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A call to arms: Polish civilians get military training

March 25, 2024

Since Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Poland has been massively upgrading its military. People are worried the war could spread to their country, and more and more civilians are training how to use weapons.


Poland sees itself as a front-line state on NATO's eastern flank. As such, the country aims to become one of Europe's strongest military powers and is mobilizing society to achieve that goal. Increasingly popular are military training programs for civilians, offered nationwide by both state and private organizations.

Under the slogan "Train with the Army," the Polish armed forces offer one-day taster courses everywhere from big cities to remote regional areas — and demand has been huge. Agnieszka Wojas and Magda Radomska, two friends from Warsaw, have also taken part. Their training included learning to shoot an AK-47 assault rifle.

Meanwhile, paramilitary groups have also become popular. Kamil Mazur is part of Strzelec, one of the largest such groups in the country. It primarily aims to prepare young people for military service.

Mazur comes from Rzeszow, a city in the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains in Poland's southeast. With the Ukrainian border around 90 kilometers (55 miles) away, the town and its airport have become one of the most important front-line hubs for aid sent to Ukraine. Every day, military aircraft land here, bringing air defense systems, ammunition and armored vehicles.

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