Since the end of the Cold War, Poland has been one of the U.S.’s closest European allies. The GROM special ops/counterterrorist unit is a Tier 1 unit, and it’s operators work closely with their American and British counterparts. Less well known, however, is another highly skilled Polish unit, Jednostka Wojskowa Formoza, popularly known as FORMOZA. The term FORMOZA purportedly came from the nickname Polish soldiers used for the unit’s base.
Formation & Mission
The forerunner of today’s FORMOZA naval special-warfare unit was a marine-research diving unit formed in 1975. During its formative years, FORMOZA received quite a bit of help from Sweden’s attack divers and from others who were present at a Stockholm diving seminar in 1975. Since that time, the unit’s mission has evolved to include an array of naval special-warfare operations. By 1990 the unit was operating in the special operations role that was attached to the Polish Naval Reconnaissance Group. As FORMOZA’s mission evolved, so did the unit’s designation—it is also known as JW 4026—and though it remains part of the Polish Navy, it is also assigned to the Polish Special Forces Command. The unit often trains for missions with combat divers from the two other primary Polish special operations units: JW 2305 GROM, which has its own special boat unit, and the Polish Army’s JW 4101 Commando Unit.
Based at Gdynia, Poland, FORMOZA is organized into pairs of divers who operate on the buddy system. Three of these pairs form a group, and five groups form a section (30 operators). A FORMOZA section is, therefore, smaller than a U.S. SEAL Troop, which usually consists of about 40 operators. Reportedly, FORMOZA has a strength of six sections plus an HQ/administrative unit. That would put its total strength somewhere above 200 personnel.
FORMOZA’s mission includes testing Polish military installations (much as the old U.S. Navy Red Cell program did), protecting deployed Polish naval assets, combat boarding operations, coastal and hydrographic surveying, seizing enemy ships, mining and sinking enemy ships, attacking enemy coastal installations, and in certain situations rescuing hostages or evacuating Polish citizens from troubled areas.