On December 13, 2023, a special guest at the Ludwik Krzywicki Economic and Commercial School Complex in Plock was Col. Res. Piotr Gąstał – former commander of the GROM military unit and Alioth Foundation expert. The main point of his visit was a lecture on the functioning of special forces during missions abroad, which the students listened to.

The lecturer also spoke about the specifics of the “Cichociemni” operation and the history of Polish soldiers trained in Great Britain during World War II, who were entrusted with special tasks. Res. Col. Piotr Gąstał also presented his own experience of serving in GROM.

“(…) why ‘Cichociemni’? I know that here at the school the traditions of the Home Army are very strong (…), and the ‘Cichociemni’ were none other than the paratroopers of the Home Army, because exactly after the jump, or before the jump, they were sworn to the ‘Rota’, the oath of the Home Army, and the jump they made caused them to automatically become soldiers of the Home Army,” recounted Res. Col. Piotr Gąstał in the first part of the lecture. “(…) the only way you could get to occupied Poland was by air, and you had to make a parachute jump. More than 2,000 volunteers applied for this service for that time, 600 of them went through selection and training, and in the end only 316 set off for Poland”.

The lecture was received by the young people with great enthusiasm and interest. Particularly animated reactions could be observed during the part referring to the participation of Res. Col. Piotr Gąstał in stabilization, reconnaissance, operational and combat missions. During the meeting, the Alioth Foundation expert also talked about the requirements to pass the initial selection and subsequent training to join the service in the GROM special unit. He stressed that two aspects are extremely important; physical fitness and psyche, as both are necessary to take on the challenges of special tasks. Equally important is the ability to work in a team and total dedication to duty.

“(…) at the turn of the ’80s and ’90s, it turned out that Poland had no counter-terrorist unit that could effectively fight terrorists or free hostages,” reported Res. Col. Piotr Gąstał in the second part of his speech. “(…) how do we conduct recruitment? We used to go around the units searching for the best, at the moment you can apply to a unit. First you have to go through pre-selection (…), after that there are fitness tests, psychological tests (…). This is followed by the actual selection, they send us back to the Bieszczady Mountains and train us there. These are many hours of grueling marches according to maps. About 10% pass this stage, and at the end there are several dozen kilometers of night march (…). After passing the selection, you go for a year’s training, you are isolated from normal life”. Res. Col. Piotr Gąstał tried to convince the listeners to take care of their own physical condition, strive to constantly expand their knowledge and learn foreign languages.

Photo: own photos taken by the Alioth Foundation Team.

Tekst powstał w ramach realizacji zadania publicznego zleconego w ramach Rządowego Programu Rozwoju Organizacji Obywatelskich na lata 2018–2030 r. „Bezpieczna Polska jutra – rozwój działań misyjnych Alioth Foundation”.