Involvement of the Republic of Poland in Afghanistan began as early as March 16, 2002, upon a request by the United States after the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in 2001. The first mission, called “Enduring Freedom”, was located in Bagram base and involved approximately 120 logisticians and sappers as well as soldiers from special operations Unit GROM, whose role was to protect them. In the summer of the same year the mission was reinforced by the logistical support ship ORP “Kontradmiral Xawery Czernicki”. The following units embarked on the Polish ship: assault troops of the US Navy, US Marines Special Forces and Royal Australian Navy special units, and divers from the Special Units of the Polish Navy Formoza – maritime commandos from Gdynia.
On April 25, 2006 a ceremony was held to re-Flag the command from the 10th Enduring Freedom contingent rotation which had completed its mission to the 1st rotation of Polish Military Contingent (PKW) Afghanistan (ISAF).
At the moment of the most significant involvement in the ISAF operation in Afghanistan, Poland assumed responsibility for the Ghazni Province (the 8th rotation since October 28, 2010). In Ghazni there were approximately 2,600 soldiers and army civilians, along with a reserve of 400 soldiers maintained back in Poland. The Polish contingent was equipped with: 128 wheeled armored vehicles ROSOMAKS, 88 Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAPS), 4 Mi-17 helicopters, 6 Mi-24 helicopters, 5 152 mm self-propelled gun howitzers “DANA”, 1 counter-battery radar “LIWIEC” and unmanned reconnaissance vehicles “Aerostars”, “Orbiters” and “Scan Eagles”. Moreover, the PKW Afghanistan could count 2 transport aircraft CASAS. It should be underlined that only a few national contingents in Afghanistan were equipped with transport aircraft, helicopters or heavy artillery.
In total, since getting involved in Afghanistan, more than 28,000 Polish soldiers and army civilians served there (EF – around 1,200 and in ISAF – around 27,100). At the peak moment the Poland’s contribution consisted of: 21 platoons (18 motorized platoons, 2 reconnaissance platoons and 1 PRT defense platoon), an independent air attack group, Task Force 49 and Task Force 50 (elite Special Operation Forces units), 8 Police Operational Mentoring and Liaison Teams (POMLT) responsible for training police officers, 5 Operational Mentoring and Liaison Teams (OMLT) responsible for army trainings, Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) and Civil-Military Co-operation (CIMIC). Moreover, approximately 800 US soldiers served continuously under Polish operational control in the period of 2008 -2012.
194 aid projects were completed under the Ghazni reconstruction program, namely, there were 99 infrastructure, 50 training and 45 purchase projects. These projects were aimed at the construction of roads (40 km), water pipes (25 km), bridges (5), schools, kindergartens and orphanages (19), hydroelectric power stations (3), barrages (4), a sewage treatment plant, a dump, wells (30), medical waste incineration plants (10). Also, hospitals were overhauled (4), electric power grids in the city of Ghazni were extended, bazaars were modernized (4), green, technical and service areas were managed (9). Finally, 4 thousand people were trained in the field of administration, judiciary, education and employment support policy, and 130 public utilities were equipped. The total sum of these projects exceeded PLN 80 million. Although in comparison to wealthier countries than Poland this sum is not large, the projects that were carried out were successful and each of them involved local society buy-in. One of the greatest achievements of the PRT in the range of Ghazni security was the creation of an Emergency Management Center.
During the period of the most significant involvement, medical personnel of the Polish Military Contingent organized weekly visits in the villages of the province in order to provide local societies with medical assistance, examination and to carry out basic medical treatment. Moreover, 4 people (1 boy, 1 woman, 1 child and 1 ANA officer) remained in Poland for long-lasting hospital treatment and rehabilitation.
Poland started the process of delegating the responsibility for Ghazni Province to the Afghans on January 12, 2012. The process terminated on May 9, 2013. As a result of the Polish Military Contingent actions, 11 thousand soldiers, police officers and civilians were trained and the 3rd Brigade of the Afghan National Army (ANA) was recognized by NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander as the best among 8 brigades in the operational area RC-EAST and one of the four brigades from all Afghanistan with the lowest desertion index. At the same time, the police became one of the most efficient formations when compared to other provinces of Afghanistan. Additionally, 1,052 soldiers and the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) officers completed training in the Joint Force Training Centre (JFTC) in Bydgoszcz Poland. The efficacy of the training was proven when the ANSF could secure efficiently and without any external assistance the ceremonies during the festival “Ghazni as the World Capital of Islamic Culture” and during presidential elections.
Between the years 2008 and 2014, 130 tons of various supplies of humanitarian aid were transported and distributed among the civilians from the province. The supplies had come from social partners and non-governmental organizations. Also, the Polish Ministry of National Defense allocated 137 tons of various material means within its charitable assistance. These means consisted of housing, medical, food and uniform equipment, etc. Their total value was of around PLN 4.5 million.