Fw: Montenegro Police Trained By British Special Forces (SAS)

Macdonald Stainsby mstainsby at SPAMtao.ca
Tue Aug 1 00:33:07 MDT 2000

----- Original Message -----
From: <rrozoff at webtv.net>

The Independent (UK)

We have the heart for battle, says Montenegrin trained by SAS
By Phil Rees in Podgorica
30 July 2000
An officer from Montenegro's Special Police, the Spezijalni, has
described the role of the SAS in training the force. Tensions between
Montenegro and Serbia - the last republics remaining in the Yugoslav
federation - are likely to be stretched even nearer to breaking point
by the revelations.
The 15,000-strong force will be the front line of defence if the
Yugoslav president, Slobodan Milosevic, attempts to oust the separatist
Montenegrin president, Milo Djukanovic, and replace him with a leader
loyal to the union with Serbia.
The presence in Montenegro of the Seventh Battalion of the Yugoslav
army, which has been busy recruiting there, raises the prospect of a
bitter fratricidal war on Montenegrin soil between the pro- and
anti-Milosevic camps.
Sparked by Mr Djukanovic's increasing threats to break away, the Seventh
Battalion keeps an ever-watchful eye on its Montenegrin counterparts.
But British involvement in the republic, in the shape of the SAS, may
have escaped the gaze of the black-bereted recruits to the Yugoslav
The revelation comes amid an increasing sense of doom in Montenegro,
following the announcement by Mr Milosevic that he will seek re-election
as Yugoslav president in polls in late September. An internal EU
analysis recently predicted that Mr Milosevic would most probably win at
least another four years in office.
In the grounds of the Hotel Zlatica, now converted into a barracks on
the outskirts of Montenegro's capital, Podgorica, Velibor, 23, an
experienced officer in the Spezijalni, spoke of his time with the
British unit: "It was great. We learnt a lot. Some of the techniques
they use are different to ours."
The threat from fellow countrymen in the Seventh Battalion is treated
very seriously: "If somebody wants to harm our country, you have to
shoot him. It doesn't matter if it's your friend or your father or your
brother. My best friend - or he used to be, he joined the army and I
joined the police - told me 'brother, it's better for me to shoot you
because then you can't shoot me'."
Velibor stands well over 6ft tall, as do most of the officers in the
élite unit of the Special Police - seemingly in contrast to their
SAS tutors. "They told us 'You have very big guys here... we are all
small guys and we like to run, and you all like to lift weights.' We
were very strange to them."
The Special Police has a fierce reputation in Montenegro - its gung-ho
approach seemingly unsettling the SAS. "They thought we were crazy. When
two of us banged into a house and started shooting into walls, bullets
were flying around and they said 'Oh, it's a real gun, real bullets?
You're crazy guys, you don't have protection'. But we have a heart, we
don't have protection but we have a heart. A big heart."
The role of the SAS in Montenegro is highly sensitive, with the Special
Police seen as a challenge from inside Yugoslavia to Mr Milosevic. His
supporters have regularly claimed that "foreign forces" are arming and
training the Spezijalni. Montenegro's government officially denies any
involvement by foreign nations in the training or arming of the police.
The SAS training includes hostage rescue. A key scenario played out by
the anti-terrorist unit of the Spezijalni is how to react to an
attempted coup by forces loyal to Mr Milosevic.
The Seventh Battalion, all Montenegrin, whose largest contingent is
based near the northern town of Bijelo Polje, has been recruiting in
numbers for the past six months.
Ivan, a softly spoken man in his late thirties, fought for the Yugoslav
army during the wars that ripped Yugoslavia apart in the 1990s. He was
under the orders of Mr Milosevic then and would continue to follow his
orders now.
"If Djukanovic calls for a referendum or moves in any other violent way
towards independence, the Seventh Battalion will follow the orders of
the president. If there is a situation where weapons will decide the
outcome, we are ready. We are training for that."
Mr Djukanovic describes the Seventh Battalion as a "paramilitary force".
"Mr Milosevic has always formed groups with the aim of provoking
internal conflicts," he says.

Phil Rees presents 'Crossing Continents' on BBC Radio 4 on Thursday 3
August at 11am, and 'Correspondent' on BBC2 next Saturday at 6.50pm

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