The Special Operations Battalion (Croatian: Bojna za specijalna djelovanja), or populary BSD was founded on 8 September, 2000 with merging of the Special Combat Skills Center from Šepurine and personnel from the 1st Croatian Guard Corps (1. hrvatski gardijski zdrug). Today, it is one of the most elite units of the Croatian Armed Forces, as well as being one of the best trained and equipped special forces units in the region.
The BSD members can be recognized by their green berets with unit badges on right side. Their symbol is snake, so they are sometimes referred as “Cobras” although their insignia shows Horned viper which is the most dangerous snake to be found in Croatia and in mainland Europe.
The Battalion is focused on infiltration and exfiltration 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 even the dangerous mid-air and sea 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
- Unconventional warfare behind enemy lines
- Counter-terrorism and hand-to-hand combat
- CSAR missions (Combat Search and Rescue)
- ISTAR missions (Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance)
- Humanitarian and peacekeeping operations
The Croatian General Staff exercises direct command over the battalion which thus elevated the unit to strategic level for quicker reaction and overall better and faster tactical and strategic situations. Also, this means that members of all three branches of the Croatian armed forces can apply for selection. Notably, it is one of the very few special forces units in the world that accept female candidates for selection. Several months ago, two female candidates became the first women to earn silver wings and green beret in Croatian military. They are among the very few female commandos in the world.
Structure of BSD
The BSD is composed of one command section and five companies, each specialized for a different variety of missions.
- Command Section – responsible for command, control and communications, supplies, medical personnel and transport
- 1st Special Operations Company – specialized for airborne and pathfinder operations
- 2nd Special Operations Company – specialized for mountain and winter operations
- 3rd Special Operations Company – specialized for seaborne and amphibious operations
- 4th Special Operations Company – specialized for urban and antiterrorist operations
- Fire Support Company – specialized for sniper and mortar training, also provides fire support with snipers to other three BSD companies
The unit is equipped with sophisticated equipment of US, German and Croatian origin like the H&K G-36 assault rifle, M4A1 Carbine SOPMOD assault rifle and the HS 2000 pistol. A new Croatian assault rifle VHS is currently being tested in the unit.
BSD members have been deployed on several peacekeeping missions in the world. Currently, BSD is engaged in ISAF and EUFOR Tchad/RCA missions.
There was some speculation in the Croatian media and amongst the public that BSD members are conducting combat missions in Afghanistan side-by-side with US Army Special Forces, in contravention of a Croatian parliament mandate for the ISAF mission, but this was dismissed by the Croatian Ministry of Defense.