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Specnaz

The Spetsialnoye Nazranie are troops of special purpose with Spetsnaz/ Specnaz being a general term for special forces in Russia literally special purpose units. These Russian special forces 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. 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 has trained the Republican guard of Syria, Iraq and Iran and they have been involved in training other special forces units across the world. These internal troop units originally were raised for internal use against counter revolutionaries and other undesirables. There has always been a certain amount of shifting of personnel and units between both the GRU who control SPETSNAZ and the MVD with OSNAZ MVD and OSNAZ KGB or FSB, especially between the latter two. Today OSNAZ is a term mainly used in connection with GRU controlled COMINT, ELINT and radio surveillance units within the Armed Forces. Spetsnaz carry out reconnaissance and social warfare missions in peacetime as well as in war. There are 20 Spetsnaz brigades plus 41 separate companies thus a total strength of around 30,000 troops.

The Centre of Special Operations (CNS) headquarters 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 kms away from the Moscow ring. The average training lasts about 5 years. All operatives undergo special airborne and firearms training. Roughly one third of them have special mountain training; another third have special counter-sabotage diving training. Spetsnaz operatives always improve on their skills in countless exercises and special operations (including constant service in North Caucasus). 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.

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. During the Cold War these units were deployed in Eastern Europe in order to carry out reconnaissance and sabotage missions against the NATO forces in the event of a war in Europe. 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. Spetsnaz GRU teams usually wear standard issue VDV 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.

A Spetsnaz brigade consists of three to five Spetsnaz battalions, a signals company, support units, and a headquarters company containing highly skilled professional soldiers responsible for carrying out assassinations, kidnappings, and contact with agents in the enemy rear area. The organisation reflects its emphasis on sea infiltration, with up to three frogman battalions, one parachute battalion, and a mini-submarine battalion, as well as the signals company, headquarters company, and support elements.

The Soviet Naval Spetsnaz came in to being in 1957 by order of Defence Minister Georgy Zhukov. The Black Sea fleet created their Spetsnaz unit in 1967. A marine counter terrorist and counter sabotage unit was created in 1969 as Protivodiversionniye Sili I Sredstva (counter sabotage forces and resources) counter underwater forces. In 1970 the Main intelligence service of a General staff (GRU) created a top secret reconnaissance sabotage group Delfin (Dolphin) for operations against sea bases of foreign states. Instructors from group Delfin prepared the combat swimmers for KGB groups Alfa and Vympel. At the fall of the Soviet Union each of the Soviet Red Banner Fleets (four total) had a Naval Spetsnaz Brigade assigned to it. Russian Naval Infantry or the Russian Marines are specialised amphibious infantry, but by no means are they Spetsnaz troops as Naval Special Operations would be carried out by Delfin (Naval Spetsnaz) troops rather than the Marines which are intended to spearhead amphibious invasions.

On operations the majority of Spetsnaz soldiers carry a 5.45mm AKS-74 rifle and a 5.45mm PRI automatic pistol. All also carry combat knives which are specially designed for Spetsnaz troops. One such design is the NR-2, an ingenious device which in addition to the blade incorporates a short 7.62mm calibre barrel in the handle and is fired by clipping the scabbard and knife together to give some control. Quite when such a weapon would be used instead of a knife or a pistol is open to question. Spetsnaz troops are also trained in all types of foreign weapons.

Those joining Spetsnaz with no previous military experience must be given the normal recruit's basic training in discipline, marching, field craft,
weapons handling, and range work. Once the recruit moves on to proper
Spetsnaz training however the pressure intensifies: weapons handling, including the use of foreign weapons and marksmanship; physical fitness, with an emphasis on endurance and strength; tracking, patrolling, camouflage, and surveillance techniques, including survival in a wide variety of harsh environments; hand to hand combat, both unarmed and with knives (both hand held and throwing), and assassination of designated targets; sabotage and demolitions; language training and prisoner interrogation; infiltration by air, including parachuting for fixed wing aircraft, and exit from helicopters by ropes or parachute.

Naval Spetsnaz must in addition learn combat swimmer techniques, the use of underwater weapons, canoeing, arrival and exit over beaches, exit and entry to submerged submarines.

 

Rus
Rus is a special forces unit (OSNAZ) of the Interior Troops (VV), of the interior ministry (MVD) of the Russian Federation. Its full name in Russian is OSNAZ VV MVD Rus.
According to an MVD official press release Rus was created on August 1st, 1994 as the heir of an unspecified Operational Purpose Distinct Division (ODON) unit of the MVD. The dedicated role of the unit is counter terrorism and direct action in times of crisis. Officers and members of the unit regularly travel abroad to meet their foreign counterparts (especially in Israel, Austria and Germany) in order to share and gather their common experience and training techniques.
Rus actively participated along with other MVD units in the military and paramilitary operations in Chechnya. Since 1999 the unit is involved in active counter terrorist operations there, along with other FSB, MVD and GRU special forces units. According to official data the unit claims the destruction of hundreds of hidden weapons caches and hideouts. The liquidation of a certain number of terror cells or rebel groups is also claimed to be a collective work of FSB, GRU and MVD units operating alongside Rus.
Rus is one of the most decorated Spetsnaz (special forces) units in Russia. Since its creation eight hundred Rus servicemen have been decorated for courage, six have been awarded the title Hero of Russia (three posthumously). A monument commemorating the fallen members of the unit was unveiled on February 25, 1997 at the home camp of the unit (location unknown). In 2005 the unit was said to be still operating in Caucasus.
OMON
OMON (Otryad Militsii Osobogo Naznacheniya, Special Purpose Police Squad) is a generic name for the system of special units of militsiya (police) within the Russian and earlier the Soviet MVD (Ministry of Internal Affairs). As of 2008 there is an OMON unit in every oblast of Russia as well as in many major cities; for example there is an OMON unit within the Moscow City police department and a separate unit within Moscow Oblast police department. Their motto is "We know no mercy and do not ask for any." OMON also continues to exist in Belarus and some other countries following the collapse of the Soviet Union.
OMON originated in 1979 when the first group was founded in preparation for the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow to ensure that there were no terrorist attacks like the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich. Subsequently the unit was utilized in emergencies such as high risk arrests, hostage crises, as well as in response to acts of terrorism.
The OMON units were initially used as the riot police used to control and stop demonstrations and hooliganism as well as other emergency situations but later became accustomed to a wider range of police operations, including cordon and street patrol actions and even paramilitary and military style operations.

On January 20, 1991 the Riga OMON attacked Latvia's Interior Ministry, killing six people during the January 1991 events in Latvia (following the republic's declaration of independence). Seven OMON members were subsequently found guilty by the Riga District Court and received suspended sentences. A series of hit and run attacks on border outposts of the newly-independent Republic of Lithuania during January-July 1991 resulting in several summary execution style deaths of the unarmed customs officers. Some sources say that the Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev had lost control of the unit. The Lithuanian government continues to demand that the persons suspected in these incidents be tried in Lithuania. Violent and often armed clashes occurred between the Georgian SSR's OMON and the opponents of the Georgian President Zviad Gamsakhurdia prior to the Georgian Civil War of 1991-1993.
The Moscow OMON and units brought in from the other cities took part in defending the public order during the political crisis in September-October 1993. Some sources report that OMON members behaved brutally in clashes with demonstrators, beating up people including members of the Supreme Soviet of Russia.

In August 1996 a group of 30 Chechen OMON members were reportedly captured and executed in Grozny, the Chechen capital during the battle for the city. In June 2007 OMON failed to protect gay rights activists including  European Parliament members from hate violence in Moscow, detaining the activists instead of the attackers. This is because the mayor of Moscow did not want the parade to take place. In November 2007 the brutal actions of OMON militsya against peaceful demonstrators and the arrests of opposition figures were harshly criticised by the European Union institutions and governments.

OMON is still active in the Second Chechen War. Almost every Russian city sends on a regular basis small units of police (often composed of OMON members) for tours of duty in Chechnya lasting several months, while the Chechen Republic has also formed its own OMON detachment. OMON sustained heavy losses in the second conflict as well, including the March 2000 ambush in which more than 30 OMON servicemen were killed (including nine captured and executed), the July 2000 suicide bombing which inflicted more than 100 casualties at the OMON base in Argun, and the April 2002 attack which killed 21 Chechen OMON troopers in central Grozny. Control and discipline is questionable in Chechnya, where the members of the group were noted to engage in or fall victim to several deadly friendly fire and fratricide incidents. In the bloodiest incident at least 24 Russian OMON officers were killed and more than 30 wounded when two units (from Moscow and Sergiyev Posad) fired on each other in Grozny on March 2, 2000. Among other incidents several Chechen OMON servicemen were abducted and executed in Grozny by Russian military servicemen in November 2000, members of the Chechen OMON clashed with the Ingush police on the Chechen-Ingush border resulting in eight fatalities and about 20 injuries in September 2006, and the Chechen OMON clashed with a group of Chechen GRU commandos following a standoff in Grozny resulting in five dead and several wounded in 2007.

In the course of the Chechen conflict the OMON has been accused of severe human rights abuses including abducting, torturing and killing civilians. As of 2000, the bulk of war crimes recorded by international organisations in Chechnya appeared to have been committed by the OMON. An OMON detachment from Moscow region took part in the April 1995 rampage in the village of Samashki, during which up to 300 civilians were reportedly killed in the result of a cleansing operation conducted there by the MVD forces. Two Russian OMON units (from St. Petersburg and Ryazan) were also linked with the Novye Aldi massacre in which at least 60 civilians were robbed and then killed by the Russian forces entering Grozny in February 2000. In 1999 a group of OMON members shot dead around 40 refugees near Grozny. In April 2006 the European Court of Human Rights found Russia guilty of the forced disappearance of Shakhid Baysayev, a Chechen man who had gone missing after being detained in a March 2000 security sweep by the Russian OMON in Grozny. In 2007, the Khanty-Mansi OMON officer Sergei Lapin was sentenced for the kidnapping and torture of a Chechen man in Grozny in 2001, with the Grozny court criticising the conduct of the OMON serving in Chechnya in broader terms. In an event related to Chechnya several OMON officers were accused of starting the May 2007 wave of ethnic violence in Stavropol by assisting in the racist murder of a local Chechen man.

Most members retire at the age of approximately 45 years and receive practically no financial aid from the state afterwards. They are also sometimes not paid for their service (in 2001 for example some 50 OMON members from Moscow filed a lawsuit claiming they were not paid for one month of combat operations in Chechnya). Due to the use of OMON members in high risk situations especially in Chechnya the group often loses members in combat.
Members of OMON are supposed to be extremely fit and experts in small arms and hand-to-hand combat. Males between the ages of 22 and 30 who have completed their two year military service can apply to join OMON (the application includes medical and psychological tests, as well as speed and fitness). The initial training lasts for four months where applicants are extensively trained in the use of different weaponry and close combat, and to follow orders at any cost. Special emphasis is placed on urban combat and entering and clearing buildings. The application procedure closes with a final test where the applicant has to fight three to five trained members of OMON by hand wearing boxing gloves. Fewer than one in five applicants pass and are selected to join.

The OMON groups use a wide range of weapons including but not limited to AK-74 assault rifles, AKS-74U carbine assault rifles, 9A-91 compact assault rifles, and PP-19 Bizon submachine guns. OMON units during  combat operations may also use other weaponry typical for the Russian light infantry such as the PK machine gun, the GP-25 underbarrel grenade launcher for AK-74 or the GM-94 pump-action grenade launcher, and the Dragunov and Vintorez sniper rifles.
OMON vehicles include specially-equipped vans, buses and trucks of various types as well as limited number of armoured personnel carriers (BTR-60, BTR-70 and BTR-80). OMON's headgear remains a black beret (they are thus sometimes called "Black Berets") although otherwise there were significant changes in uniform and insignia. The group members often use the blue urban camouflage uniforms and black face masks while on duty, and various Russian Army and Internal Troops uniforms while in Chechnya. OMON of the Chechen Republic also frequently wear American made military uniforms (similar to these used by the separatist fighters).

SOBR
The Special Rapid Reaction Unit or SOBR (Spetsial'nye Otryady Bystrogo Reagirovaniya or Special Rapid Reaction Unit) was an elite commando unit of the Russian Interior Ministry involved in anti criminal operations.
On September 16, 2002 the SOBR was officially dissolved. To date almost all of the SOBR units have been reclassified as OMSN (Otryad Militsii Spetsial'nogo Naznacheniya, Special Police Unit) and are subordinate to the regional criminal police offices. OMSN units are very similar to the SOBR and are composed of highly professional, senior ranking police officers (as opposed to OMON units).
OMSN units are tasked with fighting criminal elements, drug trafficking and other special operations under the jurisdiction of MVD. Lately OMSN's premier task has been to combat terrorism for which they have received extensive counter terrorism training, special weapons and equipment for this role. Due to the popularity of the name as well as the similarities between SOBR and OMSN, the OMSN is usually still referred to as SOBR by both soldiers and civilians alike.
Vityaz
Vityaz (Knight) is a Russian Spetsnaz unit of the MVD. Vityaz are assigned specifically to counter terrorism duties regularly conducting patrols in Chechnya and along the Caucasus border. Vityaz troops are also trained to stop rebellions in prisons and regular army units should they occur. Approximately 75 members of Vityaz have been awarded the title Hero of the Russian Federation for their bravery. All volunteers for the Vityaz unit undergo the same selection course and training as regular GRU Spetsnaz trainees. The training is rigorous and very physically demanding and less than 2 in 10 candidates pass the course. The training course lasts for several months and includes training in hand to hand combat, weapons, intelligence gathering, hostage negotiation and rescue, riot control, field medicine and a large emphasis on physical fitness.
VDV
The Russian Airborne Troops or VDV (from Vozdushno-Desantnye Vojska, Air-landing Forces) is an arm of service of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation on a par with the Strategic Rocket Forces and the Russian Space Forces. First formed before World War II the force undertook two significant airborne operations and a number of smaller jumps during the war and after 1945 for many years was the largest airborne force in the world.
Alfa
The Alpha (Alfa) Group (also known as Spetsgruppa A) is an elite dedicated counter terrorism unit that belongs to OSNAZ (special purpose forces) of the FSB (former KGB) or more specifically the "A" Directorate of the FSB Special Operations Centre (TsSN).
Alfa Group's primary function is believed to be to carry out urban counter terrorist missions under the direct sanction and control of the Russian political leadership. However little is publicly known and other plausible missions would include a variety of paramilitary, policing and/or covert operations, similar to the missions of its secretive pennant, the "V" Group (Vympel). Alfa Group has access to state of the art small arms and equipment. They have employed chemical agents in hostage rescue operations and are capable of functioning in an NBC environment. Little further information is publicly available. It is assumed that Alpha is equipped with sniper and counter sniper capability, tactical emergency medical services, demolitions, tactical intelligence and other functions typical of both police special teams and the special operations community. It is unknown whether they have dedicated hostage negotiators.

"Alfa Group" or Group A a special forces (Spetsnaz) or special operations detachment OSNAZ unit attached to the KGB was created on 28 July 1974 within the First Chief Directorate of the KGB on the orders of Yuri Andropov then Chairman of the KGB. It was intended for counter terrorism operations to give the KGB the capacity to respond to such incidents as the 1972 Munich massacre on its own territory. However from the beginning its assigned missions far exceeded its formal scope. The Group was tasked with liberating hijacked airliners within the Soviet Union such as Aeroflot Flight 6833 as well as making sensitive arrests such as that of CIA spy Adolf Tolkachev. Their most notable mission during the Soviet period was the attack on the Amin's palace in Afghanistan on 27 December 1979, the special operation which began the Soviet-Afghan War. The operation involved storming a high hill under extremely heavy fire and lots of intense close combat resulting in the death of the Afghan president, Hafizullah Amin, and his approximately 200 elite guards. In the operation Alfa group lost only two men while the other Soviet forces lost 19. Other governmental buildings such as the Ministry of Interior building, the Internal Security (KHAD) building and the Darul Aman Palace were also seized during the operation, which Alfa group's veterans called the most successful in the group's history. The unit served extensively in the following Soviet occupation of Afghanistan as well.

In October 1985 Alfa was dispatched to Beirut, Lebanon when four Soviet diplomats had been taken hostage by militant Sunni Muslims. By the time Alfa was onsite one of the hostages had already been killed. The perpetrators and their relatives were identified by supporting KGB operatives and the latter were taken hostage. Following the standard policy of 'no negotiation' Alfa proceeded to sever some of their hostages' body parts and sent them to the perpetrators with a warning that more would follow if the Russian hostages were not released immediately. The tactic was a success and no other Russian national was taken hostage in the Middle East for the next 20 years until the 2006 abduction of Russian diplomats in Iraq. During the Soviet coup attempt of 1991 the Alfa group (under the command of Major General Viktor Karpukhin) was assigned the task of entering the White House, Russia's parliament building and killing Boris Yeltsin and the other Russian leaders following a planned assault on the entrance by paratroopers. This order was unanimously refused. Unit members mingled through the crowds and assessed the possibility of undertaking such an operation. According to their statements in the following months it could have been carried out with success and achieved its main objectives within 20 to 25 minutes but would have resulted in hundreds if not thousands of civilian deaths.

According to some Russian military sources the unit was degraded and demoralised by the political manipulation it suffered in the political battles surrounding the collapse of the Soviet Union with the KGB seeking to use it in the hardline 1991 plot against Mikhail Gorbachev, and the Russian president Boris Yeltsin also using it as an instrument of power when attacking the Russian White House during the 1993 Russian constitutional crisis. The unit continues to exist after the collapse of the Soviet Union and has been used in a variety of crisis situations such as their highly controversial actions ending the Moscow theatre hostage crisis in 2002 (which resulted in most of the hostages being killed by Alfa) and the Beslan school hostage crisis in 2004 in which the group suffered its highest official losses in history.

Vympel
"Vympel" (the Pennant) formerly known as an elite cold war era KGB sabotage 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 training, driving APCs and airplanes, and medical training) and are Russia's last defence 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 4 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 BDU colour is black. However in Chechnya they use different kinds of camouflage.

 

Russia