Bearing in mind that Slovenia has access to the sea, an exceptional attention is devoted to the security of the state coastline, Slovenian territorial waters, vessel and people control and protection etc. That is why it is necessary that the security system has well trained personnel, being able to carry out tasks in this area at a very high level. A significant part of those jobs is carried out by the diving specialists of the Special Police Unit.
The basic diving training of the Special Police Unit operators is carried out during the basic training and is mandatory for all the operators. It starts with a course at sea, lasting for seven days with diving instructors at the helm, who are, as a rule, the most experienced divers in the unit, with a medic present throughout the course. During that week, operators study the basic theoretical and practical training, which should train them for snorkeling at first, followed by dives with autonomous diving apparatus. Before being dispatched to the diving course, all the operators undergo a thorough specialist medical examination, in order to determine any health problems hampering this type of training.
Within the theoretical lectures, the Special Police Unit operators study the use of the basic diving gear, such as diving suits, masks, air tanks and other systems for underwater breathing, the purpose and use of special diving computers and the like. Also, a significant attention is given to study of the underwater tactical sign language.
A diver has to acquire the knowledge that will allow them to make a diving plan, including the area, time and depth of a dive, including the time needed for decompression.
The practical training starts with the study of snorkeling diving techniques in shallow water. The operators learn how to overcome then free from the fear of water. A special attention is given to underwater mask clearing techniques, which are brought to automation through continuous repetition. During this phase operators familiarize with the underwater surroundings.
The completion of snorkeling course is followed by dives using autonomous diving apparatus. These systems could have a closed or open breathing circuits, and as a rule, consist of an hydrostatic regulator and a tank with compressed air. A diver has to be able to mount all the necessary gear underwater, to master body balancing, along with the actions of buddy breathing. These actions are performed when a diver is out of air, therefore starts to share a regulator with another diver in a diving pair. It is imperative to remain calm in these situations, bearing in mind that air depletion is stressful by itself.
The largest part of the practical basic diving training for the Slovenian Special Police Unit divers is carried out in groups, following the main safety diving standard to dive alone only in extraordinary situations. Operators study underwater movement in formations, especially in diving pairs, coordination with a diving group leader and the like.
After the seven-day training, the basic diving training for the Slovenian SF operators is completed. At that moment, the operators are trained to carry out:
-search in aquatic environment (including the immediate land surfaces) to provide facts significant for committed or attempted crimes, especially items in possible connection with a criminal act
-search for drowned individuals
-rescue actions and professional aid during natural disasters
The specialist training of the Special Police Unit divers is carried out throughout the country, independently and in cooperation with other formations, as well as abroad, through joint training with other units and specialist courses.
This type of training includes elements of combat diving, especially resolving of complex tactical situations through vessel raids, demolition skills, search and work with explosives and mines on surface and underwater etc. This training is pretty costly, so the management of the unit invests great effort to enable its operators the best expert development possible, while the operators themselves often undertake private courses, such as technical dives, nitrox and trimix dives etc.
Cooperation with foreign units is a part of training curriculum and, as a rule, is carried out every year. In the region, Slovenian Special Police Unit divers conducted joint training with colleagues from the Serbian Special Anti-Terrorist Unit for several times, while a very good cooperation is established with colleagues from Croatia, as well as Hungary. With the Serbian SAU divers the joint training was carried out at the sea in Slovenia, as well as Danube and Sava rivers in Serbia. With Croatian colleagues dives under ice and at greater depths and submerged vessels were organized. Experience and knowledge acquired during joint training are of a great importance for the level of training and work quality of the divers of the Slovenian unit.
As for the gear available to the Specialna enota policije divers, neoprene wet diving suits 3-7 mm are used, as well as the dry ones from the Ursuit producer. The wet diving suits are used for the dives at lower depths, when the water temperature is not bellow 14˚ C. The thermal isolation effect of the neoprene foil preserves the body temperature of the diver. The dry suits are used when it is imperative to prevent water penetration, either because of the low temperature, or high contamination. On these occasions, the gear is completed with full-face masks that allow communication between divers using comms systems, as well as with the operator on the surface. Steel tanks with 15 liters in capacity are commonly used, with air compressed at 200 bar, along with the carbon ones, from the superb manufacturer Interspiro, with 6,7 l in capacity and compressed air at 300 bar. Hydrostatic regulators are purchased from the reliable Apeks. Diving computers are very important element of the gear, because they accurately and quickly process and measure data important for a dive, and for the needs of the unit are purchased from the ScubaPro company. Dive watches are also important, along with knives mostly made of steel, but hard ceramic as well, with ergonomic handgrips from high-end polymer. Knives are usually holstered in polymer holsters that a diver mounts on their suit or jacket. Depending on the circumstances, waterproof cameras are carried during dives, while videos are important for training, as well as in court.
As for the armament, the advantage is usually given to lighter, compact and accurate weaponry that can operate underwater as well. Amongst handguns, the primary choice is the Austrian Glock 17 in 9 mm Parabellum, which could be modified for the needs of divers with a silencer. When it comes to submachine guns, the divers usually go for the German HK MP5 in 9 mm, in A5 model, or suppressed SD6. These systems allow red dots, such as Aimpoint CompM3, along with other tactical accessories, depending on the assumed depth of a dive. Among the longer barrels, for this kind of use assault rifles HK 416 and HK G36 E are suitable, both in 5.56 mm caliber.
In practice, the Specialna enota policije divers have been engaged to search for items in connection with committed crimes, search for individuals assumed to be drowned in various circumstances and in all types of aquatic surroundings (sea, rivers, lakes). One such intervention occurred during the accident within the Blanca hydroelectric power plant, when twelve people had died.
Successful completion of tasks is an imperative for the Slovenian divers, therefore the training is being taken and carried out very seriously. There is a plan to intensify the cooperation with the foreign colleagues in the future, including the joint exercises of larger scale. With Slovenia entering the European Union, Specialna enota policije became a member of the ATLAS Group, significantly expanding the space for professional expertise and experience exchange with the elite divers of the European units.Tweet
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