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19 Dec, 2022 12:08

NATO member urges civilians to undergo military training

Poland seeks to enroll up to 8,000 volunteers as young as 15 and teach them combat and survival skills
NATO member urges civilians to undergo military training

Thousands of civilian volunteers, including children, are to be recruited by Warsaw in a military training program during the winter, the Defense Ministry has said. 

Poland wants “to train as many people as possible” to be prepared for a “crisis,” Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak stated.

Around 4,000 people already went through the first phase of the ‘Train with the Army’ program, in October and November. The Defense Ministry now wants to double the number of volunteers and teach military skills to up to 8,000 Polish nationals, it announced on Monday.

“Our goal is to teach basic skills to as many people as possible,” Blaszczak said in a televised address to the nation. “These skills will help you if you find yourself in a crisis, an extreme situation.”

The skills listed by the ministry include using firearms, hand-to-hand combat, wilderness survival, proper use of a gas mask, and providing first aid.

In each Polish province, at least one military unit will teach the course, the government said. Nationwide, 31 units will be involved for seven weeks, starting in mid-January. The classes will take place on Saturdays, each lasting eight hours.

The Defense Ministry wants people aged 15 to 65 to enroll, though minors must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. The defense minister noted that the government views the training courses as a way to encourage people to choose a career in the military.

In July, Blaszczak said Poland wants to have the most capable land force in Europe. Warsaw aims to spend 3% of its GDP on defense – one of the highest levels among NATO members – and wants to boost the strength of its armed forces to 300,000, from the current 143,500.