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The last draft

On December 30th, 2008, a group of young men took an oath and became fully-fledged soldiers in the Polish army. Like generations before them, they would have felt a mix of pride and nervousness as they prepared to serve their country. But as they embarked on a journey, an end point was also being marked. After ninety years of compulsory military service, the Polish government had decided to bring a close to conscription.

Poland is attempting to modernise its military forces so that they can face the threats and challenges of the 21st century. A 450,000 strong army which was built and equipped for the Cold War will be transformed into a lean, professional force of 120,000 men and women. Eager to strengthen its ties with the West, Poland has deployed troops to Iraq and Afghanistan in recent years, participating in joint missions with other members of the European Union and NATO.

Over a period of several months, Piotr Malecki followed the final classes of drafted recruits as they left friends and family behind and underwent a tough regimen of combat and fitness training.
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