This years largest military manoeuvres, under the codename Anaconda, were launched in Warsaw today. Over 12,000 of soldiers will participate in the event on Polish soil, with an additional 5,000 training in Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia and at the Baltic sea.
The Anaconda 18 military exercise has been divided into three stages: first out were the Command and Control exercises, which took place in October. It included testing the procedures used to pass on information from the level of national forces to NATO headquarters. The central point of Anaconda 18, namely the field exercises, started yesterday. The army will continue with that part of the exercises until November 6th. The final stage,the testing of leadership structures, will occur between November 26th and December 6th. Soldiers from 10 NATO allies are participating in Anaconda 18.
The aim of Anaconda 18 is to integrate the national leadership structures within the alliance in an effort to prepare strategic defense operations. On the Baltic Sea, soldiers will rehearse rescue operation in a scenario where passengers taken hostage on a ferry. The Anaconda drills have been held every two years since 2006 and are organized by the Operational Command of the Polish Armed Forces. The 2016 edition of the drills was the most sizeable one to date, with over 31 thousand soldiers from 23 countries participating.
The Polish Army is in the middle of an modernization process, about to replace much of its equipment which still dates back to the times of the Warsaw Pact. The conservative government has passed new legislation which will gradually increase Poland’s military expenditures from the current 2.0% of GDP to 2.5% of GDP by 2030. Polish President Andrzej Duda has suggested that the process could be sped up so that the figure of 2.5% would be reached as early as 2025.