A time comes in every person’s life that he may no longer do his job to a degree that would satisfy him or his superiors. Special Operations Force (SOF) units are no different and eventually all posts need new men to fill in and keep up the fight. It’s no secret that finding the right type of people for the job is not easy, hence the rigorous selection process.
But what if the amount of people passing through selection is not enough to cover for the ones that leave?
In the last years, the number of SOF units has significantly increased, in Poland alone three new units have been assembled, doubling the amount. How do you find the right amount of people to fill in these new posts? Naturally, as history has proven, lowering the pass mark on selection would be catastrophic, so that is out of the question. Also showing off gear and providing free rides for government officials at PR events does not really increase the interest of potential candidates.
One sure way to attract new recruits is to provide them with a taste of things to come. This is why many SOF units are organising sports events with elements similar to those that recruits may encounter during the selection process. In Poland, there are a number of events organized by the units themselves such, as The GROM Challenge (JW GROM), Marine Commando Run (JW FORMOZA), Run for the Commando Knife and the Commando Marathon (JW KOMANDOSÓW).
Apart from the MoD sponsored events, there are a number of events organized by the Scouts Union, Organizations of former SOF members and Independent Military Training Organizations. One of such organizations is Formacja SGO, a compound of several militarised units formed of civilians as well as former and current military and law enforcement members. Although the organization does not receive any government support, they manage to organize one of the best Military Track and Field Championships in the country.
This year’s SGO Track and Field took place in Gdansk, POLAND on November 30. Just over 20 participants took part, most of them civilians, former military and LE, some with a strong mindset to get back into the fight as future SOF members. The championship started at the firing range, where participants had to conduct several shooting exercises.
After the shooting phase was over, a gym test was carried out which has proven to be very demanding, as it was based on the gym test of the Gdansk SWAT unit.
In the evening, a dip in the nice autumn Baltic sea for a few minutes kicked off the last phase of the championship, the endurance run. With the temperature only a few degrees above freezing, the run really pushed the participants to their limits.
Former members of POLSOF and SWAT were present at the event and provided their praise to the participants. Foreign visitors included members of German Military Police and Federal Police. The event finished the following day with a visit to the Gdansk SWAT HQ.
To some, it might seem questionable to allow civilians access to these sort of sports and training offered by such organizations. The simple answer to such a question would be a definite YES. Events like this and the organizations that organize them are a sure way to provide SOF units with enough recruits not only to take part in the selection process but have a good chance of passing it. SGO as an organization has the possibility to provide initially trained recruits for the army, LE and SOF, as well as provide veterans with the possibility to continue their training and ease their transition back to civilian life.
In the US such an organization would be considered a civilian militia, a core and one of the fundamental liberties, yet in Poland the idea of an independent militarised force still faces a good deal of skepticism from the government and the general public. Hopefully, thanks to events like the Track and Field Championship, this will change over time.
More about SGO (use webpage translator)
(Photos courtesy of: Blixt Photography)