire. It’s a question not only of buying equipment, but first and foremost of strategically building defense capabilities.
In today’s environment of volatile and unpredictable threats, defense capacity building should encompass a broad spectrum of skills, encompassing both defense against traditional threats and flexible responses to new asymmetric challenges. It is worth considering building multi-directional relationships, both in the areas of defense and geopolitics. The ultimate goal is to use our resources effectively, with an eye to the dynamically evolving reality of modern conflicts.
The Polish state must decide whether it wants to have full control over how the F-35, F-16 and other systems will be used, especially in crisis situations close to the borders. Having the ability to act independently can more effectively deter Russia from aggressive actions, reducing the risk of continental conflict.
It is a mistake to believe that buying systems from the Americans will automatically provide full logistical support. Too much dependence on external supplies could accelerate Russia’s aggressive behavior toward us. It is worth considering whether these systems can be used offensively, for example, to bomb targets outside Poland as part of regional operations. Of course, this is a complex, policy-related issue, but it is important whether we train pilots for offensive tasks and whether they have some decision-making autonomy in this regard.
The report, which describes these processes, is an extremely valuable source of knowledge. I believe that if, with the big tasks ahead of us, we reapply the mechanisms created in the past, avoiding the mistakes made earlier, we will not have to say again that “wise Pole after the event.”
The meeting agreed that nationwide consensus on the direction of military modernization is crucial. The public expects the political class to clearly define what the models are for operating such a large and ambitious armed force. We need to think about the shape of careers in the armed forces, interpersonal relations and-if we are going to maintain a large armed force-the reintroduction of universal service. These decisions depend on the model of war we are preparing for, and on agreements with the Americans on risk and proportionality. The protocol of proportionality with the Americans is extremely important, and our defense policy must be flexible according to global changes. Also, the geopolitical dimension is crucial, as the Americans, given their limited resources and the threat from China, may find that Poland is able to take care of its security. Our independence relies on the wise development of defense capabilities, which also affects the response from allies. We must avoid becoming too dependent on equipment suppliers, which presents us with difficult choices. In the context of current challenges, the implementation of new military capabilities will be much more difficult than the introduction of F-16s. It is worth considering whether our armed forces should be shaped in such a way that we are capable of an immediate, proportionate response if needed.
Col. res. Zięć stressed the importance of being able to introduce new systems without unnecessary disputes, hoping for unanimity across political divides. It is worth remembering that the introduction of the F-16 aircraft took place while three different governments were in power, which testifies to the stability in the implementation of this program. For the introduction of subsequent systems, we should strive for similar unanimity, given the limited budget. Focusing on the quality of capabilities, rather than the quantity of equipment purchased, is key.
We encourage you to read the publication and view the entire conference here or below: