Poland to boost defenses by training student volunteers

WARSAW, Poland (AP) - Poland's Defense Ministry is starting a new program to boost the nation's defenses by offering military training to university student volunteers.

Poland has been making efforts to increase its defense capabilities amid security concerns raised in the region by Russia's military activity. It is upgrading its military equipment, some of which dates back to communist-era, and increasing its manpower, which was scaled back since the 1989 ouster of the communist regime.

"Poland's armed forces are faced with this very serious task of rebuilding their personnel reserves," Deputy Defense Minister Michal Dworczyk said on the ministry's website.

Dworczyk and education officials signed an agreement Monday, just weeks before neighboring Belarus and Russia hold a major military exercise in Belarus that is to involve over 12,000 troops.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg is to visit alliance troops this week that are based in northeastern Poland, close to the border with Belarus. NATO and U.S. troops were deployed to Poland earlier this year in response to Warsaw's concerns over Russia.

Poland's latest defense project aims to put some 10,000 volunteers through theoretical and practical training this academic year, increasing Poland's reserve military force.

Poland has also launched a new volunteer military structure, the Territorial Defense Force, which is to number some 53,000 in 2019.

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