Bruno Streng, son of an active Formoza’s soldier, is now almost two. Born fall 2013, Bruno suffered from numerous congenital disorders including an around 5 cm long spina bifida of the lumbar and sacral region of the spine, hydrocephalus, weakness of the legs and the neurogenic bladder. The life threatening conditions were successfully dealt with in a series of medical procedures. The remaining disorders require long-term supervised medical rehabilitation as well as constant care when home. The military salary of the father combined with a mother salary and support provided by the social services is insufficient to cover the costs of the day-to-day living and the medical assistance; yet, the medical assistance could provide Bruno with a normal life in future.
The effort to help Bruno was initiated and is coordinated by Tomasz Ciechanowski and Sebastian Łastowski, buddies who find it important to help other pals who are in need and gathered many. Among them, in line with their motto – “Nigdy nie zostawiamy swoich” (“We never leave our own people behind”) – are the Command and the soldiers of Formoza. In our efforts, we were also joined by the widely known and well liked Instructor Zero. Zero is an Italian defensive and tactical shooting instructor known and followed by many due to his rather spectacular YouTube videos.
The effort to help Bruno is a spontaneous yet organised action. We aim to provide Bruno with a direct financial aid for the treatment and rehabilitation. We are also aiming to help Bruno get a specialised medical care; we are searching and trying to contact and organise treatment from experts and clinics, both domestic and international, with experience in treating Bruno’s disorders. Moreover, we seek for any medical research study for which Bruno could qualify.
The action is a non-profit charitable effort where all acquired assets are immediately transferred to Bruno’s parents. We are fuelled by the brotherhood’s solidarity and a wish to provide the child with a shot at a normal life.
Formoza is one of the oldest and most secretive Polish special forces units. By its tasks, the unit can be compared to the British Special Boat Service, German Kampfschwimmer, Danish Frømandskorpset and, of course, US Navy SEAL’s. It's a fair comparison as all of the above units frequently conduct joint training exercises and military operations. In the public eyes, Formoza, on par with GROM, is the best Polish special operations unit. Among the professionals, the unit is considered to be top world class.
The foundations of Formoza were created in 1974, when a research group for naval divers was established. Initiated by Cmdr. Zygmunt Zawadzki and the reconnaissance section of the Polish Navy’s Staff, this research group was tasked with the preparation of a concept of a special operations unit of combat frogmans. Following the study, the research group, headed by Cmdr. Józef Rembisz, recommended that a division of Navy’s Special Operations Divers is formed within the structures of the Polish Navy. Cmdr. Rembisz, a former head of the research group, became the first commander of the newly formed unit. His main objective was to create a modern special operations unit using state-of-the-art knowledge including ideas presented during an international diving congress “U-75” (Stockhom, Sweden). Over the years, this special unit changed its name and chain of command many times but was always perfecting its training methodology and operational capabilities. Eventually, the unit became officially known as Formoza and is currently assigned to the joint special forces structures of the Polish army. The naval origins of the unit are visible; Formoza still uses naval military ranks and uniforms, but full sea-air-land operational capabilities were developed.
As mentioned above, Formoza is one of the oldest yet least known Polish special forces units. Considerably younger and much more widely known GROM was created in 1990. Only few years later, in 1994, GROM’s existence was released to the public when the unit was assigned to the Haitian operation “Uphold Democracy”. Formoza’s existence remained classified till late 1990’s when some information about the unit found its way to the public domain. This was mostly due to the unit’s participation in allied international operations.
Long before the unit officially became Formoza it was referred to as such by its personnel. People serving in the unit’s base noticed a resemblance between the geographical features of the base and the Formosa Island (commonly known as Taiwan). Since its establishment, the unit has been based in an old torpedo house that was built by the Germans during the II WW. This torpedo house is a small artificial island off the coast of the Bay of Gdańsk. The only connection between the Formoza’s base and the mainland is via a narrow pier.
The structure and the ways of Formoza as well as majority of its operations are still classified. Some of the ones that are not are briefly mentioned later in the text. Secrets have always been part of Formoza; Cmdr. Rembisz used to instruct his soldiers not to talk about the unit unless they had to, in which case, they were to tell anything but the truth…
Poland, Formoza and NATO
Poland joined NATO in 1999 and since then has actively sought to operate within the alliance, including engaging in operations against global terrorism. It is worth mentioning that Poland from the very beginning militarily supported the United States in the war in Iraq, after the attacks on the World Trade Centre in 2011. In addition to Poland, only Australia and the United Kingdom have given support to the United States from the very beginning of the invasion of Iraq. Soldiers from Formoza took part in the operation "Iraqi Freedom" and one of those soldiers is now in need of help for his child.
Formoza previously participated in monitoring compliance with the UN embargo imposed on Iraq as part of Operation "Enduring Freedom". Later, the operators were part of the Formoza Polish Military Contingent in Afghanistan. As early as 1994 Formoza operators began joint exercises with special forces units from the USA, Great Britain, France and Germany. Polish soldiers of different formations served side by side with the allied soldiers in various military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Moreover Polish units have participated in a number of stabilization missions, peacekeeping in various parts of the world. Polish soldiers are recognized as skilled and reliable partners. Chris Kyle, the famous American sniper and operator of US Navy SEALs, highly valued cooperation with GROM, which is repeatedly mentioned in his book "American Sniper".
Polish armed forces are recognized in NATO structures, both in terms of their preparation and commitment. As a result, Poland has become one of the six framework nations in so called “spearhead force” (VJTF) as part of the NATO Response Force (NRF). Other countries in the framework include Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Italy and Spain.
Why support Polish soldier’s son in the fight against a disease?
Military service is a source of honour, but it is not a source of real financial profit. Soldiers do not choose military service for money, but for the need to dedicate their skills and abilities for their own country and allies. In the ongoing war against global terrorism, troops nationality does not matter - all are brothers in the war of the key values of modern civilization. Eloquent proof of the nature of this brotherhood is the heroic death of st. Sgt. Michael H. Ollis, who on the 28th of August 2013 died in defence of the Polish soldier, covering him with his own body before a bomb placed on the body of one of the suicide bombers detonated.
Special Forces operators are perceived as people with superhuman abilities and capabilities. In the opinion of many people they possess some supernatural qualities. As a result, many assume that they are people who are more than capable of helping themselves. Unfortunately, the truth is different. In fact, these are the people of uncommon intelligence, strength and endurance, both physical and mental, resistance to stress, strong character, and an exceptional level of preparation for battle. As soldiers are unbeatable.
In everyday life, outside the walls of the unit, special forces operators, however, are human beings like everyone else. They have families, wives, children, and homes. They function like any other human being and are facing the same obstacles in the administration or healthcare. Unfortunately, also they may tend to have sick children and then feel great regret that perfect combat training and preparation cannot be used in the fight against their child’s disease. In such situation, being individuals of extraordinary courage they are not afraid to ask others for help.
That is the situation. The situation in which we can and should help, even if this aid may have only a very modest size. Here smallest deed is more important than the thousands of ardent declarations and wishes of prosperity.