Special Support Unit was established in September 2005, as an operational unit of The State Investigation and Protection Agency — SIPA (Bos. Državna agencija za istragu i zaštitu), intended for the execution of the most complex tactical and operational-technical police actions in all conditions and in accordance with the state’s legislature. The special purpose, thus the great responsibility, required significant resource investment in training and equipment, so that the unit`s operability could have reached a high level, in a rational time span.


A training detail. : SIPA, BiH

With the effort of the management of The State Investigation and Protection Agency, the Special Support Unit has managed to carry out a significant part of personnel training in cooperation with the respectable instructors and units from abroad, while operators have reliable weaponry and gear at hand. The efficiency in executing the given jobs and tasks, professionalism and continuous development made the Special Support Unit an important element of the Bosnia and Herzegovina in fighting the organized crime and terrorism.

The first basic training of the diving group`s operators had been organized in the premises and the pool of the Buk Diving Club, from the city of Banja Luka. The training included theoretical lectures about the elements of the diving gear, their purpose and way of use. Also, a significant part of the lectures related to the basics of decompression, but the criteria for planning and organizing a proper diving plan as well. The first practice actions of the training were performed in the club`s pool, in order to accommodate operators with the water surroundings and practice actions of gearing up underwater. The largest part of the basic practical training was carried out in Rose, Montenegro, in order to create environment as close to real as possible. To acquire positive marks and successfully complete the training, Special Support Unit operators had to meet the instructors` standards in performing basic actions, such as underwater mask clearing, gearing up at 5 meters depth, balancing, buddy breathing etc.

The actions of buddy breathing are carried out in situations when a diver is out of air in their tanks, therefore starts to share a regulator with a diver from their pair or group.

The practice of these actions is very important for acquiring and developing the mutual trust between the diving group operators, as well as to improve their individual confidence during dives.

With the successful completion of the basic diving training, operators of the Special Support Unit Diving Group attained the first diving start and titles under CMAS[1] standards, the prestigious international diving school.

The acquired skills and knowledge were just the first step in creating the highly trained and operational diving group of the Special Support Unit. The need for the professional development is amplified by the rough terrain characteristics, typical for the territorial waters of the B&H (low water temperature, high pollution, strong water currents and the like). With the decision of the Agency management, with Goran Zubac at the helm, who had deemed the need to establish a specially trained and equipped specialist diving group and its importance in The Stage Investigation and Protection Agency work, the planning and organization of the Special Support Unit Diving Group operators began in the country and abroad. The divers successfully completed the EOD specialist training, under NATO standards, and attained the EOD II Level Technician titles and mastered skills of underwater reconnaissance, detection, recognition and controlled detonation of mines and explosives.


A detail from the EOD technicians training. : SIPA, BiH

The Training Curriculum for the Special Support Unit Diving Group operators greatly focuses on mastering the underwater orientation of the divers, field search (bottoms and ground surfaces in the immediate surroundings), dives at higher depths in artificial lakes, dives in strong currents and the like. The need for the development of the human rescue tactics in rapids and flooded areas emerged lately, and is being implemented into the regular training.

In addition, professional development through joint training with foreign colleagues has been defined. Good cooperation with the Czech Police Department for Special Activities and Training divers has been established. With the Czech colleagues, the Special Support Unit divers carried out complex courses of technical diving (regarding to the dives at greater depths using dry diving suits), in accordance with the TDI Association standards, along with the underwater demining courses. The joint training were organized domestically, as well as in the neighboring Montenegro, while the acquired knowledge was intelligently used on the occasion of the Sava River bottom sweep, that the SSU divers conducted with the Czech divers and removed large amount of the unexploded devices. The tasks of this type are extremely risky and require a special diving training and gear. With the successfully completion of the tasks, the deployed divers confirmed the given trust, as well as the quality of training being planned and carried out through the adopted curriculum in the unit.

Besides these, the Special Support Unit divers have been tasked in searching and securing items involved in committed or attempted crimes, thrown in B&H territorial waters.


As for the specialist gear used by the Special Support Unit Diving Group divers, neoprene 5 mm diving suits are being used, while the Ursuit dry suits are being used for dives at greater depths. The primary diving gear of the specialists consists of the buoyancy compensators (buoyancy control device, stabilizer, stab jacket etc.), made by the same producer, Liquivision, X1 and Suunto dive computers, Poseidon regulators, while the dive watches and knives are being purchased from various manufacturers, with operators buying them privately as well. Double 2×12 liter tanks are used, with air compressed at 200 bar, as well as additional tanks with 7 and 10 liters in capacity, with 200 bar air compression.


Specialists organized as a diving pair. : SIPA, BiH

As for the armament, the diving specialist group has a compact PDW FN P90 system in specific 5.7×28 mm caliber. Relatively low weight, good ergonomics and a large mag capacity make this PDW a good choice for the combat tasks for which the SSU divers are specialized. In addition, the FN SCAR L CQC 5.56 mm assault rifle emerges as a possible option, which could be modified to meet the diver need by mounting the EOTech 553 holographic sight, claimed by the manufacturer to be operational at 20 meter depths. When it comes to the sidearm, Austrian semi-auto Glock 17 9 mm handgun is a logical choice, being reliable in all conditions and environments.

The Special Support Unit, although relatively young, has managed to set a solid ground for its personnel training aided with the effort of the Agency management. Through the continuous specialization, the SSU divers and their colleagues increase and master their knowledge, increasing the operability of the entire unit as well, in order to be able to effectively respond to the most complex jobs and tasks set before them, achieving the goal of increased security of the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

[1] Fra. Confédération Mondiale des Activités Subaquatiques. CMAS is the first international diving school, established in 1959, and gathers national diving associations.

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