Poland's lawmakers have approved a new military force to strengthen the defense of a nation concerned for its security amid Russia's growing assertiveness.

The lower chamber of Parliament voted 269-170 on Wednesday for a bill establishing the Territorial Defense Forces that are starting to recruit men and women.

The forces are to be a permanent branch of Poland's defense, together with the country's Army, Air Force, Navy and the special forces.

Plans call for over 50,000 troops assigned to security and logistics tasks near their hometowns by 2019. It's hoped proximity to familiar places will increase their effectiveness.

Their job will be to support regular troops when Poland is threatened and to help civilians during natural disasters.

The Senate and President Andrzej Duda are expected to approve the bill.