I would like to start off this new series of articles on Europe’s Finest SOF Units that usually escape the limelight – but whose responsibilities, actions and sacrifice are not inferior to those of the big names like SAS, GROM or KSK. In each episode, I will concentrate on one SOF unit, provide some background information, history and a glimpse of the equipment used.

Episode 1: JW FORMOZA

Introduction: FORMOZA is the least numerous special forces unit at the disposal of the Polish Special Forces Command. Due to its origin in the Polish Navy, the unit is often called the Polish Navy SEALs to reflect its American counterpart. The unit often operates with maritime detachments of other Polish SOF units like JW Komandosów and JW GROM. The name of the unit derives from the nickname given to its base in the city of Gdynia, an old torpedo test platform. The building was erected offshore with only a small bridge connecting it to the mainland. This gave the soldiers an impression of their base being Formoza (the island of Formosa, currently Taiwan) with the Polish mainland acting as if it were mainland China.

Formoza Base
“Formoza” – The JW4026 Base

History: The motion to create a maritime sabotage unit was coined in 1974. The initiative by the Reconnaissance Unit of the Navy High Command and especially CDR Zygmunt ZAWADZKI, lead to the creation of the Zespół Badawczy ds. Płetwonurków Morskich (Research Group on Marine Divers). Its main goals were to develop the concept of its organization and the formation of a special squadron of divers. As a result of the intense work, by the order of the Head of the Polish Armed Forces, Jednostka Wojskowa (Military Unit) 4026 was formed November 13, 1975. The official name given to JW 4026 was the Department of Divers. The unit was attached to the 3rd Naval Flotilla. The first commander of what became secretly known as the Department of Special Operations was CPT(N) Józef REMBISZ.