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Херсонский ТОП
Северный Кипр недвижимость. Купи себе место под Солнцем!

Viktor Suvorov. Spetsnaz
Chapter 2. Spetsnaz and the GRU

     It is impossible to translate the Russian  word razvedka precisely into
any foreign language. It is usually rendered as `reconnaissance' or `spying'
or `intelligence  gathering'. A  fuller  explanation  of the word is that it
describes any means and any actions aimed at obtaining information about  an
enemy, analysing it and understanding it properly.
     Every Soviet military headquarters  has its own machinery for gathering
and  analysing  information about the  enemy. The information thus collected
and analysed about the enemy is passed  on to other headquarters, higher up,
lower down and  on the same level,  and each headquarters  in turn  receives
information about the enemy not only from its own  sources but also from the
other headquarters.
     If  some  military  unit  should be  defeated  in  battle  through  its
ignorance  of the enemy, the commanding officer and his chief of  staff have
no right to blame the fact that they were not well enough informed about the
enemy.  The most  important task for  every commander  and chief of staff is
that, without  waiting for  information to  arrive from elsewhere, they must
organise their own sources of information about the enemy and warn their own
forces and their superior headquarters of any danger that is threatened.
     Spetsnaz is one of the forms of Soviet military razvedka which occupies
a place somewhere between reconnaissance and intelligence.
     It is the name given to the shock troops of razvedka in which there are
combined  elements  of   espionage,   terrorism   and  large-scale  partisan
operations. In personal terms, this covers a very diverse  range of  people:
secret agents  recruited by Soviet  military  razvedka  among foreigners for
carrying out espionage and terrorist operations; professional units composed
of the country's best sportsmen; and units made up of ordinary but carefully
selected  and well  trained  soldiers.  The  higher  the  level  of a  given
headquarters is, the more spetsnaz units it has at its disposal and the more
professionals there are among the spetsnaz troops.
     The  term  spetsnaz is  a  composite  word made  up  from  spetsialnoye
nazhacheniye, meaning `special purpose'. The  name is well chosen.  Spetsnaz
differs from  other forms of razvedka in  that it  not only  seeks and finds
important enemy  targets, but in the majority of cases attacks  and destroys
     Spetsnaz  has  a long history,  in  which  there  have been periods  of
success and  periods of decline. After the Second World War  spetsnaz was in
the  doldrums,  but  from  the mid-1950s  a new  era  in the  history of the
organisation  began  with the  West's  new  deployment  of  tactical nuclear
weapons. This development  created  for  the  Soviet Army, which  had always
prepared  itself, and  still does, only for  `liberation'  wars  on  foreign
territory, a practically insuperable barrier. Soviet strategy could continue
along  the same lines only  if  the  means could  be found to remove Western
tactical nuclear weapons from the path of the Soviet  troops, without at the
same time turning the enemy's territory into a nuclear desert.
     The destruction of  the  tactical nuclear weapons  which  render Soviet
aggression  impossible  or  pointless  could  be  carried  out  only  if the
whereabouts  of  all, or at  least  the  majority,  of  the enemy's tactical
nuclear weapons were established. But this in itself  presented a tremendous
problem. It is very easy to conceal tactical  missiles, aircraft and nuclear
artillery and, instead of  deploying real  missiles and guns, the enemy  can
deploy  dummies,  thus  diverting  the  attention  of  Soviet  razvedka  and
protecting the real tactical nuclear weapons under cover.
     The  Soviet high  command therefore had to devise the sort of  means of
detection that could approach very close to the enemy's weapons  and in each
case provide a  precise answer to the question of whether they were real, or
just well  produced  dummies.  But even if a tremendous  number  of  nuclear
batteries were discovered in good time,  that  did not solve the problem. In
the  time  it  takes  for  the  transmission   of   the   reports  from  the
reconnaissance  units  to  the   headquarters,  for  the  analysis   of  the
information  obtained and  the preparation of  the  appropriate command  for
action, the  battery can have changed  position several times. So forces had
to be created that would be able to seek  out, find and  destroy immediately
the nuclear weapons discovered  in  the course of war or immediately  before
its outbreak.
     Spetsnaz  was,  and  is,   precisely  such  an  instrument,  permitting
commanding officers  at army level and higher to establish independently the
whereabouts of the enemy's most dangerous weapons and to destroy them on the
     Is it possible for spetsnaz to pinpoint and destroy every single one of
the enemy's nuclear  weapons? Of course not. So what is the solution to this
problem?  It is very simple. Spetsnaz has to make  every effort to find  and
destroy the  enemy's nuclear armament. Nuclear strength represents the teeth
of the state and it has to be knocked out with the first blow, possibly even
before the fighting begins. But if it proves impossible to knock out all the
teeth  with the first blow,  then a  blow  has to be struck not just  at the
teeth but at the brain and nervous system of the state.
     When we speak  of the  `brain'  we mean the  country's  most  important
statesmen  and politicians. In this context the  leaders  of the  opposition
parties are regarded as equally important candidates for destruction as  the
leaders of the party in power. The opposition is simply  the state's reserve
brain, and it would  be silly  to destroy  the main  decision-making  system
without putting the reserve system out of action. By the same token we mean,
for example, the principal military leaders and police chiefs, the  heads of
the  Church and trade unions and in general all the people  who might  at  a
critical moment appeal to the nation and who are well known to the nation.
     By the `nervous system'  of the state we mean the principal centres and
lines  of   government  and  military  communications,  and  the  commercial
communications  companies, including the main radio stations and  television
     It  would hardly be  possible, of  course,  to  destroy the brain,  the
nervous system and the  teeth at once, but  a simultaneous blow at all three
of the  most important organs could, in the opinion  of  the Soviet leaders,
substantially reduce a  nation's  capacity for  action in the event  of war,
especially at its  initial and most critical  stage. Some  missiles will  be
destroyed and others will not  be fired because there will be nobody to give
the appropriate command or because the command will not be passed on in time
due to the breakdown of communications.
     Having  within its sphere an  organisation  like  spetsnaz,  and having
tested  its potential on numerous exercises, the Soviet high command came to
the conclusion  that spetsnaz  could be used  with success not  only against
tactical but  also against strategic nuclear installations: submarine bases,
weapon stockpiles, aircraft bases and missile launching sites.
     Spetsnaz could be used too,  they realised, against the heart and blood
supply of  the  state: ie.  its source and distribution  of  energy -- power
stations, transformer stations and  power  lines,  as  well  as oil and  gas
pipelines  and storage points, pumping station and oil  refineries.  Putting
even a few of the enemy's more important power stations out  of action could
present him with a catastrophic situation. Not only would there be no light:
factories would be  brought to a standstill, lifts would cease to work,  the
refrigeration installations would be useless, hospitals would find it almost
impossible  to  function,  blood stored  in  refrigerators  would  begin  to
coagulate,  traffic  lights, petrol pumps and trains  would  come to a halt,
computers would cease to operate.
     Even  this short list must  lead to the conclusion that Soviet military
razvedka  (the GRU)  and its integral spetsnaz is  something more  than  the
`eyes and ears of the Soviet Army'.  As a special branch of the GRU spetsnaz
is intended primarily for action in time of  war  and in  the very last days
and hours before it breaks  out.  But  spetsnaz  is  not idle  in  peacetime
either. I am sometimes asked: if we are  talking  about terrorism on such  a
scale,  we must  be talking  about the  KGB.  Not so.  There are three  good
reasons  why spetsnaz is a part of the  GRU and not of the KGB. The first is
that if the  GRU and  spetsnaz were  to be removed from the  Soviet Army and
handed over to the KGB, it would be equivalent to blindfolding a strong man,
while plugging his ears and depriving him  of some other  important  organs,
and making him fight with the information he needs for  fighting provided by
another person  standing beside him and  telling him the  moves.  The Soviet
leaders have tried  on more than one occasion  to do this and it  has always
ended  in catastrophe. The  information provided by  the  secret  police was
always imprecise, late  and insufficient, and the actions of  a blind giant,
predictably, were neither accurate or effective.
     Secondly, if the  functions of the GRU  and spetsnaz were  to be handed
over to  the KGB, then in the event of a catastrophe  (inevitable in such  a
situation) any Soviet commanding officer or chief of staff could say that he
had not had sufficient information about the enemy, that for example a vital
aerodrome and a missile battery  nearby had  not been destroyed by the KGB's
forces. These would be perfectly justified complaints, although it is in any
case impossible  to destroy every aerodrome, every missile battery and every
command post  because the  supply of information in  the course of battle is
always  insufficient. Any commanding  officer who receives information about
the enemy can think of a  million supplementary questions to which  there is
no answer. There is  only one way out of the  situation, and that is to make
every commanding officer responsible for gathering his own information about
the enemy and to provide him with all the means for defeating his own enemy.
Then,  if the  information  is insufficient or  some targets  have not  been
destroyed, only he and his chief of staff are to blame. They must themselves
organise the collection and interpretation of information  about  the enemy,
so as  to  have, if not all the  information,  at  least the most  essential
information at  the right  time. They must organise  the  operation of their
forces so as to destroy the most important obstacles which the enemy has put
in the way of  their  advance.  This is the only way to ensure victory.  The
Soviet  political leadership, the KGB and the military  leaders have all had
every opportunity to convince themselves that there is no other.
     Thirdly,  the Soviet secret  police,  the  KGB,  carries out  different
functions and has other  priorities.  It  has its  own terrorist  apparatus,
which includes an organisation very similar to spetsnaz, known as osnaz. The
KGB uses osnaz for carrying  out  a range of tasks  not  dissimilar in  many
cases to those performed  by the  GRU's  spetsnaz.  But  the  Soviet leaders
consider that it is best not to have any monopolies in  the field  of secret
warfare. Competition, they feel, gives far better results than ration.
     Osnaz is not a subject I propose to deal with  in this book. Only a KGB
officer  directly connected  with  osnaz  could  describe  what  it  is.  My
knowledge is very  limited. But just  as  a  book about  Stalin would not be
complete without  some reference  to  Hitler, osnaz should not be overlooked
     The term osnaz is usually met only in secret documents. In unclassified
documents the term is written out in full as  osobogo  nazhacheniya  or else
reduced  to  the  two  letters  `ON'.  In  cases  where a  longer  title  is
abbreviated the letters ON  are run together with the preceding letters. For
example, DON means `division of osnaz', OON means a `detachment of osnaz".
     The  two words  osoby and  spetsialny are  close in  meaning but  quite
different words. In translation it is difficult to find a precise equivalent
for these two  words, which is why it is  easier to  use the terms osnaz and
spetsnaz   without  translating  them.  Osnaz  apparently  came  into  being
practically at  the same  time  as the Communist  dictatorship. In  the very
first moments  of  the existence of  the Soviet regime we find references to
detachments osobogo nazhacheniya -- special purpose detachments. Osnaz means
military-terrorist  units  which  came into being  as  shock troops  of  the
Communist  Party whose job  was to defend  the party. Osnaz was later handed
over to the  secret police, which changed  its own name from time to time as
easily as a snake  changes its skin: Cheka -- VCheka -- OGPU -- NKVD -- NKGB
-- MGB -- MVD -- KGB. Once a snake, however, always a snake.
     It is  the fact  the  spetsnaz  belongs to the  army,  and osnaz to the
secret  police, that accounts for all the differences between them. Spetsnaz
operates mainly  against external enemies; osnaz does the same but mainly in
its own territory and  against its own  citizens.  Even if both spetsnaz and
osnaz are  faced  with  carrying  out one and the same operation the  Soviet
leadership is not inclined to rely so  much on co-operation between the army
and the secret police as on the strong competitive instincts between them.

Next: Chapter 3

All books by Viktor Suvorov
© 2002-2019 Viacheslav Galychenko. Все права соблюдены.

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