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The GROM Factor
The Weekly Standard ^ | 05/08/2003 | by Victorino Matus

Posted on 06/19/2004 8:59:35 PM PDT by anonymoussierra

It is my husband birthday today. Many of you wonder what Grom is, I was able to find closest article that would explain from your America sources. I feel sorry of what happened to your person. Whoever did this will pay in hell.

The GROM Factor Haven't heard of Poland's Special Forces? They're real, they're serious, and they're here to save the day. by Victorino Matus 05/08/2003 2:40:00 PM

IT CAME AS A SURPRISE to many when the U.S. postwar plans for Iraq were finally revealed. Like Gaul, Iraq would be divided into three parts: an American zone, a British zone, and a Polish zone. But what role did Poland play during the war? It turns out a very important one--albeit one that was kept mostly secret.

One of the primary objectives during the early stages of Operation Iraqi Freedom was the port at Umm Qasr. Without it, delivering adequate humanitarian aid to the rest of Iraq would have been nearly impossible for the coalition. Not long after the start of the war, the port was secured--in large part thanks to GROM, Poland's elite commandos.

Who even knew Poland had special forces? For a while, not many. The Polish government waited three years before publicly disclosing GROM's existence. Standing for Grupa Reagowania Operacyjno Mobilnego (Operational Mobile Response Group), the name actually stems from a special-forces commander, Gromoslaw Czempinski, who, during the first Gulf War, led a Polish unit into Western Iraq to rescue a group of CIA operatives. One of the other men on that secret mission was Slawomir Petelicki--the father of GROM.

GROM was my idea," General Petelicki says in his husky, accented voice. "I presented it to the new democratic government" in 1991 "and because I liked to give honor to the commander of my unit, I named it after Gromoslaw." (Grom also means thunder in Polish.) Petelicki, now retired from the military, spoke from Warsaw where he is now an independent consultant for, among others, Ernst & Young. It's quite a change of pace for a man once described in Jane's Intelligence Review as "his country's James Bond and Rambo wrapped neatly into one daunting package." (Petelicki also serves as chairman of the Special Forces Foundation. "I try to help former commandos and discourage them from going into organized crime--where there are many lucrative offers for work.")

Petelicki tried selling his idea of an elite Polish commando group much earlier, "but those Russians didn't like to have real special forces operating in Poland--they feared we could start training in guerrilla warfare against them." But the need did arise in 1990, following Operation Bridge, in which Poland helped Soviet Jews enter Israel. Intelligence reports indicated that Hezbollah and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine were planning reprisals inside the Polish border. Then-Prime Minister Tadeusz Mazowiecki recognized the threat and approved of Petelicki's plan for a new counter-terror force.

"I had a lot of candidates at first" says the general. "That first team I assembled from people I knew well. They were all in their 30s. Now the age of recruits is about 26." According to Jane's Intelligence Review, "GROM candidates were first subjected to a grueling psychological examination meant to search for confident and innovative soldiers as well as those who, though they might be lacking in physical strength, possessed the rare gift of internal iron will." The candidates then undergo back-breaking training deep in the Carpathian Mountains.

Only 1 to 5 percent of these candidates actually get into GROM. But once they are in, the real training begins: GROM operators practice "killing house" entries (with commanders often serving as hostages), storm hijacked commercial airliners complete with mannequin terrorists and bullet traps, and lead raids onto ships and offshore platforms. All of this is done with live ammunition. The commandos are trained in paramedics and demolitions and many are SCUBA experts. They mostly work in four to six-man assault teams except for the snipers who are separate because, as Petelicki explains, "that is a job for special people and they are very hard to replace."

Radek Sikorski, Poland's former deputy minister of defense and now executive director of the New Atlantic Initiative, recently told me he witnessed the snipers at their best during a training exercise in 1999. "The GROM operators were working alongside the Delta Force and were tasked with rescuing the chairman of the National Bank of Poland. He was being held hostage by terrorists in possession of a nuclear device." Sikorski says the snipers waited for days in complete disguise. "They just followed the terrorists' routines and then started to pick them off one by one." GROM operators are said to be martial arts experts and capable of "cold killing." "We created our own style of martial arts," says Petelicki. "I have an old friend who is a master of karate and jujitsu and is a sixth degree black belt. He created the style with other specialists--it is most similar to what the Israelis do."

And what about "cold killing"? Asked if the ominous term refers to garrotes or piano wire, Petelicki replies "Yes." Pausing to choose his words carefully, he explains, "Many things. For instance, we can create a weapon from . . . well . . . many things." The weapon used most by GROM is the MP5 submachine gun. They also get to choose their own sidearm--most choose either the Glock Model 19 or the SIG-Sauer P228.

PETELICKI says that GROM is a mixture of the Delta Force, SAS, and the Navy SEALs. "We took what we found best from each group." (GROM trainers have been to Fort Bragg as well as Hereford--home of the SAS.)

For the past twelve years, GROM operators have engaged in numerous operations, including peacekeeping in the Balkans and Haiti. In 1997, they successfully captured Slavko Dokmanovic, aka, "the Butcher of Vukovar" who was held responsible for the murder of 260 Croats. Despite being well-protected by Serb commandos, Dokmanovic was successfully captured alive (his bodyguards didn't fare so well).

So what was the significance in having 56 commandos from the 300-member GROM take part in Operation Iraqi Freedom? "This war saved GROM," says Petelicki. "Without it, it would have been broken up between the army and navy. But now everyone knows about GROM in Poland and they are proud of them."

Radek Sikorski observes that "It was wise for the United States to show countries who backed it in this war that they are appreciated. This will probably pave the way for more 'coalitions of the willing.' Poland took a lot of risks supporting America. It also took a beating from some of its European friends." Sikorski thinks this could be the beginning of a special relationship with the United States, akin to the one shared by Great Britain, but warns "it is still in the very early stages and much will also depend on America's staying power in the region, its willingness to remain interested in Central Europe. One thing the Americans could do is move their bases out of Germany and into Poland, which has less population density and greater space to conduct exercises."

Since GROM's creation 12 years ago, only 4 commandos have been killed in operations. I asked General Petelicki if, during those years, there is one mission that stands out. "Although 70 percent of our operations are still top secret, the one operation I liked best was this last one at Umm Qasr. That was definitely my favorite. [He sighs.] I was jealous I could not be there instead of Colonel Polko [the current commander of GROM]. Umm Qasr was a very risky operation--a lot of explosives were used--but there were no casualties for us." He adds, "I liked it because we were able to help our friends, the Americans, who helped us create GROM. It was a real masterpiece."

Victorino Matus is an assistant managing editor at The Weekly Standard.

TOPICS: Extended News; Foreign Affairs; Unclassified; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: allies; allypoland; grom; iraq; poland; polishtroops; specialforces

1 posted on 06/19/2004 8:59:35 PM PDT by anonymoussierra
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To: anonymoussierra

2 posted on 06/19/2004 9:04:56 PM PDT by anonymoussierra (Long live Poland.)
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To: anonymoussierra
Yak se mas, Polish friends.

Thank you.

3 posted on 06/19/2004 9:06:40 PM PDT by TexasCowboy (COB1)
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To: anonymoussierra


I'm loving the Poles more and more each day.

I live in Bayonne, NJ, we are like Poland away from Poland, except for Chicago, I guess.

I love you folks. And Marie Curie, she wasn't French at all, she was Polish. I learned this for the first time at the Bayonne Public Library.

4 posted on 06/19/2004 9:08:56 PM PDT by jocon307 (help....I lost my tagline! wait I found it: Immigration Moratorium NOW!)
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To: Criminal Number 18F; Squantos; Steel Wolf; Travis McGee; Future Snake Eater


5 posted on 06/19/2004 9:15:12 PM PDT by Cannoneer No. 4 (I've lost turret power; I have my nods and my .50. Hooah. I will stay until relieved. White 2 out)
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To: anonymoussierra
Wow. A Polish Special Forces unit...


I'm not sure I should say anything about this..... (ahem) publicly, that is...

6 posted on 06/19/2004 9:20:21 PM PDT by Experiment 6-2-6 (Meega, Nala Kweesta!!!! Volunteer and join the elite Grupa Reagowania Operacyjno Mobilnego!!!!!)
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To: anonymoussierra
Welcome to Freerepublic.


7 posted on 06/19/2004 9:22:32 PM PDT by nothingnew (KERRY: "If at first you don't deceive, lie, lie again!")
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To: nothingnew

FMCDH what that mean?

8 posted on 06/19/2004 9:35:54 PM PDT by anonymoussierra (Long live Poland.)
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To: anonymoussierra

9 posted on 06/19/2004 9:44:54 PM PDT by Consort
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To: anonymoussierra
Polish fighting men have always been been tough. The spirit of Jozef Pilsudski lives on.
10 posted on 06/19/2004 10:27:24 PM PDT by Malesherbes
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Comment #11 Removed by Moderator

To: anonymoussierra
One thing the Americans could do is move their bases out of Germany and into Poland...

Many FReepers have said the same thing. The sooner the better.

12 posted on 06/19/2004 11:18:24 PM PDT by Watery Tart (M'waukee: Dahmer, crypto, raw sewage in lake, Elton John at Harley--it's one thing after another.)
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Comment #13 Removed by Moderator

To: anonymoussierra; Cannoneer No. 4
Cannoneer, thanks for the ping. Anonymous, mas' pravdu.

Anyone who makes jokes about Poles fighting does not know about the Second World War in depth. Polish airmen shot down Me-109s while flying PZL-11s (1940 machine downed by 1930 machine). You have all heard about the valiant cavalry charges (no, they didn't charge tanks -- that's from a German propaganda film... they charged infantry and raised hell with them. There was an incident when cavalry fought armored cars, but it was a cav unit caught in a German counterattack).

Then many Poles escaped to Britain, where they formed numerous ground units, and aerial units, including a highly decorated Wellington (bomber) squadron and the legendary 303 "Kosciuszko" squadron (of which I have a satisfyingly thick new history to read).

Then Poles in the Home Army fought against the Nazi occupation. The Soviets collaborated to help the Nazis defeat the Home Army. Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto rose up against the Nazis in 1943 and the Soviet advance stopped dead, to let the Nazis take care of these rebellious souls.

Pro-Soviet sources online, like the very lefty MSN Encarta encyclopedia, claim that the Poles were "liberated" by the Red Army. Hah. They passed directly from the nightmare of Nazi slavery to the even worse nightmare of Communist slavery. (Maybe for the Jews this was an improvement -- the Communists were cruel but not bent on their extermination).

Poles had already rejected Communism and spanked Lenin badly when he thought he would extend his revolution west in 1922. Captured by the Russians, the Poles were unruly subjects; they revolted repeatedly against Communist rule. 1956, 1968, 1970, 1977, 1981, 1988. Some of these revolts were armed rebellions; some were "mere" demonstrations. All were crushed ruthlessly. The Catholic Church may have a lot to answer for elsewhere, but it helped keep the spirit of free Poland alive in these dark years.

Many Americans of Polish extraction helped also, from the famous (Paderewski) to the ordinary.

Poles may not have been the most motivated troops in the slave Warsaw Pact, but free Poles are people you definitely want on your side.

For those who are visually oriented, I recommend the movies "Battle of Britain" and "A Bridge too Far" (despite Gene Hackman's horrible attempt at a Polish accent) as screen depictions of some Polish bravery. For the airmen, the film "Dark Blue World" is about Czechs, not Poles, but the experiences were very similar.

By the way, even if not a single Pole picked up a rifle or strapped on an airplane, the Poles still won the War for the allies. A bunch of mathematicians in the Polish Army broke the German Enigma code machine and smuggled their research out to the West. This was the Rosetta Stone on which all future decipherments depended. One of the mathematicians, Marian Rejewski, wrote a great book about it (it's covered, albeit in less depth, in David Kahn's "The Codebreakers" as well).


Criminal Nunber 18F
14 posted on 06/19/2004 11:58:52 PM PDT by Criminal Number 18F
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To: anonymoussierra
Lucky for us, Col Roman Polko took initiative, probably not endorsed by Warsaw, in Umm Qasr. As he was successful they honored him back home later.
15 posted on 06/20/2004 12:47:25 AM PDT by AdmSmith
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To: TexasCowboy

I hope each one of you enjoy to understand power of Grom. Many of your guys are safe under polish eagle.

16 posted on 06/20/2004 2:15:54 AM PDT by anonymoussierra (Long live Poland.)
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To: anonymoussierra
Thunderous applause!
17 posted on 06/20/2004 2:18:16 AM PDT by sourcery (This is your country. This is your country under socialism. Any questions? Just say no to Socialism!)
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To: anonymoussierra

Okay, we'll trade you former allies France and Germany for Poland. Deal?

18 posted on 06/20/2004 3:18:10 AM PDT by Nachoman
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To: anonymoussierra
FMCDH = "From My Cold Dead Hands"

It's what Chuck Heston, actor and former head of the NRA, responded to a demand that we give up our guns. He said if you want his you can come and get it "From my cold dead hands"

Clearly a "Die Fighting" sort of spirit the guys in GROM would understand

19 posted on 06/20/2004 3:42:25 AM PDT by muir_redwoods
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To: anonymoussierra

Inofficial site for GROM:

20 posted on 06/20/2004 3:47:20 AM PDT by AdmSmith
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To: AdmSmith

Sorry "unofficial site"

21 posted on 06/20/2004 3:49:50 AM PDT by AdmSmith
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To: anonymoussierra

My neighbor is a retired Spec. Ops. who has contacts on active duty - many in Iraq. He related a little known story of just how effective the GROM was in securing the port city in Iraq mentioned in this article. He was told the GROM forces went in firing ---- then asked questions!! The Iraqies still alive, put down their arms quickly. The Polish forces in Iraq are greatly feared and highly effective. Three cheers for the Poles!!

22 posted on 06/20/2004 3:58:02 AM PDT by Elkiejg (Clintons and Democrats have ruined America)
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To: anonymoussierra; CommiesOut Jr

Our late FRiend, CommiesOut would appreciate this article very much.

Oddly enough, just last FRiday, I met a Polish refugee who escaped Poland with his parents in 1982. His father worked with Lech Walenza in the Solidarity Movement, was imprisoned by the KGB for a year and then released and "allowed" to immigrate to America.

He tells a fascinating story, much akin to CommiesOut. I have not yet established whether the two families know each other.

Guarantee you one thing, this young Polish American man knows the value of FReedom! He has some strongly held, very pungent opinions re: the LIEberal/Socialist/Marxist Bastards who would destroy America!

I am recruiting him to become a FReeper, and to write a book about his family's experience.

23 posted on 06/20/2004 4:00:27 AM PDT by Taxman (So that the beautiful pressure does not diminish!)
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To: Criminal Number 18F

Thank you for your words. I see my country do have friends in America

24 posted on 06/20/2004 4:40:53 AM PDT by anonymoussierra (Long live Poland.)
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To: Nachoman

That would be nice and great. I still feel a sorrow from your great lost of your great president Ronald Wilson Reagan. My husband is telling something big will happen soon. I feel so sad and angry what terrorist did to your person. Those terrorist will burn in hell!

25 posted on 06/20/2004 4:54:33 AM PDT by anonymoussierra (Long live Poland.)
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To: anonymoussierra
Many of your guys are safe under polish eagle.

Yes, they are.

This is the reason why I get so steamed when the left insults the alliance that we've put together to fight this war. I'm sure the US military is far more comfortable working with the talented, professional, and motivated troops of Poland, the UK, Italy, etc. than having to deal with the prima donna attitudes of France and Germany.

You guys make me very proud of my Polish ancestry.

26 posted on 06/20/2004 5:10:23 AM PDT by AngryJawa (The Original Grumpy Gen-Xer)
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To: anonymoussierra

The Poles, from a historical perspective, are probably the most freedom loving people in Europe. It was no coincidence that they led the march to freedom from the communist world. And, no, I'm not of Polish extraction.

Another point is that Americans are keenly aware of the roles some foreigners played in helping us win our freedom. Everyone knows the frenchman Lafayette, and the Prussian von Stuben, who famously drilled the Continental Army at Valley Forge. There is one often overlooked, but just as important player...Thaddeus Kosciusko, the Polish Engineer. He was the only professionally trained military engineer the Continentals had. He designed the fortress at West Point that prevented the Brits from severing New England from the rest of the colonies, which very directly led to the victory at Saratoga. It was he who designed the seigeworks that led to victory at Yorktown. He personally played a huge role in the two most decisive battles in our freedom.

27 posted on 06/20/2004 5:54:39 AM PDT by blanknoone
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To: blanknoone
Vienna, 1683
28 posted on 06/20/2004 9:45:15 AM PDT by Cannoneer No. 4 (I've lost turret power; I have my nods and my .50. Hooah. I will stay until relieved. White 2 out)
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29 posted on 06/20/2004 9:45:59 AM PDT by Cannoneer No. 4 (I've lost turret power; I have my nods and my .50. Hooah. I will stay until relieved. White 2 out)
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The Winged Hussars of Poland
30 posted on 06/20/2004 10:02:02 AM PDT by Cannoneer No. 4 (I've lost turret power; I have my nods and my .50. Hooah. I will stay until relieved. White 2 out)
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To: anonymoussierra

I have met Radek Sikorski - he is one HECK of a fine young man. Long Live Poland, our true ally!

31 posted on 06/20/2004 10:06:57 AM PDT by The Right Stuff
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To: Criminal Number 18F

I believe it was the Poles that finally cracked the German defenses at Monte Cassino. That was some savage fighting.

32 posted on 06/20/2004 11:15:48 AM PDT by Tallguy (Liberals make my head hurt...)
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Comment #33 Removed by Moderator

Comment #34 Removed by Moderator

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