The Snow Wolf Commando Unit (Abbreviation: SWCU; Simplified Chinese: 雪狼突击队) is a special police unit of the People’s Republic of China (P.R.C.) tasked with counter-terrorism, riot control, and other special tasks such as anti-hijacking, and bomb disposal. The SWCU, along with the People’s Armed Police Beijing SWAT unit, is tasked with many of the security responsibilities of the 2008 Summer Olympics.
The SWCU and the Beijing SWAT unit were unveiled in a demonstration at the Beijing Police Academy in April 27, 2006 as part of a public relations effort to illustrate the capabilities of the People’s Armed Police to deal with terrorism issues, protection of delegates, and to enforce law and order in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Due to the highly-classified nature of their operations, the unit did not display any of their high-tech equipment nor perform particularly special small-unit tactics during their demonstration. Although they did co-participate with the SWAT team in storming a building during that demonstration.
Training and Selection
Only officers who have served in the People’s Armed Police for a period of 1 to 2 years are eligible to apply, after which they will be put through a process of interviews, physical and psychological tests and even a cultural examination.
The current average age (as of 2006) of SWCU officers is 22 years, as most of them entered the unit when they were about 18, thus making them amongst the youngest in the counter-terrorist community.
The officers who are eventually selected for the course go through an arduous period of physical training, vehicle driving lessons for various vehicles, weapons training, and various other tests.
Origin of the name
The Snow Wolf name was chosen because of the known tenacity of arctic wolves and their ability to survive (and thrive) in extremely harsh conditions, which is expected of SWCU officers.
Weapons and Equipment
The SWCU was shown in the demonstrations armed with the QBZ-95 series of rifles and QSZ-92 pistols, but they will most probably also be armed with a wide variety of sub-machine guns and other weapons. They may also employ other equipment typically associated with counter-terrorism.
The unit has spent about CNY 2 million (approximately US$ 254,000) in domestically manufactured armoured personnel carriers for riot-control and has also imported CNY 4 million worth of American manufactured vehicles and equipment.
Each SWCU officer is estimated to be outfitted with CNY 300,000 (approximately US$ 38,000) worth of equipment, including their body armour, communications equipment, etc.
The standard uniform layout has the arm patch sewn on the right arm, with the unit badge above the right breast pocket. The words “SPECIAL POLICE GRP” (Special Police Group) is embroidered on the right side of the tactical vest or body armour. It is interesting to note that this is a divergence from all the other P.R.C. uniformed units, which have their badges and patches embroidered on the left side of their uniforms instead