Anti-terrorist Unit Luchko of Croatia (ATU)

An elite anti-terrorist unit of the Special Police Command, within the Croatian Police Directorate. Vast combat experience, versatile skills, equipment and high moral of the operators are foundation of the efficiency and reliability in conducting the most complex jobs and tasks.


Unit`s insignia

By the escalation of conflicts on the former Yugoslav territory, and the disintegration of the federation afterwards, special units organized on republics` level almost without exception served as a foundation for establishing armed forces in the new independent republics. The reasons were experience, special training and high moral of the operators of this unit, who were the very first to enter combat missions. So was with the special unit of the Secretary of Internal Affairs of Croatia, stationed near the city of Zagreb.

spares blood!
By the outbreak of war this unit, around 70 operators in strength, was disbanded. On September 7 1990, founded was the first armed formation of the Croatian Ministry of Interior, the Anti-terrorist Unit Luchko-ATU, enrolling five operators of the previously disbanded special unit, who as instructors organized and carried out the training of the new unit operators. From more than 1700 applied for the opening for the workplace in the newly formed ATU, 200 most capable was selected, therefore the unit increased its strength to around 220 operators. The name was given by the name of a suburb of Zagreb, where the unit remained settled up to present.

At the beginning of war, tasks of the ATU related to establishing and maintaining public order and peace, carrying out counter terrorism tasks and participating the Homeland War in which the unit was active on the territory of Croatia. The reliability in completing tasks, efforts and high moral of the operators served as a foundation for the decision of the Croatian Government by which the purpose of the unit was specified and expanded, therefore the unit, beside already defined, started carrying out tasks and jobs of close protection of high state officials, as well as of then President of the Republic of Croatia.

War circumstances resulted in establishing eighteen more units of Special Police deployed in major cities in the country and organized by the principle of territorial jurisdiction. These anti-terrorist unit were mostly at a company rank, gathering around 150 operators, and their organization was defined by the model of the Anti-terrorist Unit Luchko. The need for better connecting and coordinating of these anti-terrorist companies led to the foundation of the Special Police Section, which in 1994 became Special Police Sector. Every police department had its own anti-terrorist company and that systematization remained until 2001 reforms, when the number of special forces operators of the Croatian Ministry of Interior significantly deduced.

During the armed conflicts on the former Yugoslav territory, conducting given tasks and jobs 24 operators of the unit gave their lives. For excellent efforts in conducting combat tasks many ATU operators were decorated with highest state medals, and the unit itself was decorated by the former Croatian President, Stjepan Mesic, with the Medal Order of the Prince Domagoj with a Neckless.

Today Anti-terrorist Unit Luchko represents the elite unit of the Special Police, an organizational unit of the Croatian Police Directorate[1] of the Ministry of Interior of the Republic Croatia, specially trained and equipped for:

-fighting organized crime and terrorism on a tactical level
-conducting high-risk arrests in all conditions, especially when suspects are armed or actively resist
-resolving hostage crisis in all conditions, especially in the case of hijacked airplanes
-providing assistance in carrying out tasks and jobs of preserving public order and peace and their establishing when disrupted in wider area or greater intensity
-tasks and jobs of close protection of VIPs
-detecting, deactivating and destroying of formation and improvised explosive devices on land and under water, as well as other actions in water surroundings
-search and rescue actions and assistances in the case of natural disasters
-other tasks, jobs and actions in accordance with the Police Law


Holsters for lowered carry Kroko M 151

Anti-terrorist Unit-ATU Luchko is, according to the present systematization, organized within the Special Police of the Ministry of Interior, along with the Special Police Unit of the city of Split, Special Police Unit of the city of Osjek, Special Police Unit of the city of Rijeka, Diving Center and the Helicopter Unit (Cro. Zrakoplovna jedinica). Three special police units are organized as quick respond units, and are activated, as a rule, by the principle of the territorial jurisdiction[2]. The Special Police Command (Cro. Zapovjedništvo Specijalne policije) commands the organizational units of the Special Police, suggests commanding staff, plans, organizes and carries out the selection of the candidates for a workplace in the special police units. Organizes training of operators in the country and abroad, monitors their work and organizes checks of their training. Provides assistance in training and developing of the operators of other police organizational units and cooperates with police units abroad.

The Helicopter Unit enlists around 30 mechanics and experienced pilots. The unit possesses helicopters Bell 212 and since June 2013, by the intercession of the Croatian MoI, the unit increased its capacities with two new EC 135 helicopters. Helicopter Unit is capable of conducting tactical tasks in coordination with tactical teams and groups, as well of search and rescue actions on rough terrain, or in the case of natural disasters.

Anti-terrorist Unit Luchko is organized on the models of elite police units of similar purpose in the world. A clear division of jobs and excellent coordination among anti-terrorist teams, Command and Logistics Group enable quick responds on the state territory. In its operational element the unit enlists around 150 operators organized in teams of various purposes. Among them one is specialist and compiles specialist groups, such as sniping, group for handling explosives and explosive devices, K9 group, parachuting group and others.

The decision about the activation of the Anti-terrorist Unit Luchko on the Croatian territory is brought by the Special Police Command, along with the preceding approval of the minister of internal affairs, or a deputy.


The decision about an opening for a workplace in the Anti-terrorist Unit Luchko is brought according the needs of the unit, as well as workplace available, defined by the current systematization. Applying is voluntarily only, and allowed to apply are officers of the Croatian Ministry of Interior with at least four years of service. Having in mind the content of the selection firstly, and plan and program of training in the unit afterwards, as well as types of tasks and jobs are being carried out, it is desirable for candidates to apply from intervention police units. One`s age, as a rule, is not an elimination standard when applying for an opening.

The flow of the selection training of the candidates for a workplace in the ATU Luchko is organized and carried out on the experiences of the unit`s instructors, but also based on methods used in the elite anti-terrorist units in the world, such as Austrian GEK Cobra and German GSG9, with whom ATU Luchko maintains good professional relations. The selection of candidates is carried out by the instructors of the unit. A great attention is devoted to creating as realistic as possible stressful situations during which candidates` reactions are monitored carefully.

Intensive stress can be a limiting factor factor for an individual, but for a group or team as well, which can directly affect the outcome of the mission. That is precisely why the selection that ATU carries out must give only the best ones.
By submitting needed papers, security check of every candidate personality is undertaken, and it is an imperative that in the moment of submission have not been convicted or prosecuted. The same standard is requested for close family members of the candidate. Those without any security flaws undergo a medical check which ends with the elimination written exam designed to evaluate psychological profile of the candidate, and includes intelligence test, stress reactions, ability to improvise, tactical thinking and the like. Candidates who successfully complete this phase are admitted to a drill which is carried out on the several locations in the country. The drill flow includes intensive physical checks, but elements of training as well. In this phase checked and improved is basic and special physical training of candidates, so their movement coordination, agility, physical strength, body balance and the like are being monitored. Also, candidates have the opportunity to demonstrate martial arts skills, by sparring by the MMA rules in front of the operators and officers of the unit. Specific psychological test mandatory for every candidate is conducted on the climbing tower. In addition, candidates undergo training and checks in the areas of firearms and shooting, and in this phase they are obliged to have a consultation with the ATU Luchko commander, as well unit`s psychologist. The purpose of these consultations is to better know the candidate, especially his motives to become a part of the elite unit, as well as a candidate himself learn in detail with the type of the tasks and jobs in which he can be activated as an operator of this kind of unit.

Candidates for whom team of instructors, in consultation with the commander and psychologist, evaluate they meet the standards for this type of unit are enrolled, for a trial work, sort of speak. After receiving the issue about employment for a limited time, a new operator of the Anti-terrorist Unit Luchko is admitted for a training that lasts for a year and is consisted of two six-month phases. During the first six months the new operators is temporarily enrolled in the unit and his status will depend on the achieved results in this period. During six months will undergo intensive training during which will learn new and master already possessed skills and knowledge, while in the second phase, if achieve satisfying results in the first one, accent will be placed to practicing actions which are being conducted in a group or a team, or in coordination with multiple teams or groups. Also, operators practice some elements of specialist training, depending on personal affinities, or type of jobs and tasks of the workplace within the unit at which the new operator has been enlisted. The basic training is conducted by the Plan and Program of Training of ATU Luchko Operators and includes theoretical studies and practical practice of tactics and techniques of action when conducting special operations. It is designed in a manner to develop the individual skills of the operator and includes intensive shootings in all conditions, courses of basic alpinism and parachuting trainings. Special physical training of the operators includes practicing techniques of overcoming infantry obstacles, as well as self-defense and martial arts. Also, practiced are basics of guerilla and counter guerilla warfare, and the peak of this six-month training is a test checking at which level operators adopted new knowledge and skills. The test is of elimination type, so if one does not meet the criteria, his employment in the ATU is terminated, and he is returned to his unit. Achieved results of every newbie are being analyzed, so if evaluated one meets the standards, will be sent for another six-month training. In this period as well results are being monitored and noted, and an operator can also be returned to his unit if does not fulfill the standards, or commits offense or the like.

Specialist training includes specialist courses in various segments of tactical training. In this phase accent is stressed to studying and practicing of anti-terrorist actions in all conditions, such as advancing through rooms, halls, stairways, assaults on transports, surveillance and tracking and similar. In addition, operators study and practice usage of communication devices and special gear held in the unit, study foreign languages, basics of psychoanalysis, and plan and program includes the elements that are being practiced in coordination with the Helicopter Unit, such as quick extractions, insertions in various techniques such as Fast Rope, Rappelling, Dilfer and others, shooting and reconnaissance from a helicopter and the like. A part of the training is a basic parachuting course lasting for three weeks.

By successfully completing six-month specialist training, new operators of the ATU Luchko are enlisted to the anti-terrorist teams and together with older colleagues participate in all the activities of the unit and continue with training incessantly, in accordance with monthly and annually plans of training. The Plan and Program of Training of ATU Luchko Operators is designed in a way to train operators for conducting given tasks on land, in water and by air, while the maintenance and improvement of physical readiness and tactic-technical capacities is enabled through regular exercises and checks, but through exchange of experiences with units abroad as well.


Reliable gear of the anti-terrorist group operator
Specific purpose of the elite police and military units requests weaponry and gear of high quality. Although it means significant funds, ministries in charge put an effort to provide as quality as possible working conditions for the units for special operations. Anti-terrorist Unit Luchko is a very well equipped unit and possesses reliable models from national producers as well as the most prominent foreign ones.

In the handgun category, main models used are HS 2000 and HS9, produced by the national manufacturer HS Product. These handguns come in 9 mm caliber, and the quality and reliability of these polymer models is proven by the fact they are franchised for promotion and selling to the US company Springfield Armory, under marks XD, XDM or XDS. For the needs of training operators use systems HS9 FX that are intended for shooting training munition FX Simunition 9 mm. Operators also hold Austrian Glock 17 Gen 3, as well as models CZ 75 B, all in 9x19 mm Parabellum. Depending on needs, operators can use reliable tactical lights of the TLR series from Streamlight producer. For lowered carry used are excellent holsters of the national manufacturer Kroko[3] in models M151, as well M153. Models M152 are suitable for concealed carry. Besides models of the national producer, the unit possesses a contingent of very good holsters Safariland.

In the SMG category main models in use are HK MP5 A5 with telescopic buttstock and chambered for 9 mm rounds. All submachine guns are equipped with red dot sights Aimpoint CompM3 and tactical lights. For the needs of specific anti-terrorist actions used are suppressed models HK MP5 SD6, also in 9 mm caliber. Operators of the ATU Luchko hold models of the UMP series of the manufacturer Heckler & Koch, also in 9x19 mm Parabellum. In the personal defense weapon category used are models HK MP7 in specific caliber 4.6x30 mm, as well as models of the national arms industry ERO and ERO Mini, which Croatian producer constructed by the Israeli Uzi system.

In the assault rifles category, primary models in use are HK G36 C chambered for 5.56x45 mm NATO. Contingent of these rifles was purchased from the German producer in configuration with foldable buttstock and adjustable cheek rest and Picatinny rails carriers placed by the 3-6-9 layout. The unit possesses a contingent of rifles based on the Kalashnikov system in 7.62x39 mm, as well in 5.45x39 mm.

For the needs of sniping ATU Luchko specialists use semi-auto HK PSG1 rifles in caliber .308 Winchester, as well as Steyr Mannlicher SSG 69 in .223 Remington with bolt-action system, and models EMM 992 and EM 992 of the national producer, chambered for .308 and .300 Winchester respectively.

When breaching into buildings and room clearing operators can use tactical shotguns such as Benelli M3, Franchi SPAS 12 and others. For the needs of breaching into barricaded buildings and rooms, operators of the ATU Luchko can use hydraulic system Door Raider, or exothermic apparatus of various systems and producers.

Ballistic protection of the operators when conducting interventions is achieved by wearing ballistic vests, mostly of Plate Carrier types and from the producer Kroko, as well of the well-known foreign company CombatKit, in various models. Ballistic head protection is achieved with ballistic helmets of the producer SHESTAN-BUSCH in models BK-Ops and BK-ATJ. These models were developed especially for units for special purposes, over High Cut design. They provide IIIA level of protection, acc. NIJ STG 0106.01. For the needs of ATJ Luchko these were delivered in the configuration with side rail carriers and frontal NVG[4] shroud and liner, while canvas helmet covers were mostly purchased from the CombatKit producer. Tactical belts were mostly purchased from the Kroko producer, usually in black. As for the tactical gloves, used are models Kroko, 5.11, Hatch, BLACKHAWK! and others, and various types of tactical gear are also purchased from the Spartac manufacturer.

For the needs of interventions operators of the Anti-terrorist Unit Luchko wear two-piece tactical uniforms in black or gray-olive color from Kroko, and held are two-piece tactical uniforms of the producer Claw Gear in Combat line.


Cooperation with other units of similar purpose in the region and Europe as well is an important part of the plan and program of training for the operators of the Anti-terrorist Unit Luchko. Joint exercises and security seminars are chances for exchange of experiences with colleagues abroad, as well for demonstrations of level of training.

Among the units from the region, ATU Luchko maintains professional relations with the Special Anti-terrorist Unit of the Serbian Ministry of Interior, Special Anti-terrorist Unit of the Montenegro, as well with Special Support Unit of SIPA, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

By Croatia`s entering the European Union, ATU Luchko became a member of the ATLAS Group and actively participates joint seminars and tactical exercises with elite units from Europe, such as French RAID and GIGN, Austrian GEK Cobra, German GSG9 and others.

The unit is also a participant of the regional security seminars.

[1] Cro. Ravnateljstvo policije.
[2] Response unit from Zagreb, known as Alphas, by the present systematization merged with the ATU Luchko.
[3] Holster models of M series mentioned manufacturer makes from a special thermo-formed plastic Kydex.
[4] Front carriers on helmets are mostly marked with abbreviation NVG, relating to the phrase Night Vision Goggles.

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