Belgian Special Operations

Directorate of Special Units (DSU)

The Directorate of Special Units (DSU) is the Belgian Federal Police’s Counter-Terrorism unit. Until 2001 the unit was known as the SIE (also outside of Belgium, Dutch: Speciaal Interventie Eskadron) or ESI (French: Esquadron Spécial d’Intervention, also known as Groupe Interforces Antiterroriste). The unit’s former name was Diane, but it is still commonly referred as groep Diane. The DSU is deployed in cases of terrorism, kidnappings, hostage takings and other forms of serious crime. In major terrorist operations outside of the country the DSU would be replaced by the Belgian Army Special Forces Group. As said the unit’s commander Eric Liévin, “a criminal dealing with the SIE, has a better chance of surviving than another; they try to use a minimal level of violence/force, and yet try to attain a maximum level of efficiency.”


The original DSU was created in the aftermath of the Munich massacre. In 1974 the name was changed from Diane to SIE. The DSU consists of an intervention unit, observation unit and a technical unit all stationed in the Police caserne in Etterbeek, also the home of the Police Cavalry units and part of the general reserve. The unit believed to employ about 50 officers, all of which have a background as a sharpshooter. Overall control of the DSU lies with the Ministry of Internal Affairs, but depending on circumstances the unit can be deployed under operational control of the Ministry of Justice. Prior to 1994 the unit was commanded by the Ministry of Defense. Weapons in use include, among others, Glock 17 9mm pistols, Heckler & Koch MP5 9mm submachine guns, FN P90 5.7mm submachine guns, Remington 870 12 gauge shotguns, Accuracy International Arctic Warfare 7.62mm sniper rifles, Heckler & Koch HK69 40mm grenade launcher and FN 303 less lethal launcher.

There also exist two more specialized units, one team has six trained police dogs for detecting the presence of explosive materials or ammunition, the other one is the Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) team, which was created in 1978, when a gas truck exploded in a Spanish campsite, killing thirty-eight Belgians.

Four decentralized peletons of the DSU exists in Antwerp, Ghent, Charleroi and Liege, the so-called POSA (Protection, Observation, Support, Apprehension) units.

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