'Spetsnaz' - The Secret Soviet Combat Troops

During the last few years, Western intelligence agents have collected information about a large, hard-core Russian underground army. In the advent of a 3rd World War, they will prepare the way for an attack on Western Europe and, perhaps, the whole of the free world. In this text, well-known American journalist Dale Van Atta, gives an extensive overview of these alarming facts.

A military bus stops at the gate of an American Army training camp in Germany. The guards, assuming it is bringing back personnel from town, approach the bus and are about to perform their routine checks, when they are shot down by bursts of fire from silenced weapons. As the bus drives on, members of the two special forces inside put on their gas-masks.

The sentry guards at the discharge ramps of the Pershing-II atomic missiles based in the camp, die within a few minutes under an invisible cloud of nerve-gas. The ramps are then rendered useless.

A second Pershing base in Heilbronn falls in a similar way. At the same time, five important NATO telecommunication systems are being destroyed - one in Maastricht, Holland, and the others in Börfink, Kindsbach, Maßweiler and Vogelweh in the Federal Republic of Germany. There is tremendous confusion in NATO's High Command in Brussels. Numerous high officers and politicians are unreachable. Some are found dead in their homes.

Near Keflavik in Iceland, a main submarine defence base of the Atlantic Alliance, some divers appear out of the waves. Using equipment previously planted on the sea bed, they destroy information and telecommunication posts.

None of the NATO countries are being spared, not even the neutral ones. In Stockholm, after heavy shooting near the palace, the Swedish royal family are kidnapped by agents who were lying in wait until they received the green light from their counterparts in the city.

The elite of the Soviet special commandos could, with the help of undercover secret agents, put NATO in a catastrophic situation with one blow. How would the West, with a shattered arsenal of atomic weapons, heavily damaged Intelligence Service connections and diminished leadership, stop a major Soviet attack on Western Europe?

Even though all this might be a hypothetical test, it is serious in its planning. General Péotr Ivanovitch Ivachutin, the bullnecked, almost bald Commander of the Soviet Military Secret Service (GRU), has over 30,000 men and women specially trained for such tasks.

For a long time the Western Secret Services did not know of the existence and build-up of these special troops, who were responsible for incidents like the assassination of the Afghan President in 1979, and the suffocation of anti-Soviet initiatives in Bulgaria in the mid-1960's. Now it is well known what danger they present and what their official name is: Speznas - in NATO English, Spetsnaz - a combination of the words "Spetzalnava naznasehchenia", which roughly means “troops for special purposes.”

"The setting up of 'Spetsnaz' troops is a particularly threatening aspect of the increasing military strength of the Soviet Union," says the Deputy Secretary of State in the US Ministry of Defence, Noel Koch. "It is meant to destroy the adversary's infra-structure and kill key people. In the case of war, this element of the Soviet Power apparatus could overthrow the strategic concept of NATO and even the one of the United States."

Cold-blooded Hardness. A typical Spetsnaz unit consists of two officers of differing ranks, one radio operator, and one paramedic, as well as at least two sabotage and four reconnaissance specialists. Part of their equipment is usually a type of missile (a so-called impulse bundle sender), which relays coded messages bit by bit via satellite to the central office, together with a list of further targets for sabotage and reconnaissance commandos. One hundred such units make a Spetsnaz brigade; each brigade has ten superior elite units available, consisting exclusively of active officers, whose main task is the assassination of hostile leaders. According to estimates by the American Secret Service, Spetsnaz have a total war force of twenty brigades each of 900 to 1,200 men strong, and in addition, at least four marine brigades.

To be chosen for a Spetsnaz unit is a great honour. "Only those who have been proven to the core are chosen," says a deserter of the GRU, who now lives in England under the pseudonym, Victor Suvorov. He states (this has been confirmed by secret service sources) that many of the existing Soviet sportsmen, i.e. Olympic competitors, are Spetsnaz people. International competitions not only give them the opportunity to improve their shooting, skiing and swimming skills, but also give them the chance to get to know the countries better to which they might one day be assigned as saboteurs.

Spetsnaz officers and soldiers receive better wages, rations and more holidays than other army members. They are also promoted quicker and can retire earlier. On the other hand, much is required of them. For survival training they are dropped in isolated areas where they have to survive on their own for days or weeks, often without even sleeping-bags.

In combat, every Spetsnaz soldier has a light automatic Kalaschnikov rifle with 300 bullets and a bayonet (which can also be used as a saw and wire-cutters), a P6 pistol with silencer, six hand grenades or a fire cup for rifle grenades, as well as a James Bond style knife which, by pressing a button, silently shoots out a deadly blade to a distance of ten metres.

The Spetsnaz troops apply the most brutal methods. One of their main training centres - Scheltia Vodij in the Ukraine - lies near a concentration camp where the prisoners are, according to Suvorov, used for close combat training, i.e. beaten up, kicked and often mutilated. "That is, of course, much more real than only stabbing sandbags," he says.

Sabotage and Murderous Assaults. Intelligence service reports about a secret Spetsnaz training camp west of the Urals clearly state that manoeuvres against American and NATO objectives are being practised. There are replicas of commercial planes (to practise kidnappings), American and French jet-fighters, discharge ramps for nuclear weapons, Pershing missiles and ground supported projectiles. Strangely, a model of these American Pershing-II missiles already stood in this Soviet training camp before they were even stationed in the Federal Republic of Germany in 1983.

In the eventuality of war, Spetsnaz troops would have already moved into Western Europe and the United States before a Soviet declaration of war. They would come in the dead of night with parachutes and midget-submarines, or as divers; at the same time an unusual number of Soviet sporting and cultural delegations would visit those countries chosen as targets for future invasions.

Personnel of the Soviet Embassies and Consulates would be reinforced with young men and women of extraordinary physical fitness, who would work as guards, chauffeurs and gardeners.

They would call into action the so-called "sleeping" agents who had already settled a long time beforehand around the military bases, weapons depots and telecommunication centres. They would observe the situation, report about what they had seen and give shelter to the Spetsnaz troops, if necessary.

If the Soviets wanted to launch a surprise attack, the troops would mark or attack nuclear weapon stations, immobilise command and control systems, disable military bases, destroy power stations and radio networks, as well as assassinate top politicians and high officers.

Assassinations are normally the nucleus of Soviet "blitz" war planning. As the atomic weapons of NATO are only allowed to be activated after agreement by the political leadership, the removal of these leaders would drastically delay an atomic counter-attack. "The Soviet Union must disable the political decision-making centres of the leading NATO states within the shortest possible period of time," says C. N. Donnelly, the leader of the Soviet Union Research Centre of the Royal British Military Academy.

This audacious strategy takes advantage of the slow decision-making process within NATO. The structure of the Alliance firstly demands a mutual consultation of all sixteen member states. Apart from this, the mobilisation of the front-line of defence takes several days. This means the lorries which pick up the nuclear warheads from the Western European depots have to wait their turn, then have to transport the dangerous freight on public roads to their destinations providing an ideal target for Spetsnaz attacks. "The major danger is not a grand invasion," as the British Defence Minister found out in 1984, "but the specially trained sabotage troops."

Mysterious Submarines. According to the findings of the American Secret Service, the Russians have already made use of Spetsnaz units for years. John Dziak of the American Defence Ministry Secret Service, writes in his book “Special Operations in U.S. Strategy”:

"When the Soviet Union invaded Czechoslovakia in 1968, Prague airport was occupied by Spetsnaz troops as ordered by the KGB. Party leader, Alexander Dubcek, was arrested and deported to Moscow. Other enemies on the KGB list were annihilated."

The invasion of Afghanistan, in Christmas 1979, was a classic Spetsnaz operation. High officers in the Afghan army were lured to a reception held in honour of the "Afghan-Soviet friendship". They were then locked into the banqueting hall and slaughtered by a Spetsnaz unit.

The main task of the Spetsnaz force, a group of several hundred men who had been flown into Kabul was, according to the KGB-deserter Major Vladimir Kuszetschkin, the murder of the president Hafisullah Amin. On December 27th, Spetsnaz troops in Afghan uniforms attacked the Daulaman Palace from three sides. Led by the KGB, they forced their way through to Amin and killed him, his family and bodyguards.

According to secret service reports from the West, which obtains information mainly from intercepted radio messages and statements by fugitives and deserters, Afghanistan is the centre of current Spetsnaz operations.

The special task forces help the 120,000 men of the Red Army in their fight against partisans.

"The costs arising from the war with Afghanistan are high," says Dziak, "but it is the first opportunity since the 2nd World War for the Soviet military to exercise their armed forces in a real situation."

Careful Planning. According to the American Defence Minister, John Marsh, "The influence of the Spetsnaz troops reach far beyond the borders of the Soviet Union. They are an excellent instrument for the furtherance of the revolution thanks to their unconventional warfare tactics." Not only Afghan soldiers, but also soldiers from Cuba and other Third World countries have been in Spetsnaz-Training camps in the USSR.

Spetsnaz units are regularly deployed to test the reaction capacity of the Western Secret Service and military. The Soviets particularly like to use a midget-submarine for this purpose. It has caterpillar tracks similar to those on tanks, enabling them to drive on the sea bed. Using this they spy on Swedish naval bases, looking for suitable landing grounds for their combat swimmers. At one point, they managed to get within 1.5 kilometres of the Stockholm shelf.

In March 1984, the Swedish army chased Spetsnaz frogmen near a major naval base with machine-gun fire and hand grenades. Not long ago, such submarines were sighted near the straits of Gibraltar and caterpillar tracks were discovered on the sea bed near Japanese naval bases.

The well-known military expert Edward Luttwak, from the Centre for Strategic and International Studies at Georgetown University in Washington, sees these Spetsnaz operations as, "a further sign of the care with which the Soviet Union prepare their plans of attack."

The Western European countries in NATO are already focusing on the existence of Spetsnaz troops. Great Britain is in the process of reinforcing their Territorial Army. In addition the British have, through the Home Service Force, produced another instrument of national defence and improved methods of protection for vital installations. This seems to be within good reason as can be seen in an article from “Jane's Defence Weekly” in January which states:

"The Soviet Union keep a command of female Spetsnaz soldiers at the air base in Greenham Common, since land-operated Tomahawk weapons from the American Airforce were stationed there in December 1983. According to statements made by Soviet deserters, trained female agents infiltrated the ranks of protesters and took part in all the events."

The American Ministry of Defence believes that a variety of measures are necessary to put a stop to the practices of Spetsnaz troops. First of all, people affected, like top officials in public life, would have to be informed of their combat tactics. Offices and organisations like the criminal investigation police and border police of the United States, whose field of investigation would include tracking down and engaging Spetsnaz troops in combat, would have to know exactly what to look out for. Finally, intensive work would have to be carried out to obtain information about Spetsnaz in order to find out early enough how, when, and where these troops might strike next.

"Spetsnaz came into being very quickly and we are only now realising the danger it presents to us," says the Deputy Secretary of State Noel Koch. "In order to be prepared for it we have to improve our security precautions drastically."

Translated from the German: "Spetsnaz, die geheime Kampftruppe der Sowjets"

Source: 'The Best of The Reader's Digest'