Special Operations Battalion (Albania)

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Special Operations Battalion
Batalioni i Operacioneve Speciale[1]
Forcat Speciale Shqiptare.svg
Special Operations Battalion insignia
Active16 October 1998 – Present[2]
CountryAlbania Albania
BranchAlbanian Armed Forces
TypeSpecial Forces
Nickname(s)The Unit
Motto(s)We better die for something than live for nothing[2]
ColorsMaroon
EngagementsKosovo War
Operation Iraqi Freedom
Operation Enduring Freedom
Commanders
Current
commander
Lieutenant colonel Ramadan Karakushi
Insignia
Right shoulder patchAlbanian special forces insignia.svg

The Special Operations Battalion (Albanian: Batalioni i Operacioneve Speciale)[1], commonly known as BOS is the main special forces unit of the Albanian Armed Forces. It is the most elite unit of the Albanian Army. The unit is tasked with special operations in wartime, and primarily with counter-terrorism in peacetime. The BOS members can be recognized by their maroon berets, and the unit insignia which is carried on the right sleeve of their uniforms.

History[edit]

The Special Operations Battalion was created in 1998 as a direct answer to the region's geopolitical situation. Shortly after their creation, teams of BOS operators were deployed along the Albanian-Yugoslav border during the Kosovo War in 1999 and later along the Albanian-Macedonian border during that country's war in 2001. During these two conflicts, BOS' main tasks were reconnaissance and long-range patrol. In 2002, BOS operators were deployed in Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. In Afghanistan, the first contingents operated under Turkish command and their tasks mainly dealt with patrolling the areas around Kabul. In 2004, Albania sent a unit from the Special Operations Battalion to Mosul as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The unit together with other units from the Commando Regiment were responsible for base security and perimeter defense. In July 2010, a detachment of 44 men (codenamed EAGLE 1) from the S.O.B led by Colonel Dritan Demiraj was deployed to Kandahar, Afghanistan. Differing from previous Albanian deployments, this detachment was directly involved in combat special operations. The unit worked closely with US military intelligence and was responsible for deep reconnaissance behind Taliban lines, as well as intelligence collection on High-value targets. This is the most decorated unit in AAF.

Recruitment, selection and training[edit]

All members of the Albanian land forces can be considered for special forces training. After applying, the candidates go through a 26-weeks selection process. During the first 12 weeks, the candidates are forced to march cross country against the clock, with increasing distances covered each day, culminating with a 27 km running with full kit in mountainous terrain. This is called the Commando phase.[3] In addition, the candidates have to go through marksmanship, navigation and physical endurance tests. During the last week of the selection process, the tests and marches go on for more than 24 hours without stopping. The candidates that are able to pass the selection process, then go through a 14-week-long training process in which they learn survival skills and master their shooting techniques. After that they undergo 4 weeks special operations and CQB course. For the final test, the candidates are left without food for 72 hours in a remote area of the country; their objective is to evade any possible pursuer and return to base undetected.

Commanders of note[edit]

  • Colonel Dritan Demiraj, Ph. D SOF Commander 2007-2013 (7 Years). He is the most awarded officer in AAF. He is awarded among other medals the Presidential "Medal of Honor" 2014, Presidential "Golden Eagle Medal" 2011. Presidential Medal "Grand Master of Sports" 2018, Medal as "The best military officer of Albanian Armed Forces on 100 Anniversary of Albanian State, November 28, 2012, Minister of Interior of Albania in 2017. He works as Professor of National Security in USA.
Albanian special operations forces soldier provides security as Afghan Border Police break ground on a checkpoint near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border in the Spin Boldak district of Kandahar province, Afghanistan, March 25, 2013.
Albanian special operations forces provide security for coalition forces at an Afghan Border Police checkpoint.

Equipment[edit]

  • Pistol and Submachine guns
Model Image Caliber Origin Note
Beretta Px4 Storm PX4Storm.jpg 9×19mm  Italy
FN Five-seven FN5704.jpg 5.7×28mm  Belgium
P12 Pistol HKUSP.png .45 ACP  Germany
Beretta 92 Beretta 92 FS.gif 9×19mm  Italy
HK MP7 Heckler & Koch MP7A1.jpg HK 4.6×30mm  Germany
HK UMP HKUMP45.JPG .45 ACP  Germany
Heckler & Koch SR9 HK SR9T Rifle.jpg 7.62×51mm  Germany
Heckler & Koch G36 G36 Select-Fire Carbine.JPEG 5.56×45mm  Germany
Beretta ARX 160 Beretta AR with thermal sight and grenade launcher.jpg 5.56×45mm  Italy
AKM AKM automatkarbin, Ryssland - 7,62x39mm - Armémuseum.jpg 7.62×39mm  Soviet Union
Heckler & Koch MG4 HK MG4 01.jpg 5.56×45mm  Germany
Heckler & Koch HK417 Heckler&Koch HK MR308 linke Seite.jpg 7.62×51mm  Germany
Sako TRG Sako TRG folding stock + Zeiss 3-12x56 SSG P.JPG .308 Winchester  Finland
Barrett M82 M82A1 barrett.jpeg .50 BMG  United States
RPG-7 RPG-7 detached.jpg 40 mm  Soviet Union

Vehicles[edit]

Aircraft

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Batalioni i Operacioneve Speciale, elita e FA, feston 10-vjetorin e krijimit të tij". Albanian Armed Forces (Press release) (in Albanian). 21 October 2008. Retrieved 14 September 2017.
  2. ^ a b Aguila, 1st Lt. Veronica (2 December 2012). "From the beginning: learning to give everything". U.S. Army. Retrieved 14 September 2017.
  3. ^ "Lufta për Beretën Vishnje". Revista Mapo (in Albanian). Archived from the original on 26 April 2012. Retrieved 29 July 2012.