Interview: Polish Special Forces commander
On 14 March 2017, Brig Gen Wojciech Marchwica took over as commander of Poland’s Special Operations Component Command (POL SOCC) with a remit to further enhance the capabilities of the organisation in the face of complex emerging threats both at home and abroad.
As one of the five NATO members currently adhering to the 2% of GDP expenditure guidelines, Poland continues to invest heavily in its special forces with programmes designed to introduce a dedicated air support element as well as ongoing efforts to improve training regimes with simulation technology.
Speaking to Shephard, BG Marchwica denied there were any future plans to further expand the ORBAT of POL SOCC.
He did, however, disclose plans to consider future reform across the organisation with regards to C2 capabilities, particularly relating to ongoing support of the NATO Response Force (NRF) as well as potential for a future Special Operations Air Component (SOAC).
'We will surely focus our efforts on C2 technology to meet future NATO standards and we will also put lot of attention on our air capabilities,' he explained.
According to BG Marchwica, POL SOCC reports directly to the General Command of the Polish Armed Forces, with a remit to command and control 'all national special forces units as well as direction of the operational and mobilisation employment of the Special Operations Forces'.
POL SOCC… units form an effective instrument for Polish Armed Forces to respond to current and new unpredictable threats.
Additionally, POL SOCC retains responsibility for the training of its subordinate units as well as preparation for combat operations with national and NATO regulations.
Referring to the contemporary operating environment (COE), Marchwica confirmed that POL SOCC force elements had been engaged in NATO and EU security operations 'by establishing broad international cooperation and fulfilling alliance requirements, [allowing] POL SOCC to building up national operational capabilities within Special Operations Force capacity'.
'Taking under consideration all of the above, I believe that POL SOCC and its subordinate units form an effective instrument for Polish Armed Forces to respond to current and new unpredictable threats, both military and non-military.'
He also described the NATO Special Operations Headquarters, based in Mons, Belgium, as an 'extremely valuable input into allied Special Forces capability building'.
'So far we have benefited a lot from the training opportunities offered by NSHQ. We also benefit from doctrine standardisation, which enables us to understand and to co-operate more effectively with our NATO partners,' BG Marchwica stated.
Additionally, he expressed his excitement with respect to the future evolution of NSHQ as it continues to 'expand' into more of an operational command component.
'Nevertheless, we hope that the NSHQ will continue with its training, doctrinal and networking efforts which so far provided an extreme value for us.'
According to BG Marchwica, the CoE remains a difficult one to define for the Special Forces. POL SOCC faces a number of challenges and threats connected with migration from politically, militarily and economically unstable terrains as well as extreme religion-based terrorism in the form of extremist organisations.
Government officials specifically cited Russia, NATO’s southern borders and the Middle East as areas of concern.
POL SOCC continues to position itself as being capable of providing ‘small, highly mobile, well trained and equipped' special operations teams to assist in cooperation with national and other government departments as well as the international community, something which Marchwica referred to as a 'key capability' in the future development of his organisation to counter contemporary and future challenges.
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