Historical story

The most spectacular operations of Polish commandos from GROM, about which you had no idea

We can joke about military drill and tell biscuits about soldiers. But let's not forget that we live in increasingly dangerous times. Fortunately, Poland has one of the best units in the world, which is impressive even for seasoned special forces commanders.

Terrorists ready for anything barricaded themselves in the center of Warsaw, in an office building or subway. A bus with Polish tourists traveling around Asia was hijacked. The Polish fighter pilot had to catapult over hostile territory and should be evacuated. The enemy army is getting ready to blow up the tanker, the ship must be recaptured and the crew neutralized. In each of these situations, the Polish GROM, an elite unit of Special Forces that inherits the traditions of the Cichociemni, could enter the action.

During the conflict that flared up in the Middle East after the attacks of September 11, the soldiers fighting in the anti-terrorist coalition could not miss the best showpiece of our armed forces. The Americans, who in previous years trained with GROM, knew perfectly well its combat potential, which they used in the most difficult actions.

Either they succeed or they burn alive

Poles had the opportunity to prove how deadly force is a select team of well-trained specialists just before the invasion of Iraq in 2003. In the part of the Persian Gulf controlled by supporters of Saddam Hussein, there were two huge oil transshipment terminals, which, as Jarosław Rybak writes in his book "GROM.pl", was able to reload 2 million barrels of oil during the day, handling two supertankers at the same time.

Khawr Al Amaya Oil Terminal which is the target of GROM. (photo public domain)

During Operation Desert Storm in 1991, the Iraqis dumped oil into the basin, causing a gigantic ecological disaster. The Americans did not intend to allow the situation from a decade to be repeated. Especially since the terminals were the key to the only port in Iraq servicing container ships and to an important railway junction. Both terminals were to be occupied by commandos - cooperating units of NAVY SEAL and GROM in a silent operation.

The mission was extremely dangerous. Although one bullet fired from a rifle cannot be blown up by such a large structure as a 1.5 km long and 100 m wide terminal, a skilfully placed explosives and a detonator in the hands of a desperate could already turn everything into a huge fireball. In addition, a three hundred meter tanker moored to its destination. Before the action, many Polish soldiers wrote home farewell letters just in case .

One of the elements of training special units commandos is the blue tactic, i.e. fighting in water and capturing surface targets. (the photo comes from the materials of the Bellona publishing house)

For GROM soldiers, capturing objects on the water was not the first priority. As the former operator of the vessel, Naval, writes in his book "Dogs bite the last ones. How did I become a GROM stormtrooper? ” :

Life writes amazing scenarios, because when I was going to GROM, I never thought that I would be training on an offshore oil rig somewhere. […] How to fight here? We don't know it yet, but we learn step by step what you need to get to take control of the platform . Which places are strategic for its functioning and where better not to use weapons.

The operation lasted only fifteen minutes, and journalists accredited to the command observed the actions of Polish commandos with genuine admiration. Black silhouettes of GROM operators scattered across the terminal like shadows. They managed to capture all Iraqis without any loss of their own and avoided all the "explosive traps" set at the terminal . Thanks to their express action, the installation was not blown up as Saddam's people planned.

Hunt a "deck of cards"

The Americans have placed the worst Iraqi criminals and associates of Saddam Hussein in the so-called "deck of cards". Catching the next "figures" was one of the most important tasks of the soldiers of the coalition forces . The goals were extremely difficult. These people were excellent at escaping the pursuers, they blended into the crowd of their countrymen and constantly moved. In addition, such people always had bodyguards and weapons, which they did not hesitate to use.

In July 2003, an American soldier was shot dead on a campus at a Baghdad university. It was an execution. The young man was killed with a single shot to the head, and the perpetrators managed to escape. American intelligence established the whereabouts of the man who pulled the trigger. Delta Force commandos were dispatched to capture him. The Americans hunted him down, but the man managed to escape the pursuit after midnight. As Jarosław Rybak writes:

Three hours after the failed Delta operation, the GROM killer stopped the murderer. They did it literally at the last minute, because he got the money for the attack and was due to leave Baghdad in an hour.

During each such action, the risk for the soldiers was enormous. The bodyguards of the wanted often put on shahid's belts or vests. GROM stormtroopers captured, among others, the guards of the famous "Chemical Ali", very suggestively known as the "Butcher of Kurdistan", or the Iraqi general who ... was educated in Dęblin. In total, as reported by "The Sunday Times", Poles eliminated about 30 pieces from the famous "deck of cards", not to mention other goals.

To make a Balkan cauldron for the criminal

Since its formation, GROM has operated practically all over the world. The Polish special unit was also sent to the Balkans, to the former Yugoslavia. In June 1997, the soldiers were given the task of capturing a Serbian war criminal, responsible, inter alia, for the massacre of Croats in Vukovar (the mass grave was found by the UN mission led by Tadeusz Mazowiecki).

The actions of the unit are secured by snipers, ready to eliminate possible threats from a distance (the photo comes from the materials of the Bellona publishing house)

Slavko Dokmanović, not without reason known as "The Butcher", stayed away from the area under UN jurisdiction. The criminal was to be brought before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, where he was to be tried. Many myths have arisen around the action, but one of the soldiers summarizes it briefly:

Head bag, Camp bag, helicopter and that's it (Quote from:Tomasz Marzec, "Secret actions of GROM snipers").

The Butcher was tricked into a UN-controlled area on June 17, 1997. The bait was as old as the world. Serbia was tempted by the prospect of making a lot of money on a real estate transaction.

Dokmanović with his security got into a car belonging to the United Nations, but driven by a GROM soldier. The vehicle started to move, followed by another, unloaded with Polish soldiers. The subsequent action was swift. As the sniper said, insuring his colleagues on the road:

We made it so that these guys from the beginning of the action, until they had handcuffs on their hands and bags on their heads, did not understand what was going on and that this is the end of their adventure (Quote from:Tomasz Marzec, "Secret actions of GROM snipers").

This speed is the aftermath of a devilishly difficult selection and training that is hard, like descending into the next hellish circles. During similar actions, nothing is accidental, and each variant of the course of events has long been carefully thought out and rehearsed.

Photo from joint U.S. maneuvers Navy SEALs and GROM soldiers. (photo public domain)

Special Forces are to fall on the enemy like a bolt from the blue and that is exactly what our commandos from the unit created by Sławomir Petelicki do. How many and what operations have its soldiers carried out since the establishment of GROM? Only its members really know that.