Poland will move thousands of troops toward its eastern borders in a historic realignment of a military structure built in the Cold War, the country's defense minister tells the AP. Tomasz Siemoniak says the troops are needed in the east because of the conflict in neighboring Ukraine: "The geopolitical situation has changed, we have the biggest crisis of security since the Cold War and we must draw conclusions from that." He says that at least three military bases in the east will see their populations increase from the current 30% of capacity to almost 90% by 2017, and that more military hardware will be moved to those bases as well.
He says it is not some "nervous or radical move" but that because of this "situation of threat we would like those units in the east of Poland to be more efficient." Although Poland joined NATO in 1999, most of Poland's 120,000-member army is based along the country's western border, as a relic of its former status as a Soviet Bloc member. The units in the east, like the air defense unit in Siedlce, have only 30% of jobs filled in line with a plan that calls for 100% of troops "only in the case of war." (Read more Poland stories.)