Exercises 2012/2013 Tactical Exercises of the Serbian Elite Forces

Joint Exercise of the Serbian Police "Arena 2012"

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Posted in column: Tactical Exercises Photo: Army Info

At the end of April 2012 a big and complex tactical exercise of the regular and special forces of the Serbian police, „Arena2012“ was executed. The scene of crisis was complex of the Belgrade Arena, located on the territory of the municipality of New Belgrade.

Scenario of the exercise „Arena2012“ related to the quick response of the security forces in order to prevent harmful circumstances of a terrorist attack, in concrete taking hostages and occupation of the building in urban, densely populated environment, by organized and armed terorrist group. The exercise was carried out through joint intervetion of the operators from Special Anti-terrorist Unit-SAU (Serb. Specijalne antiterorističke jedinice-SAJ), Counter Terrorist Unit-CTU (Serb. Protivterorističke jedinice-PTJ) and Belgrade Specialist Company of the Serbian Gendarmerie, with the assistance of the Directorate of the Criminalistics Police (Serb. Uprava kriminalističke policije), Directorate for International Police Cooperation, as well as of police officers of the Police Station for the city of Belgrade.

Successful completion of interventions of this kind largely depends on the fast collection and processing of data gathered through field work, quick decisions in operational headquarters, coordination and distribution of orders, as well as of the high level of training of each operator, and of course their team work.
Exercises of this kind are carried out within plans and programs of special forces training, ant their purpose is to practice coordinated actions of the security subjects when performing extensive and extremely complex counter terrorist operations.

On 29th of April at Belgrade Arena an international tournament in Judo was held, and its representatives had a fictitious Republic Korida[1], whose leaders, due to complex security situation in country, activated a close protection group to protect its competitors. Members of the imaginary terrorist organization Liberation Fraction of Korida successfully infiltrated among operators of the close protection group. This terrorist organization fights for secession of part of the territory of Korida, and its members are known as brutal religious fanatics, highly committed to the goals of the organization.
Carbine Colt M4 A4 Commando in 5.56x45 mm NATO modified for the needs of close quarters battle
The tournament and complex of the Arena was secured by Arena`s regular security personnel as well as twenty police officers of the Police Station for the city of Belgrade. About 11 AM, terrorist overpowered Arena`s security personnel and took ten members of Korida`s national team as hostages and used them as human shields while occupying the hall on the north side of the Arena. On that occasion terrorists used their firearms and wounded one of the security workers and one police officer. By placing hostages in the VIP zone of the complex, terrorists established a contact with Operational Center of the Ministry of Interior at about 11:15 AM and demanded for a TV crew to come inside the Arena, as well as ambassador of the Republic Korida and medical personnel in order to provide first aid to wounded. They emphasized that no security forces approach near the Arena or they will start to kill hostages. Negotiations were terminated by terrorists at 11:30 AM threatening to kill hostages every hour until the ambassador arrive to hear their demands.

The intelligence work in the field conducted officers of the Directorate of the Criminalistics Police-DCP, Directorate for International Police Cooperation-DIPC, as well as Security Intelligence Agency (Serb. Bezbednosno-informativna agencija). Collected data were forwarded to organized crisis headquarters which consisted of Director of police as chief, his deputy, commanders of the SAU, CTU and Gendarmerie, chiefs of the DCP and Police Station-PS for the city of Belgrade, comms officers of the Sector for Emergency Situations, Sector of Internal Control and Sector for Analytics, Telecommunications and Information Technology.

According to gathered intell, terrorist group has six members who did not use false ID when entering Serbia, so their identity is confirmed. For of them are armed with SMG HK and two of them with PDW Uzi. They are holding ten persons as hostages, of which five are minor and one is female, in the northern part of the Arena and they communicate by mobile phones. There is no confirmation if they are equipped with explosives, but members of the crisis HQ assumed they are. Members of the HQ agreed the terrorist are serious in realizing their threats and to resume negotiations would not give any positive results. Therefore, a decision was made to storm the object, overcome all terrorists, release all hostages and evacuate all present persons outside the Arena and to establish control over entire complex. Within the process of evacuation a medical care and identity check have to be organized. After that, counter diversion groups will conduct inspection of the entire building.

The plan of action was divided into four phases::

-insertion by helicopter at the top of the building and taking under control passages under the roof
-coordinated raid into the western and eastern sections of the complex held by terrorists and preventing their escape
-raid into northern section, overcoming presented terrorists, releasing hostages and taking section under control
-confirmation of the identity of the terrorists, conducting counter diversion inspect and investigation of the crime scenes

Police officers of the PS for the city of Belgrade conducted road blocking of wider area around the Arena complex and reinforced the security the road route to the Emergency Center, as well as EC itself. Northeast of the Arena a triage ground was organized where released hostages and arrested terrorist will be directed and their identity checked. Counter Diversion Group and crime scene investigation team have been allocated to triage place and will, after action is finished and by HQ staff` order, conduct inspection of the complex and investigation.

Assault forces at the main direction of the attack consist of insertion group, formed by specialist of SAU and specialists of CTU, and assault team, formed one Anti-terrorist Group of SAU, one ATG of CTU and two groups of Gendarmerie operators. Assault forces at auxiliary direction consist of four groups of the Gendarmerie operators, while two groups of CTU and SAU are positioned as reserve force on standby at parking lot between Arena and highway. Sniper groups took positions at various spots in the area of the Arena with tasks of reconnaissance and support providing to the assault forces during the raid.

Quick insertion and lowering of the specialists of CTU and SAU from a helicopter was executed by fast rope technique, followed by Rappelling technique from the roof of the Arena. Photo: Army Info

The raid on the Arena began with the insertion of SAU and CTU specialists at the roof of the complex and taking control of the passage under the roof. From that position specialists were providing support to advancing operators of the Gendarmerie to the stairs at the level of plateau. Gendarmes were then, using specialized combat-armed vehicles M 86 as cover, covering lowering of the specialists from the roof to stairs. In coordination with SAU and CTU groups the simultaneous raid of the elite police forces began.

Mixed assault team advancing to stairway and plateau with the support of combat-armed vehicles. Photo: Army Info

SAU Group had a task to, in coordination with other groups and teams, conduct raid at Level 100, overcome terrorists, conduct inspect of rooms of the east and south section to the Entrance 101 and prevent escape of the terrorist through its region of responsibility. CTU Group had a task to, in coordination with other groups and teams, conduct raid at Level 100, overcome terrorists and conduct inspect of rooms in west and south section to dressing rooms and prevent escape of the terrorist through region of its responsibility. Assault groups of the Gendarmerie had tasks to, in cooperation with SAU and CTU groups, conduct raid at Level 100, overcome terrorists, establish full control at stairway and pedestrians zone in front of the VIP section where hostages are held, storm VIP rooms, overcome remained terrorists and to release hostages. Medical groups will then, with the assistance of Gendarmerie Group, take positions at stairway level at main direction and wait for persons in need for first aid.

Coordination of actions was crucial to achieve advantage over the armed terrorists. Photo: Army Info

Operators of the Gendarmerie for the purpose of this intervention wore black two-pieced uniforms of the national manufacturer Mile Dragic in Tactical One cut. For primary, gendarmes chose carbines Colt M4 A4 Commando in 5.56x45 mm NATO in configuration with reliable red dot sights Aimpoint CompM3, ergonomic assault handgrips CAA FGA with CAA TC1 tactical flashlights fitted. For secondary, gendarmes used semi-automatic handguns Glock 17 Gen 3 in 9x19 mm Parabellum/Luger that were holstered in BLACKHAWK! Serpa Tactical Level 2 holsters. Ballistic protection of the operators was achieved with ballistic helmets M 05S in black color of the manufacturer Mile Dragic, as with ballistic vests of the same company. These ballistic products provide ballistic protection of IIIA level according to NIJ standards[2]. Also, protection of the groups while conducting raid was achieved with ballistic individual tactical shields from the same manufacturer. Sniping specialists of the Gendarmerie were armed with long-range precision rifles Steyr Tactical Elite in .308 Winchester, with bolt action operating system, in configuration with KAHLES optic sight and foldable bipod. CTU operators were armed with previously mentioned US carbines as well as with combat shotguns Benelli M4 as primary, and Austrian handguns as secondary. As for ballistic gear, for the purpose of this intervention Griffins chose the same models of helmets and shields as gendarmes, but different ballistic vests: Top Universal models in black color also from manufacturer Mile Dragic. Sniping specialists of CTU wore two-piece uniforms in digital urban camouflage Tactical One, from Mile Dragic also and were armed with long-range precision rifles Sako TRG 42 in .338 Lapua Magnum with bolt action operating system, and in configuration with optic sight Schmidt&Bender Police Marksman II, as well as with foldable bipod. Operators of the Special Anti-terrorist Unit-SAU wore black overalls GK Pro, and their weaponry consisted of the same models as in other groups, modified for close quarters combat.

In less than 45 minutes all terrorists were subdued, hostages released, all persons in the Arena were evacuated to triage ground and entire complex was under control of the police special forces. While at triage ground were conducted treatment of injured and identity checks, Counter Diversion Group executed inspect of the entire Arena complex in order to find and eventually disassemble explosives or ordnance devices, by the order of crisis headquarters staff. Demining specialists used K9 trackers, Belgian and German shepherds. After that, crime investigation was performed.

Successful completion of the tactical exercise Arena 2012 showed a high level of training and cooperation among elite units of the Serbian police, which was confirmed by then Minister of Interior, the Police Director and their associates.

[1] Name of the country as well as the associated circumstances, were made up for the purposes of exercise scenario.
[2] NIJ standard for ballistic helmets is 0106.01, while NIJ standard for ballistic vests is 0101.04.

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