Description of the SpetsnazEdit

Spetsnaz -2

The Spetsnaz insignia

Spetsnaz (Template:Lang-ru, (спецназ, Template:IPA-ru) tr: Voyska spetsialnogo naznacheniya; Template:IPA-ru) is an umbrella term for any special forces in Russian, literally "special purpose forces". The term can specifically refer to any elite or special purpose units under subordination of the Federal Security Service (FSB) or Internal Troops of Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs, and the units controlled by the military intelligence service GRU. Spetsnaz are known as some of the best trained special forces in the world and act much like Delta Force in the US Army.Template:POV-statement Their hand to hand fighting is extremely well implemented as they require special physical requirements to even get into training.Template:POV-statement It is rumored around 85% of the trainees fail and about 3% will sustain some kind of injury or even death.Template:Citation needed The Spetsnaz in the Cold War wore Red Berets.

Currently, the term is also used for describing any special purpose units or task forces of other ministries (even the Emergency Situations Ministry special rescue unit).[1] Foreign special forces are also commonly referred to as Spetsnaz on Russian television, for example "American Spetsnaz." Spetsnaz specialists have trained the Republican Guard of Syria, Angola, Cuba, Vietnam, Ethiopia and they have been involved in training other special forces units across the world.Template:Citation needed

Primary conception of strategy and tactic of application of the special forces real belongs to the Russian military theorist Michael Svechnykov (killed in the Stalin purges of 1938), and could to starting from the bold dream about victory in an unequal fight because had dependence with Russian military traditional readiness to the nervous fight, but practical realization was begun by the "grandfather of the Russian spetsnaz" Ilya Starinov.

Spetsnaz carry out reconnaissance and "social warfare" missions in "peacetime" as well as in war.Template:Citation needed The primary function of Spetsnaz troops in wartime was infiltration/insertion behind enemy lines (either in uniform or civilian clothing), usually well before hostilities were scheduled to begin and, once in place, to commit acts of sabotage (such as the destruction of vital NATO communications logistics centers)Template:Citation needed and the assassination of key government leaders and military officers.Template:Citation needed According to Vladimir Rezun, a GRU defector who used the pseudonym "Viktor Suvorov", there were 20 Spetsnaz brigades plus 41 separate companies. Thus, the total strength of Spetsnaz forces was around 30,000 troops at the time. Currently, their numbers are classified.

Federal Security Service units Edit

Main article: FSB (Russia)

The Center of Special Operations (CSN) of the FSB is designed to combat terrorism and to protect the constitutional order in the Russian Federation. The CSN FSB consists of three different "operative" subdivisions Department A (also known as spetsgruppa "Alfa"), Department V (also known as spetsgruppa "Vympel"), and so-called SOS (Special Operations Service). The headquarters of CSN FSB is a huge complex of buildings and training areas (dozens of hectares of land, 76 training facilities, etc.) It is located in the town of Balashikha-2, only 10 km away from the Moscow ring. The average training of a solid CSN operative lasts about five years.


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Alpha GroupEdit

"Alfa" is a well-known counter-terrorist unit begun in 1974. Today "Alfa" is a highly professional unit, which consists of roughly 700 servicemen. The majority of the unit is stationed at Moscow, the rest of the unit is located in three other cities – Krasnodar, Yekaterinburg, and Khabarovsk. All the "Alfa" operatives undergo special airborne and firearms training. Roughly one third of them have special mountain training; another third have special counter-sabotage diving training. The unit utilizes a wide range of modern Russian and foreign weapons and equipment, some modified from the original versions to fit the unique needs of the unit.


"Vympel" (the Pennant) – formerly known as an elite Cold War-era KGB sabotage and assassination unit – is now also a counter-terrorist and counter-sabotage unit. But, unlike "Alfa", instead of learning how to storm airplanes and buses, they operate in an entirely different environment. They are experts in 18 special disciplines (among which – how to infiltrate guarded buildings, extensive marksmanship and martial arts training, driving armoured personnel carriers and flying airplanes, and medical training) and are Russia's last defense against possible terrorist acts involving nuclear plants, hydroelectric dams, and other industrial complexes. However, "Vympel" operatives are still heavily used in special operations missions in the Northern Caucasus, along with their counterparts from "Alfa" unit. "Vympel" has four operative units, "Alfa" has 5 operative units. One unit from each Department is always participating in offensive operations in Chechnya. They constantly rotate their troops, and each operative unit is stationed in Chechnya at least 2-3 times per year. "Vympel" is stationed in Moscow, but it also has multiple branch offices in virtually every city where there is a nuclear power plant.

Department A and V operatives' standard [[BattledreBDU color is black. However, in Chechnya they use different kinds of camouflage such as the official woodland camouflage, "Flora".

Special Operations ServiceEdit

Special Operations Service – Not much information about SOS can be obtained, but it is known that they also participate in FSB special operations in the Northern Caucasus and also act as highly skilled bodyguards for government officials.

Regional unitsEdit

Together with Center of Special Operations and its elite units, there are many FSB special forces units of regional significance. Such operative detachments are usually called ROSN (Regional Department of Special Designation). The most powerful ROSNs are said to be at Saint Petersburg (ROSN "Grad") and Nizhny Novgorod.

Ministry of Interior units Edit

Internal TroopsEdit

Spetnaz MVD (called OSNAZ by the MVD) includes 25 Internal Troops units, which are of good quality and intended for use to combat insurgency, border security and for counter-terrorism purposes. These units usually have a unique name and official OSN number. The following is a partial list of the spetsnaz units:

They are very well-trained, equipped and an extreme elite. Their missions may include reconnaissance missions and regular combat operations, mostly house-to-house and close quarters much like United States Army Rangers. Spetsnaz are much in comparison to the US Army Delta Force members, committing assassinations and intelligence missions. Also they are well known for their hand to hand combat skills rivaling the United Kingdom's Special Air Service units.


Aside from the Interior troops special forces, MVD has plenty of Politsiya (former Militsiya) (police) special forces, which are stationed in virtually every large Russian city. While OMON units are mostly used as riot police and during drug busts, they are not really considered a significant counter-terrorist force and simply lack the sufficient expertise (alongside with the FSKN Special forces). For these reasons MVD has numerous OMSN units (formerly known as SOBR), which consist of senior ranked police officers and are properly trained and equipped to combat terrorists, insurgency, and to participate in any kind of high-risk mission in general.

Russian special army forcesEdit

Main article: Spetsnaz GRU

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A Soviet Spetsnaz team prepares for a mission at Kabul Airport in Afghanistan in 1988

Spetsnaz GRU, or Russian army special forces, are considered the best trained units of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. The Spetsnaz have created a fierce reputation as one of the best special forces in the world today due to the very harsh standards of their training. They are controlled by the GRU. The units of Spetsnaz GRU have no official names, such as the case with units of MVD Spetsnaz. They are generally referred to by unit numbers, for example, "16th Separate Brigade of Spetsnaz", much like any other military unit.

Few details are actually known about the operations of Spetsnaz GRU, but it is known that the units were heavily involved in operations in Afghanistan and Chechnya. Spetnaz GRU teams usually wear standard-issue Russian Airborne Troops uniforms, light blue VDV berets and unit patches in order to avoid identification. However, they can also wear different uniforms, for instance, they would wear the uniform of a unit which is stationed nearby, in order to blend in.

Russian language useEdit

The words "spetsnaz" and "osnaz", both short for "special purpose" (spetsialnogo or osobogo naznacheniya), are a general term used for a variety of special forces or regular forces assigned to special tasks. They are syllabic abbreviations typical for the Russian language of the early Soviet era, although many Cheka and Internal Troops units such as OMSDON used a special purpose designation in their full names.

Modern terminology mostly uses "spetsnaz" abbreviation to refer to special purpose forces, however, the widespread use of this word is actually a relatively recent, post-perestroika development in the Russian language. The existence of these special forces units was not known to the general public during the Soviet era. In a sense, this became yet another state secret that was published during the glasnost of the Mikhail Gorbachev's perestroika. There were a number of well-known books written about the Spetsnaz, the best known of these being "Aquarium" by Viktor Suvorov, a GRU agent who defected to England.

Suvorov also wrote a book specifically on the subject. The stories about the Spetsnaz and their allegedly incredible prowess, from the more serious to the highly questionable, have captivated imaginations of the more patriotic, and perhaps less critical, Russians, particularly being set against the background of a generally known decay in the Russian military during perestroika and the post-Soviet era. It merits noting that the great interest in all things Spetsnaz ran parallel to the similarly intense interest in all things related to intelligence, KGB, etc. The popularity of Spetsnaz was all the more enhanced by the reports of their very real accomplishments during Russia's second campaign in Chechnya starting in 2000.

At the turn of the 21st century, many of what would be generally considered as inaccuracies were written about Spetsnaz, GRU, KGB, and similar "top secret" and "exciting" topics. The word "Spetsnaz" was sometimes frivolously used to refer to anything the speaker deemed somehow special or exclusive. For example, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, a well-known populist and nationalist politician, once referred to his and his political party comrades' going for a swim at a party-organized festival as a "Spetsnaz on the water", while speaking on camera. This somewhat intentionally extreme incident should give some sense of the extent the term has been debased for many people.

Nowadays, in Russia "Spetsnaz" have become a colloquial term gradually losing its umbrella function; special operations became much more commonplace, be it a police drug raid, terrorist scenario or military operation. Heavy news coverage of such events allowed the public to address these units by name - OMON, SOBR, Alfa, Vympel, Vityaz and so forth. The Interior Ministry units like OMON are especially close to everyday life now, as they are acting as riot police and SWAT, so they're even less likely to be called Spetsnaz. The word itself is always spelled in lower case in Russian, even when referring to the GRU Spetsnaz.

In the United States, despite the focus on the War on Terror in Iraq and Afghanistan, there is still some training conducted at Fort Irwin's National Training Center and Fort Polk's Joint Readiness Training Center for countering Spetsnaz in the rear areas of NATO. More than two decades after the end of the Cold War, Spetsnaz forces are still regarded as a credible threat to the west.


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