The Special Operations Battalion (Croatian: Bojna za specijalna djelovanja), or popularly BSD was founded on 8 September 2000 when the Special Combat Skills Center from Šepurine and the 1st Croatian Guards Brigade (Croatian: 1. hrvatski gardijski zdrug, a component of the 1st Croatian Guards Corps) were amalgamated. Today, it is the most elite units of the Croatian Armed Forces, as well as being the best trained and equipped special forces units in the region. It, along with other Croatian Special Forces units, has the unique benefit in the region of having a command cadre with victorious combat experience in a full-scale war.
The BSD members can be recognized by their green berets with unit badges over the right eye. Their symbol is a snake, so they are sometimes referred as "Cobras" although their insignia shows a Horned viper which is the most dangerous snake to be found in Croatia and in mainland Europe.
The Battalion is focused on airborne assault as well as operations behind enemy lines with insertion from land, air or sea. However, unlike most special forces in the world, the Battalion is also trained in non-combat search and rescue of civilians and providing aid as well as dealing with natural disasters. The unit is equipped with the most sophisticated weapons and equipment available, and trained to undertake the full range of special ops missions and even the dangerous mid-air, aircraft-to-aircraft operations. Personnel are trained for:
Combat operations on land, air and sea on all types of terrains and all weather conditions
Deep battlefield infiltration by land, air and sea
The Croatian General Staff exercises direct command over the battalion which thus elevated the unit to strategic level for quicker response time and overall better and faster deployment on both tactical and strategic levels. Also, this means that members of all three branches of the Croatian armed forces can apply for selection. In 2008, two women successfully completed selection and training, earning their green berets and making the BSD one of the few special forces units in the world that have women among their ranks as combat qualified operators and not just support staff.
There was some speculation in the Croatian media and amongst the public that BSD members are conducting combat missions in Iraq side-by-side with US Army, in contravention of a Croatian parliament mandate for the United Nations mission, but this was dismissed by the Croatian Ministry of Defense.