Gen. Franciszek Gagor, Poland's top soldier and perhaps NATO's after an upcoming vote to replace Canadian Ray Henault as chairman of the western alliance's military committee...Gagor, competing with generals from Spain and Italy to replace Henault in the Nov. 14 vote, would be the first officer from the old Soviet Union's Warsaw Pact alliance to become top soldier in the 26-member North Atlantic Treaty Organization.Spain and Italy, slathered with caveats and hunkered around in RC(W), have not earned it. Poland has.
I also like the General's love of history.
Gagor beams with pride when asked about Poland's military history, captured in various works of art in military headquarters here that typically celebrates Poland's famous charging calvary in colourful, bloody battle scenes.All you old Cold Warriors should love this little twist - I do.
Poland's major military victories have been few in number but spectacular in scope. In Vienna in 1683 the army of Poland's King Jan III Sobieski helped Austria's Habsburg empire successfully put down Ottoman Turk invasion. And in 1920 near Warsaw, in the so-called Miracle on the Vistula, the Polish army outmanoeuvred and routed the Soviet Union's much larger Red Army.
Both are victories that Poles, now Europe's most devoutly Roman Catholic country, say potentially saved Christian Europe from domination by Muslim and then Communist domination.
Even in defeat the Polish army is romanticized. In 1939 the out-manned and out-gunned Poles held off the German blitzkrieg for more than a month, inflicting 60,000 casualties on the Nazi invaders and 11,500 on the Soviets, who joined the siege as a result of a Hitler-Stalin pact to divide and conquer Poland.