Having in mind specificity of the subject being discussed in this article, some elements of tactical actions and tactical training relating the subject are intentionally left out of the article content, while some are significantly simplified.


A demonstration detail — the CAT engaging. : Žarko Skoko

VIP Close Protection, in general, compiles a set of operational and tactical activities and measures being carried out in order to deduct a chance of jeopardizing or violating a psychophysical integrity of a VIP. These tasks, jobs and actions, in accordance with the ongoing legislations are being carried out by police and military operators, as well as civilian experts. Certain persons[1] are, deeming their state positions, given physical and/or technical protection, while in the private sector influential individuals hire retainers independently.

Those poorly informed deem close protection tasks and jobs as simple to execute, but frankly speaking, those are very complex operational and tactical activities which successful completion demands specially trained and equipped operators. Therefore, it does not come as a surprise the practice, accepted in the Republic of Serbia, region and worldwide, to organize VIP close protection groups, teams or companies within the special units, whose operators have been undergoing specialist training in this area particularly. Moreover, some formations of special purpose conduct these activities as primary ones, and enroll their operators for specialist training in various elements of close protection.

In the Republic of Serbia some of the most versatile professionals in the area of VIPs Close Protection are certainly operators of the Military Police Battalion for Special Operations “Cobras”, the eldest military counter terrorist unit in the region. In accordance with the defined purpose of the unit and legislations of the Republic of Serbia, Cobras primarily execute close protection tasks and jobs for the highest officials of the Ministry of Defense and Serbian Armed Forces. Superb professionalism of the operators justifies the trust of the state and military establishment, while the unit is also decorated with numerous medals and titles, all of which are additional confirmation of their professional devotion.


In practice, the method of a specific task execution, in accordance with the basics of tactical thinking and action, is adapted to expected circumstances and surroundings, as well as resources available[2].

During the broad anti-terrorist exercise Shield 2015, organized on several locations in the city of Belgrade, and participated by operators of the police and military units of the Republic of Serbia, Cobras operators carried out a demonstration of tactics of a close protection group, escort and counter assault team — CAT, in the case of an attack on a VIP. According to the exercise scenario, after receiving needed information from the vanguard forces, the escort and the CAT arrived to a location. The escort was consisted of several vehicles, including front Sierra vehicle, rear Sierra vehicle and, of course, the main vehicle driving the VIP. The so-called Sierra vehicles are tasked primarily to protect the main vehicle within the escort, against outer distractions or attacks. The escort arrival was followed by the CAT. The primary task of a counter assault team is to reject an eventual attack on escort or the VIP, or to enable extraction of the VIP and main vehicle from the vicinity, by accepting the conflict with the attackers. Therefore, the CAT operators are always in full combat loadouts, commonly armed with assault rifles or carbines, but with other fire-supporting systems as well, such as light machine guns and the like.

When operators are positioned correctly, their observing zones should overlap ideally, making the observation more effective.

The moment the main vehicle had arrived, the operators of the close protection group took positions around the main vehicle, attaining the observation of the venue in a full-circle angle. After receiving the signal that the group had taken the positions around the main vehicle, the personal retainer of the VIP came out of the vehicle and opened the door for the VIP.

While a VIP is moving on foot, a close protection group sets up a formation which is planned beforehand, deeming the circumstances of the upcoming event and, of course, the number of available retainers.

For this demonstration, operators of the Battalion organized the so-called diamond formation. The armament of the close protection group operators consisted of semi-auto Glock 17 Gen 4 handguns in 9 mm caliber, which are a good option for tasks and jobs of this type, due to a relatively small weight, reliable operating system and a solid magazine capacity. In the moment of the attack, Cobras operators demonstrated high-level training and coordination, through the quick ground organization and VIP extraction.

A close protection group can effectively provide protection only when every retainer precisely knows his part of action and coordinates well with the rest of the group.

During the demonstration it was easy to notice the way how the entire group moved coordinately when facing the attack and covers the VIP, simultaneously reacting to frontal attack. The personal retainer masterly grabbed and “packed” the VIP, who entered the main vehicle under the cover of the ballistic suitcase.


VIP extraction using the ballistic suitcase as protection. : Žarko Skoko

Counter assault team had responded quickly, arrived to the venue and set a defensive position respectively between the close protection group and the attackers, in order to cover the VIP`s extraction. According the exercise scenario, the first attack was a feigned one, so the second attacker tried to stop the advancing escort by blocking their road. Realizing this, the driver of the front Sierra vehicle had made a sharp turn and created a good angle for operators to engage the vehicle of the second attacker with a barrage fire, allowing the main vehicle and the rest of the escort to retreat through the opposite way. Detecting the new attacker, counter assault team quickly maneuvered and blocked the road in front of the second attacker`s vehicle, neutralizing the attacker and destroying the vehicle completely with a concentrated fire.

For the needs of demonstration operators of the CAT wore black two-piece tactical uniforms of the national manufacturer Mile Dragić in Dragon Tactical cut, as well as tactical vests in black of the same producer. They used HK G36 C 5.56 mm rifle systems through the demonstration, modified for the needs of CQB with Aimpoint CompM4 red dot sights and assault grip from Heckler & Koch, as well as East German AK 47 rifles in 7.62×39 mm caliber. They completed their firearm set-up with Glock 17 Gen 4 handguns, holstered in BLACKHAWK! Serpa Tactical Level 3 duty holsters. According to the words of experienced operators, in order for a close protection group to effectively operate, besides high training and coordination, personal relations amongst operators are of a great importance, including a certain amount of mutual trust, being one of the prerequisites of sureness and confidence of every individual within a group.

Watch the exclusive demonstration video on our YouTube channel .

Within the Military Police Battalion for Special Operations “Cobras” training in the area of close protection is being carried out on a very high level, often in cooperation with foreign units. That being said, Cobras have been sharing experiences with operators from the French GIGN on several occasions, Israeli instructors, and other units from countries, all of whom the Republic of Serbia maintains political cooperation and friendly relations. Cobras cooperated with the specialists from the Russian Federal Security Service during the preparations and execution of the Shield 2015 tactical exercise.

[1] As a rule, those are the highest state officials.
[2] Human and technical resources primarily.

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