Counterterrorism Drills Conducted in Thessaloniki and Veria

Greek counterterrorism drills
Members of EKAM, an elite Greek police unit, took part in counterterrorism drills in Thessaloniki and Veria. Credit: KEMEA / LinkedIn (video screenshots)

On Thursday, the Center for Security Studies (KEMEA) revealed that a specialist Greek police unit conducted counterterrorism drills in the northern Greek cities of Thessaloniki and Veria.

The drills reportedly occurred early in May and were focused on hostage-taking and biological and/or chemical threat scenarios. A short video was released showing Geek operators training with an armored vehicle.

The exercises were undertaken as part of KEMEA’s COBRA project, which is intended to increase the readiness of Greek counterterrorism units and law enforcement agencies, as well as units from elsewhere in southeastern Europe, for a range of terrorist threat scenarios.

Greek law enforcement conducts counterterrorism drills

On Thursday, KEMEA shared on LinkedIn that the think tank had “successfully organized a series of drills to counter a terrorist attack, in cooperation with the staff of the Special Suppressive Antiterrorist Unit (EKAM) of Thessaloniki.”

EKAM is the Geek Police’s elite counterterrorism unit, formed in 1978. The drills held last month were likely conducted by operators from EKAM 2, who are based in Thessaloniki. Most EKAM operators are based in Athens where EKAM 1 is located, but members of the 200-strong unit are present in most Greek cities across the country.

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The exercises reportedly took place on May 3 and 4, in the cities of Thessaloniki and Veria. The focus of the drills was on the “execution of scenarios for the organization and response to hostage-taking incidents with the threat of chemical/biological agent use and terrorist attacks on critical infrastructure.”

What is COBRA?

COBRA, short for “Confrontation of CBRN-Terrorism Threats”, is KEMEA’s project to “increase preparedness and response capabilities of South-East Europe [law enforcement agencies] against terrorist attacks and CBRN [chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear] threats.”

The initiative, which receives funding from the European Union, aims to tackle a diverse range of intricate challenges and uneven threats, with a specific emphasis on Law Enforcement Agencies. The primary focus of the project is to provide training, equipment, and security measures for both citizens and various infrastructures, including critical and public spaces.

The COBRA project’s aims are to increase public awareness about CBRN threats, make specialized training available to law enforcement operators to address CBRN and terrorist threats, boost investment into applicable technical equipment, and facilitate the sharing of best practices and lessons learned from various incidents.

KEMEA is “a scientific, consulting and research organization overseen by the Minister of Citizen Protection.” The Greek think tank covers a range of security-related topics including counterterrorism.

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