Much of what we post here is based on preparing the potential Special Operations candidates for what they will face in the various Selection or qualification courses. But sometimes it is good to change things up a bit and delve into our shared history to learn and respect where we come from. Other times, like today, it is important to learn about our potential adversaries, even in small doses. And something that occurred over the weekend definitely piqued our interest.
The Russian government released information that an FSB/Spetsnaz Special Operations unit in Russia’s North Caucasus region of Dagestan killed two people, identified as Islamic State terrorists on Saturday, October 13. Spetsnaz is basically an umbrella term from the abbreviation used. But refers to Special Purpose Forces. Little is known about them and generally, a lot of misconceptions abound about the shadowy Russian SOF unit.
The official Russian statement from their news organization TASS reported that “Today, during a search carried out as part of a counter-terrorism operation in the Khasavyurt region of the Republic of Dagestan, the security bodies were tipped off that armed gunmen had been holing up in a private house in the village of Endirey.”
Endirey is located 50 miles east of Grozny.
The Islamic State terrorists were wanted for the murder of two police officers, the murder of a villager Toturbiykal in 2017 and the imam in the village of Mutsalaul this year. They were also involved in the bombing of a mosque, desecration of graves and other “terrorism-related activities.”
“During the fight, two criminals, who refused to lay down arms and surrender, were neutralized,” the official statement said. “In the exchange of fire, two officers of the FSB special ops unit and one officer of the Russian National Guard were wounded.
This operation of security forces and law enforcement agencies was the final one to eradicate the criminal activity of Islamic State followers in the republic’s Khasavyurt region,”
Dagestan is located east of Chechnya and is composed of a Muslim-majority population that is among the poorest and most unstable parts of Russia. The Spetsnaz has been very active there in trying to eradicate the Islamic State terror which has claimed several attacks on the people in the region. The militants in the region proclaimed their allegiance to ISIS in 2015.
As with most Russian operations, they are more inclined to “eliminate” the threats as they have been quite active in taking on the ISIS targets in the area. Spetsnaz, which falls under the GRU have foiled several attacks since the early summer and has rung up a high body count including a terrorist ringleader and three other militants last month who according to an official release, “refused to surrender.”
Spetsnaz forces belong to both the FSB and GRU and have small special operations units tasked to several individual commands. But watching the Americans closely in Syria, the Russians developed its own command for their Special Ops troops called KSSO due to their acronym.
This unit which is patterned after JSOC is a strictly Special Operations command and has been very active. They used KSSO troops dressed as civilians when the Russians invaded the Crimean Peninsula in Ukraine in 2014.
The Ukrainians have their own Spetsnaz group, a holdover from the days of the Soviet Union. The Spetsnaz operate under the control of the Ministry of Interior, and under the Ministry of Defence, while the Security Service of Ukraine controls it own Spetsnaz force, the Alfa group. Other former Soviet republics that have their own Spetsnaz units include Belarus, with the 5th Spetsnaz Brigade and Kazakhstan who have their own “Alfa Group.”
The Alfa Group is based on the Russian model. The Russians have 700 counter-terrorist operators spread out in five detachments based in Moscow and other large cities.
KSSO have been very active in Syria since 2015. According to Business Insider: the KSSO has been involved in missions ranging from recovering the flight recorder of Russia’s downed Su-24M navigator back in November 2015, to reconnoitering targets for cruise missile strikes, disruption behind enemy lines through ambushes, high value targeted killing and retaliation strikes against select groups of fighters. Four KSSO operators are known to have been killed, including two specializing in coordinating strikes with the air force, which gives some indication of their tasks.
One Russian commander of a 16-man Spetsnaz unit was given a Gold Star and named a “Hero of the Russian Federation” for the repulse of multiple attacks by over 300 jihadists without loss, after being surrounded by the jihadis and abandoned by their Syrian allies. That particular detail won’t sit well with the Spetsnaz or Putin.
Training for the Spetsnaz closely mimics what the western Special Operations Forces conducts for its own candidates. Their physical training consists mainly with the emphasis on strength and endurance. Their training is based heavily on patrolling, sabotage, surveillance, and reconnaissance. They place a heavy emphasis on sniping and sniper techniques.
These Special Operations Troops of the Russians, don’t have as much of the high-speed gear that their western counterparts may have, but they are tough and well trained. Although they are considered a potential adversary, the Spetsnaz and US Green Berets actually worked together several years ago during the fight against Albanian separatists. That story can be read here:
Photos: Tass/Russian Federation