Joining the GROM Military Unit is no easy feat. The selection process is designed after similar candidate selection processes in the United States and the United Kingdom. The first selection was assisted by instructors from the West, however it is not a direct copy but rather an adaptation based on years of their experience.
There are two ways to join the GROM Military Unit: by going through the selection process or the qualification process. The first route leads to combat teams, and the second is for security units. However, only those who pass the selection process can call themselves a cadets. Additionally, soldiers in combat teams must complete a one-year specialized basic course before they can wear the GROM recognition insignia on their uniforms.
Selection Process to Join Polish GROM Special Forces Units
The process of becoming a member of the GROM Military Unit is a challenging and rigorous one, but it all starts with taking the first step—applying. If you want to learn more about why GROM is so legendary not only in Poland, but also in the whole world – please read my other article about this special forces unit.
Many people may think they don’t have what it takes, but it’s important to remember that only those who have the courage to take the test have a chance to be selected. According to current regulations, candidates are given two chances to pass the selection process in their lifetime.
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The first step in the process is a physical fitness exam. During this stage, candidates will be tested on a variety of motor characteristics through competitions such as swimming tests, pull-ups on a bar, push-ups, a shuttle run, and endurance runs.
This element of the exam is similar across all special units. However, in the gym, there are no concessions. The requirements are clear and if a candidate does not meet the minimum standards, they will not proceed to the next stage.
It’s important to note that passing the physical fitness exam is just the first step in a long process, and it’s important to be mentally and physically prepared for the challenges ahead.
During the selection process, candidates must pass a psychological examination, a physical test, a test in English or another foreign language of their choice, and a multi-day, challenging field test in the mountains. The last one tests both physical and mental strength.
The selection process is a “play-off” system, and after each stage, candidates who do not meet the standards are eliminated. However, it is also emphasized that during the selection process, it’s important to show determination and a willingness to fight, which are considered more valuable than physical strength.
As I found in interview, according to Lt. Col. Krzysztof Przepiórka, a veteran and co-founder of the GROM Unit, having a strong psyche is more important than physical fitness. It is also worth noting that one must pass three stages of selection.
Every Candidate Is Just a Number
All candidates are treated equally, regardless of their military rank, experience, or what uniformed service they come from. They start with a clean slate and work toward their own success.
During the test, the instructors take the candidates to the limits of their physical endurance and then test their ability to think logically. The head is considered the most important aspect of the selection. They also want to test the candidates’ level of cooperation with others, and for that, the instructors use different tools to check as objectively as possible what the candidates are really like.
For candidates who will or may occupy leadership positions in the future, the selection process includes a separate stage to assess their abilities and predispositions. The best soldiers must be commanded by the best commanders, and for that reason, future commanders and officers go through a selection process as well.
First Stage – Fitness Test
The first stage of the selection process for the GROM Military Unit is a physical fitness test. Candidates are required to bring appropriate sportswear, writing utensils, and a certificate from a doctor confirming that there are no medical contraindications to increased physical exertion.
The test aims to determine a candidate’s overall fitness, and although minimum standards are provided, candidates with scores higher than the minimum will be given a positive score.
The physical fitness test includes the following competitions:
- 200m freestyle swimming – time 4 minutes
- swimming underwater – a minimum of 25m
- jumping from a tower into the water
- pulling up on a high bar (power technique) – a minimum of 18
- 100m run – under 14 seconds
- trunk bends from lying backwards in 2 minutes – minimum 75
- 3000m run – under 12’00 minutes
- arm bending on handrails – minimum 25
- climbing a rope 6m (free technique) – maximum 10 minutes
- squats with a 4kg medicine ball bounced against a wall in 1 minute – minimum 40
- throwing a 4kg medicine ball backwards from the spot – minimum 7m
- long jump from the spot – minimum 2.2m
- passes through a 1.5m high wall in 3 minutes (“push-up”, flip of a 6kg ball, passing through the wall to the other side) – a minimum of 22
Out of the 13 competitions mentioned above, 8 of them will be chosen by the instructor conducting the exam.
Candidates who do not meet the minimum requirements are advised not to apply for service in the GROM Military Unit. Additionally, the selection process can only be attempted twice. Candidates who pass this stage will be invited to the next stage.
Second Stage – Psychological Test
The second stage of the selection process for the GROM Military Unit is a psychological examination, which includes tests and a psychological interview. It’s important to remember that the psyche, like muscles, can be trained.
An average of 20 percent of the candidates drop out at the stage number 1, while another 20 percent are eliminated during the psychological tests. The best go to the mountains.
Third Stage – Test in Mountains
The final stage of the selection process for the GROM Military Unit is a field test in the mountains. This stage is designed to challenge the candidates and test their ability to adapt to new and unexpected situations. The goal is to constantly surprise candidates, to see how they react to a new challenges, and to test their ability to make decisions under time pressure. Everything is accompanied by extreme fatigue and insecurity.
This is how they test the candidates’ ability to handle stress and pressure. As stated in the interview by Lt. Col. Przepiórka,
“The mountains reflect the best and worst behavior in a person. They help create a psychological profile. As an instructor, you see everything like on the palm of your hand. You observe how people act under stress. For example, when they make a mistake, do they start to panic?”
GROM Soldier – Individualist or Team Player?
When it comes to the question of whether a GROM operator should be an individualist or work in a group, the answer is that both are important. Modern conflicts and special forces operations require soldiers to be able to act both independently and as part of a team. They must be able to survive in isolation and also be able to carry out operations for the group alone for several days.
Therefore, the GROM Military Unit looks for candidates who are versatile, creative, and capable of continuous, fast learning. They should be able to adapt to different situations, and possess the ability to work effectively as part of a team or individually.
TV Show Called “Selekcja” (Selection)
It’s important to note that the selection process for the GROM Military Unit is different from the processes and military training programs presented in the Polish TV show “Selekcja”.
In that series, the instructors put pressure on the candidates by shouting at them to do push-ups or pull-ups. During the real selection process for the GROM, the instructors take an indifferent approach.
The instructors don’t shout at the candidates but instead, they ask, “Why do you bother? Wouldn’t it be simpler on the couch at home?”.
This is a way to show that a candidate must want to be there, and must answer for themselves why they are willing to sleep in wet clothes and climb another hill. Someone who is physically fit, but does not have that drive may not make it through the selection process.
Who Is Eligible to Join GROM?
Individuals who are accepted into the unit are:
- soldiers on active duty
- reserve soldiers
- officers of other uniformed services
The minimum requirements for candidates for service in the GROM are:
- Polish citizenship
- There is no criminal record.
- Possession of a security clearance or agreement for a security clearance procedure
- Ability to serve in landing and assault units or consent to relevant tests
- Real knowledge of a foreign language
- Possession of a minimum of secondary education (applies to all corps)