Special Intervention Unit (SIU): A Kosovo’s prime counter-terrorism unit

Author: Eric Sof

Updated:

Kosovo’s Special Intervention Unit (SIU) is the prime counter-terrorism unit in the country. Its first origins inside the Kosovo police appeared in 2003, as the small unit was formed. The unit was called simply Special Unit. In the very beginning, it was organized as a standard SWAT unit with two teams of 15 police officers who two American instructors trained.

History

In March 2005, they were presented as an elite special force unit with primary counter-terrorism and hostage rescue tasks. A very tough candidate selection consisted of several tests, including physical fitness and drills. After the first selection ever, only 18 candidates from a 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 complex tests. 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 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 specific difficulties, the project of the national counter-terrorism unit was transformed into a SWAT team that was in the range of regular SWAT teams. The unit was named the FIT – First Intervention Team.

Kosovo's Special Intervention Unit (SIU) operators during the tactical training near their headquarters in Prishtina
Kosovo’s Special Intervention Unit (SIU) operators, during the tactical training near their headquarters in Prishtina (Photo: PK)

UNMIK’s French counterpart adopted the project. 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.

Special Intervention Unit (SIU) today

Today, SIU is supervised by EULEX (after UNMIK handed the task). They are training and shaping their skills through various joint training with Western instructors, including instructors from the 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 complete autonomy.

SIU Kosovo Police during the parade
Operators of SIU (Kosovo Police) during the parade (Photo: XY)

Quick facts

Special Intervention Unit
Country: Kosovo
Agency: Kosovo Police Service
Active: 2003 – present
Motto:
Type: Police Tactical Unit
Role: Counter-terrorism, Law enforcement
Headquarters: Prishtina
Size: approx. 100 operators
Notable operations:
Abbreviation: SIU
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