Polish special forces have always been distinguished by their harsh methods, which not only local mafiosi experienced, but also foreign criminals. Virtually no one has ever managed to get away from him.
These specific units in Poland exist relatively recently. In 70-80's, there were several special units designed either to solve purely military tasks (sabotage, disruption of communications, etc.), or to fight terrorism. However, after the embassy of the PPR in Bern was seized by Polish dissidents in 1982, General Edwin Rozlirski proposed the creation of a new secret military unit to combat the threat of terrorism and other non-traditional threats. But this proposal immediately rejected the army command. But the situation began to worsen. In particular, when mass emigration of Jews from the USSR to Israel began at the end of the 80s, fearing Islamic extremists opposing any increase in immigration to Israel, many Western European countries decided not to assist in the transfer of citizens there. Only Poland provided real assistance in organizing the operation, later called the “Operation Bridge”. This has literally caused a bloody reaction from Arab terrorists. Two Polish diplomats shot dead in Beirut. Lt. Col. Slawomir Petelitsky was immediately sent there to ensure the safety of the movement of the civilian population and the diplomatic mission of Poland. After his return to Poland, he presented a plan to create a special unit within the Ministry of Defense, which will protect Polish citizens in situations similar to the situation in Lebanon. His ideas were well received, and 8 July 1990, a new military unit number 2305, called GROM (Thunder). Petelitsky and became its first commander. It must be said that the decision to create the “Thunder” and similar subdivisions in law enforcement structures was also contributed by another misfortune. At the beginning of the 1980-ies in socialist Poland has developed a difficult socio-political situation. In a number of voivodships, mass protests of workers against the existing order began.
There are about 20 attempts to capture aircraft, of which 8 have proven successful. In those years, Poland ranked first in the world in the number of hijackings. The main reason for the seizures was the desire of many Poles to flee to the West and get political asylum there. Naturally, the state had to respond to this state of affairs. Petelitsky gathered around him a group of like-minded people and professional officers. Due to the high risks associated with the special service, it was decided that all candidates should be professional soldiers. All recruits from the first batch - and there were just over 400 people, came from various already existing special units. The selection was so tough that only a small group of 47 fighters managed to get training based on the experience of the British SAS special forces and psychological tests. Then began a nine-month special training. At the same time, the security of all flights of the national airline LOT was strengthened: each flight was accompanied by 2-3 armed commandos, whose task was precisely to prevent the hijacking of aircraft. This lasted until the 90-s, when the passport and visa regime significantly softened in Poland and the hijacking of aircraft virtually ceased.
One medal at all
In the first few years, “Thunder” was a completely secret unit and hidden from the public. For the first time, the press casually announced it in 1992. The fighters of the detachment began their activities with the detention of the largest criminal authorities in Poland. The criminal authority of Vaclav Vronsky and four of his armed guards was hit first by the GROM. The latter tried to put up armed resistance, and were destroyed. Then others suffered.
Later, the Thunder fighters ensured the safety of Pope John Paul II during his visit to Poland in 1995.
In 1994, one of the detachment's groups is sent to Haiti to help the Americans carry out a military operation. The 55 "thunders", together with the 3 fighters of the US special operations group, ensured the security of several top officials in Haiti, including UN Secretary General Batras Batras-Ghali and US Secretary of Defense William Perry. During one combat operation, they stormed the building, where the militants held the boy hostage. The child was released. There were no casualties among the special forces.
The level of professionalism of the Poles impressed the US colleagues so much that Washington decided to award their commander an army medal of honor. This was the first time in American storieswhen such a high award noted the foreign division.
Then there was the 50 fighter mission "Thunder" at the end of the 90-s in Bosnia. They were used to support the Polish battalion stationed there and were able to prevent unrest by local nationalists suspected of the 1998 war crimes of the year.
Their own forces in the territory of Slovenia carried out the arrest of the war criminal Dokmanovic, also known as the Vukovarsky butcher. During the arrest, his guards resisted, as a result several bodyguards were destroyed. In addition to this operation, there were several more that were carried out in the territory of the former Yugoslavia. In 2000, the fighters of the group conduct several operations in Kosovo. The most notable of them is the liquidation of five Albanian militants in a village in 15 minutes.
In the 2001 year, “mountain thugs” with mountain training were sent to Afghanistan, ostensibly to protect VIPs. In fact, they participated in large military operations, and in particular, in the storming of the powerful Taliban base Tora Bora. And at the beginning of 2002 of the year - in the operation "Anaconda", which was conducted by the Americans. Also, “Thunder” performed tasks in the interests of the Polish armed forces in Afghanistan.
How the Poles "rumbled" in Iraq
In March, 2003, the author of these lines was sent to the Middle East to cover the military operation "Freedom to Iraq." All journalists - and there were only officially accredited under the command of US troops over 2 000 people, were based in Kuwait. And at the beginning of the war, we only knew that American and British units were involved in the fighting. There was also a Czech battalion of chemical and radiation intelligence. It was from his commander that I first heard that, together with the British, near Basra in southern Iraq, in the area of the port of Umm Qasr, Polish special forces were operating. Warsaw in every way hid it. I managed, with the help of a familiar English officer, to get to the Iraqi port. There I was shown the camp of the Poles from the “Thunder” detachment. I already rubbed my hands - found a sensation. But I was ahead of colleagues from Reuters. While I was getting to Kuwait, they published photographs of Polish fighters in Umm Qasr in the local media. Polish Defense Minister Jerzy Shmaydzinsky was forced to declare 24 in March that the selective special forces group "Thunder" took part in military strikes against Umm Qasr in southern Iraq and in the Persian Gulf. However, he refused to give details about the specific role of the Polish special forces in the war against Iraq. It later became known that Poland sent 200 troops to the region. 56 special forces of this number helped to clear the port of Umm-Qasr and the surrounding oil terminals from mines. Their main operation is participation in the seizure and defense of the Mukaraut dam, the explosion of which by Iraqis could flood the whole of Baghdad.
There is also information that another group of Thunderbolts operated in the suburbs of Baghdad together with the American Delta and the British SAS, long before the arrival of the main forces. On account of "Thunder" and the operation to free the Polish engineers in Angola. Unfortunately, its details are unknown.
Selection and preparation course
Candidates for the detachment, as a rule, are selected from the 1 Special Regiment or from the unit of the Polish Naval Combat Swimmers - GSP. Less often from the airborne troops, or police special forces.
The requirements for candidates are quite high. For example, they must have a higher education and speak at least one foreign language. In the process of learning a fighter studies another. Candidates pass a series of rigorous psychological and physical screening tests before entering a squad. Those who have passed through - and no more than 15 percent of the total number of applicants during the testing, start training, which lasts almost three years and is one of the longest and most difficult among similar special units of the NATO member countries. The average fighter is over thirty years old. There are fighters and over forty. Not many special forces have such long-livers fighters. However, the special forces age does not affect the level of training and quality of combat and training tasks.
During the training, the fighters master mountain training and learn to descend underwater with breathing apparatus. The training program of the detachment includes a special airborne training, the study of mine-blasting. They are taught to conduct special reconnaissance and conduct raids on the fortified objects and headquarters of the enemy. They work out the task of freeing the hostages and learn to fight with partisans and insurgents.
In addition, they are taught to organize and ensure the protection and defense of particularly important strategic facilities. The training program includes tasks for the personal protection of high-ranking officials. All training is conducted under combat fire to develop psychological stability among the soldiers.
The total troop strength is approximately 250-300 people, including women. The detachment consists of four groups, each of which has its own clear specialization. For example, one of the groups is designed to combat terrorism. The other is trained to act in the mountains and inaccessible terrain. The third group - combat swimmers, and the fourth specializes in the landing, both from large and from supersmall heights.
Of particular note is a group of combat swimmers, which is called the Special Flotation Division. This is due to the fact that combat swimmers have always been in special forces in a special position, given their versatility. In the unit "Thunder" they perform special tasks:
- implementation of counter-terrorism operations, including hostage-free operations on various vessels, vessels and oil-producing platforms;
- protection of oil platforms from terrorist attacks;
- rendering assistance and support to other military and law enforcement units in conducting operations against the structures of organized crime in the Baltic;
- conducting emergency rescue operations at sea;
- coastal exploration using speedboats.
Combat swimmers are able to capture vessels, both using high-speed boats and diving equipment, as well as using parachutes and equipment to descend from the helicopter. All groups have combat experience. So, for example, specialists in parachute landing operated in Afghanistan and Iraq. In addition, according to information received from unofficial sources, they also trained the Kurds before the last invasion of the Americans and British into Iraq.
The same combat swimmers are in the Polish Navy. They operate in a unit called Formosa. The squad is highly classified. It is only known that he took part in operations in the Persian Gulf.
I must say that in the history of Polish special forces there are black pages. For example, as a result of bad and unprofessional training during the anti-terrorist operation 6 in March 2003, two special forces were killed and 17 were injured.
Equipment and armament
In recent years, the equipment program of the main anti-terrorism unit of Poland has received significant financial support. Today they are the most advanced models of special equipment and weapons, which are in no way inferior to the best foreign special forces.
Standard short barrels weapons in the group are the Glock 9 17 pistols and Walther P-99. There are other types of pistols and revolvers.
For operations that are conducted in small groups or units at a short distance, in fact, on the verge of hand-to-hand combat, often in confined spaces, fighters use German Heckler & Koch MP-5 submachine guns or their analogue of Turkish production MKEK. Also, special forces often use modified versions of the Heckler & Koch MP-5 A3 and A5, with a folding stock, as well as the MP-5 SD6 with an integrated silencer. In addition, the unit is armed with an automatic weapon of domestic production Glauberyt PM-84 P / 98.
Speaking of more powerful weapons, we should mention the G-36 assault rifle, as well as its shortened version - the G-36 KA1 carbine with a telescopic sight and 100 caliber cartridges for 5,56.
Much attention in the unit is given to equipping the sniper team. Noteworthy are the Finnish sniper rifles Sako TRG-21 and TRG-22 7.62 x51 mm NATO (.308 Winchester) and TRG-42 (338 Lapua Magnum). At the same time, the real veteran - 7, 62-mm SVD is still of Soviet production, remains in the group’s arsenal.
The Polish special forces are armed with a powerful and repeatedly proven in practice 7,62-mm Kalashnikov PKM machine gun, as well as a German-made HK40 A69 1-mm hand-held grenade launcher with a telescopic retractable butt.
For operational transfer of combat groups over long distances or for penetration into the building from the air, Mi-8, Pzl Kania and Pzl W-3 Sokol helicopters arrive at the disposal of the special forces from a police air squadron.
Upon receiving an alarm, the entire team should be ready for action in one hour. The duty unit is obliged to leave the base, which is located in the suburb of Warsaw Šchesliwice, during 10-15 minutes after the alarm, regardless of whether it is day or night.
Without a doubt, “Thunder” in its short history has made tremendous progress and has become on a par with its comrades from different countries of the world. One of the former commanders of the detachment, Marian Savinsky, once said: "My guys showed their best in difficult conditions. I am proud of them for the right. For more than a decade of existence, the Thunder has become a formidable force that any opponent will have to reckon with ".
It is not surprising that in January 2009, the leaders of Poland, France and Germany decided to create in four years a total special forces of up to two thousand fighters called Weimar-EU. The leading role will be given to Poland. Germany and France will only support Eurospetsnaz.
In addition, Poland is already participating in another operational unit, which includes Latvia, Lithuania, Germany and Slovakia.