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Poland Reducing Size of Military, Cutting Spending

United Press International

Poland, weighed down by chronic economic problems, has begun to reduce the size of its armed forces and will cut military spending, Defense Minister Florian Siwicki said in an interview published Tuesday.

The decision to scale back the 400,000-strong military force--the largest in the East Bloc after the Soviet Union--was made Nov. 21 by the Committee of the Defense of the Country, Siwicki told the official news agency PAP.

Poland is the first nation to announce cutbacks since Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev announced Dec. 7, in a U.N. speech in New York, that the Soviet Union’s 2-million-strong armed forces will be reduced by 500,000 troops within two years.

Siwicki did not say how many troops will be eliminated. He said authorities will decrease the number of army military units, combine or eliminate certain other military institutions and merge some military academies and officers’ colleges.

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He said the number of military units with professional staffs will increase but that their numerical strength will be smaller.

The Polish army is estimated at 230,000 troops by the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London. About 168,000 are conscripts.


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