Special task force excels at international challenge


Thugs better run light for South Africa’s Special Task Force (STF). Members of the task force, which is part of the national police service, showed they are world class this month by finishing 16th out of 73 teams in the prestigious United Arab Emirates (UAE) SWAT challenge.

The UAE SWAT Challenge is presented by the Dubai Police and sponsored by the UAE Ministry of Interior. The competition is known for its demanding format, designed to test participants’ tactical acumen, teamwork, agility and stamina across multiple levels. The challenge took place from February 3 to 7.

Col. Gladwin Barties, commander of the special task force, says he is extremely proud of his team’s performance, which competed alongside top law enforcement and military tactical teams from around the world in a rigorous five-day event.

South Africa was represented by two teams, the Special Task Force and the Specialized Operational Team – a composite unit made up of members from various tactical units in the police.

“Despite formidable competition, both teams performed remarkably, further strengthening South Africa’s presence in the global tactical community,” he says.

This year was South Africa’s third consecutive participation in the challenge.

“And every year we do better. From 13th place among 33 teams in 2022 to 9th place out of 53 teams in 2023, and now 16th out of 73 teams in 2024,” he says.

“This highlights the consistent upward trajectory, the unwavering commitment, rigorous training and operational skill of the South African teams.”

Barties says the success at the UAE’s SWAT challenge not only reflects the individual commitment of team members, but also strengthens the police’s stature on the global stage.

“The Specialized Operations Team, which made its debut in the challenge, finished 46th in the rankings. Their performance bodes well for future participation, demonstrating the potential for continued success and growth.”

He says preparation for the challenge involved rigorous training regimes, including physical conditioning and tactical and situational drills.

“Despite balancing preparation with operational duties, the teams remained focused and determined to excel on the international platform.

“The positive feedback and support from leaders, peers and members of the public serve as motivation to continue our pursuit of excellence in service and performance,” he says.

He further says that the success of South African teams at the SWAT challenge not only highlights the task force’s skill and professionalism, but also strengthens the country’s commitment to maintaining high standards in law enforcement and tactical operations on the international stage.