January 13, 2012


GROM-Grupa Reagowania Operacyjno Manewrowego (00:04:03m)

They are special military forces from Poland, elite fighting teams whose identities are so secret few people know who they are. Even their missions are rarely, if ever, reported on the nightly news. These masked warriors are on the forefront of the international war against terrorism. They are called GROM - Operational Mobile Reaction Group (in Polish: Grupa Reagowania Operacyjno-Manewrowego). They are also known by the name of Jednostka Wojskowa 2305. Grom means "Thunderbolt" and justly describes their tactics -Speed - Precison - Deadly Force.

They were officially inaugurated on July 8, 1990 upon the recommendations of Lt. Colonel Slawomir Petelicki. After two Polish diplomats had been shot in Beirut three months earlier it was imperative to create a special military unit that could quickly be deployed in defense of Polish citizens under terrorist threat.

Lt. Colonel Slawomir Petelicki.
First Commander 1990-1995
Petelicki was appointed the first commander of GROM at it's very inception. He was the ideal choice because of his specialization in reconnaissance, sabotage, and diversion. Under his direction GROM was made into a world class elite force comprised of the best officers and soldiers of the Polish military. Petelicki was once referred to as Poland's "James Bond and Rambo wrapped neatly into one daunting package"
(source: Jane's Intelligence Review).

During his military career Petelicki has been decorated with numerous prestigious medals including, the Order of Polonia Restituta, Commander's Cross, the Order of Polonia Restitua, Officer's Cross, as well as medals from the USA for Officer of the Legion of Merit and Army Commendation Medal. Petelick is honorary member of the 5th and 10th Special Forces Groups of the American "Green Berets".  He was awarded with
the Golden GROM badge with wreath.

Attempts had been made during the 70s and 80s to create a special military force but it failed. In 1982 General Edwin Rozlubirski proposed the formation of a clandestine military force that would use tactics of unconventional warfare against terrorism. However his recommendations were immediately rejected by the "Polish People's Army". Their reason was that there already existed several formations of special forces trained in either military tactics or specialising in counter-terrorism. But in truth Soviet authorities strongly disapproved of special Polish military forces operating in Poland for fear of a guerilla uprising against the Soviet occupation.

GROM became known around the world for the first time in 1994 after their major operation in Haiti. Previously the unit was completely secret and unknown to the public. As a matter of fact, GROM is a direct descendant of the famous Cichocemni of WW2 - Polish paratroopers who earned the nickname, "the Silent and Dark Ones" because of their many successful clandestine missions. The men of GROM, like their predecessors, are professional Polish militarymen who have had to pass a gruelling series of psychological and physical durability tests, as well as the so-called "truth test". And like the Cichociemni, GROM consists of men (and women) who are trained to be experts in combat, espionage, sabotage and reconnaissance.

New recruits undergo the same training in special operations and anti-terrorism and must be physically strong and fit. The Selekcja process is the initial stage in which candidates are subjected to a series of the most gruelling psychological and physical tests, and must be able to demonstrate survival skills in the mountains - that lasts for several days.  The fitness tests are even more intense. Candidates must be able to scale ropes, dive from towers, complete a 3000 meter dash, do pull-ups, push-ups on rails, martial arts, 10 x 10 meter relay dash, and be able to perform well at very high altitudes. And much more. Those who do not pass the test are disqualified. Though many have tried very few have succeeded. Those who do succeed go on to the Qualification round and must pass another battery of psychological tests, fitness tests, and a rugged terrain test in the mountains for a week that will push each man and each woman past the limits of human endurance. It is definitely not for the faint of heart. Training of new recruits is intense, to say the least, and covers three main sectors, as follows:


This sector deals with counter-terrorist land operations which include rescue operations of hostages from a variety of structures, houses, high-rise buildings, cars, planes, and trains; VIP detail duty, perimeter protection, and supporting operations of other military and non-military units.


This sector deals with special operations which include reconnaissance, sabotage deep into enemy territory, eliminating potential human and structural threats from the enemy’s infrastructure, and providing assistance in the evacuation of civilians.


This sector deals with sea-borne counter-terrorist operations which include combat against terrorists in coastal zones,on vessels, as well as off-shore platforms.

Additional training is provided for parachuting, combat diving training, high altitude training, explosives training, paramedical training as well as the martial arts and sniping. GROM units have trained with the British SAS, the United States Delta Force and Navy Seals, and special task forces from Germany, Belgium, Norway, Israel and Canada.

Just like the Cichociemni, each GROM team is comprised small groups of men, usually four. The GROM force is estimated to number between 270 and 300 soldiers. And each soldier
must be ready at a moment's notice to take over the responsibilities of his team colleague. About 75% of GROM operatives have received training as medics or paramedics and each group is backed up by a team of professional physicians. It is mandatory that each member speaks at least two foreign languages.


Poland has three detachments which serve military naval operations: GROM,  the 1 Pulk Specjalny Komandosow (in English, 1st Special Commando Regiment), and MJDS (in Polish: Morska Jednostka Dzialan Specjalnych) which is the Naval Special Operations Unit, or Formoza

Emblem of 1st Special
 Commando Regiment
The 1st Special Commando Regiment was implemented in 1993 to undertake a wider range of special missions including that of air assault, helicopter and parachute operations, strategic and tactical reconnaissance missions, raids, ambushes, and underwater attack missions.  Since 2010 this unit has been working in collaboration with British and American forces.  Polish units consist of the 2nd Commando Battalion, the Special Motorised Battalion, the "Parasol" Battalion and the "Zoska" Sabotage Battalion (names reminiscent of Polish WW2 Battalions).

Those wishing to join must pass muster in a basic military training course.  If completed successfully, men and women proceed to a three-month "Junior Specialist" training course. At this stage, new recruits are trained in land navigation, basic survival skills, close hand-to-hand combat, the use of specialized weapons, parachuting and many other military skills.  If they succeed they go onto the third phase called 1 Pulk, where they are assigned to 6-man team and then the real training begins. Mountain and cold weather training, mountain climbing, sniping, Casevac, amphibious operations and much more.


Formoza candidates are put through an intense series of tests. In order to make it, one has to be able to swim 50 meters freestyle in 45 seconds, swim underwater at a depth of 25 meters, and swim 400 meters freestyle in 9 minutes. On land, the test is much tougher: each man must be able to race 3000 meters in 12 minutes and 30 seconds, which is followed by progressively more demanding tests. Needless to say the drop out rate is incredibly high.

GROM actively recruits new candidates for its combat groups from active duty soldiers, reservists, and the law enforcement community.  Just one thing, though, you must be a Polish citizen,  possess a clean record, and pass security clearance - and pass all the tests with flying colors.

N.B. The Polish government is currently investing heavily in security in readiness for UEFA Euro 2012, the European Football Championships that will be co-hosted by Poland and the Ukraine from June 8 to July 1, 2012. Needless to say, GROM has been staging practice simulations of terrorist actions with multiple hostages - and are ready and able to counter any threat that may arise. You won't see them, but they will be there.



  1. I worked with GROM in Haiti while assigned to the 10th Mountain Division doing security for the Commanding General. I never met a group of men like these. They were highly professional and the nicest guys in the world. Each one spoke a different language other than Polish. They made a tape for my Polish grandmother who never visited Poland but grew up 100% Pole in Brooklyn, NY. I was given a commando knife by one man named Ervin and he said it was given to him by his President. I never had such an honor, and I wish I kept in touch with them. They were true soldiers...better than anything and it made me proud as a half Polish/German 3rd Generation American.

  2. Hi,
    I don't know if you've noticed, but on every pictrue on the internet, the GROM's soldiers are always undercover. They are always in camufflage, bandans, masks. If there is a picture with full face, it's marked.
    In 1994 american President asked polish government to send GROM to Haiti. PM Pawlak asked polish secretary of defense how long it takes to send 50 regular soldiers on operations to Haiti. Polish secretary of defense said: "Minimum two months". So, PM pawlak asked the same question to chief of GROM. He said "one hour" (and they will be ready to transport to Haiti). True story. Greetings from Poland.

  3. How can they be directly descended from Cichocemni if GROM was a new unit? Other than this over-zealous slip, a good article about a great force!

  4. Hi Adam.
    Yes you are right, but with one mistake. PM Pavlak didn't ask the commander of the unit [then] Lt. Col. Slawomir Petelicki for the help but the head of Ministry of Interior. Because at that time GROM was under supervision and a part of Ministry of Interior. Milczanowski, then Interior minister told PM one hour.
    But on the one hand you're right because u said chief of GROM not commander.

    Greetings from the land of the free and the home of the brave.