I recently came across an article published in the early stages of the Iraq war, which provided one of the most candid and colorful looks at Poland’s Special Forces GROM unit I have yet seen. Victorino Matus, writing at The Weekly Standard, interviewed General Slawomir Petelicki – the founding father of GROM, about how it all began:
“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.”
Details on training tactics:
“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.
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.”
Live ammunition? Piano Wire? Their own form of martial arts? Brutal.
Interestingly, toward the end the article cites Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski expressing his hopes that this cooperation be the beginning of a new chapter in U.S.-Polish relations:
“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.”
This article was written in 2003 and clearly the jury is still out on the success of the special relationship.
Read the rest of the article here.