- WARSAW - NATO's latest recruits from Poland are often smelly, many don't get
time to wash and some conscripts only change their underwear once a month,
according to an official survey released Monday.
- "Physicians have noticed that soldiers
stink and their underwear is grey,'' Supreme Auditing Chamber (NIK) chief
Janusz Wojciechowski told a new conference. He was presenting the survey
which was conducted in 1997 and early 1998 in eight Polish military units.
- Friday, Poland, Hungary and the Czech
Republic became the first former members of the old Soviet bloc to join
the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, expanding the alliance to 19 members.
- The survey showed that in one unit some
700 conscripts were given only three hours a week to take showers. In another,
the soldiers' underwear was not changed for a month.
- Wojciechowski said Poland's small defense
funds and insufficient supervision were to blame.
- The report also showed that in some cases
people unsuitable for service " mentally retarded or ill " were
- It revealed commanders' failures to report
embarrassing incidents in their units and of senior grade conscripts humiliating
or even torturing their juniors.
- "In one unit there have been failures
to report a suicide or a case of a drunken soldier slipping out of the
window from the second floor,'' Wojciechowski said.
- The office of the chief-of-staff admitted
such cases did occur, but said they were the exception.
- "They are not a standard. Such cases
stem from small funds for the armed forces, but these are not up to us
but up to political decision-makers,'' chief-of-staff office spokesman
Zdzislaw Gnatowski told Reuters.
- Poland has about 230,000 people in uniform,
35 percent of them professionals. Under a $4 billion program, it plans
to trim and modernize the forces in the next 15 years.