Croatia’s prime counter-terrorism unit celebrating 30th anniversary

Eric Sof

ATJ Lucko anniversary ceremony was held yesterday in Zagreb, capital of Croatia, 30 years after its foundation. Croatia’s prime counter-terrorism unit was founded in the dawn of wars in Yugoslavia in 1990.

Anti-terrorist unit Lucko abbreviated ATJ Lucko in Croatian, is Croatia’s premier police tactical unit. It is broadly comparable to the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team and is primarily tasked with counter-terrorism, hostage rescue, dignitary protection, and other high-profile missions within the scope of police duties. Recently, it has also been extensively deployed for border protection as the pressure from migrant routes to Europe increases.

On September 7th, 2020, ATJ Lucko celebrated 30 years since it was founded as the first armed unit of the fledgling Croatian state, and it proved to be a critical asset throughout the Croatian War of Independence, and also the foundation of the Croatian Armed Forces, which grew out of the police force.

ATJ Lucko Croatia Training drill
Operators from ATJ Lucko, Croatia’s prime counter-terrorism unit during the drill on the 30th anniversary of the unit (Photo: MUP RH)

Based in the capital of Zagreb, ATJ operators can be deployed through the country using AW139 and H135 helicopters and can operate in urban, rural, and maritime environments. Operators are equipped with a wide range of weapons, the HS Produkt XDM (Springfield XDM) being the primary sidearm.

A variety of SMGs, shotguns, and assault rifles are also used, including Heckler and Koch UMPs, MP7s, MP5s, G36Cs, and recently added and domestically produced VHS-2 bullpup assault rifles. Training encompasses a variety of specialized skills, including mountain warfare, diving, airborne infiltration, EOD, sniper, breaching, and others.

Operators from ATJ Lucko brandishing their weapons during the 30th anniversary of the unit
Operators from ATJ Lucko, Croatia’s prime counter-terrorism unit during the drill on the 30th anniversary of the unit (Photo: MUP RH)

ATJ Lucko is a member of the EU’s ATLAS network of elite police tactical units and has deployed detachments to peace support operations in Afghanistan, while also regularly training with European partner police units and even US military Tier One special operation units.

Croatian military analyst Jan Ivanjek recently visited ATJ Lucko to learn about their tactical medical care procedures and participated in a training exercise. You can check it out in this video, make sure to turn on the English subtitles.

YouTube video

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