Diving Articles

Diving Training at the Special Anti-terrorist Unit of the Republic of Montenegro

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Posted in columns: Diving Photo: D. Bozovic

Special Anti-terrorist Unit–SAU of the Republic of Montenegro is one of the most significant national security elements on the highest tactical level. Organized as an independent unit within the Directory of the Police, Montenegrin SAU plans, organizes and executes the most complex tasks and missions in order to preserve peace and security of every citizen of Montenegro.

An important part of the unit`s daily activities is carried out by specially trained and equipped diving group that is organized within the Anti-terrorist Team B of the SAU. The ability to perform operations on and below the surface of all kinds of water environments, as well as on land, makes this diving group an important part of the Special Anti-terrorist Unit and proven professionalism and reliability of the specialists increases the operability of the entire unit.

According to the current plan and program of training, basic diving course is carried out after a successfully completed basic tactical training and combat shooting for the new operators of the unit. The basic diving training is organized and carried out through the territorial waters of the Republic of Montenegro and usually lasts for seven days. At the moment this course is not obligatory for all operators of the Montenegrin SAU, but there is a plan to change that in recent future through changes in recent plans and programs of training. Operators who express the affinity to this type of training must be physically healthy, good swimmers, to know the basic techniques of snorkeling/ freediving, and a good coordination and speed of movement is also asked. Although the specialist medical tests are mandatory for all the candidates who apply for a position in the Montenegrin SAU, before diving training starts all operators must undergo this tests again, and during diving course an official doctor is present all the time and monitors their health. Within basic diving training operators of the SAU study all segments that are predicted through the CMAS program (french. Confédération Mondiale des Activités Subaquatiques). CMAS is the first international diving school established back in 1959 and gathers national diving federations. The diving course starts with theoretical lectures on basic diving gear, communication underwater, as well as the most important principles that must be followed through planning and conducting dives etc. The practical part of the training involves performing techniques of snorkeling/ freediving in shallow water, and while operators gradually free from the fear of water environment the more complex activities are starting to take place in their training. Operators must learn how to empty their masks and mount all the gear underneath the surface, how to maintain their balance and the like. The most complex, but for operators the most interesting part of this basic diving course is diving with autonomus diving apparatus which enable breathing underwater. This is always carried out in groups, so on the same occasion operators are learning how to move and operate in pairs and/ or in groups.

Every dive is always performed in pair or group, which is one of the most important rules of diving. Photo: Dragan Bozovic

Within this phase of their basic training, operators of the SAU will undergo training in driving and managing navigable boats that are used by SAU, as well as others that are intended for civilian or military/ law enforcement usage.

After successful completion of the basic diving course operators of the Montenegrin SAU receive titles that are defined by the CMAS program, and in upcoming years have to undergo many advanced courses which are organized and executed in the country and abroad. By the standards of the SAU at least three years of continuous improvement in this area are needed in order to create a highly skilled combat diver.

Advanced training for the divers of the SAU involves deep diving courses, diving in caves and/ or submerged vessels, diving in rapid rivers as well as in highly soiled environment, diving in dark and at low temperatures (down to 3 degrees of Celsius).
Also, operators are learning and mastering skills needed for finding, removing or performing controlled detonations of the unexploded devices and a great attention is pointed to learning and executing raids on hijacked vessels, especially hostage situations resolving in these conditions. The forensic diving involves learning tactics of accession to the scene of crime, methods of marking and provisioning narrower or wider area of land that is near the water surface, marking the search area on water surfaces, finding and providing objects and things for which there is suspicion they may be associated with committed or attempted crimes and the like. The management of the unit is making significant effort to provide funds and other terms for organizing dives with Nitrox and Trimix mixtures. In order to receive the title of diving specialists a diver of the Montenegrin SAU must complete at least two advanced courses that are planned through the program of advanced training.

Detail from international specialist course in which divers from the SAU participated. Photo: Dragan Bozovic

An important part of the advanced training for the divers of the unit is conducted through the cooperation with units from the country and abroad. The diving group of the Montenegrin SAU has excellent cooperation, which is executed through the exchange of experiences and joint exercises, with divers from the Special Anti-terrorist Unit from the Republic of Serbia, as well as with colleagues from elite police units of the Czech Republic. In 2009 divers of the Montenegrin SAU successfully completed the anti-terrorist course organized in Florida, USA. The most important part of the course was related to exercising tactical procedures for covered entering as well as cleaning and putting under control the entire hijacked vessel. Experience and skills gained through this seminar were intelligently implemented in training programs of the SAU.

The plan and program of training for the diving group of the Montenegrin SAU must train them to perform at high level:

-dives in special conditions
-executing training and conditioning dives
-orientation and navigation underwater
-searching in water environment, as well as ground area near water
-searching for drowned persons
-executing activities in areas of limited access
-raids on hijacked vessels, especially resolving hostage situations in these terms
-providing technical and tactical assistance during natural disasters

In practice, divers of the SAU were several times activated to organize protection of the VIPs when they are located near or in territorial Montenegrin waters, as well as for searching and extracting drowned persons. In 2012 Montenegrin specialists were selflessly working and helping during the floods that hit their state. In May 2014 they quickly responded and came to help their colleagues from Serbia when great floods struck, putting the maximum of their resources available to friends from Serbia.

Divers of the Montenegrin SAU while assisting in rescue missions during large floods in the Republic of Serbia. Photo: Dragan Bozovic

Gear and Weaponry

Efficiency in carrying out duties and tasks of the diving group of the Montenegrin SAU is also achieved by reliable gear that is purchased from quality manufacturers. During their dives divers wear semi-dry diving suits Mares made from neoprene. Tanks with 18 liters of compressed air and hydrostatic regulators come from manufacturers Apex and Mares. Diving computers are of great importance for dives and for the needs of the unit they were purchased form the company Aladdin, while reliable diving watches come from Mares also. For the purposes of transporting men and gear, fast Gomorico boats are being used. They are 8 meters long, with a 130 HP engine from Mercury Company.

As for weaponry, divers have access to all the models that are currently used by the Montenegrin SAU. For the purposes of tasks in this area are very suitable semi-automatic pistols Glock 17 of the fourth generation and in 9 x 19 mm Parabellum/ Luger. German SMG HK MP5, usually in A3 version with telescopic buttstock, is often carried due to its compact size. A new plan of arming and equipping should be executed in near future and a part of that should be assault rifles TM 4 in 5.56 x 45 mm NATO that come from national manufacturer Tara Mojkovac D.O.O, modelled on the American carbines Colt M4.

By continually improving working conditions as well as training, operators of the diving group of Montenegrin SAU are becoming more and more capable to execute the most complex tasks in this segment of training, so that their daily activities can be in service of humanity and security of the citizens of the Republic of Montenegro.

The text is copyrighted work of the administrator. Photos are copyrighted work of a photographer Dragan Bozovic. Copying or downloading in other way, without permission of the administration, is prohibited.

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