Special Police Unit of the Republic of Slovenia (SPU)

A modern anti-terrorist unit of the Ministry of Interior of the Republic of Slovenia, capable of carrying out the most complex police tasks and jobs. The reliability and efficiency of the Red Panthers in the execution of given activities have built trust of the citizens and state officials.

FOUNDATION AND PURPOSE


Unit`s insignia

The foundation of smaller formations, intended for special operations, on the territory of former Yugoslavia begins in the period 1972-1973. This practice represented a response to the escalation of new types of security threats in the world, and on the former Yugoslav territory a great impact had events at Mountain Radusha during 1972. Although the operation of destruction of the Croatian extremist group members ended successfully in the end, latter analysis clearly has shown that former security system simply did not have an effective way to deal with crisis of this type. That is precisely why began the practice of organizing units of less strength which should be specially trained and equipped to stand against specific security threats.

Ready to help
and sharply respond!
By the decision of the former Yugoslav leadership, precisely by the order of the Chief Commander of former YPA, Josip Broz Tito, began the foundation of units for counter guerilla warfare on the level of federation as well republics. So, by the decision of the Republic Secretary for Internal Affairs of the Slovenia a special unit for counter guerilla warfare was founded, within the Republic Militia. The unit had jurisdiction on the territory of Slovenia, while the activation of its capacities depended on the decision of the Secretary for Internal Affairs (or deputy). In 1972 the first training of operators was organized, lasting for 40 days. It was organized near the place of Ribnica in Slovenia and included intensive training in the areas of firearms, communications, topography, tracking and surveillance, handling explosives and explosive devices, first aid and physical training. Within physical training operators of the unit practiced self-defense techniques, as well as methods of overcoming vertical and horizontal infantry obstacles. By the end of the training, it was concluded that for further development it was a must to reorganize the unit and specialize the training of the operators. It was deemed the unit should be independent organizational unit, and future training to be organized in a manner to develop individual abilities of the operators, but their teamwork as well, in order to optimize their capability of executing given tasks and jobs.

On December 1972, a meticulous analysis of the previous significant events took place, so based on the local needs, a special company within the Republic Militia was established, including a Platoon for Special Tasks and Platoon for Guarding Infrastructure of Special Importance for the Republic. The Platoon for Special Tasks became operational on March 1 1973, and today this date is celebrated as a Day of the Special Police Unit of Slovenian Ministry of Interior (Slov. Specialna enota policije).

During history the unit will change its organization several times, according to marked needs and defined purpose. A significant moment was a systematization reform of the Republic Militia after which the unit changed its name to Protection Militia Unit, and the new organization predicted commanding group, company for special tasks, company for guarding infrastructure of special importance, platoon for operational tasks, platoon for counter terrorist and counter diversion tasks, department for material and technological matters, platoon for counter diversion protection. In the eve of secession of Slovenia from the Federal Yugoslavia, Slovenian Minister for Internal Affairs, Igor Bavchar, on April 23 1990 brought a decision on foundation of the Specialna enota ministrstva za notranje zadeve. For the first commander of the Special Police Unit Vinko Beznik was elected, and since March 2008, duties of the commander carries out Marjan Anzeljc. The nickname Red Panthers unit received by adopting the insignia with a red panther symbol. The organization at this moment included command, unit (Slov. enota) for counter rebel actions, mechanized unit, logistics unit, two operational units Alpha and Beta and unit for counter diversion protection.

Special Police Unit actively participated in combat actions during ten-days armed conflict on the territory of Slovenia, and besides, participated in escorting the withdrawal of the officers and soldiers of YPA from the territory of the republic.

The end of the armed conflict on the Slovenian territory brought changes to Special Police Unit as well. The unit significantly reduced the number of operators and adapted its organization to the needs of an independent republic[1]:

-planning, organizing and carrying out tasks to fight organized crime and terrorism on a tactical level
-carrying out high-risk arrests
-hostage crisis resolving in all conditions
-providing assistance in jobs and tasks of close protection of VIPs and infrastructure of special importance on the state territory
-other police jobs, tasks and actions

From the year 2000 until today the unit will change its organization in several occasions, according to the decisive needs of the state, considering models of elite anti-terrorist unit abroad, and will specify its jurisdiction as well.



Today Special Police Unit is a highly professional and superbly equipped anti-terrorist unit within the General Police Directorate of the Republic of Slovenia intended for:

-anti-terrorist operations
-realization of high-risk arrests
-providing assistance in jobs and tasks of close protection of VIPs and infrastructure of special importance
-providing assistance in personnel and technics in order to fight the consequences of natural disasters or other wider accidents
-providing assistance in guarding public events and sports manifestations
-organizing and carrying out training of operators from other police units

In cooperation with the Criminalistics Police department, operators of the Special Police Unit conduct arrests of suspects for money malversation, drug business, human and weapon trafficking, as well as other tasks demanding high level of training and specialization that Special Police Unit personnel meet. In cooperation with Border Police, the unit carries out control of the land state borders, as well as Slovenian sea shores and territorial waters. The unit is capable of conducting tasks on the foreign territories, in accordance with defined legal mechanisms. The activation of Special Police Unit capacities depends on the decision of the General Police Department Director (or deputy), as well as previous approval of the Minister for Internal Affairs (or deputy).

ORGANIZATION

Tactical two-piece uniform of the UF PRO manufacturer

Special Police Unit, according to the systematization adopted in 2007 enlists more than 100 operators in its operational element. The organization of the unit includes command-controlling element, section for operational actions and group for operational support. Command-controlling element includes commander with deputy and two assistants, as well as team of instructors for tactics, theoretical lectures, weaponry, shooting, special physical training and close combat. Systematization of the unit includes a psychologist as well. Tasks of the command-controlling group relate to planning, organizing and carrying out selection training of candidates, as well as basic and specialist training of operators. By the decision of the command operators are admitted to specialist courses in the country and abroad, as well as to joint exercises with other units. The command coordinates the work of operational teams and other organizational elements of the unit, and along with team of instructors monitors work and progress of the operators and other jobs needed.

Section for operational actions compiled previous Alpha and Beta units defined by previous systematizations, so now includes intervention groups with 5 operators in strength, specialized for carrying out the most complex tasks within unit`s jurisdiction, and present are specialist groups with various skills in areas of sniping, alpinism, diving, K9 handling and managing specialized vehicles used in the unit. Specialist groups are activated when field situation demand usage of the special resources which these groups have, or for providing support to the assault groups/teams.

Special Police Unit has established the Group for Explosives, Explosive Devices and Counter Diversion Protection in charge for tasks of inspection, deactivation or controlled detonation of explosives/explosive devices found on the land or in the water. Also, this group is specialized for controlling and transporting of the explosives or explosive devices found and sequestered during inspections. Logistic jobs[2] are covered by activites of the Group for Operational Support.

SELECTION AND TRAINING

Openings for a workplace in the Special Police Unit are organized by the decision of the Special Police Unit Command, and applying is exclusively voluntary. To apply one must be an officer of the Slovenian Ministry of Interior with at least 6 and a half years of service in the moment of applying. Also, officers must have a flawless service file and good recommendations from their officers. It is desirable for one to have some field experience, as well as to be familiar with firearms handling skills, first aid procedures, marital arts and other elements that will be studied and evaluated during the selection.

After security checks, preliminary tests of physical strength and endurance, candidates undergo checks in precision shooting using handguns and assault rifles. Afterwards, they are admitted for a conversation with the commander or some of elder officers. If they meet the criteria at shootings, or expectations of the commander or officers, candidates are then sent for a detail medical check and by receiving positive evaluation from doctors[3], remaining candidates are admitted for a selection training that lasts for seven months.

During the first two months lots of effort is put into raising physical stamina, endurance and strength of the candidates, as well as into studying tactics, weaponry and firearms handling techniques. Marches and various physical exercises and tasks are given daily. Candidates also practice overcoming infantry obstacles as well as martial arts. Infantry training includes practicing attacking and defending tactics, then defense with counter attacking, tactical retreating, taking positions, surrounding of the enemy holdings, setting ambushes, reconnaissance and other elements. Proper handling and maintenance of firearms is studied and practiced as well, shootings are conducted in all conditions, with elements of tactical and precision shooting. All segments of training start with theoretical lectures introducing with the most simple and ending with the most complex situations in which candidates can occur.

In the third month of training a two-week course of intensive training is organized on an unknown terrain. The training is carried out almost continuously, and candidates are obliged to carry a handgun, rifle, helmet vest and equipment in a backpack weighting around 45 kilograms all the time. The purpose of this course is to face candidates with extreme psychophysical efforts in all climate and terrain conditions, along with absence from their homes, long periods without sleep and low diet, shortly, lacking of usual conformism in common circumstances. Candidates carry out day and night marches, master weaponry handling, orientation in all conditions, teamwork, passing and executing orders, and a big attention is devoted to group infantry training including group attacking and defending, tactical movement in a team, camouflaging, scouting and other elements. Usage of specialized vehicles held in the unit is also studied in detail, as well as communication devices.



Individual and group results of candidates are carefully monitored. During this selection phase their reactions are noted as well, especially the ability to control emotions, stress tolerance, reactions to a lack of conformism, relations to authorities, self-criticism, taking the initiative and the like.

During the fourth and fifth month candidates are expected to compile learned skills in order to successfully complete given tasks. Studied are tactics of static and dynamic realizations, first aid course and vehicles managing.

After successfully completion of the five-month training, the remaining candidates are admitted for a two-month specialist training, including basic diving courses, mountain and cave warfare, usage of helicopters when conducting third-dimension actions, usage of explosives and explosive devices and other segments of training, needed for executing all types of tasks within the purpose of the Special Police Unit. At the very end, analysis of every candidate`s results is undertaken, based on which a decision about one`s status is brought. In the case of a positive evaluation, new operator is enrolled to one of operational teams of the unit, according to shown affinities, as well as demonstrated skills during months-long training.

WEAPONRY AND GEAR

Thanks to the great effort and investments of the state and unit leaderships, Special Police Unit today possesses very modern armament and gear. New technological projects and their tactical application are carefully monitored, and decision about purchases is brought in accordance with the needs of the unit and available funds.

In the handgun category operators have available quality systems such as Swiss SIG Sauer P226 in 9x19 mm Para, by which was constructed semi-automatic series CZ 99 of the Zastava Arms producer from Serbia. Used are models of high quality Beretta 92 FS, as well as subcompact systems Glock 26, all in 9x19 mm Parabellum. The main model used by operators is Austrian Glock 17 Gen 3 in 9 mm caliber, and for the needs of training conversions for shooting training munition FX Simunition 9 mm were purchased. For lowered carry operators mostly use reliable tactical holsters Safariland.

In the SMG category main in use are German HK MP5 in A5 models, with telescopic buttstock, chambered for 9 mm caliber. Systems A5 are specific because besides semi-auto and auto fire, they allow 3 round burst fire as well. In addition, by mounting blue color accessories to the barrels of these models, it is possible to shoot mentioned Simunition for the needs of training. For specific anti-terrorist actions can be used suppressed HK MP5 SD6, also in 9x19 mm Parabellum caliber. The unit possesses a certain contingent of the HK UMP submachine guns in 9 mm caliber.

In the assault rifles category main systems in use are HK 416 in A5 models with 279 mm barrel length, chambered for 5.56x45 mm NATO. Operators hold a contingent of systems HK G36 in models E[4] in 5.56 mm caliber, rarely used nowadays. The unit also holds a certain contingent of rifles from Serbia, made over Kalashnikov system. Those are models Zastava M70 AB2 with foldable buttstock and in 7.62x39 mm caliber. For the precision shooting used are semi-automatic systems HK 417 in 7.62x51 mm NATO caliber in configuration with optic sight KAHLES and telescopic bipod. Also, the unit holds a contingent of the semi-automatic rifles Heckler & Koch G28 E chambered for 7.62x51 mm NATO. These systems are adapted for the precision shooting needs by mounting telescopic bipod and optic sight Schmidt & Bender Police Marksman 5-25x56. For engaging targets at greater distances used are quality Steyr Mannlicher SSG-69, as well as SIG Sauer SSG 3000, then Blaser R93 LRS Tactical 2, all chambered for .308 Winchester and with bolt-action systems. For long-range shooting, as well as engaging light-armored or covered targets used are the US semi-automatic anti-materiel rifles Barrett M-107 in powerful .50 BMG (12.7x99 mm NATO) caliber.



When breaching into buildings, anti-terrorist groups of the Special Police Unit can use tactical shotguns from Winchester, Remington, Browning, Mossberg producers and for providing support light machine guns Ultimax 100 in 5.56x45 mm NATO can be used.

The unit possesses modern opt-electronic and communication devices and specialized tactical gear, such as red dot sights Aimpoint CompM3, which were purchased for SMG A5 contingent, as well as assault rifles of 416 system, from the same producer. Tactical lights in various models are purchased from reliable manufacturers Streamlight and Surefire. Used are PELTOR sets, observation and distance measuring devices Leica VECTOR, radio devices Motorola in several models and the like. Tactical vests in black color were purchased from the BLACKHAWK! producer, in models Omega Elite. Ballistic protection of IIIA level[5 during interventions is achieved by ballistic vests Protech Tactical Z-BR01, which were purchased in configuration with ballistic mid-sleeves that protect the upper parts of arms. Head protection is achieved with ballistic helmets of the same producer, and for the needs of the unit models Delta 4 in black color were purchased, as well as those with a very common name PASGT Ballistic Helmet, also in black. On helmets ballistic visors can be mounted which were purchased from the same manufacturer. For the needs of interventions operators wear combat sets in black from the Slovenian manufacturer UF PRO, and the same producer signs camouflage sets in digital pattern MARPAT, used for actions in rural surroundings. Tactical gloves are being purchased from BLACKHAWK!, as well from the national producer Perunika, mostly in Holik Tracy models. Depending on affinities, operators often purchase elements of tactical gear privately.

COOPERATION WITH OTHER UNITS

Special Police Unit maintains professional cooperation through joint trainings and experience exchanges with elite units of similar purpose from the region and Europe. Good relations are being maintained with Croatian Units, ATJ Luchko in the first place, with colleagues from Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as with Montenegrin Special Anti-terrorist Unit. Joint specialist training several times was organized with operators of the Special Anti-terrorist Unit from Serbia, and cooperation has being established with units from Albania and Italian elite GIS.

A significant moment for the unit was when the Republic of Slovenia entered the European Union and NATO, therefore Special Police Unit became a member of the European ATLAS Group, which opened a possibility for establishing and intensifying cooperation relations with units such as French RAID, counter terrorist unit GEK Cobra from Austria, units from Germany and other countries.

[1] Mechanized and counter diversion units were disbanded.
[2] By previous systematizations Charlie Unit was in charge for logistics.
[3] The evaluation of doctors is mandatory, in the sense that, if they evaluate one is not of good health condition, a candidate will not be admitted for a selection training.
[4] These are systems which German producer intended for export (therefore the letter E in the model`s mark.
[5] According to NIJ STG 0101.06.

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