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GREEK SPECIAL FORCES OUTLOOK Print E-mail

Michaletos Ioannis
(RIEAS Junior Analyst on Balkan Studies and Organized Crime)

Copyright: www.rieas.gr

1) DYK

Dioikisy Ypovrixion Kastrofon (meaning Underwater Demolition Command) is the Greek Navy's special warfare unit. DYK is divided into four detachments, or OYKs (Omada Ypovrihion Katastophon).

DYK has four main missions:
A) Infiltration and sabotage of enemy shipping and bases
 
B) Reconnaissance and pre-landing beach clearance and designation
Ordinance disposal

C) Maritime Counter-Terrorism
 
Created in 1957, DYK's initial cadre consisted of two naval officers. The men were sent to Little Creek Amphibious Base near Norfolk, Virginia; where both men undertook the US Navy UDT/R training (the forerunner to today's BUD/S course). Upon completion of training, the two men returned home and trained an additional dozen men. This group was assigned to the Greek Navy's amphibious operations command.
In 1959 the unit established its own headquarters and training facilities at Skaramanga Naval Base, but additional training was provided my detachments of USN SEALS and UDT personnel. In 1970 the unit underwent reorganization and is currently composed of 110 men divided into four operational detachments and a headquarters unit. Each Detachment is composed of 25 men and specializes in a certain type of mission:

OYK1- unconventional warfare/ intelligence missions
 
OYK2- unconventional warfare/ intelligence missions

OYK3- beach recon and hydrographic survey

OYK4- conducts EOD operations

There is also a reserve OYK called OYK5 that would be activated during wartime.

The DYK training course lasts approximately seven months in the SYK (Scholeio Ypovrichion Katastrofon) which translates as “Underwater demolition school.”
Training is divided into three phases, with the completion of the course consisting of a five day long "hell week". Candidates who successfully complete the course go on to attend the Greek Airborne course before being assigned to their unit. During the past few months there has been a reshuffled of the training program that according to latest information now lasts nine months with a sufficient probation and pre-training period.

During the Gulf War I, two OYKs tasked with enforcing the UN embargo against Iraq managed to board and search an astounding 217 ships. They are armed with M-16A2 and MP-11 assault rifles, the MP-5 submachine gun, and the MG-3 7.62 light machine gun.
Moreover the Greek Navy Seals were continuously activated during the 90’s and up to date in the various navy patrols as designated by NATO in the Adriatic Sea, Eastern Mediterranean and the Arab Sea.

Moreover in 1997 during the Albanian revolt, the OYK were assigned along with the Greek Navy to assist in the repatriation of Greek citizens and the safe exit of hundreds of foreign ones.  Throughout the turbulent period in Albania the Navy Seals performed missions to secure domestic Waters from pirate action and attacks from heavy armed contraband vessels.

Lastly in the period of the Lebanese war, August 2006, Greek OYK was assigned to accompany the Greek frigates and support the safe departure of foreign citizens from Beirut via Cyprus.

2) ETA

The Greek Army maintains a number of elite units within its ranks. One of the most highly trained, and secretive, of these units is the Army's Eidiko Tmima Alexiptotiston, or E.T.A. The E.T.A. (Special Parachute/Airborne Unit) was formed in 1959, as a Long Range Recon Patrol (LRRP) type unit, and is tasked with conducting operations similar to US Special Forces or British SAS units. Some of these missions include: strategic reconnaissance, direct action raids, and sabotage missions.
Very little information about the units training, organization, or operations has been released publicly. What little is known is that it's composed of carrier officers and NCO's. ETA's troops undergo some of the most extensive and grueling training within the Greek armed forces. In addition to completing training at the Army's KEAP (Kentro Ekpedefseos Anorthodoxou Polemou -Unconventional Warfare Training Center), SERE, and parachute courses, ETA operators have also attended the Greek Navy's MYK course, and the NATO International Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol School in Germany. ETA operators have conducted joint training exercises similar type units from allied NATO countries, excluding Turkey. One of the most known international exercises is the “Olympus” one usually held in Northern Greece once every three years.
Furthermore ETA has been extensively trained during the pre-Olympic games period in urban warfare, along with the respective American and British Special Forces. Nowadays an urban warfare training installation has been created in Kilkis- Northern Greece where these kinds of exercises are being held regularly.
 ETA has been reported to have been deployed in Somalia -1991, Bosnia-1995, Albania -1997, Kosovo-1999, FYROM- 2001 and Afghanistan-2001, in all cases as a part of the international peace-keeping forces. ETA units may possibly be active in the Republic of Cyprus.
ETA is known to use the US produced M-16 assault rifle, M-4 carbines, M-203 40 mm grenade launcher, and Belgian produced Minimi (US M-249 5.56 mm) light machine gun.

3) EKAM

The Eidikes Katastaltikes Antitromokratikes Monades or EKAM is the Special Forces unit force of the Greek Police.

The EKAM was formed in 1978 when the first two antiterrorist units within the two Police Divisions were created at that time (The Hellenic Gendarmerie and the Hellenic Urban Police). In 1984 both divisions were united into a single body, the Hellenic Police. Thus a single antiterrorist squad was officially activated.

Originally the unit compromised of 150 men but when Greece became the host country of the Olympic Games of 2004 their number was increased to 200 after reassessing the needs for the magnitude of the event. The training for the Olympic Games included cooperation with the French, American, British, German, Spanish, Australian, Russian, Italian and Israeli police Special Forces.
The EKAM force is based in Athens, but have several detachments spread throughout Greece's major cities. Each officer is a full time member who must have at least five years on the force before being allowed to try out. Their main weapons are the HK MP-5 and HK 9mm class pistol. Many receive training from the Greek Army's Ranger School before going on to the police counter-terrorism school. EKAM officers are trained in shipboard and aircraft assaults as well as the normal bus and train assaults. They are also tasked with stopping smuggling into and out of this island nation.

4) 31st Special Operations Squad

 The 31 Moira Eidikon Epihiriseon or 31st S.O.S is the SOF unit if the Greek Air force and it is based in the Elefsina airport in Southern Attica. Their responsibilities include mainly the Search & Rescue Missions for missing airmen, as well as, various activities that include the safety of air force installations and cooperation with the other SOF in the Greek military system.
The 31st S.O.S was created in 1998 following the international paradigm of NATO and the major air forces in the world. During the past decade they have performed rescues across the Greek territory, participated in NATO exercises in various European locations and played a vital role during the full activation of the Greek Air force in the Olympic games-2004.

Their main activities are:

Search and Rescue missions
Protection of airfields and air force installations
Protection of Air force missions domestically and internationally
Participation in humanitarian aid missions
Military VIP protection
Construction of first aid systems in case of emergencies

5) K.E.A

The past two decades the Klimakia Eidikon Apostolon (Special Operations Units) of the Hellenic Coast Guard has operated in the Greek Archipelagos. They were especially occupied with counter-terrorist security preparations and presence during the Athens 2004 Olympics, along with the increasing frequency of gun battles with organized crime along Greek borders. The above have resulted in raising their profile in the wider public. In the 1980s the emergence of terrorism, especially the cruise ship Achille Lauro hijacking (1985), the City of Poros terrorist incident (1988) and the better-armed organized crime, led the Hellenic Coast Guard leadership to recognize the need for special units who would be trained and equipped to meet the new challenges. In the late 80’s the first units were formed 1987 with mostly antiterrorist activities.
The Greek Ministry of Merchant Marine is the commanding directorate for this special unit. The recruitment mostly includes ex-special forces personnel from either the Army or the Navy. They select the best of these personnel during a three-month rigorous training program that simulates the difficult conditions of their service. Afterwards, a unit member can count on advanced SOF schooling throughout their career from a wide variety of both military and police schools, foreign and domestic.

They will normally be assigned to numerous Special Operational Detachments (SOD), which are scattered around Greece’s many entrance points and their total strength is calculated at some 300 men. During the past few years a modernization scheme of their armaments and equipment came to effect.
Specialization within this unit includes: Sniper, amphibious, VIP protection, and serious crimes team.

Standard team equipment includes MP-5 or sonic suppressed MP-5SD 9 mm submachine guns, M16 and M203 5.56mm rifles with 40 mm grenade launchers, Glock 17-18 and USP Compact 9 mm pistols, Benelli short stock rifles, and Belgian 5.56 mm light and 7.62 mm medium machine guns. Special Operations Team RHIB (rigid hulled inflatable boat) boats are fast, well-equipped with bright white and infrared lights, surface radar, a variety of communications gear and bristling with machine guns up to .50 calibers Browning. For fighting against high-speed infiltrations (50 knots), the team’s use their Swedish-built Combat Boat 90H –Dragon type- which can carry up to 21 armed personnel and up to 4.5 tons of cargo while cruising at 45+ knots.

Teams in the in the Corfu Channel principally combat narcotics and arms trafficking against a highly organized opponent. All team members who have worked this area consider it a constant combat zone with high-volume firepower exchanges possible at any time. The SMU’s only acknowledged loss, 25 year-old Marinos Zambatis, was killed in action during one of these battles.

Patrolling their western borders further south brings them into contact with the classic contraband smugglers (mostly cigarettes and small arms) and of course, illegal aliens of all types. Over the past decade there is considerable tension because of the illegal immigration smuggling in the island area of Dodecanese in South Eastern Greece.

Greece is traditionally a maritime state. Even today, nearly 25 percent of international maritime fleet is Greek-owned. Moreover Greece’s numerous islands and long stretches of rugged coastline have long encouraged small boat trade and commerce. Today, Greece itself is a maritime crossroad between Eastern Mediterranean –Adriatic Sea and the main entrance to the Balkan Peninsula. Therefore the strategic role of such Special Units can be easily understood in relation to the combating of worldwide criminal networks

HISTORICAL OUTLINE

Since the early 1950’s the structure and organization of Greek Special Forces have gone through many stages to end up in their present form:

In 1955 the Parachute School was established in Aspropyrgos area-South of Attica- where it is operating today.

In 1956 the Special Units Training Center was moved from Vouliagmeni to Nea Peramo (Megalo Pefko) and renamed Special Forces Training Center (ÊÅÅÄ).

In 1957 Commando Forces Directorate in HQ and Commando Directorate in Army Corps were scraped and Commando Directorate in Army HQ was formed with responsibility to construct Commando Forces Tactical HQ in Thessalonica. The Experimental Commando Units Center in Aspropyrgos was formed.

In 1959 the Special Parachute Unit was form in Parachute School.

In 1961 the Mountain Warfare & Alpine Training Center was form in Mt Olympus in place of Alpine Training Center in Mt Bermio.

In 1962 Commando Forces Tactical HQ was renamed in 1st Commando Forces Tactical HQ 1ç ÔÄ/ÄÊ

In 1963 the Parachute School was reorganized in Parachute Detachment with combat responsibilities. The Commando Training Center of Ã’ Army Corps was disbanded and Unconventional Warfare Training Center (ÊÅÁÐ). The Ã’ Commando Unit regrouped into Ã’ Amphibious Commando Unit (Ã’ ÌÁÊ).

In 1965 1st and 2nd Parachute Units were formed and the 2nd Commando Forces Tactical HQ (2ç ÔÄ/ÄÊ) was placed in charge. The 480 Signals Battalion was reorganized and Parachute Detachment was named again Parachute School.

 In 1967 1st Commando Forces Tactical HQ was renamed to 1st Commando Regiment with Â’, Ã’ and Å’ Commando Units and 2nd Commando Forces Tactical HQ into 2nd Parachute Regiment with 1st and 2nd Parachute Units

 In 1968 Á’ Amphibious Commando Unit was formed under Commando Directorate in Army HQ

 In 1976 32nd Marines Regiment was place under Commando Directorate in Army HQ

 In 1978 Commando Directorate in Army HQ was split in Special Forces Directorate in Army HQ and 3rd Special Forces Special Division with renaming all units Special Forces

 In 1988 3rd  Special Forces Special Division was scraped and 32nd Marines Brigade and 13th Amphibious Commando Regiment formed with the later including Á’ Amphibious Commando Unit and Ã’ Amphibious Commando Unit.

 In 1997 Z’ Amphibious Commando Unit was formed as a rapid response unit and the Special Parachute Unit was placed under 13th Amphibious Commando Regiment

 In 1998 the total of Greek Special Forces was placed under 2nd Army Corps as part of Rapid Response Force.

In 1998 the 31st Special Operation Squad of the Air force became operational

 In 2001 13th Amphibious Commando Regiment regrouped into Special Forces Brigade and renamed 13th Special Operations Directorate.

During 2001-2004 full-time preparations began in all Greek SOF for the Olympic Games. The result was the upgrade of their combat capabilities and their ever closer cooperation with other allied SOF. . The MYK force also became subject under the authority of the Fleet Naval Command.

In 2006 the new training scheme was initiated in MYK units.

Since 1942 and the first official Greek Special Operations Force , the “Ieros Lochos” –Sacred Squad- The Greek SOF have been deployed in action officially in the areas below:
North Africa: 1942-1944
Italy: 1943-1945
Greece (Civil war): 1946-1949
Korea: 1950-1953
Zaire: 1961
Cyprus: 1964
Greece (Military coup d’état): 1967
Cyprus: 1974
Adriatic Sea: 1991
Arab Sea: 1990
Somalia: 1991
Bosnia: 1995
Eastern Mediterranean: 1995
Albania: 1997
Kosovo: 1999
Afghanistan: 2001
Arab Sea: 2001
Eastern Mediterranean: 2001
Greece (Olympic Games activation): 2004
Offshore Lebanon: 2006
Congo: 2006

Since their formation Greek SOF’s have participated in exercises, training, humanitarian missions, and miscellaneous non active or combat missions in numerous worldwide regions.i.e.

USA, Turkey, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Rumania, Bulgaria, Albania, Portugal, Egypt, Oman, Kuwait, Ukraine, Georgia, FYROM, Serbia, Austria, Sudan, UK, Netherlands, Norway, Slovenia.

Countries with which Greek Special Forces have cooperated or signed defense agreements include:

USA, UK, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Belgium, Canada, Spain, Cyprus, Armenia, Bulgaria, Rumania, Serbia, Albania, Georgia, France, Israel , Australia, New Zealand
Sources and readings:

1) www.mod.gr   Greek ministry of Defense

2) www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hellenic_Army        Greek Army history

3) http://rocchio.syr.edu/data/ORION/counterterr-orgs.Greece.myk.html  Source on the Navy Special Forces

4) http://www.specwarnet.net/europe/myk.htm Source on the Navy Special Forces

5) http://www.hellenicnavy.gr/department0_en.asp  Presentation of the DYK Command


6) http://www.specencyclopaedia.com/web/continents/Europe/Greece/SOF/ETA/eta.shtml  Source on the ETA Special Corps

7) http://twin.customer.netspace.net.au/raid02.html Source on the ETA Special Corps

8) http://www.ladlass.com/intel/archives/010962.html  Source on the ETA Special Corps

9) http://specencyclopaedia.com/forum/showthread.php?p=217&posted=1  Source on the Police EKAM Force

10) http://www.ydt.gr/main/Section.jsp?SectionID=938  Presentation of the Police EKAM Force

11) http://www.prnewswire.co.uk/cgi/news/release?id=100343  Source on the Police EKAM Force

12) http://leav-www.army.mil/fmso/sof/issues/summer01.htm  Police Special Forces

13) http://www.yen.gr/yen.chtm?prnbr=28435 Presentation of the Coast Guard Special Forces

14) http://www.special-operations-technology.com/article.cfm?DocID=1177 Coast Guard Special Forces

15) http://www.haf.gr/el/structure/units/day/units/31mee.asp  Presentation of Air Force Special Unit

16) http://herbertholeman.com/para/units/greece.php  General information on Greek Special Forces

17) http://forcesspeciales.free.fr/WORLDSPECIALFORCES.htm  General information on Greek Special Forces

18) http://www.sfahq.com/International/Europe/Southern/Greece/index.html     General information on Greek Special Forces

19) http://www.photius.com/countries/greece/national_security/greece_national_security_special_security_for~228.html       General information on Greek Special Forces

20) http://www.photius.com/countries/greece/national_security/index.html     General information on Greek Security system

21) www.fas.org/irp/crs/RS21833.pdf     Olympic Games and Greek Special Forces

22) www.fletcher.tufts.edu/jebsencenter/topics-archive.shtml      Olympic Games and Greek Special Forces

23) www.msnbc.msn.com/id/5490540       Olympic Games and Greek Special Forces

24) www.ydt.gr/main/Section.jsp?SectionID=12757&LanguageID=2   Olympic Games and Special operations security

25) www.afsouth.nato.int/JFCN_Images/2004/Destined_Glory04/DG04p5.htm      Greek Special Forces international training

26) www.nato.int/multi/photos/2005/m050520a.htm    Greek Special Forces international training

27) www.rpfrance-otan.org/article.php3?id_article=431   Greek Special Forces international training

28) www.greekembassy.org/Embassy/content/en/Article.aspx?office=1&folder=867&article=15396      Greek Special Forces operations

29) www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/06/24/1056449247835.html    Greek Special Forces operations

30) www.homelandsecurityus.net/ports%20and%20maritime%20terrorism/nato_says_hunting_20.htm      Greek Special Forces operations

31) www.news24.com/News24/Gallery/Home/0,,galleries-1-154,00.html    Greek Special Forces operations

32) www.manilatimes.net/national/2006/aug/26/yehey/world/20060826wor1.html   Greek Special Forces operations

 


 

 

 


 
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