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"The request for assistance was received on Monday." The Ministry of Defence points to the voivode

TVN24 News in English

“Immediately after Minister Antoni Macierewicz's decision, the operational commander issued the appropriate orders,” Michał Dworczyk, deputy head of the Ministry of Defence, told reporters on Wednesday, answering questions as to why troops were sent to areas affected by heavy storms only on Monday.

“In accordance with the Crisis Management Act, military units may be dispatched only after a request has been submitted by the voivode,” explained Deputy Minister. “The Voivode of Pomerania submitted the request on 14 August [Monday – ed.] at 14:12, and by 15:00 Minister Macierewicz issued the decision to provide the human and material resources requested by the Voivode,” Michał Dworczyk explained at a press conference.

The Deputy Minister stressed that immediately after Minister Macierewicz's decision, the operational commander issued the appropriate orders, “and after a few hours the troops were in places where assistance was required, with heavy equipment arriving soon afterwards.”

Dworczyk said that soldiers and the necessary equipment – including amphibious vehicles and cranes – were dispatched to clear the Brda canal and river.

Dworczyk: armed forces are always ready to spring into action

“I can only add that the Polish armed forces have always provided help in such situations, and they are always ready to spring into action,” he assured the journalists, adding that nearly 9,500 soldiers and a thousand pieces of equipment across the country are always kept at the ready.

“We immediately react to any request for help. One of the most important elements of the Polish Army's peacetime mission is to help local communities,” stressed the Deputy Minister of National Defence.

Asked about the requests for help submitted by local authorities already on Saturday, Dworczyk said that “no official request for assistance was received by the army.” He reiterated that the army must act in compliance with the Crisis Management Act. “We are bound by the law. I am sure that if troops had been sent in violation of the law, [...] the media and politicians would have charged the Ministry with breaking the law, overstepping its mandate,” he said.

Dworczyk: it is the Minister's and commanders' decision which units to send

Asked why the Territorial Defence Force was not dispatched to provide help, Dworczyk pointed out that TDF troops “are assigned to the areas where they operate, where the soldiers live.” He also noted that currently three brigades are being organized: in the Lubelskie, Podlaskie and Podkarpackie Voivodeships, where no extreme weather events took place.

“If anything had happened there, these troops would certainly have been used. In Pomerania, only next year will the first units be created and a TDF brigade established ,” he said. This situation has proved once again that such units are needed,” he claimed. He also stressed that heavy-duty equipment, such as only engineer units, but not the TDF, have at their disposal, is needed in areas affected by natural disasters.

In his view, such questions show that the media and opposition “are trying to tell the Minister of National Defence which units to dispatch.” “This is the Minister's and the commanders' decision,” he said.

Heavy storms that passed on Friday night over towns and villages in the Wielkopolskie, Kujawsko-pomorskie and Pomorskie Voivodeships left six people dead and 52 injured. Over 20,000 people in these provinces were still without electricity on Wednesday morning. Heavy wind damaged nearly 4,000 buildings across the country, including 2,800 residential buildings. Since 10 August, firefighters were called 21,300 times to deal with the damage caused by the storms.


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