WASHINGTON — U.S and Slovenian special operations forces participated in joint combined exchange training, or JCET, exercises to train the Serbian anti-terrorism unit in Belgrade, Serbia, according to the U.S. Defense Department.
Specijalna Antiteroristicka Jedinica, the Serbian anti-terrorism unit also known by the acronym SAJ, worked with U.S. and Slovenian forces to enhance the tactical and technical capabilities of the unit from April 3-30.
"Our special operations detachment is in Serbia to facilitate this JCET event with the SAJ," a detachment commander for the 1st Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group said. "They handle internal threats, high-level criminals and escorting VIPs within Serbia."
Serving as the special operations arm of the Serbian police, the SAJ specializes in urban operations. The JCET provided the SAJ with the opportunity to train in a rural environment — a skill set necessary to combat the growing threat of terrorism in Serbia's rural areas.
"A lot of the criminals are located inside Belgrade, but they are finding safe haven out in the woods," the U.S. commander said. "We want to teach the SAJ the ability to target, recon a house or compound in a rural environment and perhaps set up a raid, while teaching them the rules associated with that. You go there to show a positive presence, that the police are here to clean up, not add to the mess."
The chief of the Office of Defense Cooperation at the U.S Embassy in Serbia has reported that tension between political groups in the Balkans has raised security concerns in and around the European country, according to U.S. Army Lt. Col. Corey Shea.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., visited the SAJ headquarters on April 10 to observe the training.
"As I travel through Southeastern Europe, my message is simple: the United States' commitment to a Europe whole, free and at peace, is ironclad," McCain said in a news release. "I hope future cooperation like this will deepen our security relationship and help to enhance the Serbian military's interoperability with U.S. forces."
Mackenzie Wolf is an editorial intern for Military Times.