Six. (One to cut the power to the entire city, one to blow the main bridge, one to call in the air strike, and three to organize resistance among the partisans. At this point you’re basically buggered.)
MO is a big fan of the Polish GROM special forces units. They quietly played a part in the invasion of Iraq, capturing an oil rig in the early days of the campaign.
As they advanced towards the rig’s control centre, it was far from clear if Saddam would use chemical weapons or even if the platform itself was a booby-trapped.
“Suddenly an old telephone we passed on the platform began to ring. We held our breath thinking the ringer could be a fuse mechanism for a bomb,” recalled an officer who took part in the mission.
“After a few rings it went quiet. Probably a wrong number,” said the 31-year-old commando from his base on Poland’s Baltic Sea coast.
GROM troopers also helped clear the port of Umm Qasar, captured a key dam, and took part in the hunt for Saddam. Poland had wanted to keep its combat participation in Iraq quiet, but was forced to admit that it was kicking some serious ass when a few GROM troopers showed up in news photos.
I’m a little unclear about the current status of GROM units in Iraq. I thought that I had read earlier that they all were back home. A Reuters story last Friday indicates that they’re still hunting the Big ‘S’, but the entire story is a verbatim copy of a the SwissInfo story I linked to above the quote. The SwissInfo story is dated last Thursday, but the byline indicates it’s from July. I believe that I’ve read the story before, but I cannot be certain. Yahoo!UK-Ireland also carries the story with a recent date. I’m not sure what’s going on.
In any event, the GROM forces were a welcome addition to the allied army and have earned themselves a reputation for being serious, skilled professionals.
Strategy Page has a post (11/11 entry) about the GROM forces.
GROM members tend to be older than the average soldier, the average age being closer to 30 than 20. Applicant must speak at least two foreign languages and be in above average physical shape. The training program takes about three years and is said to cost close to a million dollars per trainee.
GROM troops operate in four man cells, which is patterned after the British SAS. A lot of their work is done in civilian clothes and it is believed that the female members do most of their work in reconnaissance and stake outs.
Yeah. And if you get the bounce on one of those girls they probably kill you DEAD in about three seconds.
The SP post points out that there are political problems surrounding the unit. Although they are definitely a military-type unit, they report to Poland’s Interior Ministry, not the Ministry of Defense. There have been some attempts to break GROM up, but they are becoming too good and well-known to do that now. Good. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I think Poland is an important ally of ours, and I think they will be for years to come. I think they understand some things about the world that many others choose to ignore, and they appreciate many things about the world that some others take for granted.
Also check out this excellent Weekly Standard piece on GROM. I’ve linked to it before, but it’s worth pointing out again.
And here’s a big page on FreeRepublic with a ton of pics.