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Polish troops to speed up Afghanistan withdrawal

PR dla Zagranicy
Nick Hodge 16.01.2014 09:07
Minister of Defence Tomasz Siemoniak has announced plans to withdraw half of Poland's troops in Afghanistan by May.

Minister of the Economy Janusz Piechocinski (L) and Minister of Defence Tomasz Siemoniak (R). Photo: PAP/Radek Pietruszka

Previously, it had been expected that a 1000-strong contingent would stay until the end of the year, in line with the schedule laid down by the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

“In consultation with our allies, we have decided to speed up the withdrawal, and from May, 500 soldiers will remain in Afghanistan,” Siemoniak said at a press conference in Warsaw.

As noted earlier this month, almost 40 percent of Poland's military equipment in Afghanistan has already been removed, and Siemoniak told reporters on Wednesday that “all heavy equipment will be back by May.”

In total, 25,000 Polish military personnel have served in Afghanistan since Poland joined the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in 2002.

To date, 43 Polish military personnel have died in the conflict.

During their last few months in Afghanistan, Polish troops are supposed to be solely involved in training the new Afghan forces.


While stressing that the most important task for 2014 is the withdrawal from Afghanistan, Siemoniak said that 2014 was “a year of many priorities,” including tenders for new equipment.

The minister confirmed that a tender will be held concerning a commission to build 70 multi-functional helicopters, a condition being that the winning company manufactures the machines in Poland.

Siemomiak said that he also wanted to open talks with potential suppliers of submarines, noting that companies from four unspecified countries were being considered.

The minister also noted that talks are ongoing concerning the installation of a missile defence shield in Poland.

In 2009, President Barack Obama pulled out of a Bush-era plan to install 10 long-range missile interceptors on Polish territory.

However, plans to create a mobile alternative were suggested, and during a visit to Warsaw in November 2013, US Secretary of State John Kerry said that the US still wanted to carry this out, specifying that it should be done by 2018. (nh)

Source: PAP

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