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K-Commando from Estonia boarding ship

K-Commando is a special commando unit from Estonia. They are particularly assigned to Estonian Criminal Police. The tasks and activities of K-Commando are similar to standard American SWAT teams. It follows that mainly deal with hostage situations, counter-terrorism, the arrest and escort high-risk criminals, high-risk detention, searches, protection of Very Important Persons (VIP) and important witnesses as witness protection program. The unit is located in the capital of Estonia, Tallinn, and directly under control of the Minister of Internal Affairs of Estonia.

K-Commando (K-Komando) insignia

K-Commando (K-Komando) insignia

Assignments of K-Commando unit

As we already mentioned, their assignments are not different than any tasks performed by other countries special forces of similar use. K-Commando assigments are:

  • Rescue of Hostages
  • tracking terrorist activities
  • security, transport and disposal of particularly dangerous offenders and criminals
  • VIP protection and the protection of important witnesses, witness protection program

The forming of K-Commando

K-Commando was formed shortly after Estonia gained the independence. That happened during the 1990thies, as a direct response to crime, and by the example of other countries in the region.

K-Commando Headquarters

The headquarters of the Estonian Special Forces K-Commando unit is located in the capital of Estonia, Tallinn.

History of K-Commando

After centuries of being ruled by Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Estonia gained independence in 1918, but they remained independent only to 1940 when they were again forcibly annexed by the former Soviet Union. After the fall of Soviet Union (SSSR), Estonia was able to regain his freedom once again. When the last foreign troops left Estonia, they were free to make contact with Western Europe and begin the process of creating their own security forces. In 2004, Estonia became a member of NATO alliance and the member of European Union.

After gaining independence, they started the process of creating their security forces from the very beginning. A great support in creating of special forces within the hierarchy was their cooperation with foreign powers, including agencies such as the U.S. FBI and their HRT (Hostage Rescue Team). Thus, during the early 1990ties formed a special investigation unit Estonian Criminal Police, now known as K-Commando. K-Commando name is derived from the name of its first Commander Lembit Kalkutija.

Organization of K-Commando

The K-Commando unit operates under the command of Keskkriminaalpolitsei, Central Criminal Police Office, and is directly responsible to the Minister of Interior. The exact number of members serving in K-Commando is around 30 highly trained men.

In the history, the unit operated under few different names, but K-Commando emerged as one of the historical names. In this region, such units are referred to as the SOGs (Special Operations Group), but this often leads to confusion, since it is the term generally used for military special units, special forces and special Estonian army group called SOG.

K-Commando techniques

Their tasks and duties are very close to other similar units of the same or similar purposes in the army and law enforcement, so that means they have the latest equipment mainly used by other special units. K-Commando arsenal is based on cooperation with other units within Estonia, both military, and law enforcement, and that gave them ability to take the army armored personnel carriers on wheels, police helicopters and if necessary the border police motor boats and speed boats.

Weaponry and Equipment K-Commando

Estonia’s political development was also reflexed to the K-Commando unit and their equipment, so they are in possession of various mixture of Soviet and Western weapons including:

  • Makarov pistol (9mm)
  • Browning HP pistol (9mm)
  • automaton H&K MP5K (9mm)
  • automaton H&K MP5A3 (9mm)
  • H&K automatic MP5SD3 (9mm)
  • Automatic rifle AKS-74U (caliber 5.45 mm)
  • H&K G36V rifle (5.56-mm)
  • SIG SG551 SWAT-2P (5.56-mm)
  • Sniper PSG1 (7.62 mm)
  • DSR-1 rifle (7.62 mm)

Selection and Training

K-Commando is known for its high level of professionalism and a great reputation. To become a member of this unit, candidates need to pass a wide range of tests and upon completion of that, it’s applications are passed to each member of the unit. Only after a consensus is reached, the candidate is admitted to join the unit. Like most other special police units, candidates need to spend a certain period of time on regular police jobs.

In the area of training, K-Commando is very closely with the German Grenzschutzgruppe 9 (GSG-9) and the American FBI HRT. As martial arts technique, their primary choice is based on Wing Tsun (EWTO).



Special Intervention Unit – SIU



The main counter-terrorism unit of Kosovo police first created as Special Unit in 2003. In the very beginning, it was organized as a standard SWAT unit with two teams of 15 police officers who were trained by two American instructors.

In March 2005, they were presented as an elite special force unit with main tasks in the counter-terrorism and hostage rescue. A very tough candidate selection consisted of several tests which included physical fitness and drills, and after first selection ever, only 18 candidates from few hundred volunteers made it through and were added as the first generation of future Special Forces of Kosovo.

A strict selection policy was followed through several hard tests and only 18 candidates were selected among hundreds of willing volunteer officers to be the first generation of the Special Intervention Unit.

The unit was formed, established and armed by UNMIK professional instructors who were assigned to the Kosovo mission from their native countries special forces including Egyptian HRF, the German GSG-9, French GIGN, Bulgarian Special Forces and other similar units. In late 2006, due to certain difficulties, the project of national counter-terrorism unit was transformed into a SWAT team which was in the range of regular SWAT teams. The unit was named as the FIT – First Intervention Team.

SIU members during the tactical training near their headquarters in Prishtina

SIU members during the tactical training near their headquarters in Prishtina

The project was adopted by UNMIK’s French counterpart. The French soldiers continued to work on the unit project and in late 2007, they started an upgrade and overtook new training and challenges. The unit has again undergone a name change, from FIT to SIU – Specialized Intervention Unit.

Today, SIU is supervised by EULEX (after UNMIK handed the task) and they are training and shaping its skills through various joint training with Western instructors which includes instructors from world’s leading units in that field.

The international contribution is currently through the mentoring-monitoring-advising tasks, accompanying the FIT/SIU on the way of the full autonomy.

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Nationella Insatsstyrkan – NI



Nationella Insatsstyrkan, NI is Swedish National Task Force formerly known as ONI (Ordningspolisens Nationella Insatsstyrka). Formed in 1991, the unit distinguished itself as Sweden’s primary counter-terrorism unit, but despite they have jurisdiction in the whole country, the need for the unit has been limited so far.

NI is designated as the main counter-terrorism unit in Sweden. They are responsible for handling extraordinarily difficult or life-threatening criminal situations, such as terrorism, hostage situations, armed kidnapping and serving high-risk arrest warrants in cities too remote for Piketen in Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö to handle. NI is similar to other units of this type in Europe such as Germany’s GSG-9,  French GIGN, British SCO19, Irish ERU. Their structure and training are also related to the FBI HRT in the United States.

The unit is supported by local SWAT teams attached to the local police departments in Sweden. That means that in the case of emergency, local SWAT teams are first responders and the ones responsible for preparing intelligence and sealing the place until NI comes.

Nationella insatsstyrkan (National Task Force) Sweden

A member of Sweden’s Nationella insatsstyrkan (National Task Force) unit brandishing his Heckler and Koch MP5 during operation

Despite they are regular domestic police unit, NI has been involved in some jobs abroad.  In 2006, NI officers were deployed to Lebanon to help evacuate Swedish citizens during the war between Hezbollah and Israel. NI officers have also been deployed with Special Team Six in Kosovo to EULEX mission.

Members of the NI work full-time in the force. They used to work two weeks and then have two weeks of regular police work, but as the need for them increased they changed it to full-time to cope with the demand and the need for more training. NI has around 50 members divided into 8 groups:

  • 2 assault groups (Alpha, Beta)
  • 2 support groups (Charlie, Delta)
  • 1 demolition group (Echo)
  • 1 sniper group (Fox)
  • 1 sniper support group (Golf)
  • 1 scuba divers group (Hotel)


The assault groups are mainly armed with various Heckler and Koch MP5 models and Sig-Sauer P228s for personal defense. The sniper support group uses the L96A1 7.62mm sniper rifle. Personal body armor is mostly from indigenous Swedish origin and has been battle proven, by Swedish soldiers who took part in UN missions.

Among their weapon arsenal, there are also assault rifles (G36) and various types of shotguns. According to pictures taken during US President Barack Obama’s visit to Stockholm in September 2013, NI also has the new Sako TRG M10 Sniper Weapon System in caliber .338 Lapua Magnum in their inventory.

Nationella insatsstyrkan (NI) uses special type of vehicles

Nationella insatsstyrkan (NI) uses special type of vehicles

The unit also distinguishes themselves from other Swedish police by a wide variety of uniforms, including standard Army woodland camouflage.

Training and selection

NI’s tactical training is not different from other West-European counter-terrorist teams. Most of their training exercise deal with urban hostage rescue. In addition to assaulters, they have a negotiation team that attempts to first gain the hostages’ release through peaceful means.

Part of their training is done with the Swedish armed forces. Several of the members are former members of elite military units, and the Nationella Insatsstyrkan is described by some as a paramilitary unit within the Swedish police force.

NI often train with the special forces unit of the Armed Forces, the Special Operations Task Group.

To be eligible for NI, the candidate is required to have at least 2 years of distinguished service in the police, a clean criminal record, and be able to pass a series of tests:

  • Physical stamina
  • Marksmanship
  • Non-predisposition for several types of phobias, such as fear of cramped spaces, heights or water
  • Psychological fitness
  • Deep interview
  • 10 days in the field

NI’s headquarters

They are based in Stockholm and under the direct control of the Prime Minister, who directs them in matters of terrorist actions against Sweden. If the armed response is used to free a hostage from the terrorists, it can only be ordered by the Prime Minister of Sweden or if the life of the hostage is in mortal danger. Transportation of NI members is carried out by the Swedish Air Force, or by other branches of the Services.

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