Polish President: Afghan mission hinders army modernization

New Polish president Bronislaw Komorowski gives a press conference after a working session with NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen

From DPA:   Poland’s participation in the NATO-led mission in Afghanistan is so expensive that it is hampering efforts to modernize the country’s armed forces, Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski said on Wednesday, on his first visit to NATO headquarters.

Poland is still trying to reform and modernize its armed forces some two decades after the fall of Communism. It has 2,630 troops in Afghanistan, the seventh-largest Western contingent in the country and by far the largest from Central and Eastern Europe.

"The problem is that the cost of Poland’s engagement in out-of-area operations … is so significant that it is having an impact on the modernization of the armed forces," Komorowski said after talks with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

Poland therefore wants NATO to "define a strategy for putting an end to the military presence in Afghanistan’ as soon as possible, preferably at a summit in Lisbon on November 19-20," he said.

From the AP:  Poland spends upward of $1 billion annually to finance its 2,600-member contingent in Afghanistan – about 10 percent of its national defense budget.  (photo: Getty)

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