Poland’s Special Forces – GROM – was first activated in July of 1990 and has since become one of the top special forces in the world. Translated, its name means “thunder”. The GROM are involved in several types of special operations including anti-terrorism. They are also called upon when additional power is needed at the back of enemy lines.
The Establishment of GROM
Initially, a proposal for a special, fast response team in 1982 was declined. General Edwin Rozlubirski had made this proposal after Poland’s Embassy in Bern was seized by terrorists. Then in 1989, the fear of Islamic terrorism surfaced when Jews were permitted to leave the USSR and flee to Israel – something the Islamic terrorists vehemently opposed. At that time, Poland was one of the few countries willing to provide assistance in organizing this operation.
Following the shooting of two Polish diplomats in Beruit, Lt. Col. Slawomir Petelicki went to Lebanon to assist in the secure transfer of civilians and diplomats. Once he returned to Poland, he recommended a plan of action for establishing a special military force. This time, the Ministry of Defense approved the idea.
Training for GROM
GROM recruits are required to pass a psychological test, a durability test and what is known as a “trust” test. The purpose of the trust test is to exhaust applicants physically and mentally, filtering out any weak recruits. The balance of applicants go on to be trained in a number of specialized areas including anti-terrorism, special operations, scuba diving, sniping and parachuting. The units are set up in teams of four, each learning the responsibilities of the others. About 75% of the recruits are also trained as medics or paramedics and each group receives the support of a physician.
GROM teams are skillful in rescue operations that are complex – such a terrorist hostage situations. They are trained to operate on the land, the sea and in the air. The motto for Poland’s Special Forces GROM is “Tobie Ojczyzno!” or “For you, Fatherland!”.