Troops from the US and Slovenia have trained a Serbian special anti-terrorism unit, known as the Specijalna Antiteroristicka Jedinica (SAJ).
The special operations forces provided training in tactical and technical capabilities to the anti-terrorism unit during joint combined exchange training (JCET) exercises conducted in the Goc Mountains of Serbia from 3-30 April this year.
A US Army 1st Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group detachment commander said: “Our special operations detachment is in Serbia to facilitate this JCET event with the SAJ.
“They handle internal threats, high-level criminals and escorting VIPs within Serbia.”
The training is expected to increase SAJ's effectiveness in future operations in rural environments, as well as military and civilian partner capacity.
The SAJ serves as a special operations and tactical unit of the Serbian police, the US Department of Defense stated.
SAJ commander Spasoje Vulevic said: “It is really important that we continue this joint training; this new knowledge will be included in our new standard operating procedures.
“Our previous JCET with the Navy SEALs focused on urban fighting and we learned new ways to deal with that, we followed that up with the [Army] Green Berets to cover tactical techniques in rural environments to round out this valuable skill set.”
According to the US Army lieutenant colonel Corey Shea, security concerns in and around Serbia have increased due to conflict between political groups in the Balkans.
Shea said: “Increases in tension in the region can lead to the greater likelihood of some sort of conflict or violence.
“It also gave us an opportunity to highlight to the Serbian population who are probably largely unaware that there is any cooperation between the US and Serbia in the field of counter-terrorism, and the senator’s visit allowed us to bring this to the public forum.”
The JCET also strengthens bilateral cooperation at the national level between the US and Serbia.
The US will also provide more than $7m in military support to Serbia in fiscal 2017, including more than 100 bilateral engagements between the US and Serbian militaries and civil authorities.
Image: A Serbian special anti-terrorist unit officer runs to the first station of a shooting exercise during joint combined exchange training with US and Slovenian special operation forces. Photo: courtesy of Army photo by Spc. Simeon Trombitus.