Poland offers its citizens free military training as it seeks to increase the size of its army

Poland’s Defense Ministry is offering basic military training free of charge to its citizens starting Monday, as the government has seized on the juncture of the war in Ukraine for its aspirations to expand and empower military institutions.

Under the slogan ‘Train with the Army’, Poles between the ages of 18 and 65 will be able to be instructed in 17 different units of the Armed Forces in the handling of weapons, including firearms, hand-to-hand combat, map reading, or how to survive in the field and provide first aid.

“Would you like to learn how to use a real weapon? Are you curious about what it feels like to throw a grenade and put on a gas mask? Have you always wanted to learn how to defend yourself in close combat?” are some of the questions launched by this Polish government campaign to recruit volunteers.

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The courses will be held on Saturdays from October 8 to November 26 and will be accessible only to Polish citizens. “We guarantee professional training, food and time well spent,” says the Defense Ministry announcement, which promises to teach “how to defend yourself and be safe.”

The conservative Law and Justice (PiS) government has taken advantage of the war in Ukraine to try to accelerate with greater urgency its long-sought plans to increase the size of the Army and provide it with more and better means.

Military service has recently been established for those who want it and postal service employees have been urged to receive instruction in the handling of weapons, including firearms, in the Territorial Defense Force (WOT), a contingent formed by volunteers to receive military training one weekend a month.

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The Polish Army currently has 110,000 troops, with an additional 30,000 or so belonging to the WOT. The government intends to increase the former figure to 250,000 professionals and 50,000 volunteers.

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