BRIDGE 2015 TACTICAL EXERCISE

On the occasion of the Day and the patron saint of the Serbian Gendarmerie, on June 29, 2015, a ceremony was organized, as well as the Bridge 2015 tactical exercise (Srb. “Most 2015”), near the Ada Bridge in Belgrade, where the Gendarmerie Diving Center is settled.

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The approach to the occupied vessel, using the fast patrol boats. : Srđan Ilić

In the presence of the commander, Police Colonel Goran Dragović, government officials, as well as friends and associates of the elite unit of the Serbian Ministry of Internal Affairs, the complex tactical exercise was preceded by a of martial arts demonstration, that police officers of the Gendarmerie learn and practice as a part of their special physical training.

Practical application of these techniques comes in situations where it is necessary for a police officer to repel an attack from another person or himself, or overcome one or more individuals that are resisting through active behavior or force. Therefore, martial arts learning and practicing is an important part of the Serbian police officers’ training, improving their psycho-physical readiness.

On this occasion gendarmes performed techniques of judo, karate, kick boxing, all in different and real situations: defending from one or multiple attackers, defending from the attacker armed with a handgun and similar. Coordinated and fast movements of the participants during the display contributed to the attractiveness of the demonstration and confirmed the high level of their skills at the same time.

The central part of the celebration related to the compound tactical exercise, named Bridge 2015, carried out by operators from the Gendarmerie Command, Counter Terrorist Actions Unit, as well as operators from the First Diving Center and VIP Protection Unit.

The exercise was conducted on water course of the river of Sava, increasing the complexity of planning and execution, but also showing the professional competence of the Serbian gendarmes to conduct actions in complex conditions.

The scenario of the Bridge 2015 exercise related to an attempted commission of a terrorist attack on the territory of Belgrade, by an organized terrorist group. Through operational field work police officers discovered that the group consists of five terrorist, citizens of the Republic of Serbia, and those with a foreign citizenship, and that their intention is to demolish the Bridge on Ada, by planting explosives. After locating the terrorists positions on the vessels on the Sava river, high officers of the Ministry of Interior had organized a plan of action participated by the operators from the Gendarmerie of the Republic of Serbia. Assuming that terrorist were armed with automatic firearms and equipped with explosives, operators from the Counter Terrorist Actions UNIT — UCTA (serb. Jedinica za protivteroristička dejstva — JPTD) and The First Diving Center were tasked to arrest or destroy all terrorists in order to prevent bomb being planted. Then, an EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) inspection of the vessels along with the immediate surroundings was planned.

In order to achieve advantage over terrorists, it was decided to attack the vessel from several directions: from the surface of water, by land, and from the “third dimension” — by rappelling techniques performed by the specialists from the top of the bridge construction. As for the fire support to the assault teams, sniper groups and a Gendarmerie specialized vehicle were deployed to the ground area near the vessels. From the construction of the vehicle terrorists were engaged with the Zastava M84 light machine gun in 7.62×54 R. Also, water perimeter around the vessels was controlled by Gendarmerie combat divers, all of whom also participated in supporting ground teams and destroying the terrorist group. For the successful execution, action synchronization of all the participants was of a great importance, which greatly depended on the actions of the members of the operational headquarters, settled at the crisis venue, where all the field data have been processing and all the orders coming from. In addition, assault teams actions on water surface are relatively easy to spot, being the aggravating circumstance, so the pace of intervention was also one of the imperatives of this action.

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The first moments of the vessel synchronized assault. : Srđan Ilić

The attack on the vessel, taken by the terrorists, started with the fast approach of the assault teams from the First Diving Center, using the fast patrol boats “Wolf 1” and “Wolf 2”. As for the weaponry, operators chose HK MP5 A3 submachine guns in 9×19 mm Parabellum, and semi-automatic handguns Glock 17 Gen 3 in the same caliber, which were holstered in BLACKHAWK! Serpa Tactical Level 3, that provide safe carry. The rapid arrival of the two sniper pairs to the coast area in front of the captured vessel was carried out with quads. One marksman was equipped with precision rifle Steyr Tactical Elite with a bolt action system, in .308 Winchester, which was fitted for the long range precision shooting with foldable bipod and KAHLES optics. The specialist from the second pair was armed with semi-automatic rifle SIG 716, in 7.62×51mm NATO. Spotters from both pairs were armed with US carbines Colt M4 A4 Commando in 5.56×45 mm NATO, with Aimpoint CompM3 red dot sights, as well as CAA FGA ergonomic assault grips with CAA TC1 tactical flashlights fitted.

After reaching the occupied vessel, police officers carried out the raid on the deck and began the search, in order to arrest or destroy the members of the terrorist group and take the entire vessel under control. Simultaneously, from the top of the bridge construction climbing specialists[1] executed rappelling to the deck of the vessel. They had popped a smoke grenade on the deck, to protect themselves while rappelling. In addition, an operator at the top of the bridge was providing cover for the climbers, using the Colt M4 A4 Commando carbine. In a short crossfire on the vessel, one of the terrorist got hit and fell into the water, and on the occasion the divers from the First Diving Center, all of whom were equipped with dry rescue diving suits[2] from the Ursuk company, demonstrated the rescue out of the water, using Zodiac boats.

In the immediate surroundings of the captured vessel on the river, the remaining terrorists were spotted while trying to consolidate on the anchored vessels in the marine. They were armed with assault rifles. The second attack was conducted by land assault teams in cooperation with the combat divers who struck from the water. The basic gear of these divers consisted of the neoprene diving suits from manufacturer SkubaPro. As for the weaponry, Austrian handguns Glock 17 Gen 3 were chosen, whose operating system was proved in the aquatic environment. The assault teams that conducted the raid by land were reinforced with an attack K9 — Rottweiler breed, that was used to prevent the escape of the terrorist. For their primary, operators used previously mentioned US carbines and Austrian semi-auto handguns, while ballistic protection of the operators consisted of M05 Mile Dragić black helmets in MICH[3] design, along with ballistic vests in black color, from the same producer.

Operators of the Serbian Gendarmerie have never been choosing and will never choose which task to execute, but will in the best possible manner carry out all that Serbia puts before them.
Police Colonel Goran Dragović
Gendarmerie commander

With the arrest and destruction of the terrorist group, along with capturing all the vessels in the area of crisis and EOD inspection, the complex tactical exercise Bridge 2015 was completed.

State officials expressed satisfaction with the present level of training of the operators of the Serbian Gendarmerie. Exercises of this kind are important, inter alia, for maintaining and checking the professional capacities of the police officers to conduct the complex tasks that fit the unit`s purpose.

[1] Climbing training is mandatory for all the operators of the Counter Terrorist Actions Unit of the Serbian Gendarmerie. Being conducted in urban and rural conditions, aims to train operators to perform tactical execution of complex tasks, as well as to develop their psycho-physical and psychomotor capabilities.
[2] Dry diving suits are used to prevent water penetration when necessary, either due to water low temperature, especially at greater depths, or due to water dirt or contamination.
[3] Eng. Modular Integrated Communications Helmet.

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