Kosovo’s Special Intervention Unit (SIU)

Special Intervention Unit (SIU) operators brandishing their weapons and gear
Special Intervention Unit (SIU) operators brandishing their weapons and gear (Photo: PK)

The Kosovo’s Special Intervention Unit (SIU) is the major 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 were trained by two American instructors.

History

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 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 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 the national counter-terrorism unit was transformed into a SWAT team that was in the range of regular SWAT teams. The unit was named as 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)

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.

Special Intervention Unit (SIU) today

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 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 the full autonomy.

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