The Warsaw Voice » Regional Voice » Monthly - June 29, 2015
The Lower Silesia Voice
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Not Just for Soldiers
Col. Prof. Mariusz Wiatr, Rector-Commandant of the General Tadeusz Kościuszko Military Academy of Land Forces in Wrocław, southwest Poland, talks to Maciej Wełyczko about the academy, its work and achievements.

In 2009, the Military Academy of Land Forces started admitting civilians. What do you think of that change in hindsight?
It was nothing short of a revolution for our academy, but we are not afraid of change. Poland used to have 11 military academies of land forces, but there is only one left, here in Wrocław. As a result, we provide education in practically all land force specialties, training tank crews, sappers, artillerymen and anti-aircraft operators. One other, very welcome, change is women officers. The sight of a woman wearing a military uniform is nothing unusual anymore and we are happy that many of them graduated from our academy.

Opening our doors to civilians was a tremendous change. Other than new syllabuses, it required a new approach from our teaching staff. Let me remind you that our academy is an army unit. Civilian students are obviously not bound by military regulations, but there is a certain sense of discipline that they feel here. They appreciate it a lot, as do their employers later on.

A lot has been said in Poland lately about high unemployment among young people. Do students of your academy find it easy to get a job after graduation?
We try to take care of our graduates’ future and I believe we have been efficient at that. Our officer cadets, students of military majors, can become career soldiers in the Polish military, provided, of course, they graduate from our academy. I can assure you that these are not easy programs that we run and yet they are immensely popular among young people. There can be up to 30 applicants for one place. We are, of course, happy to see such a level of interest, as it testifies to our reputation as an academy.

When it comes to civilian students, we try to adjust our majors to the labor market and then keep track of students’ subsequent careers. We know our students find employment in institutions and organizations that deal with security in one form or another, including the government administration, local government and fire brigades, but also in business. They can also work in many other organizations and institutions involved in security and civil defense, protecting people and property from natural and manmade threats. Our civilian graduates get jobs at research facilities, in higher education, the defense industry, the rapidly growing sector in which the military and civilian services work together, and they also work at institutions that support multinational allied forces.

We aim to work closely with our students’ future employers, organizing paid internships, different kinds of discussion forums, extracurricular activities and offering career advice. All these efforts are bringing tangible results.

What non-military majors does your academy offer?
We provide bachelor’s and master’s degrees in majors such as national security, security engineering and management. These are both full-time and part-time courses, and we also offer postgraduate programs in crisis management.

What about team-ups with colleges abroad?
Since 2011, we have been beneficiaries of the Erasmus Program, now Erasmus+, and we have been partnering up with more and more academies and colleges every year. At present, we are working with 38 of them. The academy is also developing its own programs for students from abroad. In the summer semester of the 2014/2015 academic year, we had 48 foreign students.

At the same time, we are working closely with a whole number of renowned European military academies similar to ours, including the Officer School of Land Forces in Dresden, Germany, the University of Defense in Brno, the Czech Republic, universities in France, the famous West Point military academy in the United States and many other military colleges. Our academy also headed a research project carried out as part of the Visegrad Fund together with military academies from the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary.

What kind of facilities are needed to deliver such a wide range of courses?
The academy has a wide range of diversified training facilities. In addition to modern lecture rooms, auditoriums and language, computer and mobile laboratories, we have a large number of specialist devices and systems. For example, our academy has an arms training system called Śnieżnik, which can teach individual soldiers to shoot and coordinate fire by entire units. We are the only ones in Poland to have the PACAST tactical operations simulator that can be used by units from platoons to divisions, the SK-1 Pluton simulator for motorized platoons, the Beskid 2M/K comprehensive training simulator for tank crews and the Ortles 3M/Z simulator for infantry combat vehicles. Using money from the European Social Fund, the academy has started building and equipping a physics lab and a materials strength lab.

I would also like to mention that our academy provides a wide range of physical education and sports activities. Alongside gyms, tennis courts, a stadium and a swimming pool, we have a horse riding center, a martial arts center and a training facility in the mountains. A lot of work has also gone into making the academy accessible to students with disabilities.

What makes studying at the academy worthwhile?
The Genenal Tadeusz Kościuszko Military Academy of Land Forces is a modern academy with military traditions that focuses on development, and is constantly seeking to enhance its education programs. Actively working with employers and sharing expertise with them, we prepare our students for the demands of today’s labor market. The academy’s internship system enables students to take up jobs even before graduating.

One of the ways in which we foster quality education are catch-up classes, with a special focus on the exact sciences. Polish high schools and bachelor’s programs are diverse in their teaching methods, which causes many students to have problems with mathematics and physics. Given this opportunity to improve such skills, more students are able to graduate. Our students have the opportunity to acquire a range of skills, both those who see their future in the military and those who want to pursue a career in other areas.

Col. Prof. Mariusz Wiatr, Rector-commandant of the General Tadeusz Kościuszko Military Academy of Land Forces in Wrocław.

A graduate of Poland’s Military Academy of Mechanized Forces, the Army Officers’ School in Dresden, the National Defense University in Warsaw and the Military Academy of the German Armed Forces in Hamburg. He rose through the ranks from platoon to battalion commander. He has authored many papers that played a significant role in transforming Poland’s armed forces. His work as an educator and academic has earned him many awards and the title of professor of military sciences.