Poland ousts 90 percent of top brass in defence overhaul

Warsaw: About 90 percent of Poland’s top military brass have been replaced in an overhaul launched by the rightwing government, the defence ministry said Wednesday.

Several leading generals had already resigned over the past year as Defence Minister Antoni Macierewicz pushes to consolidate the government’s control of the armed forces.

Macierewicz has also said he wants to stamp out all traces of the communist era, by blocking promotions of servicemen who joined before the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989, especially those who attended military schools in the Soviet Union.

The defence ministry did not say how many generals had left the army, which now stands at 106,000 soldiers, up from 96,000 in 2015.

Opposition parties have criticised the departures of key four-star commanders in the army’s general staff, at a time of heightened tension with Russia.

NATO has started deploying troops in Poland and the Baltic states following Moscow’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.

Last month, General Mieczyslaw Gocul, chief of staff of the Polish armed forces, resigned and was replaced by Lieutenant-General Leszek Surawski.

Gocul’s departure had followed that of General Miroslaw Rozanski, who had shifted chains of command in the army, air force, navy and special forces to improve the general staff’s strategic planning.

The move was said to have infuriated the governing Law and Justice (PiS) party, which has vowed deep reforms of the judiciary, state media and other institutions.

Major General Jaroslaw Mika has taken up Rozanski’s position.

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