The territorial defence force in disaster response in Poland: Civil-military collaboration during a state of emergency

Krzysztof Goniewicz, Mariusz Goniewicz, Frederick M. Burkle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The functioning of the "territorial army" of Poland is described in military history alongside that of the regular active combat troops. The main aim in creating "territorial troops" was to strengthen the state's defence system. In countries with relatively long traditions concerning such troops, they now constitute an important link in the state's defence system, counting close to the regular operational forces. Their purpose, and thus the goals and tasks set for them, depend on the specific needs related to the security of a given state, and are adequate in addressing the occurrence of possible threats. Given international guidelines for the proper use of the military in natural disasters and the rapidly changing landscape required for emergency assistance, Poland has recreated disaster-related operations of the existing Territorial Defence Force, now under the designated Territorial Defence Force, which will be limited to the territory of the country and largely focused on cooperation with the civilian sector. This article is written for two major reasons: One to both present the conditions and possibilities of cooperation between the Territorial Defence Force and public administration in the event of a natural disaster within Poland, and two to foster shared guidance and feedback from countries undergoing similar advancements. This is especially crucial in recognition that natural disasters are increasingly impacted by cross-border factors such as climate extremes, biodiversity losses, rapid and often unsustainable urban population growth, refugee migrations, growing scarcities of water, energy and food, and increasing risks of internal conflict all of which place increasing demands on Poland and its neighbors to begin a larger dialogue of cooperation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number487
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 17 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Disaster management
  • Disaster prevention and preparedness
  • Territorial Defence Force

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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