Special Brigade of the Serbian Army

The pride of the Serbian Army. The elitism of the brigade`s operators is gathered in their special training, equipment and proven loyalty and courage as well.

FOUNDATION AND PURPOSE


Unit`s insignia

The history of the Serbian People is filled with wars and tribulations. Serbian soldiers were laying their lives defending and liberating their country and people in liberation wars against Turkey[1] and both of Word Wars[2]. In the beginning of nineties a new armed conflict emerged on the territory of former Yugoslavia, so that just in the end of nineties and at the beginning of the new Millennium former Yugoslav Army[3] had to defend the Southern province, Kosovo and Metohia. Nevertheless, tough times made heroic names and accomplishments, built within the Serbian tradition and history and today present an inspiration for younger generations of Serbian soldiers and citizens.

By the escalation of armed conflicts on the Yugoslav territory, state leaders of the Republic of Serbia brought a decision to organize units for special purposes within the Army, whose special training and equipment could have been used to conduct the most complex combat operations. During 1992 the 72nd Assault Brigade was founded and its operators were recognizable over the maroon-color berets which are a prestige symbol even today among Serbian soldiers. Soon after establishing, the brigade changed its name and continue to operate as the 72nd Special Brigade, and its operational elements were Military Police Battalion for Counter Terrorist Actions, The First Reconnaissance-Commando Battalion (formed of former YPA[4] Diversion Squads, firstly named Lions and later as recognizable tags scull motive with a maroon beret and compass were adopted), Raid Battalion, Support Battalion, as well as supporting units, such as Logistics Group and Communication Group and the like.

He who dares can!
He who knows no fear,
will go forward!
In the upcoming period the organization of the brigade was adapting to present needs, so Support Battalion was deduced to a company level, while Raid Battalion changed its name to The Second Reconnaissance-Commando Battalion, which will along with The First Reconnaissance-Commando Battalion later form the 72nd Reconnaissance-Commando Battalion of the Special Brigade. Today Serbian Armed Forces within the Army have a modern unit of specially trained soldiers, the Special Brigade of the Serbian Army, which was founded on September 29 2006, by modifying and merging 72nd Special Brigade, 63rd Parachute Brigade, operators of the elite 82nd Marine Center who after independence of Montenegro moved to Serbia and a certain number of operators of the former Counter Terrorist Detachmend “Cobras”[5]. It should be specially underlined that former 72nd Special and 63rd Parachute Brigades were decorated with the Medal of National Hero in October 1999, as well as with Medal of the War Flag June 2000, decorations for extraordinary efforts during the armed conflict in Kosmet, at the end of nineties.

Special Brigade of the Serbian Army is organized in barracks Rastko Nemanjic in Panchevo, at the periphery of Belgrade, as well as at Airport in Nish. After establishing the new unit, commanding duties received experienced Brigade General Ilija Todorov. During 2013 duties received Brigade General Jelesije Radivojevic and in the beginning of 2015 commanding function received Colonel Zoran Velichkovic who was April 23 of the same year promoted to a Brigade General Rank by the edict of the President of the state.



The unit is under direct command of the General Staff of the Serbian Army, capable for reconnaissance-commando tasks, counter terrorist raids and diversion-demolition tasks, intelligence and contra intelligence actions, hostage rescue missions, disarming of criminals and terrorists in all conditions and operatins of the Army and Serbian Armed Forces. Special Brigade of the Serbian Army can effectively conduct blocking of areas and infrastructure, insertions and supplying by air, or to provide personnel and technical assistance to civilians in the case of natural disasters. Depending on field needs and mission types, elite brigade can be enforced with supporting artillery, armored units, engineers, communication units. In cooperation with other Army units as well as from Ministry of Interior of the Republic of Serbia, Special Brigade can carry out other combat and/or security-intelligence missions, which is meticulously defined by the Defence Strategy and Military Doctrine of the Serbian Armed Forces.

ORGANIZATION

Special Brigade of the Serbian Army is a tactical unit, organized by a modular principle[6]. Adopted systematization includes commanding element organized in Rastko Nemanjic barracks, consisted of the Command of the Unit and Commanding Battalion. In the same barracks majority of operators are deployed, Battalion for Counter Terrorist Actions “Falcons” and 72nd Reconnaissance-Commando Battalion, which includes the 82nd Company of River Saboteurs mostly filled by operators of the former 82nd Division of River Saboteurs of the legendary 82nd Marine Center. According to its purpose and needs, 63rd Parachute Battalion is organized at the Airport in the city of Nish.

INSIGNIA AND SLAVA OF THE UNIT

Insignia of the Special Brigade is presented by the insignia of the Command of the Special brigade and is of a shield shape in red color in which is a falcon with wings spread and a parachute symbol, together symbolizing the merging of 72nd Special and 63rd Parachute brigades. To honor a rich tradition of the elite units, Battalion for Counter Terrorist Actions kept a falcon and three thunders in its insignia, while operators of the 72nd Reconnaissance-Commando Battalion kept number 72 in their insignia with a griffin as the main motive. The insignia of the 63rd Parachute Battalion is made of a parachute[7] symbol and number 63.

Slava of the Special Brigade is Saint Sava and is celebrated on January 27 every year. Rastko Nemanjic was the youngest son of Stefan Nemanja, Serbian nobleman from the 12th century and a founder of the Serbian Nemanjic Dynasty. As a youngster, Rastko refused a nobleman lifestyle and state duties and after visiting Saint Gora took a church vow at Russian monastery Saint Panteleimon, receiving a monk name Sava respectively. With his father Nemanja Sava raised endowment, the great monastery Hilandar at Saint Gora. Vigorously fought the independence of the Serbian Church in 1219. Became the first Serbian archbishop and lawmaker, by writing the famous Church Law Nomokanon or Zakonopravilo, as well as hagiography about his father. After death was canonized, and his cult is a significant element of the Serbian tradition. On every 27th of January celebrations are organized in both barracks, attended by military and state officials, as well as Church dignitaries.

SELECTION AND TRAINING

The decision about selection training for a workplace within the Special Brigade of the Serbian Army is brought by the Command of the brigade and the same decision includes as a rule an information about the number and types of workplaces available. Selection can be attended by officers, non-commissioned officer and professional soldiers younger than 30 years of age with previous year of service at least two years in the Serbian Army and very good annual evaluation mark at least (a must for officers and non-commissioned officers), while for professional soldier duties can submit civilians who voluntarily completed military service under arms. After given deadline for submitting applications and before lining candidates for testing, meticulous security checks of every applied candidate are undertaken. One will not be invoked if convinced in criminal proceedings, nor those who are in status of a defendant in a prosecution in the moment of ongoing security checks. Candidates without any security impediments are called up for testing of psychophysical readiness conducted in the barracks of the Special Brigade in Panchevo and Nish. Physical strength and endurance checks include several disciplines in which candidates must meet the criteria marked as minimal, and according to achieved results, candidates ranking is undertaken. Within these checks candidates will have a conversation with officers from the unit, in order to gain a better impression about their psychological profile, and especially their motives to become a part of the elite unit. Tests are, as a rule, being conducted by previously defined criteria. The minimum standards in some disciplines must be achieved in a certain time period, while in others attention is given to the behavior of a candidate when performing. Candidates who meet the criteria at these testing, are assigned for a specialized medical check organized at Military Medical Academy in Belgrade, and positive evaluation from doctors is a necessary condition to call up a candidate for a tough selection training that lasts for 9 weeks (for candidates applying for a workplace in the Battalion for Counter Terrorist Actions or 72nd Reconnaissance-Commando Battalion), or 13 weeks for candidates applying for a place in the 63rd Parachute Battalion of the Special Brigade.

During the tough drill the largest number of candidates drop averagely, and that is the essence of these intensive psychophysical checks and tasks, to select the most capable individuals who could have become in the upcoming years, through an intensive training, the most elite soldiers of the Serbian Army. During this phase doctors are present all the time caring about health status of every candidate and who, based on their professional evaluation, dismiss a candidate from the selection even contrary to his choice, if there is a real threat to endanger health of the candidate.

In this phase training of the candidates includes elements of tactical training, especially special actions tactics (reconnaissance, diversions/demolitions, raids, counter rebel and counter terrorist actions), firearms training and shooting training based on the brigade`s standards, usage of technical tools and special gear, topography, lineup actions, basic airborne training and the like. Physical capacities of a candidate is raised by performing marches over rough terrain in full combat gear, at 20-40 km distances. After completing the drill, team of instructors concludes the final decision about the status of remaining candidates, according to their achieved results.

Those who meet the standards are sent for a basic training lasting for 8 weeks usually and organized within the barracks of the Special brigade, as well as at military ranges and other locations in Serbia. A significant part of the training is carried out within the Rastko Nemanjic Barracks in Panchevo which has a situational closed shooting facility and an open range 300 meters in length, range for IED (Improvised Explosive Devices), range “Urban Surroundings”, intended for practicing actions in urban environment, range “Rural Surroundings”, intended for practicing actions in rural areas. The barracks also possesses excellent tactical range with trenches, various covers and bunkers, and depending on the type of training, it is possible to set even crossroad or road simulations. Ranges of this kind are of a vast significance for practicing attacking and defending actions. Operators of the 72nd Commando-Reconnaissance Battalion practice planting explosives for material demolitions at the demolition range. Within the climbing range elements of urban alpinism are practiced, as well as special climbing actions, and an infantry obstacle range is also present, as well as a range with so-called sabotage obstacles, sports fields and sports center.

During the basic training mandatory is the basic parachuting training and every candidate is obliged to conduct at least three jumps with a parachute. Jumps are performed at arranged and non-arranged landing grounds and areas of Airports in Nish, Batajnica, Utva and Kovin. Elements of climbing training operators of the Battalion for Counter Terrorist Actions “Falcons” and operators of the 72nd Commando-Reconnaissance Battalion practice at Stol Mountain near the city of Bor, while operators of the 63rd Parachute Battalion this type of training carry out in the area of Sicevo Gorge.

After completing basic training final elimination test is organized and includes psychophysical checks, but professional knowledges and skills from underwent trainings as well. The last phase of this test is the final march in full combat gear with elements of tactics and checkpoints. After completing this test, results of the remaining candidates are concluded. Only the best will be enrolled to the unit and admitted to the new workplace for which they had to undergo a rough road and prove they are a match to be the part of the elite in the Serbian Army.

Newly enrolled operators of the Special Brigade of the Serbian Army continue with professional development defined with the plan and program of training for brigade`s operators. Winter training is carried out at mountains Kopaonik, Jastrebac and others, and include training or practicing skiing (Alpine and Nordic skiing), survival training, winter climbing, training for search and rescue missions in winter surroundings, as well as combat action trainings with attacking, defending tactics, ambushes, demolitions, scouting and the like. Basic diving training for Special Brigade operators is carried out in Danube and Sava rivers and Zaovine Lake at Tara Mountain. Also, a part of diving training is organized at Montenegrin seaside, usually in cooperation with Special Anti-terrorist Unit-SAU, as well as abroad through joint exercises with various themes.



Specialist training of the brigade`s operators is carried out through professional courses that are designed according purposes of the brigade`s battalions, so operators can be sent for commando-reconnaissance course, military police course, river saboteur, light diver course, basic and advanced courses in precision shooting, first aid course, communication devices course, course for managing combat and armored vehicles, foreign languages courses and the like. Courses are, depending on the funds of the unit, organized in the country and abroad, where a number of operators successfully completed courses US Ranger Course, Special Forces Qualification Course in the bases Fort Benning and Fort Bragg in the USA. Courses of winter and mountain warfare were attended in Norway, Austria, Italy and Switzerland.

WEAPONRY AND GEAR

Submachine gun HK-UMP in 9x19 mm Parabellum caliber Semi-auto Glock-17 Gen3 in 9x19 mm Parabellum caliber

The status and level of training of the elite soldiers of the Serbian Army considers excellent knowledge about features and effective handling of infantry weapon models and gear of national manufacturers. Also, a great attention is devoted to studying about gear and armament used in the armies of the state neighbors, reflected in the use of some systems in the Serbian unit. Orders from foreign producers are concluded in accordance with the needs of the unit, and funds available, because, considering the economics of the state, funds are carefully invested. A tendency of the Ministry of Defence and Special Brigade can be noted in every gear category to have models from the national arms industry and foreign manufacturers as well. In addition, monitoring the novelties in this area, and in accordance with operators` suggestions, a plan of modernization of gear was made and should be realized in the upcoming times.

As for secondary armament, the unit possesses semi-automatic handguns CZ 99 in 9x19 mm Parabellum caliber of the Zastava Arms producer from the city of Kragujevac, as well as models CZ 999 in the same caliber, from the same manufacturer who made this series for the needs of special forces. Handguns of the national producers are mostly used for selections of the candidates for a workplace in the unit, but also a number of experienced operators entrusts these modes, so can be seen as the element of their personal armament. There is also a contingent of compact versions of these handguns which have 8 mm shorter barrel, slide and spring. Common to mentioned handgun series is they are constructed over the famous Swiss series of semi-automatic handguns SIG Sauer P 226.

Among models purchased from abroad, the brigade possesses Austrian semi-automatic Glock 17 Gen 3 in 9x19 mm Parabellum, issued for the Battalion for Counter Terrorist Actions “Falcons”, and for lowered carry excellent holsters BLACKHAWK! Serpa Tactical Level 2/3 were chosen. The reliability of these holsters is given with the double-locking system of the handgun within the holster. Used are German HK USP SD 9 in 9x19 mm Parabellum, with a suppressor thread, and soldiers are very satisfied with these models. For lowered carry of the German models in use are reliable polymer holsters purchased from Vega Holster manufacturer, in black color. In this armament category should be mentioned Israeli Jericho 941F, also in 9 mm caliber.

For the needs of Close Quarters Battle-CQB operators can use reliable HK MP5 in 9x19 mm Parabellum caliber. Present in various models, such as HK MP5 A2 with a fixed buttstock made from polymer, then HK MP5 A3 with a telescopic one, suppressed models HK MP5 SD3, and compact ones, HK MP5 K. Besides these, main models in use within this weaponry category are newer HK UMP in 9x19 mm Parabellum, for which German producer deem they should be able to replace the famous series MP5, and as one of the main advantages gives is significantly lower cost of the HK UMP. Mentioned models can be seen as a part of Falcons and operators of the 63rd Parachute Battalion armament. Present are models Zastava M85 in 5.56x45 mm NATO and Zastava M92 in 7.62x39 mm, both from the national producer Zastava Arms, considering the second one can be marked as carbine weapon by several criteria.

In the assault rifles category various models are present. A significant part of the training is conducted by using the national producer`s rifles made over the Kalashnikov system in the Eastern caliber 7.62x39 mm, so operators use models Zastava M70 AB2 with foldable buttstock and M70 AB1 with a fixed one, as well as models M70 ABX Black Thorn, modified for special forces. Mentioned models are equipped with Mars iron sights from an Israeli producer. Rifle system Zastava M21 comes in several models in 5.56x45 mm NATO caliber, and was developed within the national army project “Soldier 21”. In the Kalashnikov system rifles can be included Bulgarian Arsenal AR M1 in 7.62x39 mm. Mentioned models, if needed, can be equipped with grenade launchers 40 mm, made over the models from Russian constructors. A specific rifle APS (Russ. Автомат Подводный Специальный) intended for underwater usage. The Russian rifle is specific because it can fire specially made steel arrows, more efficient under water than a standard riffle bullet, and in the brigade rifles are used by the divers of the 82nd Diving Company of the 72nd Commando-Reconnaissance Battalion.





Among Western producers models, brigade possesses superb rifles of the HK 416 series in model D14.5RS, chambered for 5.56x45 mm NATO, purchased for the 72nd Commando-Reconnaissance Battalion, along with grenade launchers 40 mm HK AG. From the same manufacturer excellent rifles G36 were purchased in models Commando and KV, all chambered for 5.56 mm caliber. Model HK G36 C is a main primary weapon used by the operators of the Battalion for Counter Terrorist Actions of the Special Brigade, while KV model is used in the 63rd Parachute Battalion. In the same caliber are famous Austrian Steyr AUG A1 (Stg 77), purchased for the 72nd Commando-Reconnaissance Battalion. Besides conspicuous modularity, the rifle system is famous for a relatively small weight, good precision, and viewer`s attention is attracted by the unusual design of the weapon.

Models of the German manufacturer, thanks to the integrated Picatinny rails allow mounting of tactical accessories, and depending on the configuration, the same system can be modified to fit various tasks needs. So, operators can use reliable red dot sight Aimpoint CompM4 which project a red dot of 2 MOA size (Minute of Angle) and are featured with a great battery life and reliability. On the lower rail can be mounted an assault handgrip from Heckler & Koch, SureFire, UTG and others, while tactical light is usually mounted to the side rail. Suppressors are purchased from B&T.

Among combat shotguns used are models Zastava LP 12 PA of the national producer, and from foreign ones, the brigade possesses Mossberg M590 and superb Benelli M4 and Franchi Spas 15.

In the support weapon category are included light machine guns FN Minimi in Para model with a telescopic buttstock, purchased from the Belgian producer FN Herstal, chambered for 5.56x45 mm NATO caliber. Besides acceptable weight, it is featured with the excellent precision as well. Almost inevitable system in this category certainly is Zastava M84 from the Zastava Arms producer. It is chambered for 7.62x54 R and made over the Russian PKM in the same caliber. Heavy machine guns Browning M2HN are chambered for a powerful 12.7x99 mm NATO (.50 BMG) caliber. Automatic Grenade Launchers Zastava M93 in 40 mm caliber performed as a reliable system, and brigade also possesses PP SG07 in 40 mm, as well as MGL in the same caliber from Krushik producer from the city of Valjevo. Armor-piercing grenade launchers M80 Zolja, M79 Hornet, as well as Porks 9K111 Fagot are also used.

Autonomous diving apparatus "Dräger" with a closed breathing system Submachine gun HK-MP5 SD3 in 9 mm caliber
For precision shooting, operators of the Special Brigade of the Serbian Army use semi-automatic rifles Zastava M76 in 7.92x57 mm, as well as Zastava M91 in 7.62x54 R, which national producer made over the Kalashnikov system. Present is a number of German Heckler & Koch G3 in semi-automatic versions. The unit`s pride are Finish Sako TRG in models 21, 22 and 42, chambered for .308 Winchester caliber (models 21 and 21), or .338 Lapua Magnum (models 42). For precision shooting these bolt-action rifles can be adapted by mounting excellent sights Schmidt&Bender Police Marksman II. In .308 Winchester caliber come superb SIG SG 3000 as well. For engaging targets at greater distances used are anti-materiel bolt-action rifles Zastava M93 Black Arrow chambered for 12.7x108 mm and 12.7x99 mm NATO calibers, and from foreign ones present are semi-automatic Barrett M82 A1 in 12.7x99 mm NATO with Swarovski 10x42 optic sight, as well as bullpup models Barrett M95 in the same caliber.

Diving specialists of the 82nd Company of River Saboteurs use reliable gear of the Mares producer, such as neoprene diving suits, diving masks in X Vision models and the like. For specific tasks, jobs and actions autonomous diving apparatus with closed breathing system can be used, from the famous producer Dräger.

As for uniforms, used are standard two-piece uniforms and overalls of the Serbian Armed Forces M10 in digital rural camouflage pattern of the national manufacturer Jumko from Vranje, then camouflage uniforms Dragon Tactical with M03 camouflage pattern, purchased from Mile Dragic producer. Mentioned pattern is, by many soldiers opinions, very well designed considering the rural surroundings on the national territory. In the same model and of the same manufacturer are black two-piece uniforms purchased for the needs of the Battalion for Counter Terrorist Action “Falcons”, and older uniforms in camouflage pattern M02 could be seen occasionally. The largest contingent of tactical and ballistic vests, as well as helmets was purchased from the national producer Mile Dragic, however for the needs of the Battalion for Counter Terrorist Action purchased were reliable ballistic vests Ciras Plate Carrier in black, as well as Tasmanian Tiger Chest Rig MKII, also in black color.

In the protective gear category are enlisted helmets JOBE and Protec, mostly used for head protection, when conducting climbing, or parachute training, but when conducting actions or trainings on vessels as well. The eye protection is provided with tactical goggles ESS, and from Revision producer purchased are models Bullet Ant Tactical and Military Wolfspider. Elbow and knee pads in different colors are purchased from Mile Dragic producer, and as for the tactical gloves, used are models from various manufacturers such as 5.11, BLACKHAWK!, Mechanix and others. Considering individual needs and affinities of operators, officers allow private purchase of this type of gear.

COOPERATION WITH OTHER UNITS

By intercession of the Special Brigade Command and Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Serbia, significant part of operators` training is carried out in cooperation with national and foreign units. Cooperation includes exchange of experiences through security seminars, specialist courses and joint exercises. In the Republic of Serbia cooperation and friendly relations exist with elite police units as well, and besides joint training, cooperation relates to organization and joint participation in sports competitions of various types. In Balkan, Special Brigade established excellent cooperation with Greek units ETA and OYK to whom on several occasions in Greece and Serbia joint diving training was organized, as well as exchange of experiences in the area of urban actions. In addition, Greek colleagues are regular competitors and guests at parachute eventing organized in Serbia, and besides those, invites are regularly accepted by Russian paratroopers, as well as elite soldiers from Bulgaria, Romania and Cyprus. During 2014 successfully organized was a wide and very complex joint tactical exercise “Srem 2014” realized by Serbian elite soldiers and operators of the 106th Guards Tula Airborne Division.

With elite Italian Airborne Regiment Col Moschin several times was organized joint training in the area of special urban actions, last time in 2011 at Rastko Nemanjic Barracks in hosted by Battalion for Counter Terrorist Actions “Falcons”.

[1] In the First and Second Balkan War.
[2] In the First World War Serbia lost 62% of its men population of 18 to 55 age of life, 53% killed, 9% totally crippled. .
[3] Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was a federation consisted of the Republic of Serbia and Republic of Montenegro from April 27 1992 to February 2003.
[4] Abbreviation for the Yugoslav People`s Army.
[5] Source: official website of Serbian Armed Forces.
[6] Source: official website of Serbian Armed Forces.
[7] Parachute dome symbol is a traditional tag of airborne units. In practice it is often wrongly used to mark parachute training, because rank of a paratrooper is marked with a symbol of wings spreading out from a parachute dome.

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Units from Serbia:

SAU

Gendarmerie

MPB S/O "Cobras"

Special Brigade

PTJ
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