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    EKAM: The Hellenic Special Suppressive Antiterrorist Unit

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    The Ειδική Κατασταλτική Αντιτρομοκρατική Μονάδα (EKAM) otherwise known as the Special Suppressive Antiterrorist Unit, is the Greek counterterrorism unit of the Hellenic Police. 

    EKAM’s motto is: (Source)

    “Always ready…..…always there…… no mission too difficult…….no sacrifice too great”

    EKAM Operators

    1. History

    EKAM was formed in 1978 when the two Greek police forces (the Hellenic Gendarmerie and the City Police) both created their own counterterrorism units: Special Missions Department (TEIDA) and the Special Missions Unit (MEA). The creation of these units was inspired by the events of the Munich Massacre like most other European counterterrorism units’ origins.

    EKAM, as we know it today, is a product of TEIDA and MEA merging in 1984 and has grown over the years, in numbers particularly when Greece hosted the 2004 Olympic Games. (Source) The unit was assisted by the granddaddy of counterterrorism units the British Special Air Service (SAS) and the German Gretzschultzgruppe 9 (GSG9). (Source)

    Furthermore, EKAM is an active member of the ATLAS Network, taking part in counterterrorism operations and exercises throughout Europe. This allows EKAM to hone their skills in tandem with some of the most elite intervention forces in the world. (Source) The unit is famous for its high level of training and ability to face challenges. Moreover, the unit has a long history of participating in combating organised crime in Greece as well. (Source) EKAM usually takes part in the following operations: (Source)

    • Counterterrorism and organised criminal attacks
    • Hostage Rescue/hostage Situations
    • The arrest of dangerous or mentally disordered armed or barricaded individuals
    • Countering attacks utilising weapons of mass destruction, such as those outlined as part of Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN)
    • Bus, train and plane hijackings
    • Armed kidnappings
    • VIP protection
    • Rescue operations in response to natural disasters

    2. Organisation of EKAM

    The unit is currently made up of around 200 members. (Source) These are mainly based in Athens but also spread across most of Greece’s major cities. EKAM 1, based in Markopoulo, Attica and EKAM 2 is based in Thessaloniki.

    The organisational breakdown is: (Source)

    • Special Intervention teams
    • CBRN specialists
    • Snipers
    • Breachers
    • Paratroopers
    • Divers
    • Climbers/rappelers
    • Skiers
    • Medics
    • Dog Handlers
    EKAM Operators
    EKAM Operators, Credit Tamas Giriti Pinterest

    2.1 Selection and Training:

    Selection and training for EKAM is understandably tough as it aims to ensure only the best candidates proceed. Officers have to have been on the Hellenic Police force for several years before being considered for selection. Cadets have to possess superior physical stamina and marksmanship and undergo psychological tests. Finally, candidates go on a multi-month-long training program to weed out those not suitable. (Source)

    Furthermore, EKAN training takes place in locations such as the Athens International Airport, Athens Metro and sections of the Port of Piraeus so the unit is familiarised with potential areas of operation.. In addition, EKAM regularly receives training from the Greek Army Ranger Wing. Moreover, the unit is in constant cooperation with other special intervention units abroad, such as the FBI HRT, SAS and GIGN.

    3. Equipment

    The Equipment used by EKAM is naturally high quality and the best the Greek State can provide. They utilise small arms comprising various European manufacturers, but also some Russian systems. A breakdown is: (Source) (Source)

    Pistols:

    • Glock 21
    • SIG Sauer P229
    • FN Five-seven
    • Ruger GP100
    • CZ75

    Assault Rifles:

    • Colt M16A4
    • Colt M16A2
    • Colt M4A1
    • Heckler and Koch G3A3
    • Izhmash AK47

    Submachine Guns:

    • Heckler and Koch MP5 ( various models used)
    • Heckler and Koch UMP
    • FN Herstal P90
    • FN Herstal Uzi
    EKAM Operators with MP5’s

    Machine Guns:

    • FN Herstal MAG

    Shotguns:

    • Remington 870
    • Benelli M4 Super 90
    • Molot Vepr-12

    Sniper Rifles:

    • Heckler and Koch G3SG
    • Accuracy International Arctic Warfare
    • Knight Armament Company SR25
    • Kefefs Version P

    Other Equipment:

     EKAM works in tandem with Greek special forces giving them access to various models of helicopters for aerial insertion. Such as: (Source)

    • Super Puma 
    • S-70 Seahawk

    Furthermore, the latest ground vehicle to be utilised by EKAM is the Typhoon GSS-300 Mine Resistant Ambush Protected which grants the unit unparalleled protection. (Source)

    Typhoon GSS-300 MRAP Credit Elinikos-Stratos

    4. Notable Operations of EKAM

    EKAM has been involved with several high-profile operations since its founding. Because of its membership in the ATLAS Network, they work closely with Europol. (Source)

    4.1 Dismantling of ELA and November 17th movements

    Throughout 2002 and 2003, the unit played a large role in the arrests and escorts of members of the ELA (Revolutionary People’s Struggle) and the November 17th movements: Two formally active militant left-wing terrorist organisations in Greece. They had been targeting Turkish, Greek, American, and British nationals. (Source)

    4.2 Turkish Aeroplane Hijacking

    In March 2003, a man hijacked a plane travelling in Turkey and forced it to head to Athens. In a successful operation, EKAM operatives stormed the plane and tasered the hijacker, releasing all hostages unharmed. (Source) Furthermore, this came at a time where Turkish aeroplanes had suffered a series of hijackings over the previous years, putting the unit in the spotlight.

    EKAM storming a plane, Credit Tamas Giriti Pinterest

    4.3 Arrest of Panagiota (Paula) Roupa

    In 2017, EKAM arrested the leader of the ELA, who had been on the run since 2012 and was Greece’s most wanted terrorist. They considered her extremely dangerous and therefore EKAM was perfect for the job. Moreover, she has now been sentenced to a life sentence plus 25 years because of her arrest at EKAM’s hands. (Source)

    4.4 Albanian Manhunt

    After 11 Albanian prisoners injured guards and escaped from Greek jail in March 2013, EKAM played a large role in the manhunt. This would result in most prisoners being apprehended in July 2013, with three of them mortally wounded by EKAM. Therefore, demonstrating their ability to support the police with dangerous situations that ordinary police will not be well equipped or trained enough to deal with. (Source)

    5. Summary:

    EKAM is a highly capable counterterrorism force and will continue to be an asset to the Greek State in combating organised crime as well. Furthermore, because of its position as a member of the ATLAS Network, it will likely operate on cross-European lines in its future endeavours.

    Aidan Hickey
    Aidan Hickey
    Aidan is a Third Year War Studies Student at King's College London with a keen interest in the Middle-East and Insurgency.

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