The Colombian Army activated the Urban Special Forces (SF) Battalion N7 in Medellin, Department of Antioquia, on May 17, in an effort to counter organised crime across the region.
The new unit, which is integrated into the armys 7th Division, has a strength of close to 250 men and is tasked with covering the region of the Aburra Valley, according to a statement from the Colombian General Command of Military Forces (CGFM).
The new battalion will perform operations to counter criminal activity in the city of Medellin and the whole Department of Antioquia. Its duties will include capturing or neutralising identified organised crime leaders, according to the CGFM.
Under Government of Antioquia plans, the new SF unit will work in coordination with National Police forces in areas where security forces presence is needed.
This new fusion strategy between army and police forces is being implemented as part of a new series of efforts to tackle crime in Antioquia.
According to the CGFM, the battalion has a number of vehicles, including high powered motorbikes. The main individual weapon used by the troops is the IWI Tavor TAR-21 bullpup assault rifle with Meprolight MEPRO M21 reflex sights.
The personnel serving in the unit were selected from troops which have undertaken several specialist training courses, including the Lancero jungle warfare course, parachute course, urban manoeuvres course and land special forces course.
As detailed by the CGFM, prior to the activation of the battalion, its personnel underwent a rigorous preparation with training in urban combat, close quarter battle and hostage rescue, reaction and precision shooting at close range, rappelling and fast roping as part of heliborne air assault operations, and sharpshooting.
Under the Colombian militarys organisation, most Special Forces units fall under the authority of the Joint Special Operations Command (CCOES). However, a few units remain under the control of their parent force.
The new Urban SF Battalion N7 is currently under army control, although as one Colombian Special Forces officer explained to Shephard, the long term project is for it to be integrated into the pool of units under the CCOES.