Polish Special Operations


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GROM (Polish: Grupa Reagowania Operacyjno-ManewrowegoOperational Mobile Reaction Group; the acronym itself means thunder) is a Special Forces unit of the Polish Army. It was formed on July 13, 1990. It is used in a variety of special operations including Anti-Terrorist actions and projection of power in the rear of enemy lines.

The full name in Polish is Wojskowa Formacja Specjalna GROM im. Cichociemnych Spadochroniarzy Armii Krajowej (Special Military Formation GROM of the Cichociemni of Armia Krajowa), though it is rarely used. The acronym GROM is also related to the name of general Gromosław Czempiński, who among other actions, managed to evacuate a number of American agents from Iraq shortly before Operation Desert Storm. In Polish Army nomenclature it is called JW 2305 (JW stands for Jednostka Wojskowa—Military Unit.

In the 1970s and 1980s, there were several Special Forces formations, but were either trained in typically military tasks (sabotage, disruption of communications and such) or in Anti-Terrorist actions. After the Polish embassy in Bern was captured by terrorists in 1982, General Edwin Rozłubirski proposed that a military unit specializing in fast response to all possible threats, be created. However, the proposal was initially refused.

In 1989 many Jews were allowed to leave the Soviet Union for Israel. For fear of Islamic terrorists who opposed increased immigration to Israel, most western European countries did not assist in the transport of civilians. Poland was one of the handful of countries to provide aid in the organization of this operation, later nicknamed Operation 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.

After his return to Poland, he presented a plan for the creation of a special military force to the Ministry of Defense; a force that would be trained in defending Polish citizens in similar situations. The idea was accepted and on July 13, 1990, the JW 2305 unit was created.


Sławomir Petelicki was chosen as the first commander of the newly-formed unit. As an officer specializing in reconnaissance, sabotage and diversion, he seemed perfectly suited for creation of such a formation. He gathered around himself a group of professional officers and set about choosing soldiers that would be fit for special operations. Due to the risks involved in special service, it was decided that all men should be professional soldiers. The first group of recruits came from a variety of already-existent special units. Among others these were:

  • 1st Independent Special Battalion from Lubliniec (1. Samodzielny Batalion Specjalny)
  • Special units of various divisions
  • 6th Aeromobile Brigade (6. Brygada Desantowo-Szturmowa)
  • Polish Navy divers
  • Anti-terrorist units of the police
  • Mechanized Warfare School in Wrocław
  • Reconnaissance units of various divisions

Out of the possible recruits, only a small group passed the training based on SAS experiences and the psychological tests. Many of the instructors were trained by the Special Forces of the United Kingdom and the USA. Currently GROM is co-operating with the most similar units of NATO:

  • Special Air Service
  • Special Boat Service
  • Green Berets
  • Delta Force
  • GSG-9
  • Navy Seals
  • BBE

Before 1 October 1999, GROM was subordinate to the Polish Ministry of Interior, after which command was transferred to the military.


Candidates applying to serve in the GROM have to pass psychological and durability tests and the so called truth test; a physically and psychologically exhausting field test designed to filter out the weakest applicants. GROM soldiers train with the best special forces units in the world. As specialists, they are ranked with the likes of United States Navy SEALs, Delta Force or the SAS.

The training of GROM soldiers includes a variety of disciplines. All of them undergo specialized training in Anti-Terrorism and Special Operations, as well as scuba diving, sniping and parachuting. In four-man teams, each soldier must be prepared to assume the respective responsibilities of his colleagues, should it become necessary. Approximately 75% of the soldiers are trained as medics or paramedics. In addition, each group is supported by several professional physicians. It is assumed that all GROM operators are proficient in at least two foreign languages.

Unlike Special Forces subordinate to the police, GROM is trained primarily in the elimination of terrorists rather than capture.

For the first several years the unit remained completely secret. 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.

GROM soldiers possess skills useful in complex rescue operations aiming at rescuing hostages from the hands of terrorists. They can operate on land, but also on water (ships and drilling rigs) and air. GROM works in teams of four. These teams consist of well-trained and equipped commandos, who apart from general training hold two specialties, being radio telegraphists, marksmen, sappers, chemists, doctors, drivers. The group also includes analysts, electronics engineers, IT specialists, pyrotechnicians and other technicians. Thanks to them cooperation of individual teams is plausible. Each soldier is a professional in conducting special operations. They undertake several month-long arduous trainings in parachuting, diving, etc. Candidates for GROM service need to pass psychological and physical efficiency tests, and so-called “truth attempt”, which is a physically and mentally exhaustive field test, in which the weakest drop out.

Known Operations

  • Autumn 1994 – Restoration of Democracy in Haiti – 55 GROM soldiers, together with the 3rd Special Forces Group
  • Search for war criminals in former Yugoslavia
  • June 1995 – extraction of Polish officers captured by Serbs in Bosnia.
  • 1996 – Balkans
  • October 2001 – War in Afghanistan
  • March 2003 – Operation Iraqi Freedom




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