On May 24, 2007, Poland established its independent Special Forces, marking a significant milestone in the country’s military history. To commemorate this event, Poland celebrates Special Forces Day annually on the same date.
These elite soldiers, commonly referred to as “operators,” undertake missions that demand the highest skills, training, cutting-edge equipment, and weaponry. Their tasks often involve operating behind enemy lines, seizing strategic points, eliminating or damaging defensive positions, and engaging in covert operations. Special Forces operations also encompass counterterrorism activities and collaboration with other branches of the armed forces.
Polish Special Forces have participated in numerous missions abroad, including Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Balkans. They have collaborated extensively with operators from other countries, such as the Navy SEALs and SAS. Alongside the Land Forces, Navy, Air Force, and Territorial Defense Forces, the Special Forces constitute a crucial component of the Polish Armed Forces. Their headquarters are located in Krakow, under the leadership of Major General Dr. Eng. Sławomir Drumowicz, formerly commanding officer of JW AGAT, one of the Polish special units.
Polish Special Forces consist of six formations: JW AGAT, JW FORMOZA, JW GROM, JW Komandosów, JW NIL, and the Air Special Operations Component. While the first special units were formed during the communist era, namely JW Komandosów in Lubliniec in 1961 and JW Formoza in 1975, most renowned operations involving Polish operators took place after the fall of communism.
One of the most notable operations featuring Polish commandos, specifically soldiers from JW GROM, was the first battle of the 2003 Iraq War for the port of Umm Qasr. Its capture was crucial for the successful conduct of the coalition forces’ operations. In the 1990s, Polish operators, including those from GROM, effectively participated in the hunt for a Serbian war criminal. Slavko Dokmanović, known as the “Butcher,” was responsible for the massacre of Croats in Vukovar.
Polish “specjalsi” were also present in Afghanistan as part of the Polish Military Contingent. In addition to combat, reconnaissance, and protection duties, they assisted in training Afghan counterterrorism units (operators from JW Komandosów trained Afghan anti-terrorists).
As Poland commemorates Special Forces Day on May 24, 2023, it pays tribute to these exceptional soldiers who have displayed unwavering bravery and dedication in executing their demanding missions, both domestically and abroad.