Special Anti-terrorist Unit of Montenegro (SAU)

Anti-terrorist unit of the Police Directorate, organized on the models of similar units in the world, represents the most important element of the Ministry of Interior in fighting organized crime, especially terrorism as the most dangerous security threat.


Unit`s insignia

During the seventies, due serious terrorist threats which were gaining an international character, many states within their national security systems establish formations specially trained and equipped to meet the most complex tasks and jobs within counter terrorism at tactical level. In 1972 after infiltration of a smaller extremist group of the Croatian Revolutionary Brotherhood at Bugojno territory and conflict with the officers of former Militia and YPA at Radusha Mountain, it was clear that former SFRY did not have a professional formation able to effectively respond to these delicate security threats, which were at the time a novelty. Therefore, leaders of the state in the same year brought a decision about establishing special operation forces, on republic levels, as well as on federal.

The tradition of the Special Anti-terrorist Unit of Montenegro goes back to period 1972-1973, when Unit for Special Purpose was founded and became operational, having a semi-professional personnel. In 1979 the foundation of the unit represented the Special Platoon which, along with the officers in reserve, formed the Special Unit of the Montenegrin Ministry of Interior. Under this name the unit entered armed conflicts on the territories of the former Yugoslavia. A significant moment for the development of the unit was the arrival of Veselin Veljovic, the Chief of Police in Pljevlja back then, at the position of unit`s commander in 1995. After Veljovic`s arrival, unit expands and specifies its jurisdiction and responsibility as well as increases its operational strength[1]. The unit soon afterwards organizes within the

The battle is not won by bright weapons,
but the heart of a hero!
Special Units Campus at Zlatica, near the city of Podgorica.

In 1998 after adopting a new systematization, Special Unit changes its name into Special Anti-terrorist Unit-SAU and under the name operates today. In the upcoming years SAU will stand out as a main security element of the Republic of Montenegro`s tactical counteractions against terrorism and organized crime. Veselin Veljovic carried out commanding duties of the SAU until the end of 2005 when being replaced by Dragan Blagojevic, who currently carries commanding duties at Special Police Unit. Three years later, Blagojevic was replaced by an experienced SAU operator, Zeljko Spalevic, and from 2010, commanding duties carries out Mladen Markovic.

Today Special Anti-terrorist Unit is an elite organizational unit under the Police Directorate of Montenegrin Ministry of Interior, specially trained and equipped for:

-planning, organizing and conducting actions to repress all forms of modern terrorism and organized crime at a tactical level
-hostage situations resolving in all conditions
-breaching into barricaded infrastructure and arresting of suspects
-high-risk arrestments
-assistance providing to the organizational units of Police Directorate when carrying out the most complex security tasks and jobs of high risk
-close protection of VIPs
-guarding infrastructure of special importance to the state and buildings marked as possible terrorists` targets, especially the Airport in Podgorica
-providing professional assistance in the case of natural disasters or accidents of other kind

Special Anti-terrorist unit of the Montenegrin Police is capable of resolving hostage crisis in airplanes, as well as securing high-risk flights. Unit`s capacities are regularly activated for guarding the infrastructure of the Podgorica`s Airport. Activation of SAU`s capacities is realized by the order of Police Directorate Director and preceding approval of the minister of interior. High level of training and professionalism of the SAU operators is confirmed by a number of successfully conducted tasks and other activities. SAU`s capacities were activate in wide police actions “Eagle Flight”, “Balkan Warrior”, as well as the action of arresting Sasha Cvetanovic “Pit Bull”, suspected for the assassination of Nikola Bojovic. According to unit`s officers, successful realization of given tasks requires meticulous planning, determination, but calmness of the operators in charge on the field as well as operators who directly engage. By their approach when conducting activities, SPU operators and Command vigorously demonstrate professionalisms and tend to vindicate trust of the citizens, as well as police and state establishments.


Anti-terrorist actions gear configuration

Special Anti-terrorist Unit of Montenegro is settled in the Special Units Campus at Zlatica, along with operators of the Special Police Unit. The complex has modern sports fields, gym, modern dojo, infantry obstacle range, shooting house, killing house and climbing tower. According to the present systematization, operators are organized in operational teams, on the model of elite foreign anti-terrorist units. Operational personnel strength is in accordance with the needs of the unit, in compliance with the defined purpose.

The Command enlists commander with a deputy and two of assistants: one for operational and commanding jobs, the other for training, then Team of Instructors, analyzer, leader of Negotiation Team, Chief of the Supporting Platoon and psychologist. The SAU`s Command plans, organizes and conducts selection of candidates and training of operators, coordinates activities of operational teams, plans and organizes purchases of gear and armament, plans and organizes joint tactical exercises with units of the national security system and foreign formations of similar purpose. The Team of Instructors counts for 6 experienced operators with specialist ranks in different elements of tactical training, in charge for carrying out selection and training of candidates and operators in areas of alpinism, diving, special physical training, firearm training and counter diversion protection.

Logistics of the unit is covered by a technical secretary, warehouse clerks, Team of Drivers with an auto mechanic, medic, communication officer, weapon technician, courier and computer operators.

Operators are organized in three anti-terrorist teams. The Alfa Team is considered the most elite part of the unit. It enrolls some of the most experienced operators, specialized for conducting the most complex tasks within the unit`s jurisdiction. It has around 20 operators in strength. Anti-terrorist Team Beta is specialized and includes diving group, climbing group, groups of precision shooting specialists, parachuting group, IED group, and close protection group. The B Team counts around 15 specialists. Anti-terrorist Team Charlie consists of the Supporting Group and Group for Breaching Into Buildings and Transports, around 20 operators in strength according to the adopted systematization.


For a workplace selection in the elite unit of Montenegrin Police can apply active officers of the Montenegrin Ministry of Interior, who completed the Course of Basic Police Education, and it is desirable to have some practical experience on the field. Submission is voluntary. After announcing a decision from SAU Command about selection for a workplace in the unit, voluntary officers must submit needed papers until the deadline defined in the same issue.

Pre-selection of the candidates includes detail security checks, tests of physical strength and endurance, psycho test, and specialized medical check, respectively. Candidates who do not meet the criteria are admitted to their units, and remaining ones, after attaining a positive evaluation by doctors, are sent for a selection training lasting for four weeks. The drill of the candidates is organized and carried out by SAU`s instructors. The drill flow itself is filled with intensive psychophysical checks, as well with elements of theoretical and practical training. It is organized in order to among applied candidates select the most capable, the strongest and most motivated individuals. Tactical and topographical marches are conducted almost daily through rough terrain, along with combat running and other checks of psychological and physical readiness of the candidates. Besides, candidates practice firearm handling and gear used in the unit, undergo intensive firearm training with shootings in all conditions in accordance with SAU standards, then they study anti-terrorist actions basic tactics, practice actions in urban and rural environments, work in a group, team and in coordination with multiple teams.

All activities are conducted in full combat gear, and it is one`s imperative to care about his personal weaponry and gear all the time. Personal armament of every candidate is consisted of a semi-automatic handgun CZ 99 in 9 mm caliber, assault rifle Zastava M70 AB1 with fixed wooden buttstock. Instructors vigorously monitor work, effort and reactions of every candidate. Achieved results of a candidate and instructors` opinions have the biggest impact on the decision about his future status. The peak of the drill is a march over a rough terrain 35 km in length, in full combat gear weighting around 35 kilograms. After drill completion, based on detail analysis done by officers and the commander of the unit, finest candidates are enrolled and admitted to SAU operational teams, while remaining are returned to their units.

After reception and admission, training process of the new operators is continued in a high intensity. Learned skills are combined, raised on a higher level and led to automatization by constantly repeating. Intensive theoretical and practical training in the area of anti-terrorist actions is organized, within which operators practice combat tactics in pair, group and team. A significant attention is devoted to the physical readiness as well, along with martial arts practicing, such as judo, aikido, jiju jitsu , boxing and kick-boxing. Further specialization depends on one`s affinities, as well as needs and funds available to the unit, so considering these, operators are being sent for specialist courses in precision shooting, alpinism, diving, parachuting, close protection of VIPs and the like.

The Plan and Program of Training in the Special Anti-terrorist Unit is carried out in the country and abroad, independently and in cooperation with other organizational domestic units and foreign ones, including next:

-studying of legislations
-studying of international conventions and other legal documents defining and confirming human rights
-studying the development of terrorism, abductions , and other forms of classical and organized crime
-studying of military-police knowledges
-studying the psychology of terrorists and types of stuff used by them -analytical approach to the gear and weaponry, as well as monitoring of novelties in special actions tactics
-studying of information technologies


Modern and reliable weaponry and gear are an imperative for a unit of this type, which the Command and state officials are aware. Therefore, a great effort is undertaken to regularly provide funds for increasing the capacities of the SAU, as well as to maintain and improve the level of training and combat readiness of operators.

In the handgun category, main models used by operators are Austrian Glock 17 of third generation, in 9x19 mm Parabellum caliber. Also, used are handguns CZ 99 of the producer from Serbia, also in 9 mm caliber, and unit possesses a number of CZ M75 in the same caliber. Capacities were increased by adopting a new handgun system TM 9 as a part of the operators` armament, purchased from the national manufacturer Tara Perfection DOO. This is the first semi-automatic handgun system manufacturer by the national arms industry. For the needs of interventions operators on mentioned models can mount compact tactical lights purchased from Surefire producer, while for lowered handgun carry used are tactical holsters from Safariland Group.

In the SMG category, main modes in use are HK MP5 in versions A2 with fixed and A3 with telescopic buttstock, all chambered for 9 mm caliber. Considering specific technical-tactical features these models are mostly used when conducting actions in urban surroundings, and to meet the needs of an action, one can mount a tactical light Surefire, as well as a suppressor.

In the category of assault rifles, primary models in use are Zastava M70 AB2 with foldable buttstock chambered in 7.62x39 mm. During 2013 the unit increased capacities by purchasing a contingent of HK G36 C assault rifles in 5.56x45 mm NATO. The rifles were ordered in configurations with assault handgrips of the same producer, as well with telescopic[2] and foldable buttstocks, with the adjustable cheek rests. Capacities were increased as well by taking TM 4 assault rifles of the national manufacturer Tara Perfection DOO. The system is chambered for 5.56 mm, and Montenegrin producer realized this project over the US carbines Colt M4.

For precision shooting, sniping specialists use semi-automatic models HK G3, as well as HK PSG 1 A1 in 7.62x51 mm NATO caliber. Used are also quality rifles Steyr Mannlicher SSG 69 chambered for .308 Winchester, as well as Steyr Mannlicher Scout in the same caliber. Both series operate with bolt-action system, and to the needs of precision shooting are modified by mounting an optic sight Schmidt & Bender and telescopic, foldable bipod.

For providing support, or when a greater fire power is needed, used are light machine guns Zastava M84 in 7.62x54 R caliber, from Zastava Arms producer from the city of Kragujevac, Serbia.

High level of protection when conducting interventions is provided with modern ballistic helmets and vests, which provide the third level of ballistic protection. Also, when breaching into buildings, or specific transports, protection of the operators can be strengthen by using hand ballistic shields. For the needs of Montenegrin SAU, purchased were shields Protech Intruder, which provide the IIIA level of ballistic protection acc. NIJ STG 0108.01. Uniforms used in the Special Anti-terrorist Unit are in accordance with standards defined in the Decree about Uniforms, Rank Tags and Armament of the Montenegrin Police Officers[3]. When conducting actions in rural environments operators mostly wear black overalls Tactical One from the Mile Dragic producer, or two-pieced uniforms in digital urban camo, designed on the model of the US AT Digital. For the purpose of camouflaging in rural areas, mostly used are two-pieced uniforms in Woodland camouflage pattern.

Over the uniforms operators during actions wear tactical vests as well. Used in units are vests of the Galati, as well as models Protech Tactical TAC LB, all in black. For the needs of personnel and gear transport used are vehicles Nissan Pathfinder, Land Rover Defender, Toyota Land Cruiser, Ford Explorer GSL, as well as vans Mercedes-Benz Viano. Air insertions and other actions are conducted in cooperation with the Helicopter Unit of the Ministry of Interior, as well as in coaction with the Montenegrin Armed Forces.


The Plan and Program of SAU`s Operators Training includes activities that are being conducted with other organizational units of Montenegrin Police and Army, as well as with foreign units of similar purpose with whom the Republic of Montenegro has ongoing agreements about professional cooperation. Intensive professional relations are performed daily with the Special Police Unit operators. Joint tactical exercises and trainings are organized with units of the Montenegrin Army, mostly in the area of counter terrorist actions in urban and rural conditions, and mutual coordinated actions between ground teams and different aircrafts, such as helicopters Gazelle, are practiced as well.

Annual exchange of experiences and crafts is often realized with elite units from Region, units from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Anti-terrorist Unit Luchko from Croatia, as well as units from Serbia.

[1] Back then operational personnel had around 20 officers in strength, then to be increased to more than 80 operators.
[2] It can be fixed in four positions.
[3] “Official Courier of MN”, no. 44/12, 36/13 and 1/15.

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