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Special Force Police
Specijalnih Jedinica Policije [SJP]
Special Purpose Police Units

The former Yugoslav Federal Secretariat for Internal Affairs controlled a federal paramilitary force, the People's Militia, which numbered more than 15,000 troops. This force operated numerous BOV-M armored vehicles equipped with machine guns, water cannons, smoke and tear gas launchers for crowd control and riot situations, armored personnel carriers, and helicopters. These internal security troops were well paid, heavily indoctrinated, experienced, and reliable. They could be deployed in times of political unrest or disorder when the local police were expected to side with the populace against federal authorities. The People's Militia provided security for the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo.

Currently, the Special Force Police are divided into battalions and brigades. Every region in Serbia has its own Special Force Police brigade, and Special police units are stationed in several barracks in Serbia [for instance in Kula]. The Belgrade Special Police Brigade isstationed in the former Yugoslav People's Army barracks in Volgina Street in Zvezdara, a Belgrade suburb. Special forces are known in Belgrade as Grmija 1 (a vacation area near Pristina) and Grmija 2.

These police forces have armored-mechanized units, and artillery and rocket units with multiple rocket launchers (at the "13 Maj" Police Station). Police forces have anti-aircraft guns, too, and 14 armored vehicles (wheeled and amphibians equipped with 14.5mm anti-aircraft guns), which were ready for action at the end of June 1997. It is estimated that there are a total of around 7,000 men in the Special Police Forces, but their numbers can quickly be expanded by recruiting new men from the regular police force. Special Police officers differ from the regular police in that their training is conducted every day, is more physically demanding and includes martial arts.

These Ministry of Internal Affairs Special forces are known as "red berets" -- which is especially insulting for the military "red berets" of the Special Forces Corps. The term "Red Berets" also applies [confusingly] to veterans of the war in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina who have ad-hoc limited-term contracts with the Ministry of Internal Affairs for special risk missions. These contract employees are also engaged as security agents for various agencies or as personal guards for important officials. It is claimed that these forces participated in the election rigging (for Martic) in Krajina, and that there are war criminals among them.

As the Serbian side found itself losing more and more in the wars in Croatia and Bosnia, an increasing number of the Serbian Ministry of Internal Affairs policemen were placed on temporary duty there in order to help. First they went there discreetly, with false names. Their operations were fully covered and they were paid well, but by the end, in the summer of 1995, they were leaving openly in large groups.

The war waged over recent years on the territory of the former Yugoslavia showed the importance of special units. This was the impetus for the establishment of the so-called special brigade in Serbia, whose members later became known as "Red Berets." The red berets were worn only during marches, not during clashes, since the bright red color would have given away a soldier's position. Good-quality equipment purchased in the West was characteristic of these were volunteer units, especially boots, costing over $200 per pair, which could endure long marches.

State Security Officer Franko "Frenki" Simatovic was the commander of the Special Forces of State Security of the Serbian Ministry of Internal Affairs. The "Red Berets" led by Simatovic and Raja Bozovic appeared in all stages of the war in the territory of former Yugoslavia, on various battlefields from Knin to Bihac. Vojislav Seselj's White Eagle and Arkan's SDG had operated jointly with the Red Berets from Serbia's Security Service when Zvornik was seized in 1992 and its population cleansed. Serbian police and Vojislav Seselj's forces also operated together in the Skelane area of eastern Bosnia, under the command of Obrad Stefanovic, Assistant Minister of Internal Affairs, and under that of his deputy, Simatovic.

During the campaign against Croatia in Western Slavonia, according to some claims, Milosevic personally prevented the use of the Luna missiles installed on Mt. Petrova Gora, via orders to Simatovic's Red Berets formations. In March 1995, Ivica Vuletic, a Serb national, was placed on trial on charges of torturing and liquidating Croatian wounded and civilians in Aljmas, Bijelo Brdo, Sarvas, and Vukovar, killing more than 50 people, in the fall of 1991, as a member of the "Red Berets" special-purpose volunteer paramilitary units.

Special Force Police are the mainstay of Serbian operations in Kosovo, and are equipped with armored vehicles supported by helicopters and heavy weapons. The Special Force Police and other MUP formations had some 20,000 members permanently stationed in Kosovo, a number that could quickly be doubled by the deployment of officers from other locales.

The Contact Group, made up of the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, and Russia, demanded the unconditional withdrawal of Serbian special police forces and Yugoslav Army forces from Kosovo. But Milosevic was not prepared to meet these demands, since this would have created conditions in which the KLA could easily take over Kosovo and proclaim independence.

As of mid-1998, several hundred policemen from the Serbian Ministry of Internal Affairs have refused to obey orders to go to Kosovo and enter the clashes with the Kosovo Liberation Army. Of these, some have resigned, and others have been suspended and disciplinary procedures started against them.

Republika Srpska [RS]

The "special brigade" of the Bosnian Serb police is a special purpose military formation, which means it is prepared for both peace and war conditions. The unit consists of nine detachments [odred] deployed evenly throughout the state, from Prijedor to Trebinje. This Special Brigade of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republika Srpska [RS] is the "second echelon" of former Republika Srpska President Radovan Karadzic"s security, in addition to Karadzic's personal bodyguards. The brigade was founded in 1991 with special agents of the then-Bosnia-Herzegovina Police, and its first action was at Vraca. Its first commander was Milenko Karisik, who would later become head of the Department of Public Security of the RS MUP, but he was soon replaced by Goran Saric Sara.

Saric is regarded as one of the "legendary commanders" in the Republika Srpska, because his unit participated in most of the most important battles during the war. The unit was among the few units in the RS who did not bear the working title "drunk Chetniks". Unlike the majority of the detachments formed during the war, they were disciplined, and Zeljko Raznatovic Arkan said that only they could measure up to his Serb Volunteer Guard. In some of the fighting those two units acted together. As of late 1995, the majority of the units were still on the front lines in Krajina. The unit's school in the Interior Ministry and training centers instructors produce personnel for our units, except for active army service, where the training is normal and performed by interior ministry specialists and instructors. The new members of the special unit go through a short period of adjustment immediately followed by combat tasks. The brigade is equipped with state-of-the-art weapons, ranging from artillery pieces to night-vision technology.

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Page last modified: 09-07-2011 13:27:33 ZULU