Spetsnaz

Spetsnaz

Overview
Spetsnaz, Specnaz is an umbrella term
Umbrella term
An umbrella term is a word that provides a superset or grouping of concepts that all fall under a single common category. Umbrella term is also called a hypernym. For example, cryptology is an umbrella term that encompasses cryptography and cryptanalysis, among other fields...

 for any special forces
Special forces
Special forces, or special operations forces are terms used to describe elite military tactical teams trained to perform high-risk dangerous missions that conventional units cannot perform...

 in Russian
Russian language
Russian is a Slavic language used primarily in Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. It is an unofficial but widely spoken language in Ukraine, Moldova, Latvia, Turkmenistan and Estonia and, to a lesser extent, the other countries that were once constituent republics...

, literally "force of special purpose". These Russian special forces
Special forces
Special forces, or special operations forces are terms used to describe elite military tactical teams trained to perform high-risk dangerous missions that conventional units cannot perform...

 can specifically refer to any elite or special purpose units under subordination of the Federal Security Service (FSB) or Internal Troops
Internal Troops
The Internal Troops, full name Internal Troops of the Ministry for Internal Affairs ; alternatively translated as "Interior " is a paramilitary gendarmerie-like force in the now-defunct Soviet Union and its successor countries, particularly, in Russia, Ukraine, Georgia and Azerbaijan...

 of Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs
Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs
The Ministerstvo Vnutrennikh Del is the interior ministry of Russia. Its predecessor was founded in 1802 by Alexander I in Imperial Russia...

, and the units controlled by the military intelligence service GRU
GRU
GRU or Glavnoye Razvedyvatel'noye Upravleniye is the foreign military intelligence directorate of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation...

.

Currently, the term is used as well to describe any special purpose units or task forces of other ministries (even the Emergency Situations Ministry special rescue unit).
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Encyclopedia
Spetsnaz, Specnaz is an umbrella term
Umbrella term
An umbrella term is a word that provides a superset or grouping of concepts that all fall under a single common category. Umbrella term is also called a hypernym. For example, cryptology is an umbrella term that encompasses cryptography and cryptanalysis, among other fields...

 for any special forces
Special forces
Special forces, or special operations forces are terms used to describe elite military tactical teams trained to perform high-risk dangerous missions that conventional units cannot perform...

 in Russian
Russian language
Russian is a Slavic language used primarily in Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. It is an unofficial but widely spoken language in Ukraine, Moldova, Latvia, Turkmenistan and Estonia and, to a lesser extent, the other countries that were once constituent republics...

, literally "force of special purpose". These Russian special forces
Special forces
Special forces, or special operations forces are terms used to describe elite military tactical teams trained to perform high-risk dangerous missions that conventional units cannot perform...

 can specifically refer to any elite or special purpose units under subordination of the Federal Security Service (FSB) or Internal Troops
Internal Troops
The Internal Troops, full name Internal Troops of the Ministry for Internal Affairs ; alternatively translated as "Interior " is a paramilitary gendarmerie-like force in the now-defunct Soviet Union and its successor countries, particularly, in Russia, Ukraine, Georgia and Azerbaijan...

 of Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs
Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs
The Ministerstvo Vnutrennikh Del is the interior ministry of Russia. Its predecessor was founded in 1802 by Alexander I in Imperial Russia...

, and the units controlled by the military intelligence service GRU
GRU
GRU or Glavnoye Razvedyvatel'noye Upravleniye is the foreign military intelligence directorate of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation...

.

Currently, the term is used as well to describe any special purpose units or task forces of other ministries (even the Emergency Situations Ministry special rescue unit). Foreign special forces are also commonly referred to as Spetsnaz on Russian television, for example "American Spetsnaz." Spetsnaz specialists have trained the Republican Guard
Syrian Republican Guard
The Syrian Republican Guard is a 10,000 man bodyguard unit of the Syrian Army. They are a single armored division used to protect the capital, Damascus from any domestic threats. The Guard is the only Syrian military unit allowed within the capital....

 of Syria, Iraq and Iran and they have been involved in training other special forces units across the world.

Internal troop units
Internal Troops
The Internal Troops, full name Internal Troops of the Ministry for Internal Affairs ; alternatively translated as "Interior " is a paramilitary gendarmerie-like force in the now-defunct Soviet Union and its successor countries, particularly, in Russia, Ukraine, Georgia and Azerbaijan...

 of the Cheka
Cheka
Cheka was the first of a succession of Soviet state security organizations. It was created by a decree issued on December 20, 1917, by Vladimir Lenin and subsequently led by aristocrat-turned-communist Felix Dzerzhinsky...

 were originally raised for internal use against counter-revolutionaries and other internal enemies; the most acclaimed is the Vityaz (MVD)
Vityaz (MVD)
Vityaz was a Russian Spetsnaz unit of the MVD, a unit in the Independent Operative Purpose Division of the Internal Troops.Vityaz was assigned specifically to counter-terrorism duties. Vityaz unit regularly conducts counter-terrorism patrols in Chechnya and along the Caucasus border...

. Today they carry the same role as gendarmerie
Gendarmerie
A gendarmerie or gendarmery is a military force charged with police duties among civilian populations. Members of such a force are typically called "gendarmes". The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary describes a gendarme as "a soldier who is employed on police duties" and a "gendarmery, -erie" as...

 or National Guard units in other countries.

Spetsnaz carry out reconnaissance and "social warfare" missions in "peacetime" as well as in war. 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) and the assassination of key government leaders and military officers. According to Vladimir Rezun, a GRU defector who used the pseudonym
Pseudonym
A pseudonym is a name that a person assumes for a particular purpose and that differs from his or her original orthonym...

 "Viktor Suvorov
Viktor Suvorov
Viktor Suvorov is the pen name for Vladimir Bogdanovich Rezun , a former Soviet and now British writer of Russian and Ukrainian descent who writes primarily in Russian, as well as a former Soviet military intelligence spy who defected to the UK...

", 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 around 15,000.

Federal Security Service units


The Center of Special Operations (CSN) of the FSB is designed to combat terrorism
Terrorism
Terrorism is the systematic use of terror, especially as a means of coercion. In the international community, however, terrorism has no universally agreed, legally binding, criminal law definition...

 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 worth 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.

Alpha Group


"Alfa
Alpha Group
The Alpha Group , is an elite component of Russia's Spetsnaz as well as the dedicated counter-terrorism unit of the Federal Security Service...

" is a well-known counter-terrorist
Counter-terrorism
Counter-terrorism is the practices, tactics, techniques, and strategies that governments, militaries, police departments and corporations adopt to prevent or in response to terrorist threats and/or acts, both real and imputed.The tactic of terrorism is available to insurgents and governments...

 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
Moscow
Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

, the rest of the unit is located in three other cities – Krasnodar
Krasnodar
Krasnodar is a city in Southern Russia, located on the Kuban River about northeast of the Black Sea port of Novorossiysk. It is the administrative center of Krasnodar Krai . Population: -Name:...

, Yekaterinburg
Yekaterinburg
Yekaterinburg is a major city in the central part of Russia, the administrative center of Sverdlovsk Oblast. Situated on the eastern side of the Ural mountain range, it is the main industrial and cultural center of the Urals Federal District with a population of 1,350,136 , making it Russia's...

, and Khabarovsk
Khabarovsk
Khabarovsk is the largest city and the administrative center of Khabarovsk Krai, Russia. It is located some from the Chinese border. It is the second largest city in the Russian Far East, after Vladivostok. The city became the administrative center of the Far Eastern Federal District of Russia...

. 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


"Vympel
Vympel
Vympel , also known as KGB Directorate "B" ,Vega Group or Spetsgruppa V, Group B is a Russian special forces unit....

" (the Pennant) – formerly known as an elite Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

-era KGB
KGB
The KGB was the commonly used acronym for the . It was the national security agency of the Soviet Union from 1954 until 1991, and was the premier internal security, intelligence, and secret police organization during that time.The State Security Agency of the Republic of Belarus currently uses the...

 sabotage
Sabotage
Sabotage is a deliberate action aimed at weakening another entity through subversion, obstruction, disruption, or destruction. In a workplace setting, sabotage is the conscious withdrawal of efficiency generally directed at causing some change in workplace conditions. One who engages in sabotage is...

 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 carrier
Armoured personnel carrier
An armoured personnel carrier is an armoured fighting vehicle designed to transport infantry to the battlefield.APCs are usually armed with only a machine gun although variants carry recoilless rifles, anti-tank guided missiles , or mortars...

s and flying airplanes, and medical training) and are Russia's last defense against possible terrorist acts involving nuclear plants
Nuclear power
Nuclear power is the use of sustained nuclear fission to generate heat and electricity. Nuclear power plants provide about 6% of the world's energy and 13–14% of the world's electricity, with the U.S., France, and Japan together accounting for about 50% of nuclear generated electricity...

, hydroelectric dams
Hydroelectricity
Hydroelectricity is the term referring to electricity generated by hydropower; the production of electrical power through the use of the gravitational force of falling or flowing water. It is the most widely used form of renewable energy...

, 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
Chechnya
The Chechen Republic , commonly referred to as Chechnya , also spelled Chechnia or Chechenia, sometimes referred to as Ichkeria , is a federal subject of Russia . It is located in the southeastern part of Europe in the Northern Caucasus mountains. The capital of the republic is the city of Grozny...

. 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 BDU
Battledress
Battledress, or fatigues in the general sense, is the type of uniform used as combat uniforms, as opposed to 'display' dress or formal uniform worn at parades and functions. It may be either monochrome or in a camouflage pattern...

 color is black. However, in Chechnya they use different kinds of camouflage such as the official woodland camouflage, "Flora".

Special Operations Service


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 units


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
Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg is a city and a federal subject of Russia located on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea...

 (ROSN "Grad") and Nizhny Novgorod
Nizhny Novgorod
Nizhny Novgorod , colloquially shortened to Nizhny, is, with the population of 1,250,615, the fifth largest city in Russia, ranking after Moscow, St. Petersburg, Novosibirsk, and Yekaterinburg...

.

Internal Troops


Spetnaz MVD (called OSNAZ by the MVD) includes 25 Internal Troops
Internal Troops
The Internal Troops, full name Internal Troops of the Ministry for Internal Affairs ; alternatively translated as "Interior " is a paramilitary gendarmerie-like force in the now-defunct Soviet Union and its successor countries, particularly, in Russia, Ukraine, Georgia and Azerbaijan...

 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:
  • 1st PSN (former 6th OSN) VV "Vityaz
    Vityaz (MVD)
    Vityaz was a Russian Spetsnaz unit of the MVD, a unit in the Independent Operative Purpose Division of the Internal Troops.Vityaz was assigned specifically to counter-terrorism duties. Vityaz unit regularly conducts counter-terrorism patrols in Chechnya and along the Caucasus border...

    " – stationed in Moscow
    Moscow
    Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

    ;
  • 7th OSN VV "Rosich" – Novocherkassk
    Novocherkassk
    Novocherkassk is a city in Rostov Oblast, Russia, located on the right bank of the Tuzlov River and on the Aksay River. Population: 169,039 ; 170,822 ; 178,000 ; 123,000 ; 81,000 ; 52,000 ....

    ;
  • 8Th OSN VV "Rus"
    Rus (special forces)
    Rus was a special forces unit of the Interior Troops , of the interior ministry of the Russian Federation. It was a unit in the Independent Operative Purpose Division .Rus was created on August 1, 1994...

     – Moscow;
  • 12th OSN VV "Ratnik" – Nizhni Tagil;
  • 15th OSN VV "Vyatich" – Armavir;
  • 16th OSN VV "Skif" – Rostov
    Rostov
    Rostov is a town in Yaroslavl Oblast, Russia, one of the oldest in the country and a tourist center of the Golden Ring. It is located on the shores of Lake Nero, northeast of Moscow. Population:...

    .


They are very well-trained and equipped, being far superior to the regular Russian infantry. Their missions may include reconnaissance
Reconnaissance
Reconnaissance is the military term for exploring beyond the area occupied by friendly forces to gain information about enemy forces or features of the environment....

 missions and regular combat operations (mostly house-to-house close quarters battle
Close quarters battle
Close quarters combat or close quarters battle is a type of fighting in which small units engage the enemy with personal weapons at very short range, potentially to the point of hand-to-hand combat or fighting with hand weapons such as swords or knives...

 assaults). They (especially "Vityaz") have sometimes served as the back-up team during the counter-terrorist operations by team "Alpha
Alpha Group
The Alpha Group , is an elite component of Russia's Spetsnaz as well as the dedicated counter-terrorism unit of the Federal Security Service...

", much like how United States Army Rangers
United States Army Rangers
United States Army Rangers are elite members of the United States Army. Rangers have served in recognized U.S. Army Ranger units or have graduated from the U.S. Army's Ranger School...

 work with 1st SFOD-D (a.k.a. "Delta Force
Delta Force
1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta is one of the United States' secretive Tier One counter-terrorism and Special Mission Units. Commonly known as Delta Force, Delta, or The Unit, it was formed under the designation 1st SFOD-D, and is officially referred to by the Department of Defense...

").

Militia


Aside from the Interior troops special forces, MVD has plenty of Militsiya
Militsiya
Militsiya or militia is used as an official name of the civilian police in several former communist states, despite its original military connotation...

 (police) special forces, which are stationed in virtually every large Russian city. While OMON
OMON
OMOH is a generic name for the system of special units of militsiya within the Russian and earlier the Soviet MVD...

 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. 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 forces


Spetsnaz GRU, or Russian army special forces, are considered the best trained units of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation
Armed Forces of the Russian Federation
The Armed Forces of the Russian Federation are the military services of Russia, established after the break-up of the Soviet Union. On 7 May 1992 Boris Yeltsin signed a decree establishing the Russian Ministry of Defence and placing all Soviet Armed Forces troops on the territory of the RSFSR...

. 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
GRU
GRU or Glavnoye Razvedyvatel'noye Upravleniye is the foreign military intelligence directorate of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation...

. 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
Soviet war in Afghanistan
The Soviet war in Afghanistan was a nine-year conflict involving the Soviet Union, supporting the Marxist-Leninist government of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan against the Afghan Mujahideen and foreign "Arab–Afghan" volunteers...

 and Chechnya
Chechnya
The Chechen Republic , commonly referred to as Chechnya , also spelled Chechnia or Chechenia, sometimes referred to as Ichkeria , is a federal subject of Russia . It is located in the southeastern part of Europe in the Northern Caucasus mountains. The capital of the republic is the city of Grozny...

. 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 use



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
Russian language
Russian is a Slavic language used primarily in Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. It is an unofficial but widely spoken language in Ukraine, Moldova, Latvia, Turkmenistan and Estonia and, to a lesser extent, the other countries that were once constituent republics...

 of the early Soviet era, although many Cheka
Cheka
Cheka was the first of a succession of Soviet state security organizations. It was created by a decree issued on December 20, 1917, by Vladimir Lenin and subsequently led by aristocrat-turned-communist Felix Dzerzhinsky...

 and Internal Troops
Internal Troops
The Internal Troops, full name Internal Troops of the Ministry for Internal Affairs ; alternatively translated as "Interior " is a paramilitary gendarmerie-like force in the now-defunct Soviet Union and its successor countries, particularly, in Russia, Ukraine, Georgia and Azerbaijan...

 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
Perestroika
Perestroika was a political movement within the Communist Party of the Soviet Union during 1980s, widely associated with the Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev...

development in the Russian language
Russian language
Russian is a Slavic language used primarily in Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. It is an unofficial but widely spoken language in Ukraine, Moldova, Latvia, Turkmenistan and Estonia and, to a lesser extent, the other countries that were once constituent republics...

. The existence of these special forces
Special forces
Special forces, or special operations forces are terms used to describe elite military tactical teams trained to perform high-risk dangerous missions that conventional units cannot perform...

 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
Glasnost
Glasnost was the policy of maximal publicity, openness, and transparency in the activities of all government institutions in the Soviet Union, together with freedom of information, introduced by Mikhail Gorbachev in the second half of the 1980s...

of the Mikhail Gorbachev
Mikhail Gorbachev
Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev is a former Soviet statesman, having served as General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1985 until 1991, and as the last head of state of the USSR, having served from 1988 until its dissolution in 1991...

's perestroika. There were a number of well-known books written about the Spetsnaz, the best known of these being "Aquarium"
Aquarium (Suvorov)
Aquarium is a partly autobiographical description by Viktor Suvorov of the GRU . The account starts in 1969, when Suvorov, as an ordinary tank company commander, is recruited into intelligence analysis by an up-and-coming Lieutenant Colonel...

 by Viktor Suvorov
Viktor Suvorov
Viktor Suvorov is the pen name for Vladimir Bogdanovich Rezun , a former Soviet and now British writer of Russian and Ukrainian descent who writes primarily in Russian, as well as a former Soviet military intelligence spy who defected to the UK...

, a GRU
GRU
GRU or Glavnoye Razvedyvatel'noye Upravleniye is the foreign military intelligence directorate of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation...

 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
Intelligence (information gathering)
Intelligence assessment is the development of forecasts of behaviour or recommended courses of action to the leadership of an organization, based on a wide range of available information sources both overt and covert. Assessments are developed in response to requirements declared by the leadership...

, 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
Chechnya
The Chechen Republic , commonly referred to as Chechnya , also spelled Chechnia or Chechenia, sometimes referred to as Ichkeria , is a federal subject of Russia . It is located in the southeastern part of Europe in the Northern Caucasus mountains. The capital of the republic is the city of Grozny...

 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
Vladimir Zhirinovsky
Vladimir Volfovich Zhirinovsky is a Russian politician, colonel of the Russian Army, founder and the leader of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia , Vice-Chairman of the State Duma, and a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe....

, a well-known populist
Populism
Populism can be defined as an ideology, political philosophy, or type of discourse. Generally, a common theme compares "the people" against "the elite", and urges social and political system changes. It can also be defined as a rhetorical style employed by members of various political or social...

 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
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

, Spetsnaz forces are still regarded as a credible threat..

Nomenclature


Russian/Soviet special forces:
  • Military
    • Spetsnaz GRU
      Spetsnaz GRU
      The Spetsnaz GRU, or Russian army special forces, are the original Spetsnaz and are generally considered the best trained and experienced units of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, as evidenced by both their seniority among the Special Forces and their...

    • Russian Airborne Troops (VDV)
  • KGB
    KGB
    The KGB was the commonly used acronym for the . It was the national security agency of the Soviet Union from 1954 until 1991, and was the premier internal security, intelligence, and secret police organization during that time.The State Security Agency of the Republic of Belarus currently uses the...

    /FSB
    • Alpha Group
      Alpha Group
      The Alpha Group , is an elite component of Russia's Spetsnaz as well as the dedicated counter-terrorism unit of the Federal Security Service...

    • Vympel
      Vympel
      Vympel , also known as KGB Directorate "B" ,Vega Group or Spetsgruppa V, Group B is a Russian special forces unit....

  • MVD/militsiya
    Militsiya
    Militsiya or militia is used as an official name of the civilian police in several former communist states, despite its original military connotation...

    • Vityaz
      Vityaz (MVD)
      Vityaz was a Russian Spetsnaz unit of the MVD, a unit in the Independent Operative Purpose Division of the Internal Troops.Vityaz was assigned specifically to counter-terrorism duties. Vityaz unit regularly conducts counter-terrorism patrols in Chechnya and along the Caucasus border...

    • Rus
      Rus (special forces)
      Rus was a special forces unit of the Interior Troops , of the interior ministry of the Russian Federation. It was a unit in the Independent Operative Purpose Division .Rus was created on August 1, 1994...

    • OMON
      OMON
      OMOH is a generic name for the system of special units of militsiya within the Russian and earlier the Soviet MVD...

    • SOBR
      SOBR
      The Special Rapid Response Unit or SOBR is an elite commando unit of the Russian Interior Ministry, involved in anti-criminal operations....


See also

  • Military special forces
    Special forces
    Special forces, or special operations forces are terms used to describe elite military tactical teams trained to perform high-risk dangerous missions that conventional units cannot perform...

    • 1º Compañía de Comandos "Iquique"
      1º Compañía de Comandos "Iquique"
      The 1st Commandos Company "Iquique" is special forces unit under the jurisdiction of northern Chile. The unit is part of the 2nd Armored Brigade "Cazadores" of the Sixth Army Division based in the first region of the country...

       (Chile)
    • Joint Task Force 2
      Joint Task Force 2
      Joint Task Force 2 is an elite Special Operations Force of the Canadian Armed Forces primarily tasked with counter-terrorism operations...

       (Canada)
    • Delta Force
      Delta Force
      1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta is one of the United States' secretive Tier One counter-terrorism and Special Mission Units. Commonly known as Delta Force, Delta, or The Unit, it was formed under the designation 1st SFOD-D, and is officially referred to by the Department of Defense...

       (USA)
    • Special Activities Division
      Special Activities Division
      The Special Activities Division is a division in the United States Central Intelligence Agency's National Clandestine Service responsible for covert operations known as "special activities"...

       of the CIA (USA)
    • GROM
      GROM
      GROM is one of five special forces units of the Polish Armed Forces. It was officially activated on July 8, 1990...

       (Poland)
    • Special Air Service
      Special Air Service
      Special Air Service or SAS is a corps of the British Army constituted on 31 May 1950. They are part of the United Kingdom Special Forces and have served as a model for the special forces of many other countries all over the world...

       (United Kingdom)
    • Sayeret Matkal
      Sayeret Matkal
      Sayeret Matkal is a special forces unit of the Israel Defence Forces , which is subordinated to the intelligence directorate Aman. First and foremost a field intelligence-gathering unit, conducting deep reconnaissance behind enemy lines to obtain strategic intelligence, Sayeret Matkal is also...

       (Israel)
    • Kopassus
      Kopassus
      Kopassus is an Indonesian Army special forces group that conducts special operations missions for the Indonesian government, such as direct action, unconventional warfare, sabotage, counter-insurgency, counter-terrorism, and intelligence gathering.Kopassus was founded on April 16, 1952...

       (Indonesia)
  • SWAT
    SWAT
    A SWAT team is an elite tactical unit in various national law enforcement departments. They are trained to perform high-risk operations that fall outside of the abilities of regular officers...

    /police
    Police
    The police is a personification of the state designated to put in practice the enforced law, protect property and reduce civil disorder in civilian matters. Their powers include the legitimized use of force...

    • GSG9 (Germany)
    • Grupo de Operaciones Especiales (Spain)
  • Spetsnaz (TV miniseries)
    • Grup Gerak Khas
      Grup Gerak Khas
      The Grup Gerak Khas is a special forces regiment of the Malaysian Army which conducts special operations missions for the Malaysian government, such as direct action, unconventional warfare, sabotage, counter-terrorism, and intelligence gathering...

      (Malaysia)

Sources

  • Isby, David C., Weapons and tactics of the Soviet Army, Jane's Publishing Company Limited, London, 1988
  • Carey Schofield, 'The Russian Elite: Inside Spetsnaz and the Airborne Forces,' Greenhill, London, 1993
  • Swjatoslaw Nikolajewitsch Koslow (Hrsg.): Speznas GRU: Pjat’desjat let istorii, dwazat’ let wojny. Russkaja Panorama, Moskau 2001, ISBN 5-93165-037-7.
  • Swjatoslaw Nikolajewitsch Koslow (Hrsg.): Speznas GRU-2: Wojna ne okontschena, istorija prodolschajetsja. Russkaja Panorama, Moskau 2002, ISBN 5-93165-064-4.
  • Viktor Suworow: Speznaz: Geheimnis hinter Glasnost. Produktion: Erwin Grothe. Verlag Dissberger, 1. Auflage 1989, ISBN 3-924753-25-3.

External links