Circling the Lion's Den

Internal Troops Spetsnaz: the 2000s

Sergei Kozlov

The internal troops spetsnaz, created to provide security for the 1980 Olympics, underwent far-reaching reforms in the 2000s. Their numbers were increased and their training system changed. The spetsnaz also gained an intelligence role and a special purpose center was set up within the forces.

Precursors to reform

In the early 1990s, in addition to the Special Purpose (spetsnaz) unit Vityaz and operational brigades and regiments, the Internal Troops also comprised spetsnaz companies. Each company comprised three sections: 1st and 2nd spetsnaz sections were focused on assault actions, while the 3rd specialized in intelligence. In 1993 they formed the basis for intelligence sections while spetsnaz groups remained within the brigades and regiments. In 1994 other special purpose groups emerged within the internal troops, such as Rus (Moscow) and Rosich (Kalach). The level of their training was very high by comparison with that of other sections of the Internal Troops. Armed conflict in the North Caucasus no longer brought them into conflict with some kind of mountain rabble, the enemy was well organised, well trained and well led. Given this situation the gap between the level to which the spetsnaz had been trained, and what was increasingly expected of them, grew visibly.

The current head of intelligence for the Internal Troops, Lieutenant General Sergei Kutzov recalled: In 1995 the Internal Troops were under the command of Army General A Kulikov. He ordered them Spies, give Liabik (Spetsnaz Commander) the target to which I responded Comrade Commander, Liabik wants us to give him a target where there arent any militants in a 20 km radius. They want us to deliver it to them on a plate. But there arent any targets like that, there are indeed lots of them, but theyre remotely located and heavily protected. So they gradually started to change their tactics. In July 1995 Rus took part in an operation to free hostages in Budennovsk. In January 1996, alongside the 1st special purpose division, Vityaz and Rus took part in the storming of the Pervomaiskoe village, which had been taken by Salman Raduevs bandit group.

Increasing the number of brigades

Despite their limited combat experience, the Internal Troops spetsnaz proved themselves the best prepared division of Internal Troops, and the best able to resolve the military tasks at hand. These tasks are set out in Federal Law N27-F3 from 1997 On the Internal Troops of the Ministry of the Interior of the Russian Federation and includes participation in the elimination of illegal armed groups and organised criminal groups, preventing mass disorder, neutralizing terrorist threats, hostage release scenarios, freeing state facilities that have been taken hostage, as well as ensuring the security of important individuals. After the first chechen conflict ended, new Internal Troops spetsnaz groups started to be created. They were formed using spare capacity created from those spetsnaz brigades and divisions that had been dissolved.

In 1999 thanks to the head of intelligence for the Internal Troops, General Kuznetsov and his deputy, General Cherizov, the Vityaz special purpose regiment was formed on the basis of the division within the Independent Special Designation Division. It included an officer-staffed unit. But a couple of years later the unit had its numbers cut again and the 1st OSN Vityaz.

The intelligence section

After the First Chechen Campaign, at the end of the 1990s a decision was taken to transfer part of the special purpose forces to the command of the head of Intelligence Forces. By 2000 there were 9 special purpose divisions within the Internal Troops.

Given the fact that the spetsnaz became part of the Internal Troops intelligence services, there was essentially no difference between divisions of the spetsnaz within the Internal Troops and separate intelligence sections of the Internal Troops.

The levels of preparation and difficulty of tasks at hand were perfectly matched. The difference in name is purely due to the fact that the separate intelligence battalion SIB (Russian ORB) achieves objectives in the interests of its brigade while the OSN acts in the interests of the Internal Troops groups created in the regions who find themselves in difficult operational situations. Currently the best-trained members of the spetsnaz are serving in the intelligence groups. Special purpose divisions comprise intelligence units while separate battalions have intelligence sections. Spetsnaz groups and units were also involved in providing security for important state facilities. The head of intelligence for the Internal Troops, Lieutenant General Sergei Kuztsov previously served in the GRUs spetsnaz, fought in Afghanistan as head of 177 special purpose division that operated high in the mountains of Qazni.

Therefore in developing intelligence programs for providing military training to intelligence agents within the internal troops, he used both the experience and tactics of the GRU and the experience of the war in Afghanistan. Sergei Kuztsov recalled I took the GRU spetsnaz training course as the foundation, bearing in mind the objectives they have to accomplish and the specifics of the way the Internal Troops are used, to develop a training program for Internal Forces spies, which I then implemented. And with good results. The Internal Troops military intelligence was not that much worse than that of the GRUs spetsnaz intelligence.

In connection with the Russian Federation army reforms, no set number of spetsnaz sections was given. In the words of the management of the Interior Troops intelligence, spetsnaz divisions need solid foundations, and therefore in those places where the divisions have no opportunities for development or real military training, they were disbanded. At the same time new locations and new divisions were selected and created so as to ensure the growing demand for military training was met, using the staff capacity drawn from these disbanded sections. True, it was not quite clear why they couldnt just re-locate those units that were instead disbanded. But that was the vision of the Internal Troops command.

Creating the Special Purpose Center under the Interior Forces

In 2008 Special Purpose Center 604 was created on the basis of the Vityaz and the Rus. However its military capability was greater than that of either of the two units. Due to the size of the logistical units their military components were increased.

The Center included a special operations group, a military amphibious sub-group which was responsible for defended state facilities. They also carried out anti-diversionary and counter-terror tasks in aquatic environments.

The Center allowed them to perfect their skills and to use new never before tried approaches to military action. The aviachute was one such example. This equipment was also able to ensure effective communication over great distances. The personnel in the Special Forces group, their officers, and intelligence support among the Special Forces Center started doing parachute jumps. This also increased the Spetsnazs capacity in delivering troops to the combat theater.

The special purpose center saw the creation of a specialist subdivision comprising mine and explosives experts. Engagement in the North Caucasus gave them an opportunity to demonstrate their highly effective heavy weaponry, also weapons that were part of the kit used by several subsections of Internal Troops spetsnaz.

Internal Troops Intelligence Contingent: Training

Internal troops intelligence operations include all forms of contemporary intelligence activity. So, for example, there were subsections on radio-communications equipment surveillance used in ELINT (SBR etc) as well as sigint sections. The airborne sections were kitted out with infrared and thermal-sensing equipment that worked with weapons to ensure direct strikes as soon as the target entered range. The internal troops have various types of study center. Contract soldiers study in Smolensk; they are trained over a couple of months, alongside the regular troops and command sections. New troop training centers were also created in Khabarovsk, Ufa, and Novosibirsk at the military institute. Similar centers are planned for the Ural Command in Nizhny Tagil. In Krasnodar Territory a training center was established at Akhmetovka, specializing in mountain training for the Special Forces 1,000 people pass through it each year.

The Internal Forces mountain training is carried out on a par with that for the Russian Spetsnaz, jointly with the Special Intelligence units of the GRU. Radio-communications intelligence specialists are trained in the Stavropol section and in the training institutes. Information specialists are given year long courses to improve their qualification level. The Internal Forces spetsnaz officers are trained in the intelligence department of the Novosibirsk Internal Forces institute. Senior officers are trained in Internal Forces groups within the general military academy. Senior officers and generals study at the Higher Academic Courses of the General Military Academy, and also in the General Staff Academy. Thus a whole panoply of training options exists for Internal Forces intelligence operatives at all levels.

Interior Troops Spetsnaz Divisions today

Today the current spetsnaz formations under the internal troops are as follows:

  • 604 TsSN, VV, Vityaz, Balashikha
  • 7 OSN, VV, Rosich, Kadamovsky
  • 12 OSN, VV, Ural, Nizhny Tagil
  • 15 OSN, VV, Vyatich, Armavir
  • 17 OSN, VV, Edelweiss, Mineralny Vody
  • 19 OSN, VV, Ermak, Novosibirsk
  • 21 OSN, VV, Taiphoon, Khabarovsk
  • 23 OSN, VV, Mechel, Chelyabinsk
  • 25 OSN, VV, Mercury, Smolensk
  • 26 OSN, VV, Kazan
  • 27 OSN, VV, Kuzbass, Kemerovo
  • 28 OSN, VV, Arkhangelsk.
  • 29 OSN, VV, Ufa
  • 33 OSN, VV, Peresvet, Moscow
  • 34 OSN, VV, Grozny

Intelligence subsections of the Internal Troops also exist independently and joined with operational units, while in military defense sections for the protection of strategic government sites there are spetsnaz subsections whose role it is to prevent assaults, both physical and intelligence driven attacks, on the sites in question.

All units have the same staff. It is worth noting that the Internal Troops differ in that the subsections are formed to tackle particular objectives that have arisen and therefore differ greatly from each other. For example: the formation of the North-Eastern Internal Troops Spetsnaz which consist of a group of 10 people in the Chukotka command base.

Internal Troops Special Purpose Divisions under regional command (RK)

For understandable reasons the Internal Troops subsection in the Urals is smaller than that covering the North Caucasus. The regional command posts spetsnaz contingents are as follows:

  • 1. Eastern Regional Command (RC) 21st Spetsnaz Division, Internal Troops, Taiphoon.
  • 2. Siberian Regional Command 19th Spetsnaz Division, Internal Troops, Ermak, 27 OSN VV
  • 3. Ural Regional Command 12th Spetsnaz Division, Internal Troops, Ural, and 23rd division VV, Mechel
  • 4. North West Regional Command, 28th Spetsnaz Division
  • 5. Volga Regional Command, 29th OSN, 26th OSN.
  • 6. North Caucasus Regional Command. Includes several spetsnaz divisions which are part of the joint staff, or which are directly subordinate to the center: SKRK, VV, Ministry of the Interior, Russian Federation: 7 OSN VV Rosich, 15 OSN VV Vyatich, 17 OSN VV Edelweiss, and the 25 OSN VV Mercury.

Tried and tested

Currently the internal troops only hold one selection competition each year for membership of the Special Forces troops and intelligence, several dozen sections take part. From 2010 the maroon berets are given out en masse. In 2010 this started to take place at the Novosibirsk institute.

In following years the maroon beret will also be awarded at the ODON Special Centers in Novaya and Smolenskaya. Thus local subjectivity is minimized. The internal troops command is gradually losing the sense it once had, of a candidate having to excel in hand to hand combat. This is related to the fact that the emphasis in training members of the internal Special Forces now lies more with turning out well-rounded, universal, soldiers.

Agentura.Ru October 27, 2010