WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Dozens of Polish lawmakers traded in their suits and political bargaining for fatigues and military exercises on Tuesday, a mainly symbolic act as Poles grow nervous about the conflict next door in Ukraine and Russia's involvement in it.
The parliamentarians were answering a call from Parliament Speaker Radek Sikorski, who announced in March that the training would be held due to the "troubled times" that have come which "may require a readiness to defend the country."
"It's a very good way of increasing the morale of our army and of the populace," lawmaker John Godson said when he returned to Warsaw after the full day of training. "It was great and I would like more training."
He was the first of nearly 50 lawmakers to sign up for the exercises.
Though largely symbolic, the exercises were also practical and serious, Godson said, holding up a bandaged finger to stress his point. He said he got a splinter in his finger on an obstacle course.
The lawmakers, most of whom have never served in the military, practiced shooting weapons at a firing range, throwing fake grenades, crawling across the ground and learning elements of self-defense.
They wore military-issued camouflage uniforms which they now get to keep.
Another lawmaker who took part, Maciej Mroczek, said he didn't believe there will be war, but said it was important for him to test his self-defense skills and show support for the country's military.
"We want to send the message to young people that the armed forces protect us and are useful," Mroczek said