K-Commando: An Elite Police Tactical Unit of Estonian Police

Author: Eric Sof

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K-Commando is a special commando unit from Estonia. They are a special commando unit mainly assigned to the Estonian Criminal Police. The tasks and activities of K-Commando are similar to FBI Hostage Rescue Team. They primarily deal with hostage situations, counter-terrorism, arrest and escort high-risk criminals, high-risk detention, searches, protection of Very Important Persons (VIP), and essential witnesses as witness protection programs. The unit is located in the capital of Estonia, Tallinn, and is directly under the control of the Minister of Internal Affairs of Estonia.

Assignments of K-Commando unit

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

  • Rescue of Hostages
  • tracking terrorist activities
  • security, transport, and disposal of particularly dangerous offenders and criminals
  • VIP protection and the protection of essential witnesses, witness protection program
K-Commando (K-Komando) insignia
K-Commando (K-Komando) insignia (Photo: Estonian Police)

The forming of the K-Commando

K-Commando was formed shortly after Estonia gained independence. That happened in 1991, as a direct response to crime and by the example of other countries in the region.

Headquarters

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

History

After centuries of being ruled by other countries (Denmark, Sweden, and Germany), Estonia gained independence in 1918. Still, they remained independent only until 1940, when they were again forcibly annexed by the former Soviet Union. After the fall of the Soviet Union (SSSR), Estonia regained its freedom once again. When the last foreign troops left Estonia, they could contact Western Europe and begin creating their security forces. In 2004, Estonia became a member of the NATO alliance and the member of the European Union.

Operators from the Estonian K-Commando, American FBI Hostage Rescue Team and Austrian EKO Cobra during the international exercise ATHOS 2016
Operators from the Estonian K-Commando, American FBI Hostage Rescue Team, and Austrian EKO Cobra during the international exercise ATHOS 2016 (Photo: XY)

After gaining independence, they started creating their security forces from the very beginning. Great support in forming special forces within the hierarchy was their cooperation with foreign powers, including agencies such as the FBI and their HRT (Hostage Rescue Team). Thus, in 1991, Estonia formed a special investigation unit known as the Estonian Criminal Police; later, it changed the name to K-Commando. The unit’s name was derived from its first Commander Lembit Kalkutija.

Organization

The K-Commando unit operates under the command of Keskkriminaalpolitsei, Central Criminal Police Office, and is directly responsible to the Minister of Interior. According to the estimates of officially unverified sources, the exact number of members serving in K-Commando is around 300 highly trained men.

In history, the unit operated under a 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). This often leads to confusion since the term is generally used for special military units, special forces, and a 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 they have the latest equipment mainly used by other special units. The unit arsenal is based on cooperation with other units within Estonia, both military and law enforcement. That gave them the ability to take the army armored personnel carriers on wheels, police helicopters, and, if necessary, the border police motor boats and speed boats.

Estonian police K-Commando operator
Estonian police K-Commando operator (Photo: XY)

Weaponry and Equipment

Estonia’s political development was also reflexed to the unit and their equipment, so they owned various mixture of Soviet and Western weapons, including:

Selection and Training

K-Commando is known for its high level of professionalism and excellent reputation. To become a member of this unit, candidates need to pass a wide range of tests, and upon completion of that, their applications are given to each member of the unit. The candidate is admitted to join the unit only after reaching a consensus. Like most other special police units, candidates need to spend a certain period on regular police jobs.

Estonian K-Commando operators during the tactical exercise ATHOS 2016
Estonian K-Commando operators during the tactical exercise ATHOS 2016 (Photo: Local News)

In training, K-Commando is very close to the German GSG 9 der Bundespolizei and the American FBI HRT. Their primary choice is Wing Tsun (EWTO) as a martial arts technique.

Quick facts

K-Commando
Country:Estonia
Agency:Police and Border Guard Board, Central Criminal Police
Active:1991 – Present
Motto:
Type:Police Tactical Unit
Role:Primary missions
  • Air assault
  • Close protection
  • Close-quarters combat
  • Cold-weather warfare
  • Counter-insurgency
  • Counter-terrorism
  • Direct action
  • EOD
  • High-value target
  • Hostage rescue
  • HUMINT
  • Jungle warfare
  • Law enforcement
  • Mountain warfare
  • Raiding Reconnaissance
  • Riot control
  • Special operations
  • Special reconnaissance
  • Undercover operation
  • Urban warfare

Other roles

  • Combat search and rescue
  • Personnel recovery
  • Search and rescue
Headquarters:Tallinn
Size:Classified (according to some unverified sources, around approx. 300 operators)
Notable operations:
  • 2011 Estonian Ministry of Defence attack
  • Bronze Night riots (2007)
Abbreviation:K-Komando
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