It is considered one of the best elite military groups in NATO

Silent and dark: this is the GROM, the most famous of the Polish special forces

The most prestigious elite military groups in the world form a select club that includes the Navy SEALs, the Delta Force, the SAS and an elite Polish group.

Las Fuerzas Especiales de Polonia
Así se adiestra la élite del Ejército español: el Curso de Operaciones Especiales de la EMMOE

A special operations group formed after the fall of communism

After the fall of communism in Poland, the GROM was founded on July 13, 1990. Its name has a double meaning: on the one hand it stands for Grupa Reagowania Operacyino-Manewrowego (Operational Response Group), but also "grom" is Polish for "thunder". However, its official name is longer and includes historical elements: Wojskowa Formacja Specjalna GROM im. Cichociemnych Spadochroniarzy Armii Krajowej (GROM Special Military Force of the Cichociemni paratroopers of the Armia Krajowa).

The "Kotwica" (Anchor) was the emblem of the Armia Krajowa. It was an anagram of the letters W and P, which were usually identified as "Polska Walcząca" (Fighting Poland), although they could also be interpreted as "Wojsko Polskie" (Polish Army). GROM soldiers usually carry a white Kotwica on a black square on their arms.

The roots of the GROM in the Polish resistance of World War II

Long-time readers of this blog already know that the Armia Krajowa (AK, Home Army) was the largest resistance group in World War II. Created in 1942, the AK had a special operations force called Cichociemni, a compound word meaning "Silent and Dark", a term that refers to the stealth with which they had to carry out their missions. That force was made up of soldiers from the Polish Army in exile, who were trained by the British in commando operations. 316 Cichociemni parachuted into German-occupied Poland; 91 of them took part in the Warsaw Uprising of 1944. Of the 316, 103 died, most of them at the hands of the Germans, but also nine of them at the hands of the communists.

The distinctive garment of the GROM is a gray beret with the emblem of the Polish Special Forces. This unit wears uniforms with the Suez camouflage pattern, derived from Crye Precision's Multicam. There is a commercial version of the Suez camouflage, the Camogrom, manufactured by the Polish company Helikon Tex.

A unit that keeps a great secret about its missions

As usual in this type of units, the GROM is surrounded by secrecy. Its missions are reserved and the very existence of the unit, initially called JW 2305, was not known until 1992 and was not officially confirmed until 1994. The GROM is part of a special division of the Polish Army (note that with this name the whole of the Armed Forces is known in Poland): the Wojska Specjalne (Special Forces), together with other units such as the JWK, the JW Formoza, the JW AGAT and the NIL (I already explained here the characteristics of each one).

Two of four UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters of the Polish Special Forces. This branch of the Polish Army operates its own air service, following the example of the US Army's 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, also known as "Night Stalkers".

The GROM has its headquarters in Warsaw, where its logistics unit is also located, its Squad A (the ZBA), specialized in ground operations, and its Squad C (ZBC), whose specialty is kept secret to this day. In addition, in Gdańsk there is the barracks of Squadron B (ZBB), specialized in maritime operations.

A member of the GROM with the insignia of this unit on his left arm. The emblem includes the insignia of the Polish paratroopers (an eagle charging forward) with a lightning bolt between its claws (since "grom" is Polish for "thunder"). The use of that eagle is due to the fact that the unit whose tradition the GROM inherited, the Cichociemni, was born as a special operations parachute force.

Famed SEAL Chris Kyle's experience with the GROM in Iraq

The GROM was organized following the example of the British SAS and has frequently collaborated with the US Navy SEALs in Iraq and Afghanistan, demonstrating its very high level of preparation. As a curiosity, during the Iraq War the famous SEAL operator Chris Kyle, author of the novel "American Sniper" (made into a film by Clint Eastwood after Kyle's death) was sent to Iraq to join the B Squad of the GROM (his naval unit) in September 2004, to help them as a sniper and navigator.

In chapter 6 of his book he wrote: "The GROMs were a lot like the SEALs: extremely professional on duty and outright revelers at the end of the day. They all drank Polish vodka, and especially Żubrówka." Kyle also commented that "everyone adopts false names as a general security rule", since in the GROM they keep the identities of their operators secret.

A GROM operator, wearing the unit's flag, making the characteristic Polish military two-finger salute.

In his memoirs, Kyle erroneously equated the GROM with the Special Forces of the US Army -they are rather the equivalent of the British SAS, and with a level of preparation at the same level as the US SEALs or the Delta- and commented that the way of assaulting The houses of the GROM and the SEALs were very similar, but there was one difference that he particularly liked about the Polish group: their take on stun grenades: "Ours go off with a flash and a tremendous bang, and theirs make a series of bangs. We called them seven whips. They sound like a very loud gunshot." Kyle liked them so much that when he said goodbye to his Polish colleagues he tried to get as many of those grenades as possible.

On the left, the emblem of the Polish Special Forces, an independent branch of the Polish Armed Forces in which the GROM is framed. On the right, the GROM emblem with the badge that identifies its members as "Cichociemni" (Silent and Dark).

One of the best special operations groups in NATO

Like the SEALs, the GROM uses a wide range of light weapons, from pistols to assault rifles, submachine guns and sniper rifles. The most common assault rifle is the 5.56mm Heckler & Koch HK416, also used by SEALs and one of the most reliable weapons in its category. Its operators are specialized in anti-terrorist operations, and are trained to fight in different environments, including parachuting, scuba diving, selective shooting, demolition and paramedic training.

Today, the GROM is considered one of the best special operations groups in NATO, and the best of the Eastern countries of the Alliance. You can see here a recent video of Military Division that shows some images of their training and demonstrations:

You can visit here the official website of GROM (very spartan, everything is said). As a curiosity, in Spain there is a group of airsoft fans that recreates this special Polish unit: the Hiszpańska Grupa Rekonstrukcyjna 2305 – JW GROM (you can see their Facebook page here).

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