The Cold War, a period where the superpowers of the United States and the Soviet Union were eyeing each other and gauging supremacy, lasted for decades. During this time period spying and espionage endeavors were legion, and each side recruited agents and trained specialized soldiers to undertake hazardous, deep cover missions behind enemy lines. One of the forces that came to light during the Cold War (though there’s little word as to when this force was created) were the Russian special forces, known as Spetsnaz troops.
Spetsnaz, whose full name which roughly translates to “troops of special purpose,” were trained and managed under the direction of the GRU, which replaced the old Soviet KGB. Spetsnaz troops are arranged into units referred to as diversionary brigades, which number over 100 special forces troops per brigade. These troops were also assigned to various parts of the military including the army, naval operations, paratroop divisions and others. During their original creation Spetsnaz soldiers were a state secret that was jealously guarded so the troops were not allowed to wear special uniforms, insignias or anything that would make them stand out from the rest of their comrades. This was the attitude that, until years after the Cold War, defined Spetsnaz troops. They officially didn’t exist, and they were the shadowy threat that kept enemies jumping and kept friends looking over their shoulders.
There is a little known about Spetsnaz troops by the West today, since their existence has been confirmed by the Russian government. These troops are well trained in a variety of engagement styles using huge varieties of weapons that range from the famous ballistic knife (a spring loaded, surprise weapon) through the nine millimeter Makarov pistol and up through the ranks of heavier firepower including the AK-47 assault rifle and the Dragunov sniper rifle. Of course these troops are trained in a huge variety of makes and calibers, the ones listed were simply the more traditional when the group was first formed. Aside from weapons training Spetsnaz troops are trained in stealth, small unit tactics, interrogation, a specialized form of hand to hand combat that’s referred to as Systema Spetsnaz by civilians, mental toughness and endurance as well as in various forms of movement including paratroop training and combat diving.
Perhaps the most shocking information about the training of Russian Spetsnaz troops is the brutality which they’re exposed to. Though the numbers vary as to percentages, fatalities are far from uncommon in Spetsnaz training, an idea that would appal Western forces. Additionally there are far fewer restraints on trainers when it comes to the harshness Spetsnaz troops have to face. Physical punishment, torture tactics, sleep deprivation and heinous physical endurance are all par for the course, and these are just what has been uncovered. This training instills an extreme sort of drive and durability into Spetsnaz troops that could only be compared to the armies of ancient Sparta, and some have said that the deadly ruthlessness of these soldiers is a direct result of the process that forges them into what they are; one of the world’s most elite special forces.
“Russian Spetsnaz,” by Anonymous at Offical Spetsnaz
“Spetsnaz,” by Anonymous at Special Operations