Poland sent 2,500 military personnel abroad in 2017

Tomasz Szatkowski, Poland's deputy defence minister, said on Wednesday that in 2017, the country's military contingents abroad totalled almost 2,500 soldiers and Staff.

Appearing before the Senate (upper house of parliament) National Defence Committee, Szatkowski outlined the Polish army's foreign operations in 2016-17.

He said the military's involvement abroad grew notably in 2017, compared to the year before. In 2016, some 1,400 soldiers and staff were deployed outside Poland, costing PLN 100 million (EUR 24 million).

In 2017, ten Polish contingents took part in foreign missions and operations, numbering almost 2,500 personnel and costing over PLN 185 million (EUR 44.6 million), the official noted.

These missions include NATO projects in the wake of the 2016 summit in Warsaw, such as sending a 200-strong contingent to Lithuania, as well as 250 soldiers and staff to Romania - to boost the alliance's Eastern flank. Last year, Poland also took part in operation Inherent Resolve against the so-called Islamic State and continues to participate in NATO's Baltic Air Policing initiative.

Looking ahead, as of February, Poland will join the European Union's operation against human smuggling and trafficking in the Mediterranean Sea (EUNAVFOR Med). 

Polish military contingents are also present in such countries as Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the Central African Republic, as well as in the partially recognised state of Kosovo.  

The deputy defence minister said that in the future, Poland would seek to deploy its soldiers and staff abroad not necessarily in great numbers, but on missions where Poland can play a notable role and where it matters for the country's image.