Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
May 17, 2003
WAR: GROMs Away!

News coverage of GROM, the Polish Special Forces, is interesting because it suggests that the Poles understand the idea of niche marketing. Look at it this way: leaving aside defending one's own soil, which everyone has to do and for which everyone in Europe depends to some extent on the United States, the question you have to ask about international influence is this: how does a country exert influence if it has modern skills and technology but doesn't have the resources to be an independent military power? How do you get bang from a limited military buck?

The answer chosen by Poland is to develop a useful segment of military capability -- elite Special Forces -- that can be drawn on by the U.S. and/or the broader international community in larger operations, or can exert behind-the-scenes influence on developing situations. Special Forces units are smaller, cheaper and less visible than, say, infantry divisions, so it's easier to build them without a big public presence, a strain on the budget, or a huge recruiting drive. But modern war has grown very dependent on Special Forces, because of the shift in emphasis to defeating shadowy forces and the need to forestall invaded countries from destroying themselves (e.g., the threat of Iraq firing its own oil wells). And countries like the U.S., with no matter how big their militaries, may thus find it very helpful to be able to call in allied Special Forces units during times of crisis, especially crisis on multiple fronts. That gives the Poles a chip to get in the game, and as we've seen, it has made them a bigger player in Iraq's reconstruction.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 1:13 PM | War 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
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