Poland recalls Eurocorps commander amid investigation

Poland has withdrawn its commander of Eurocorps, a joint military group of some EU and NATO states, after an investigation into him was launched by the Polish Military Counterintelligence Service (SKW).

Explaining its decision to recall Lieutenant General Jarosław Gromadziński, who last year became the first Pole to lead Eurocorps, Poland’s defence minister said only that the proceedings were initiated “in connection with the acquisition of new information about the officer”.

The manner in which the recall was carried out has been criticised by the defence minister in Poland’s former Law and Justice (PiS) government, under whom Gromadziński was appointed, who says that it “brings international shame on Poland”.

Polish National Authorities decided to recall Lieutenant General
Jaroslaw R. Gromadzinski, Commander of the Eurocorps, to Poland.

For any further information, please direct all your questions to the
MoND Operational Centre.@MON_GOV_PL #UnitedForEUROCORPS
More info:…

— EUROCORPS (@HQEurocorps) March 27, 2024

On Wednesday afternoon, the defence ministry announced that it was recalling Gromadziński from Strasbourg with immediate effect. It said that it had been obliged to do so by law after the “SKW initiated inspection proceedings regarding the personal security clearance of the lieutenant general”.

No further information regarding the nature of nor reasons for those proceedings have been provided. By initiating them, SKW cut off the general from access to classified information and deprived him of the ability to command the international forces.

Later on Wednesday, Poland named Lieutenant General Piotr Błazeusz as Gromadziński’s replacement to lead Eurocorps, which is composed of personnel from  Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Poland, Spain, Austria, Greece, Italy, Romania and Turkey and is at the service of the EU and NATO.

I feel very honoured to be the first Polish general to help shape the destiny of the @HQEurocorps. I’m looking forward to work together with professional staff of the other framework and associated nations in the #Eurocorps over the next 2 years. pic.twitter.com/u5KXHemVil

— Jarosław Gromadziński (@JGromadzinski) June 29, 2023

In response to the news of his dismissal, Gromadziński wrote on social media that he feels he has not done anything wrong.

“For 34 years of professional military service, I always put the good of the service, the good of the homeland in the first place, often at the expense of my family,” he wrote on X.

“Serving in command positions, at home and abroad, as well as cooperating with NATO allies, I always represented the uniform of the Polish soldier with dignity,” he added. “I believe that the procedure initiated by the SKW will end positively for me.”

W nawiązaniu do licznych komentarzy i spekulacji związanych z wszczętym przez SKW postępowaniem kontrolnym dotyczącym poświadczenia bezpieczeństwa osobowego wobec mojej osoby chciałbym oświadczyć, że przez 34 lata zawodowej służby wojskowej zawsze dobro służby, dobro Ojczyzny… pic.twitter.com/2ArG8Rh0Tn

— Jarosław Gromadziński (@JGromadzinski) March 27, 2024

His removal was condemned by Mariusz Błaszczak, who served as defence minister from 2018 until the end of last year, when his PiS party was removed from power and replaced by a new administration led by Donald Tusk.

“The manner in which Gen. Gromadziński was dismissed, which left huge room for speculation, and the communication of this matter by the defence ministry bring shame on Poland in the military international environment,” tweeted Błaszczak, who is now head of PiS’s parliamentary caucus.

“If decisions are made that cause an earthquake, it is necessary to explain precisely what is at stake. Poland’s credibility with its allies is at stake here. If the allegations against Gen. Gromadziński are serious, the public should know the details,” he added.

Sposób odwołania gen. Gromadzinskiego, który pozostawił ogromne pole do spekulacji i komunikacja tej sprawy przez @MON_GOV_PL przynoszą Polsce wstyd w wojskowym środowisku międzynarodowym. Jeśli podejmuje się decyzje, które wywołują trzęsienie ziemi, trzeba precyzyjnie wyjaśnić o…

— Mariusz Błaszczak (@mblaszczak) March 27, 2024

Media reports suggested that EU and NATO allies had not been notified in advance of Gromadziński’s recall. But Poland’s current defence minister, Władysław Kosiniak-Kamysz, has denied that.

“Everything is being done according to procedures” and allies were informed “well in advance”, he said. Notes from Poland asked NATO for confirmation of this information, but received no immediate response.

Speaking anonymously to news website Onet, two Polish generals expressed outrage at Gromadziński’s treatment. “If the services have any suspicions about an officer serving in NATO, he is summoned to the country for an interview,” said one.

Kulisy „polowania” SKW na gen. Gromadzińskiego. „W wojsku huczy od plotek” https://t.co/MCcvCz4uqT

— Onet Wiadomości (@OnetWiadomosci) March 27, 2024

“If the matter is serious, he is withdrawn from the structures, informing the allies in advance, rather than making an international scandal, as in the case of General Gromadziński,” he added. “This is a blow not only to the general, but to the image of the Polish state.”

Onet also quoted an unnamed officer “from the NATO structures” who said the decision “left everyone bewildered”.

“The fate of the officer is decided by the country that sent him. The SKW’s conduct, however, has caused consternation…The way he was handled certainly does not build the credibility of the defence minister,” he was quoted as saying.

Notes from Poland is run by a small editorial team and published by an independent, non-profit foundation that is funded through donations from our readers. We cannot do what we do without your support.

Alicja Ptak is senior editor at Notes from Poland and a multimedia journalist. She previously worked for Reuters.

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