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The idea of existence of representative bodies of the Polish Armed Forces emerged long time ago. Some forms of such bodies, not documented by any legal acts, were created even before the rise of the Second Republic of Poland. In the military forces of the Second Republic of Poland, there were assemblies of officers. They were not formalized institutions, but their decisions were binding for all officers, and sometimes even for their families. Assemblies of officers exerted substantial influence on various aspects of life of the officers; they shaped the tradition, customs and culture of the cadres and their families. They pertained to ethical issues, the most important events of professional, educational and private character. They were a significant factor integrating the officers.

Social and political changes in 1989 enforced restructuring of the armed forces (reduction, changes in distribution), which was a source of great emotions for soldiers. Poland became a democratic country, and thus new conditions emerged, allowing for representation of the professional cadres environment in order to defend its basic rights. In December 1989, there were first signs indicating willingness to establish organizations that would represent the professional cadres. The originators, inspired by similar activities in other armies, searching for possibilities to legalize such institutions, referred to the act on associations, which was in force at the time.

     
pk Stefan Kozina płk Marek Bielec płk Anatol Tichoniuk

On February 16th, 1990, representatives of eleven Initiative Groups of the Professional Soldiers Community Organization of the Ministry of Defense met for the first time. On March 10th and 11th, at the Military Recreation Center in Rynia, a group of professional soldiers representing all kinds of armies and Central Institutions of MoND approved the „Declaration of the Association of Professional Soldiers of the Polish Army”. Nevertheless, because of disagreement of the most important authorities in the country, the organization did not become active. Only in mid-1990, the idea of an assembly of officers, as a voluntary peer organization emerged, as well as institution of trusted men of the Polish Army.

The meeting of officers, which gave rise to activity of the institution officers' and trusted men's assemblies in the Polish Army, took place on September 18th, 1990, at the Department of Education of the Polish Army. Soon, the meetings of officers started to act in the whole Polish Army. In the following years the activities aimed at developing representative bodies according to community needs were undertaken.

First KONWENT Second KONWENT

January 17th, 1995, was the date of the first, legally confirmed Assembly of Trusted Men of the Ministry of National Defense in the history of the Polish Army. It inspired the officers of the Central Staff of the Polish Army, military districts and different kinds of armed forces to initiate similar activities, which allowed for creation of the Council of Senior Officers of the Polish Professional Soldiers “KONWENT”. The first session of the KONWENT took place on 12th of April of 1995 and the chairman become COL Stefan Kozina.


The KONWENT tried to influence the shape of normative documents concerning problems existing in Polish Army, defend the interests of soldiers and their rights. It relayed the worries of cadres concerning service and social-living conditions of families. It established contacts with other organizations such as Association of Former Professional Soldiers and Reserve Officers, as well as international contacts.

On February 10th, 1999, the KONWENT Chairman (of the second term of office) became COL Marek Bielec. KONWENT's the IInd term of office was a fight for "civilized reduction", treating soldier's profession equally as others. The fight for redundancy packages and proper conversion partly reached its aim. It is assumed that without KONWENT's activity we would not have indemnity for shortening of service period. The great merit of the KONWENT was to maintain up to now rights in new act on military accommodation.

The main KONWENT objective was to raise the importance and legitimate representative bodies. We managed to succeed in this matter. The Ministry of National Defense by decision no. 124/MON of April 29th, 2003, created the KONWENT Office and fulltime positions of Senior officers in the Armed Forces and Military Districts elected by cadres. The act of September 11th, 2003, on military service of professional soldiers by the entry of art. 108, paragraph 3 allows to create representative bodies. Their detailed functioning is defined by issued on the basis of paragraph 4 of the same article resolution of Ministry of National Defense of June 28th, 2004, on representative bodies of professional soldiers. From this moment, KONWENT possesses strong legitimization of its activity.

Third KONWENT Fourth KONWENT

In the year 2004-2010 the function of KONWENT's chairman was held by COL Anatol Tichoniuk. KONWENT activity in the IIIrd and the IVth term of office was dedicated to change forms of communication with cadre members. KONWENT sessions were joined with meetings with cadres in military units. This allows for live contact, presentation of KONWENT activity and direct familiarization with problems concerning professional soldiers. The KONWENT with success concluded changes in pragmatic regulations as well manage to restore some social rights

December 6th of 2010 was the beginning of new term of KONWENT. COL Marian Babu¶ka won consecutive stages of elections starting from the Trusted Man of the KONWENT Office through the next stage of elections - Senior of Ministry of National Defense Institutions in order to become a KONWENT Chairman finally. The Deputy Chairman of KONWENT became his successor at the Senior Officer of MoND Institutions post, CAPT (N) Wiesław Banaszewski.

KONWENT in current term continues existing forms of communication with professional staff. Senior Officers meet with cadre in garrisons. There are also activity carried out in the media. Its main purpose is provide to the public opinion position and opinion of the soldiers.
Main priorities of Council of Senior Officers of the Polish Professional Soldiers “KONWENT” in 2010 – 2013 years are:
  • to participate actively, at the government level, in the process of change settlement concerning pension system,
  • to work actively in Parliament and in  Ministry of National Defense in order to persuade proper authorities to raise salary base ratio of professional soldiers, which today remains on the lowest level in comparison to other uniformed services,
  • to intensify efforts aimed at enhancing, on the central level and kinds of the Armed Forces, as well as Inspectorate for Armed Forces Support, representation of corps' representative bodies: noncommissioned officers and professional privates.

 

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