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Od 25 maja 2018 r. obowiązuje w Polsce Rozporządzenie Parlamentu Europejskiego i Rady (UE) 2016/679 z dnia 27 kwietnia 2016 r. w sprawie ochrony osób fizycznych w związku z przetwarzaniem danych osobowych i w sprawie swobodnego przepływu takich danych oraz uchylenia dyrektywy 95/46/WE (ogólne rozporządzenie o ochronie danych, zwane także RODO).

W związku z powyższym przygotowaliśmy dla Państwa informacje dotyczące przetwarzania przez Wojskowy Instytut Wydawniczy Państwa danych osobowych. Prosimy o zapoznanie się z nimi: Polityka przetwarzania danych.

Prosimy o zaakceptowanie warunków przetwarzania danych osobowych przez Wojskowych Instytut Wydawniczy – Akceptuję

Creating Their Own Legend

They provide assistance to GROM special operations, commandos from Lubliniec and Formoza, but they are also prepared for independent activity in enemy rear or a fight with a heavily armed adversary.

“Force and Fire! Only ashes left behind us!,” exclaim soldiers during selection for the AGAT Military Unit (JW AGAT). The maxim is usually repeated multiple times, mostly during exhausting physical training. The candidates for operators are fagged out, thirsty, hungry and drenched to the skin, but never complaining, as they know their price for their strenuous effort: the service in the special forces. Their fatigued muscles are shaking. They would not give up, though, and with their heavy backpacks on their back do dozens of pushups and knee bends, and run for hundreds of kilometers. Not many of them are left now, and it is not over yet –the night marathon in Bieszczady Mountains is still ahead of them. The selection to the AGAT special forces unit is usually conducted twice a year, in the spring and in the fall. The instructors usually say there are no easy tests, there are only better or worse prepared candidates. Ten years ago, after one of such selections, the JW AGAT started to write its history.

New Family Member

The formation of the unit was connected with the reorganization of the Polish Armed Forces over dozen years ago. With the professionalization of the army and the structural changes in the Military Police, it was decided that the Military Police Special Formation (OS ŻW) in Gliwice would be disbanded. In order not to lose the potential of the perfectly trained personnel who proved their worth in foreign missions, another special forces unit was formed with Colonel Sławomir Berdychowski, an experienced GROM officer, as a leader. All former OS ŻW soldiers joined the new formation, but in order to stay there, they had to complete selection or qualification process (the latter regards staff soldiers, training and security positions).

When AGAT was being formed, I was still an officer at the Commando Military Unit (JWK). “At first, we were being told that this was to be a typical assault unit, so we all were observing the process of building this new formation. We wondered how it’s going to fit in the existing structures,” confesses Colonel Artur Kozłowski, who has been commanding JW AGAT for three years. The formation’s role was clearly defined from the very beginning: it was to be the military assistance and combat support unit for other special forces formations.

“We joined the family of special forces, and this enforced the changes in structure, equipment, training, and most of all tactics. We had to quickly learn how to play the same game as GROM or JWK commandos,” says ‘Jeżu,’ the JWA officer and former soldier of the Military Police Special Formation. He admits that it was not an easy task, as the ‘specials’ at the Military Police were prepared for independent activity. “I remember that in 2011, it was said that we were to support ‘the specials’ of other formations, for example when entering combat, cordoning off, or in preparing or securing airdrop sites, or providing heavy mortar and grenade fire support,” says ‘Jeżu.’

Initially, the JW AGAT was compared to the US 75th Ranger Regiment (known as Army Rangers). The specialists at Gliwice admit however that this comparison was not quite accurate, because they had different structures, different size and tasks. “In fact, we are more like the British Special Forces Support Group. We have similar tasks, and we occupy a similar position in the structure of national special forces,” admits Colonel Kozłowski.

The JW AGAT is currently a formation of several hundred soldiers, who are part of three assault teams: Alpha, Bravo and Charlie, as well as of a combat support team, the headquarters, the staff and the logistic and security subunits. “Recent years have given us the feeling of self-esteem. We have our own identity, we have developed and tested our training models,” says ‘Nowy.’

Only for the Tough Guys

The door to the service in JW AGAT combat teams is open with the positive results during the selection, but the completion of the basic training is actually a real pass to it. Rafał is now at this stage – he is 35, and has the experience of 11 years of service in air assault forces, one foreign mission in Afghanistan, and multiple sporting successes on his account. “I wanted to learn new things, but at my former unit, I had a feeling that I was not moving in any direction. In 2019, I passed the selection, and a year later I was in the AGAT. Soon, I will be completing the basic training,” he says. Last year, 34 candidates started this training, but today only 18 of them are left. “There’s awfully lot of work here. No kidding, it’s really hard,” Rafał confesses.

Basic training for operators in AGAT is divided into several stages. Soldiers go through the so-called special operations course, rifle-shooting stage, learn the green and black tactics. Complementary to basic training are the SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape) B and C courses, medical training, helicopter rope suspension techniques and methods, and parachute training. “Each of these stages ends with an exam. The instructors are hard on us, and you can be kicked out of the training at any point,” Rafał admits. He says that the future operators are now learning black tactics. They train covert approach to buildings, searching out the insides, climbing up and occupying the subsequent floor of the building, as well as the short-distance fight. The last stage of the basic training is the exam which confirms a soldier’s readiness to conduct a special operation. The assault men must plan and conduct a direct operation.

“Basic training, as much as it’s an important stage for each operator, is not yet the end of the entire training process, as it’s only a start. The operators-to-be must still go through specialist course, must tune in to the rest in a section or a combat team. Then it’s time for international training, and finally for a mission abroad,” says ‘Paris,’ the JW AGAT instructor. The operators go through a profiled training, tailored for them according to their specialization and a character of assault team they will ultimately be in. They train in unconventional warfare activities, such as undercover, parachute jumps, soon also in high-altitude military parachuting with oxygen. They master their skills in harsh weather conditions, in Polish or foreign high mountains. The formation has also sent their soldiers to train in the French Alps and in the mountains of Caucasus. The instructors explain that this is to prepare the operators to perform their tactical activity in hardly accessible areas. The assault operators use foreign training fields in the mountains to practice such tasks as a relocation with the use of night-vision, direct operations planning or special surveillance conduct.

“This year, we organized the training in Tatry Mountains, in the region of Morskie Oko. Soldiers were on a several-day reconnaissance, and then planned a precise special operation. Armed and equipped with night-vision, early morning they entered the shelter house full of tourists. No incidental person noticed their presence, and still they managed to seize ‘a terrorist’ they searched for”, tells us ‘Paris.’

The AGAT operators not only had to learn to operate in the mountains. “For several years, we had also been sending operators to the French Guiana, where in the tropics they had their training supervised by the French Foreign Legion’s instructor. This was very strenuous,” adds Major Mariusz Łapeta, the Spokesman for JW AGAT.

The JW AGAT commander admits that its combat support team is a showcase of the Gliwice unit with the operators who have specialist training. “They are forming the following sections: pyrotechnic, mortar, anti-tank, anti-aircraft, protection against WMD, JTACs, planning and support,” enumerates ‘Jaca,’ team commander.

Training the specialists of this class takes years. “Their skills have also been appreciated by other special forces formations. The soldiers not only bolster our assault teams, but also often GROM or Formoza,” adds the JWA commander. The support team is continuously developing their new skills and capabilities. At present, several soldiers of this subunit is taking an instructor’s training on servicing the Javelin anti-tank missile launchers. New skills – in the area of countering the WMD and toxic industrial agents – are also being mastered by the team chemists. The soldiers, for the needs of last-year’s duty in NATO Response Forces, created the Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear Mobile Exploitation and Reconnaissance Team (CBRN MERT), which identifies chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear contaminations. The ‘specials’ completed multiple Polish and foreign trainings and received the most state-of-the-art personal protection equipment and various contamination detectors. “We are prepared to localize dangerous materials and identify them, but also to collect evidence for trial, including transportation and transfer for laboratory analysis,” says Filip, a specialist for WMD defense. He also admits that soldiers are being trained to operate on water. “We were trained by Formoza operators in assault techniques and seizing vessels,” he adds.

Building Their Own Brand

The training of JW AGAT is very intensive. Operators operate within their subunits, train with other special unit teams, earn their skills also during international trainings. “I think numbers can better show this situation. During my time in the Military Police Special Unit, six times a year, on average, I had to go to train in the field, but now… well, it’s rare for me to be at home six days in a row,” admits ‘Ruski’ of the Assault Team A, and an NCO with 22 years of experience. He is in JW AGAT from the beginning of its existence, but he admits that 2014 was a breakthrough for him. “At that time, we trained a lot with GROM operators. They shared their knowledge, skills and techniques with us. They opened the door for the world of the special forces for us. From that moment, my time has never slowed down.”

The specials from Gliwice, apart from regular trainings with GROM, JWK and Formoza, also train with the commandos from Great Britain, the USA, France, Slovakia or Georgia. With the last ones they established a special relationship, the basis of which is the agreement signed by the representatives of both countries in 2016 on mutual training cooperation. Joint Polish-Georgian trainings usually take place twice a year. “We are to help the Georgians to achieve the level of training equal to the NATO’s special forces. According to the agreement, in 2020 we prepared four special sections, and now we train the fifth one,” explains LtCol P., the JW AGAT Chief of Training.

The Georgian special forces master with AGAT instructors their skills in the field of battlefield medicine, communication, pyrotechnics, special reconnaissance, navigation, and relocation on various terrains, as well as the conduct of direct operations. “We are also teaching them military assistance, during which we play the role of trainees,” explains one of the operators. The specials admit that this cooperation is not one-sided. “For us, it’s a good methodical training. Apart from that, we can train in different climate and mountainous terrain. We also benefit from their experience, which they had gained in frontal clashes and subliminal conflicts. The Georgians are continuously dealing with operational and cyberspace activities on their territory,” says ‘Jeżu.’

JW AGAT soldiers verified their skills during the mission in Iraq, where they cooperated with GROM, and in Afghanistan, working with the commandos (JWK). In both cases, they did their training and advisory tasks. “Missions have been with us from the very beginning. Some of us went for abroad while being still in the Military Police Special Formation, and came back during the qualification process for AGAT,” recalls ‘Jeżu.’ The special forces’ soldiers particularly emphasize their service in Iraq, when they trained Iraqi Golden Division soldiers. “We also worked with an exceptionally well-trained police unit. The soldiers of this unit were the ones who regained Al-Fallujah, and they had been trained before being sent to the Syrian front,” tells us the operator of Team A. The uniformed services trained by them were then sent to the fights in Mosul, and after their return to Bagdad, they shared their experience with fellow policemen. “Training effects could be observed immediately. We had feedback right away whether or not our training brought effects on the battlefield,” emphasizes ‘Jeżu,’ a participant of the Iraqi training mission.

“We’re still working on our brand. GROM or JWK are a recognizable brand, not only in Poland. JW AGAT is now in the process of creating its own legend,” summarizes Lt Kozłowski. The specials admits that to be full happy they only need experience in combat operations.

Three Questions to Artur Kozłowski

What distinguishes AGAT from other Polish army units?

AGAT is the youngest unit in the special forces. It is distinguished by not only its age, but also our task – we are the assistance to the Military Commando Unit (JWK), GROM or Formoza. AGAT operators are trained to perform a wide spectrum of special operations: from planning through reconnaissance and direct operations to military assistance.

Who serves in AGAT?

In our ranks we have assault operators, mortar operators, pyrotechnicians, snipers, JTAC specialists, liaison officers, chemists, medics, but also anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapon specialists and an air group with reconnaissance UAVs, and in the future with air assault UAVs. All operators are on a regular basis assisted by logisticians and security specialists.

What kind of candidates you look for?

In JW AGAT, we mostly have private soldiers, which is an exception in the special forces, as other formations are based mainly on warrant officers. We need motivated young people, willing to work hard. We’re looking for soldiers with their heads open, who want to learn new things and improve their skills. We’re also opening up for civilians. The candidates without any military training, who pass the selection process, will next go to the JATA training in the Special Forces Training Center. In this case, the road from a civilian to a commando is very short, and can take even less than a year.

Col Artur Kozłowski is a commander of AGAT Military Unit (JW AGAT).

AGAT Military Unit (JW AGAT)

The commandos (‘specials’) from Gliwice inherit their traditions after the AGAT Diversion Unit (AGAT derives from ‘Anti-Gestapo’), which during World War II was tasked with execution of sentences issued by the Polish Underground State. The patron of JW AGAT is Major General Stefan “Grot” Rowecki, a creator and the Chief Commandant of the Home Army (AK). The emblem of the units presents an attacking eagle with the GS monogram under its claws – GS is a symbol of the Home Army Grey (“Szare Szeregi”) Ranks Assault Groups. In 2019, the JW AGAT adopted a tradition of the units fighting for incorporating the territory of Upper Silesia into Poland. The assistance team inherits the traditions after the “Wawelberg” Destruction Group, and the Assault Team C – after the Independent Assault Units of Lieutenant (Navy) Robert Oszka.

Equipment

The AGAT Military Unit is heavily equipped. The specials use e.g. the Carl Gustaf grenade machine guns, Antos mortars, Manroy and Minimi machine guns, Barrett semi-automatic precision rifles, Accuracy rifles, and Grom anti-aircraft missile systems. As the only formation in the Polish Armed Forces, AGAT is equipped with armored vehicles of M-ATV type, which belong to the MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected) family. These vehicles are characterized by increased protection against mine explosions, and are doing well in the most difficult terrain. They are ideal for patrols, reconnaissance or even chasing tasks.

Magdalena Kowalska-Sendek

autor zdjęć: Michał Niwicz

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