Exercises 2014/2015 Tactical Exercises of the Serbian Elite Forces

Tactical Exercise of the Serbian Gendarmerie "The Bridge 2015"

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Posted in column: Tactical Exercises Photo: S. Ilic

On the occasion of marking the Day and the patron saint of the Serbian Gendarmerie, on 29 of June 2015 a ceremony was organized, as well as tactical exercise demonstration “The Bridge 2015” (serb. “Most 2015”), near the Ada Bridge in Belgrade, where the Diving Center of the Gendarmerie is settled.

In the presence of the commander, Police Colonel Goran Dragovic, government officials, as well as friends and associates of the elite unit of the Serbian Ministry of Interior, complex tactical exercise was preceded by a demonstrations of martial arts techniques, that police officers of the Gendarmerie learn and practice as a part of their special physical training.

Practical application of these techniques comes in situations where it is necessary for a police officer to reject an attack from another person or himself, or overcome one or more persons that are resisting by active behaviour or force. Therefore, learning and practising martial arts is an important part of the Serbian police officers’ training, raising their psycho-physical readiness.
On this occasion gendarmes demonstrated techniques of judo, karate, kick boxing, all in different and real situations: the defence of one or more attackers, defence of the attacker armed with a handgun and similar. Coordinated and fast movement of the participants during demonstration contributed to the attractiveness of the demonstration and confirmed a high level of their skills at the same time.

The central part of the celebration was related to the complex tactical exercise, called “The Bridge 2015”, carried out by operators from the Command of the Gendarmerie, Unit for Counter Terrorist Actions, as well as operators from the First Diving Center and Unit for VIP Protection.

The exercise was conducted at water course of the river of Sava, which increased the complexity of planning and execution, but also showed the professional competence of the Serbian gendarmes to conduct actions in complex conditions.

The scenario of the exercise “The Bridge 2015” related to the attempted commission of a terrorist attack on the territory of Belgrade by an organized terrorist group. Through filed work police officers discovered that the group consists of five terrorist, citizens of the Republic of Serbia, and those with foreign citizenship, and that their intention is to demolish the Bridge on Ada, by setting up explosives. After locating positions of the terrorists on vessels on the Sava river, high officers of the Ministry of Interior organized a plan of action which will be carried out by the operators from the Gendarmerie of the Republic of Serbia. Assuming that terrorist were armed with automatic weapons and equipped with explosives, operators from the Unit for Counter Terrorist Actions-UCTA (serb. Jedinica za protivteroristička dejstva-JPTD) and The First Diving Center got the task to arrest or destroy all terrorists in order to prevent setting up and activation explosives. Then, an EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) inspection of the vessels as well as surroundings will undergo.

Specialist from the Unit for Counter Terrorist Actions executing tactical tasks. Photo: Serbian Gendarmerie

In order to achieve advantage over terrorists, it was planned to attack the vessel from several directions: from the surface of water, by land, and from the “third dimension”, ie. by air through rappelling techniques of the specialists from the top of the bridge construction. As for providing support to the assault teams, sniper groups and

Tactical usage of the specialists is adapted to the conditions of the crisis. Photo: S. Ilic

specialized vehicle of the Gendarmerie were deployed in the ground area near vessels. From the construction of the vehicle terrorists were engaged with light machine gun Zastava M84 in 7.62x54 R. Also, water perimeter of the vessels was controlled by combat divers of the Gendarmerie, who also participated in supporting ground teams and destroying terrorist group. For the success execution, of a great importance was the synchronization of the actions of all participants, which greatly depended from actions of the members of operational Headquarters, which is usually settled at the place of crisis and where all the field data is processed and all orders come from. In addition, actions of the assault teams on water surface are relatively easy to spot, which is aggravating circumstance, so the speed of intervention also was one of the imperatives of this action.

The attack on the vessel, taken by terrorists, started with fast approach of the assault teams from the First Diving Center, who drove in using fast patrol boats “Wolf 1” and “Wolf 2”. As for weaponry, operators chose HK MP5 A3 submachine guns in 9x19 mm Parabellum, and semi-automatic handguns Glock 17 Gen 3 in the same caliber which were housed in holsters BLACKHAWK! Serpa Tactical Level 2 that provide safe carrying of pistols. The rapid arrival of two sniper pairs to the coast area in front of the captured vessel was realized by using “quads”. Snipping specialist was equipped with precision rifle Steyr Tactical Elite with a bolt action system, in .308 Winchester, which was adapted for long range precision shooting by mounting foldable bipod and optical sight KAHLES. Specialist from a second sniper pair was equipped with semi-automatic rifle SIG Sauer 716, also in .308 Winchester. Observers from both pairs were armed with US carbines Colt M4 A4 Commando in 5.56x45 mm NATO with red dot sights Aimpoint CompM3, as well as CAA FGA ergonomic assault grips with CAA TC1 tactical flashlights fitted.

Assault forces were synchronizing actions excellently during the attack. Photo: S. Ilic

Upon reaching the possessed vessel, police officers carried out a raid on the deck and began search in order to arrest or destroy members of the terrorist group and take entire vessel under control. Simultaneously, from the top of the bridge construction alpinism specialists[1] executed rappelling to the deck of the vessel. They threw a smoke bomb on the deck, to protect themselves while rappelling. In addition, operator on the top of the bridge was providing cover for the alpinists, using carbine Colt M4 A4 Commando. In a short exchange of fire on the vessel, one of the terrorist was hit and fell into the water, and on that occasion divers from the First Diving Center, who were equipped with rescue dry diving suits[2] from the manufacturer Ursuk, demonstrated human extraction out of the water using Zodiac boats.

In the immediate surrounding of the captured vessel on the river, remaining terrorists were spotted while trying to organize on the anchored vessels at marine. They were armed with assault rifles. The second attack was conducted by land assault teams in cooperation with combat divers who struck from water. Basic gear of these divers consisted of neoprene diving suits that come from manufacturer SkubaPro. As for weaponry, Austrian handguns Glock 17 Gen 3 were chosen, whose operating system was proved in water environment. Assault teams that conducted raid by land were reinforced with attacker K9 Rottweiler, who was used to prevent escape of the terrorist. For primary, operators used previously mentioned US carbines and Austrian semi-automatic handguns, while ballistic protection of the operators consisted of black helmets Mile Dragic M05 in MICH[3] design, along with ballistic vests in black color, from the same producer.

By arresting and destroying members of the terrorist group, as well as taking control over all vessels in the area of crisis and conducting EOD inspection, the complex tactical exercise “The Bridge 2015” was completed.

Commander Dragovic sad on this occasion that „Operators of the Serbian Gendarmerie have never and won’t ever choose which task to execute,, but will in the best possible manner carry out all that Serbia put before them."
State leaders expressed satisfaction with the present level of training of the operators of the Serbian Gendarmerie. Exercises of this kind are important, inter alia, for maintaining and checking professional capacities of the police officers to perform complex tasks that can be given within the defined purpose of the unit. Through detailed analysis, if necessary, corrections can be made for future engagements.

[1] Alpinist training is mandatory for all the operators of the Unit for Counter Terrorist Actions of the Serbian Gendarmerie. Performed in urban and rural conditions, aims to train operators to perform tactical execution of complex tasks, as well as to develop their psycho-physical and psychomotor   capabilities.
[2] Dry diving suits are used to prevent penetration of water when necessary, either due to low temperature of water, especially at greater depths, whether due to dirt or   contamination of water.
[3] Engl. Modular Integrated Communications Helmet.

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