Special Forces in Focus: Poland’s JW GROM

JW GROM (full name: Jednostka Wojskowa GROM im. Cichociemnych Spadochroniarzy Armii Krajowej, English: “Military Unit GROM named in honour of the Silent Unseen of the Home Army”) is Poland’s elite counter-terrorism unit. GROM, which stands for Grupa Reagowania Operacyjno-Manewrowego (English: Group (for) Operational Maneuvering Response), which also means “thunder”, is one of the five special operation forces units of the Polish Armed Forces. It was officially activated on July 13, 1990. It is deployed in a variety of special operations and unconventional warfare roles, including anti-terrorist operations and projection of force behind enemy lines.

The unit was named after the Silent Unseen (Polish: Cichociemni Spadochroniarze Armii Krajowej) – Poland’s elite World War II special-operations unit.

The unit’s other name is Jednostka Wojskowa 2305 (Military Unit 2305). GROM was originally modelled on NATO’s most reputable special operations units such as the US Army’s Delta Force, the US Navy’s SEAL Team Six (DEVGRU) and the British Army’s SAS.

JW GROM Counter-Terrorism Team

In the 1970s and 1980s, there were several formations of special forces units within Poland, but these were either trained in purely military tasks (sabotage, disruption of communications and such) or in purely counter-terrorist roles. After the Polish embassy in Bern was taken over by a group of four Polish emigrants calling themselves Polish Revolutionary Home Army in 1982, General Edwin Rozłubirski proposed that a clandestine military unit be established to counter the threat from terrorism and other unconventional threats. This proposal, however, was initially rejected by the People’s Army of Poland.

In 1989, many Jews were allowed to emigrate from the Soviet Union to Israel. Poland was one of the handful of countries that provided aid in the form of organization for the operation, later dubbed Operation Bridge (Operacja Most). After two Polish diplomats were shot in Beirut, Lt. Col. Sławomir Petelicki was sent to Lebanon to secure the transfer of civilians and the Polish diplomatic outposts.

Upon his return to Poland, he presented his plan for the creation of a special military unit to the Ministry of Interior, a force that would be trained in special operations to be deployed in the defense of Polish citizens in situations similar to the one in Lebanon. Petelicki’s ideas were well received, and on June 13, 1990, GROM was formally established as JW 2305.

JW GROM Logo

Commanders

  • Brigadier General Sławomir Petelicki (June 13, 1990–December 19, 1995)
  • Brigadier General Marian Sowiński (December 19, 1995–December 6, 1997)
  • Brigadier General Sławomir Petelicki (December 7, 1997–September 17, 1999)
  • Colonel Zdzisław Żurawski (September 17, 1999–May 26, 2000)
  • Colonel Roman Polko (May 26, 2000–February 11, 2004)
  • Colonel Tadeusz Sapierzyński (February 11, 2004–February 23, 2006)
  • Brigadier General Roman Polko (February 23, 2006–November 8, 2006)
  • Colonel Piotr Patalong (November 8, 2006–March 25, 2008)
  • Colonel Jerzy Gut (March 25, 2008–July 24, 2008)
  • Colonel Dariusz Zawadka (July 24, 2008– August 6, 2010)
  • Colonel Jerzy Gut (August 6, 2010– July 28, 2011)
  • Colonel Piotr Gąstał (July 28, 2011– September 7, 2016)
  • Colonel Robert Kopacki (September 8, 2016– March 14, 2017)
  • Colonel Mariusz Pawluk (March 14, 2017–)

JW GROM Operative abseiling from Mil Mi-8S

Organization

– A Squadron (ZBA) – Land Element (Located in Warsaw)

– B Squadron (ZBB) – Maritime Element (Located in Gdansk)

– C Squadron (ZBC) – Specialty unknown (located in Warsaw)

– Command and support staff (located in Warsaw)

– Logistic and security staff (located in Warsaw)

Sławomir Petelicki was chosen as the first commander of the newly formed unit. As a Polish intelligence officer from Służba Bezpieczeństwa specializing in sabotage and subversion, he seemed perfectly suited to oversee the unit’s initial formation. He gathered around himself a group of like-minded and professional soldiers, functionaries and set about choosing soldiers that would be fit for special operations. Due to the high risks involved in special service, it was decided that all men should be from professional service. The first batch of recruits all came from a variety of already-existing special units within the Polish Armed Forces. Among these were:

  • 1 Batalion Szturmowy from Lubliniec (then known as 1 Pulk Specjalny Komandosów and now known as JW Komandosów)
  • 48, 56 and 62 Kompania Specjalna
  • 6 Brygada Desantowo-Szturmowa
  • Polish Navy divers
  • Anti-terrorist units of the Policja
  • Mechanised Warfare Officer School in Wrocław
  • Reconnaissance units of PAF

Polish GROM- Grupa Reagowania Operacyjno-Manewrowego

Out of the possible recruits, only a small group passed the training. Many of these initial instructors were trained by the Special Forces of the United States and the United Kingdom. Currently, Jednostka Wojskowa GROM is co-operating with similar units of other NATO countries:

  • Belgian Special Forces Group
  • British Special Air Service, Special Boat Service
  • United States Army Special Forces, Delta Force, Navy SEALs
  • Irish Army Ranger Wing (ARW)
  • Italian 9th Parachute Assault Regiment (“Col Moschin”)
  • German GSG 9, KSK
  • French 1st RPIMa
  • Dutch Unit Interventie Mariniers
  • Canadian JTF2
  • Mexican GEO
  • Norwegian KJK, HJK
  • Czech Urna
  • Swedish Särskilda operationsgruppen

During its formative first few years, JW 2305 remained completely secret and hidden from the public. It was first reported to the press in 1992 and became known to the public in 1994, after their first major military operation in Haiti.

Before October 1, 1999, JW 2305 was subordinate to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, after which time command was transferred to the Minister of National Defence, until 2007. Since 2007 JW GROM is under the command of Dowódca Wojsk Specjalnych (Commander of Polish Special Forces).

JW GROM (full name- Jednostka Wojskowa GROM) is Poland’s elite counter-terrorism unit, on Ops in Afghanistan.

Training

Candidates applying to serve in JW GROM have to pass psychological and durability tests, along with the so-called truth test, a physically and psychologically exhausting field test designed to filter out the weaker applicants. GROM soldiers train with the best special forces units in the world.

The training of GROM soldiers includes a variety of disciplines. All of them undergo the same specialized training in anti-terrorism and special operations, as well as frogman, sniping, and parachuting. In four-man teams, each soldier must be prepared to assume the respective responsibilities of his colleagues, should it become necessary. JW GROM receives basic special operations training from the Swedish Navy’s Special Command for Tactical Operations based in Karlskrona, Sweden’s primary Naval Base. Approximately 75% of GROM personnel are trained as medics or paramedics. In addition, each group is supported by several professional physicians. GROM soldiers are trained in the capture or kill methods.

GROM Freefall Parachutists

Known operations

Most of unit’s operations remain classified, the known ones are listed below. [7]

  • 1990 – 1992 Operacja Most
  • 1992 – “Antoni Macierewicz briefcases” affair (Close protection duty during political problems in Poland).
  • 1992 – Assault on residence and arrest of one of the bosses of Art B (a political and economic scandal in Poland).
  • 1994 – Operation Uphold Democracy in Haiti.
  • 1996 – UNTAES mission in eastern Slavonia, Croatia to arrest Slavko Dokmanović – they have since managed to arrest at least six more Serbian war-criminals.
  • 1996 – Bodyguard duties during US ambassador W.G Walker’s mission in Kosovo and Macedonia.
  • 1999 – Bodyguard duties during US ambassador W.G Walker’s mission in Kosovo and Macedonia.
  • 2001 – Hunt for war criminals in Kosovo.
  • 2001 – Recon mission in Afghanistan before the arrival of Polish troops.
  • 2002–2004 – Mission in Afghanistan (VIP bodyguarding, base protecting duties and other).
  • 2002–2003 – Mission in Persian Gulf. Maritime Interdiction Operations.
  • 2003–2004, 2007–2008 – GROM soldiers took part in the Operation Iraqi Freedom. Also operated in Iraq after May, 2003.
  • 2007–present – GROM is a part of Special Forces in Afghanistan, as Task Force 49, operating in Ghazni Province.
  • 2012 – Protection of Polish and International civilians during the Euro 2012 football tournament.

 

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