General Franciszek Gągor (deceased)
Chief of Defence – Poland
2006 – 2010
General Franciszek Gągor was born in 1951 in Koniuszowa near Nowy Sącz, Poland. He graduated from the Mechanised Infantry Officer College in Wrocław in 1973 and holds an MA in English philology from the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań (1983). In 1998 he earned a Ph.D. in military science from the National Defence University in Warsaw. In 2001, he graduated from the NATO Defense College in Rome, and the following year with distinction from the National War College of the National Defense University in Washington, DC.
Appointed in 1973 to his first military assignment as part of the 2nd Tank Regiment, 10th Armoured Division in Opole, General Gągor served at various command posts in junior ranks until 1978. During this time, he was an operations and executive officer responsible for planning and for operational activities in United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF) and United Nations Disengagement Observer Forces (UNDOF) missions. In 1978 he was posted to the Mechanised Infantry Officer College, where he lectured on the preparation and training of Polish contingents designated for peacekeeping operations. He remained in that post until 1988, taking an active part in UNDOF operations (1980-1981 and 1985-1986) as an operations officer. Between 1988 and 1990 General Gągor served at UNDOF HQ as Deputy Chief of Logistics.
General Gagor was then assigned to the Combat Training Division, and next to the Military Foreign Affairs Division of the General Staff of the Polish Armed Forces. In the role of Chief of the Peacekeeping Operations Branch, he was directly responsible for the preparation, coordination and monitoring of Polish units abroad and also fulfilled foreign military missions and multinational military cooperation at the strategic and operational levels. In 1991, he was the Executive Officer/Deputy Commander of the Polish Military Contingent to Operation Desert Storm and in 1991-1992 the Deputy Sector Commander of the UN Iraq-Kuwait Observation Mission (UNIKOM).
At the rank of Colonel, in 1993, he assumed the position of Chief, Peacekeeping Division at the General Staff, where he was responsible for command and control over the Polish military contingents serving in missions abroad. In 1994 he was appointed Director, Arms Control and Peacekeeping Operations Bureau, and from 1996 to 1999 he served as the Director of the Military Foreign Affairs Department. During that time General Gągor represented the Polish Ministry of National Defence in international negotiations on arms control, disarmament and confidence-building measures, and implementation of respective treaties on bilateral and multilateral military cooperation. His area of responsibility also included the coordination of Polish participation in the Partnership for Peace Programme and the Planning and Review Process. He was a key member of the Polish Armed Forces preparations team for Polish accession to NATO, overseeing the initial rounds of NATO Defence Planning for Poland.
He was promoted to the rank of Brigadier General in 1997 and in 1999 was assigned as Chief, J-3 Operations Directorate in the General Staff, where he served until 2003. During that period his responsibilities included preparation of joint training doctrines, operational planning and readiness of the Polish Armed Forces, current operations as well as defence planning.
Between 2003 and 2006 General Gągor further broadened his multinational experience in UN peacekeeping missions and within NATO/EU institutions at the highest levels of command in the following assignments:
- 2003: Force Commander of UNIKOM, Iraq / Assistant Sec. Gen. UN;
- 2003−2004: Force Commander of UNDOF, Syria / Assistant Sec. Gen. UN;
- 2004−2006: Polish Military Representative to NATO and EU Military Committees in Brussels.
On 27 February 2006, upon appointment by the President of the Republic of Poland, General Gagor assumed the position of the Chief of the General Staff of the Polish Armed Forces and was promoted to the rank of General on 3 May 2006. Three years later he was reappointed to a second term at the highest post in the Polish military.
General Gągor’s decorations include the Officer's Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta, the Cavalier's Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta, the Golden Cross of Merit, the Golden National Defence Medal, the Golden Military Service Medal as well as the UN Medal in the Service of Peace and several medals awarded by foreign states, to include the U.S. Legion of Merit, and the French Legion of Honour Medals.
General Gągor is the author of numerous articles and academic publications on NATO, military affairs and cooperation, defence transformation, and armed forces modernisation. He speaks English, French, and Russian. He enjoys history, English literature, skiing, tennis, volleyball and jogging. He and his wife Lucyna have two children, Katarzyna and Michał.