Special Operations: Polish Rangers


February 3, 2011:  Poland is expanding its special operations troops by forming an elite infantry battalion, somewhat similar to the U.S. Army Rangers. No more details have been revealed, other than it will be two years before selection and training are complete and the unit is ready for operations (including internal security and hostage rescue).

Existing Polish special operations troops consist of the 1st Special Commando Regiment (about a thousand troops, formed around 90 six-man commando teams.) There is a much smaller naval commando unit and then there is GROM. (Grupa Reagowania Operacyjno Mobilnego, or "Operational Maneuver Reconnaissance Group"), which has been making a reputation for themselves over the last decade. First organized in 1991 as a counter-terrorist organization, the 300 men and women of GROM worked with U.S. Special Forces and British SAS initially to develop selection procedures and training programs. Poland didn't even acknowledge the unit existed until 1994. GROM members tend to be older than the average soldier, the average age being closer to 30 than 20. Applicant must speak at least two foreign languages and be in above average physical shape. The training program takes about three years and is said to cost close to a million dollars per trainee.

GROM troops operate in four man cells, which is patterned after the British SAS. A lot of their work is done in civilian clothes and it is believed that the female members do most of their work in reconnaissance and stake outs. After all, who's going to be looking for women when you are expecting commandos? But all members of GROM are qualified infantry and train intensively in assault procedures. GROM also has a reputation for providing excellent VIP security (and have done this for senior UN officials as well as threatened government officials in the Balkans and Haiti during the 1990s.) Most GROM troops are qualified paramedics as well. GROM worked with American commandos during several operations during the 2003 Iraq invasion, and in Afghanistan as well. But back in Poland, there is still some hostility from the army commanders. This is because GROM recruits many of its personnel from the army and navy, but works for the Interior Ministry, not the Ministry of Defense. There have been several attempts to break up GROM or bring it inside the army and navy (some GROM members operate like SEALs). But so far GROM has maintained its independence. To do this, they volunteer for as many overseas operations as they can get away with. The good press they get helps protect their independence, and very existence.



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