Special Task Unit "Tiger" of Macedonia (SPU)

Highly professional anti-terrorist unit of the Ministry of Interior of the Republic of Macedonia. During existence Macedonian “Tigers” completed a significant number of combat tasks, demonstrating professionalism, high motivation and teamwork every time.


Unit`s insignia

Events on Radusha Mountain during 1972, in which officers of former Militia and soldiers of the Yugoslav People Army confronted a group of Croatian extremists, clearly showed that former state did not have adequate trained formation, capable of responding to specific security challenges. After analyzing practices of foreign security systems, former federation establishment brought a decision on organizing, equipping and training of units for special operations which would have jurisdiction on the level of republics[1], as well as on the level of federation.

By the end of 1980 as an organizational unit of the Macedonian Ministry of Interior the Special Tasks Department, within the Special Police Units Sector. The formation became operational in the beginning of 1981, and its purpose, arranged on the models of similar formations in the federation and abroad, related to

like a tiger!
the counter terrorism on a tactical level, hostage crisis resolving, resolving of complex abductions, conducting high-risk arrests, as well as other complex jobs and tasks within the jurisdiction of the former Macedonian Militia.
br> Amid the same year, Special Task Department is organized as a Militia Station for Special Operations of the Republic Secretariat of Internal Affairs. Under this name unit operates until 1991 when defined activities begins to carry out as a Police Station for Special Operations.

After disintegration of Yugoslavia, personnel of this unit, similarly as in other newly established independent states, served as a foundation for foundation of the republic armed forces. After the reorganization of the Macedonian Ministry of Interior, on May 7 1192 Police Station for Special Operations changes its name to Special Task Unit (Mac. Единица за специјални задачи-ЕСЗ). Along with changed name, a meticulous reorganization of the unit took place, as well as expansion and precise definition of its jurisdiction, based on the practice in Special Anti-terrorist Unit of the Ministry of Interior of Republic of Serbia. In 1999 Special Task Unit adopts a new insignia, presented with a head of a tiger with open jaws and attains a nickname “Tiger”.

Today Special Task Unit “Tiger” represents the organizational unit under the Macedonian Bureau for Public Security of the Ministry of Interior, specially trained and equipped for:

-planning, organizing and conducting tasks, jobs and actions in order to fight organized crime and terrorism on a tactical level
-resolving of hostage crisis in buildings, or hijacked transports
-breaching into buildings of transports and arresting suspects
-high-risk arresting
-jobs and tasks of close protection of VIPs and guarding of important infrastructure in common circumstances as well as when endangered of attacks
-protecting transports of personnel or items of special importance
-providing professional assistance and support to other organizational police units when conducting complex tasks
-organizing and carrying out trainings of other police units
-providing support in personnel and equipment in the case of natural disasters or other wider accidents

Central base of the unit is settled within the barracks Ilinden, where the Special Operation Regiment of Macedonian Armed Forces is also organized. The unit is capable to conduct intended activities independently, or if needed, in cooperation with other organizational units of Ministry of Interior or Macedonian Armed Forces. Unit`s capacities are activated by the proposition of Bureau for Public Security Director, after attaining the approval of the minister of internal affairs. The issue of unit`s activation[2] is specified by the Command of the Special Task Unit. In recent years, Macedonian “Tigers” in cooperation with other police and military units carried out a number of combat tasks within the state territory. In these events the unit had personnel casualties, but always demonstrated determination and bravery, building a great respect and trust of citizens and state officials.


Organization of the Special Task Unit Tiger is arranged according to the need of national security system, as well as on models of elite anti-terrorist units abroad. Present systematization includes Command, several anti-terrorist teams including specialist groups, Negotiation Team, Tracking and Surveillance Team, Group for Planning, Control and Support.

Command of the unit plans, organizes and conducts all activities related to the selection and training of the candidates [3], as well as training and professional development of the operators. Monitors, checks and coordinates activities of the anti-terrorist teams, decides about purchases of special gear and weaponry, establishes cooperation with organizational units in the country and units of similar type abroad.

Anti-terrorist teams include several operational groups. As a rule, the most elite element of every team is the first operational group, enlisting the most versatile operators, specialized for carrying out the most complex tasks such as dynamic breaches into buildings, high-risk arrests and hostage crisis. Depending on the needs of a concrete intervention, the first operational group can be enforced with additional operational groups, as well specialists ones. Anti-terrorist teams enlist specialists whose skills and knowledge are essential for conducting given activities in all conditions. In such a manner operational groups can be supported by sniping groups, alpinism specialists, K9 handlers. Specialists for explosives and explosive devices participate in conducting counter diversion inspections of areas, infrastructure, transports and the like, while diving groups are intended for carrying out given activities in water surroundings, as well as on lands near water surfaces.

Negotiation Team has an important role in carrying out anti-terrorist tasks, because, as a rule, first establishes contact with suspects if possible and participates in deciding about activation of the assault teams.


Openings for a workplace in the elite Special Task Unit are organized according to the needs of the unit. Voluntarily can apply candidates aged 20-30 years, who have worked within Ministry of Interior for at least one year. Considering the types of tasks and jobs that unit carries out, during candidates selection, an advantage is given to ones having some field work experience. As a rule, candidates should have at least B Category Driving License. By submitting needed files when applying for a selection training of the candidates for a workplace in the Special Task Unit, detail security check of every candidate who submitted all need papers is undertaken. Those who are evaluated without any security flaws, are called for checks of physical strength and endurance, also of a selective type. Although to many these checks do not seem demanding, a significant number of the candidates do not meet the criteria already at the very beginning. If they fulfill standards during these checks, remaining candidates are admitted for a conversation with the commander and official psychologist, in order to evaluate their psychological profile and motives to become a part of the unit. In the case of positive evaluation, candidates are then admitted for a specialized medical check to learn about their physical health. Candidates undergo eye and ear tests, blood pressure check, breathing rhythm, VO2 maximum and the like. The purpose of this health check is to see whether one`s health is at the level expected from a special forces operator, having in mind the intensity of physical effort and emotional stress they face on daily basis.

If doctors positively evaluate the health of candidates, they are sent for a selection training lasting for a couple of weeks. Selective training, or drill, is carried out in training centers for police officers in the country and is organized in a manner to, by leading the candidates to their limits along with deprivation from usual life conformism, test their will strength. Of course, intensive physical activities will raise physical readiness of every candidates. Having in mind practices abroad, instructors who conduct the selection of candidates note results of every, monitoring their behavior in stressful situations and states of extreme exhaustion. The unit needs individuals who demonstrate determination, tactical thinking and improvisation, teamwork and the like. During the selection candidates also undergo intensive lectures and practical training in areas of firearms and specialized gear used in the elite unit, practice tactical and combat use of the weaponry under the standards of the unit. Achieved results on shootings are written down and will have an influence in ranking of the candidates when determining about their status. At the end of the drill, team of instructors comes up with opinions and gives their reasoning about achieved results of every candidate, and in consultation with the commander decides about one`s status, meaning whether one will be enrolled or returned to his unit. In the case of a positive evaluation, a candidate is enrolled in the unit for a certain time period and begins with basic training carried out by the Plan and Program of SPU`s Operators Training which lasts for a year and is also of elimination type. In the first phase of the training accent is given to practicing and mastering military police tactics, tactical and precision shooting in all conditions, basics of guerilla and anti-guerilla warfare, foreign languages, psychoanalysis, as well as novelties in tactics and techniques of similar units abroad.

Also, attention is given to the special physical training which is realized daily and includes training in practical self-defense, as well as overcoming vertical and horizontal infantry obstacles. A part of the first phase is also an elimination tests used to check at which level a newbie learned new skills. Those who successfully pass the test are enlisted to one of the anti-terrorist teams and continue with intensive anti-terrorist training. Others are being returned to their units.

The Plan and Program of Specialist Training of the Special Task Unit operators is organized to capacitate operators for executing the most complex tasks and jobs within the unit jurisdiction. Operators also practice elements of advanced anti-terrorist training, such as climbing techniques in urban surroundings, with or without tools, tactics of vertical breaching into buildings, as well as land, dynamic assaults. Operators also study features of urban infrastructure, tactics of hostage crisis interventions and high-risk arrests. Conduction of actions is also practiced by using specialized vehicles held by the unit, as well as in coordination with multiple groups and/or teams of the unit. Besides practical training, theoretical lectures are also carried out relating to studies about modern terrorism and crime, psychoanalysis of the terrorists and members of criminal groups, techniques and equipment they use, and a big attention is given to analyses of crisis in the world and interventions of security forces. In addition, operators study in detail legislations, especially police authorities and conditions and ways of applying defined forms of coercion.

The practice shown as very practical in the world, is adopted in the Special Task Unit as well. New operators in the unit are not being activated during interventions for a certain time, but just observe them. This in order to gain some experience as well as to familiarize with surroundings and circumstances ongoing when carrying out actions. It is deemed this practice deduces stress that an operator experience when participating in the real action for the first time.


Special Task Unit “Tiger” possesses reliable armament and specialized gear, needed for effectively conducting given tasks. In the category of semi-automatic handguns main models used by operators are Austrian Glock 17 Gen 3, in 9 mm caliber. For the needs of interventions the unit has purchased devices that compile tactical light and laser illuminator, which can be mounted on a rail on the lower side of the frame of Austrian models. The unit possesses a contingent of German Walther P99, as well as Czech models CZ 75 B, all in 9x19 mm Parabellum. Used are some revolvers mostly for candidates` selections and training of operators, but not in the case of real actions. Unit also possesses practical Corner Shot platforms compatible with models Glock 17, and suitable for using when conducting actions in urban surroundings.

In the SMG category, main models in use are German HK MP5 A5 with telescopic buttstock. All models are equipped with whit-color tactical light and reflex red dot sight Aimpoint CompM3. Besides models A5 unit holds models A2 as well, with fixed polymer buttstock. For the needs of operators` training purchased were blue accessories intended for mounting on the barrel of the SMG and enable shooting with training munition FX Simunition 9 mm.

Among assault rifles, used are Kalashnikov systems in various models. The unit holds a contingent of Zastava M70 AB2 rifles with foldable buttstock from the Zastava Arms producer from Serbia, as well as Bulgarian AR M1, both systems chambered in 7.62x39 mm. Used are also carbines AKS 74U chambered for 5.45x39 mm. Also, used are systems from Israeli producer IWI in Tavor series, chambered for 5.56 mm NATO, purchased in the configuration with reflex red dot sights and grenade launchers from the same manufacturer. In addition, the unit holds a number of compact IWI X95, in the same caliber. sa refleksnim "red dot" nišanima i potcevnim bacačima granata istog proizvođača. Takođe, jedinica raspolaže i određenim kontingentom kompaktnijih "IWI X95", u istom kalibru.

As for the precision rifles, various systems are in used, mostly with bolt-action operation systems. So, sniping specialists use precision rifles Steyr Mannlicher Scout B/A chambered for .308 Winchester. Besides these, used are reliable SIG SG 3000 in the same caliber. Main models used by operators in this category are Accuracy International AW in .308 Winchester, as well as models Accuracy International AWM chambered for .338 Lapua Magnum. For the needs of sniping, mentioned rifles are used in configuration with optic sight Schmidt & Bender and telescopic, foldable bipod. For engaging targets at greater distances, as well as light armored or covered ones, used are anti-materiel Zastava M93 Black Arrow in 12.7x99 mm NATO from the manufacturer Zastava Arms from Serbia.

During interventions anti-terrorist groups can use tactical shotguns, and for providing support light machine guns Zastava M84 in 7.62x54 R can be used as well.

Ballistic protection of the operators during actions is achieved by wearing ballistic vests which were, for the needs of Special Task Unit Tiger, purchased from the national manufacturer Eurokompozit in models BE-02. According to NIJ STG 0101.06 mentioned vests provide IIIA level of ballistic protection. The same producers provided ballistic helmets held in the unit, in ACH[4] models in black color, made over MICH (Modular Integrated Communications Helmet) design. Helmets provide IIIA level of protection acc. NIJ STG 0106.01, and depending on needs of interventions, can be fitted with ballistic visors. From the same producer purchased were hand ballistic shields, which were for the needs of SPU delivered in configuration with ballistic visor and tactical lights, and provide ballistic protection of the third level. The unit possesses shields with 4th level ballistic protection from the same producer, which are due to heavy weight used on mounts with wheels.

Fragment eye protection is achieved with ESS tactical goggles, purchased with transparent and tinted lenses. For interventions Special Task Unit Tiger operators wear black tactical overalls which are manufactured by the standards defined in the Decree[5] of Government of the Republic of Macedonia August 29 2007. Besides black tactical overalls, used are two-piece uniforms in digital rural camo MARPAT (Marine Pattern).

In specialized gear category enlisted are communication sets PELTOR, observation and distance measuring devices Leica VECTOR, radio devices Motorola in various models, tanto knives, telescopic batons, gear for breaching into barricaded buildings and the like.

The unit holds specialized vehicles of various purposes such as the US Humvees, as well as TM-170 Hermelin and others. When needed, actions can be carried out in cooperation with the Helicopter Unit of the Macedonian Ministry of Interior using helicopters AB-212 Huey, Mi-17V-5 Hip and Mi-171Sh Hip and other models depending on needs of a concrete situation.


Cooperation with units in the country as well as abroad is defined by the Plan and Program of Training and represents an important element of professional development of the SPU Tiger operators. Relations of professional cooperation are intensively maintained with the Quick Respond Unit (Mac. Единица за брзо распоредување), as well with the Special Operation Regiment (Mac. Полк за специјални операции) of the Macedonian Armed Forces.

As for the cooperation in the region, Special Anti-terrorist Unit of the Serbian Ministry of Interior should be mentioned especially, to whom Tigers regularly conduct training and exchange of experiences through joint exercises, but seminars organized in the SAU`s base in Belgrade as well. With units from Serbia joint trainings in the area of anti-terrorist actions were organized several times by far.

[1] At first it was deemed and legally defined that new units, organized at the republics level of the former federation, primarily were in charge for resolving crisis situations on territories of the republics. If needed, units could be activated and deployed to territories of other republics, in order to provide professional assistance in personnel and/or equipment.
[2] In the sense of specifying features of intervention forces, as well as special gear and mechanization.
[3] For activities of this type primarily in charge is Team of Instructors.
[4] Advanced Combat Helmet.
[5] Decree of Uniforms and Police Ranks, “Official Courier of the Republic of Macedonia”, no. 114/06.

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