1) What does Spetsnaz stand for ?
The word itself is a contraction in the Russian language, it means “special forces unit“. They are special operations forces with a simple purpose : to fix problems that a civilian prefers not to get closer to, and regular soldiers are not able to confront. For example to accomplish sabotage missions behind enemy lines or lead a direct action during warfare, to support the regular army (also named “conventional forces”). Or amphibious operations to infiltrate the enemy lines. All operators of special units are strong, well-built young men with excellent health, high moral qualities, outstanding intelligence, mentally stable, and performing various tasks most of the time in extreme conditions. It is incredibly prestigious to serve with commandos of special forces. These troops are the pride of Russia and the guarantee of its well-controlled vast territory.
Why are Spetsnaz the best ?
Army special forces are composed of elite troops, ready to travel all around the globe to lead counter-terrorism special operations. In accordance with the specialty of their unit, they can be enrolled in hostage rescue special ops, military intelligence operations in enemy territory, to use the deployment of special tactics to fight against insurgency in high-risk regions, etc… They can participate in covert operations too, in collaboration with other army special forces (or usual military forces). They are part of the police or the army and most of these units don’t wear any sign of recognizance on their special clothes or tactical vests. They are elite troops, which, as the name suggests, perform special, particularly difficult tasks, including in extreme conditions. They have also the task to take care of all types of unconventional wars that may affect Russia.
Distinctive features of the Special Forces fighter :
- The highest level of training : a fighter of a special unit must have an excellent physical shape. In addition, the psychological, ideological, moral components of his character and a high level of motivation are important.
- The ability to perform tasks in any conditions : a Special Forces officer works with multiple risks to his own life. He’s needed to deal with situations that an average soldier can’t handle.
- The capacities to use all kinds of weapons : the equipment and weaponry of a russian spetsnaz team are different depending on the tasks they perform. For that reason, they must perfectly master all kinds of weapons.
- Professional status : special Forces are the elite. No everybody can serve in these troops. This is due to the high level of danger and high costs, which are borne by the state, training special forces.
2) How to join Russian special forces ?
It’s not easy to get into the Spetsnaz. It is necessary to pass through a strict selection and prove to the special commission that it will be difficult to find a better candidate. Physical preparation is the decisive factor. The state of health of the candidate should not cause any doubts. Special Forces are subjected to enormous physical loads, they’re pushed up to their limits. There is no place in elite troops for a physically weak fighter, to carry on heavy military equipment in such conditions is no easy : they’ll abandon.
A. The continuity for a Russian army soldier
You can only get into Special Forces under contract if you’ve done your military service in Russia. Those who have titles in the ranks of the Russian Armed Forces have an advantage and it’s logical. Also, candidates practicing box or various types of martial arts have a much greater chance to become fighters of special forces. To serve in the special forces on a contract basis, it is necessary from the very beginning of compulsory service to prove yourself on the most positive side. After the army, the young man has to contact the commander of the unit in which he wants to serve and inform him about his desire. Then the candidate will have to pass complex physical standards and psychological tests. Only then will be given a special permit, with which he must go to the military registration office at the place of his residence. The future special forces officer has to collect the necessary documents, undergo a medical examination, and concludes a contract with the Russian Ministry of Defense. Having completed all the necessary procedures, he is enrolled in the special unit.
B. Without army contract : become a young special forces operator
It is possible to get into special forces for active duty, but not in all groups of troops. For example, the FSB and the Intelligence Service (GRU) have closed the way for conscripts. The FSB takes fighters only from the officer’s staff and only with positive recommendations from existing employees. The Intelligence Service also cannot directly find itself, often when recruiting fighters in the GRU there is a demand for a “krap beret”. That beret is a reward : it’s the highest form of distinction between military personnel of the special units of the Interior Ministry of Russia (MVD). It’s the equivalent of the American Green beret. However, if a conscript does a fixed-term service in the intelligence service, he’s distinguished and well-proven, the heads of units can choose him for their intelligence department.
These special units can be reached by conscription :
- VDV (Airborne troops). For this army detachment, it is necessary that the conscript’s military ticket has an expiration date stamp “A” (at least “B1”). If after passing the medical commission, the young man will be enrolled in the Airborne Assault Battalion, then having proved himself there (tests with parachute are especially difficult), he may be in the ranks of special-purpose fighters and serve under a contract.
- Marine corps (Navy) : the requirements for candidates in these troops are the same as for the Airborne Forces. While serving in the Marines, you may find yourself spotted by the direction and be asked to continue serving under contract.
3) How good are russian special forces ?
A combatant who does not meet special very serious requirements will not be able to enter the special forces. Many candidates drop out at an early stage because their health, fitness, age, and other characteristics are not suitable for service in the Special Forces. The future special forces officer must :
- Be no older than 28 years
- Have no bad habits
- Have an excellent health
- Serve in the army
- Serve as an officer or warrant officer
Apart from the basic requirements, there are also optional requirements
- Combat experience
- Sports rank (e.g., Master of Martial Arts).
A. What is Spetsnaz training like ?
Candidates for special forces, who passed the initial selection, are deployed to face a severe test of physical preparation and endurance. General requirements :
- Run for 3 km – 10, 5 minutes
- Run for 100 meters – 12 seconds
- Pull-up on the bar – 20-25 times
- Exercises on the bars
- Long and transverse twines
- Torso inclinations to the floor from standing position
Run for 12 minutes. It is estimated not only whether the candidate was able to withstand the test, but also what distance he overcame during this time
- Power endurance
- Extensions on the press – 75-90 times
- Stop sitting – lying down stop – 15 times
- Roll up the body and others
Performance of various exercises. For example, tumbling forward and backward.
The candidate needs to demonstrate hand-to-hand martial arts skills. His sparring partner will be a coach or an active member of a special unit : he does not have the task to take down the young recruit, on the contrary, he should give him as much freedom of action as possible. How the young person behaves during sparring, how he changes tactics, and gets out of difficult situations will be evaluated.
B. The selection : what does Spetsnaz training consist of ?
One of the main criteria for the selection of fighters for special forces is the absence of health problems. Perfectly healthy recruits are assigned to the “A” category of fitness by a special commission at the military enlistment office. This means that they can serve in any division, including the elite, which includes special forces. In some rare cases, candidates with the “B1” category, which implies minor health problems, can also serve in special forces. However, such a mark on a military ticket is of a recommendatory nature and absolutely does not mean that they can serve in special forces. Everything will depend on the representatives of military units, who select recruits.
C. How tough are spetsnaz ?
The leading special forces officer must not only have excellent health but also meet the physical parameters necessary for service in elite troops:
- Be no less than 175 cm. Appropriate height is an important condition. It is necessary that the body armor does not hit the fighter on the knees.
- Do not suffer from excess weight, but do not weigh less than 75 kg. A Spetsnaz officer must always keep himself in shape. Obesity is unacceptable, however, as well as a lack of weight.
Management of special units sometimes turns a blind eye to these parameters. For example, in the case when an insufficient height of a candidate is compensated by his outstanding character traits, outstanding intelligence, and abilities that can be useful during difficult tasks.
The psychological qualities of a special forces operator are as important as his physical condition. The future fighter of special units will have to pass tests, which contain quite a lot of questions, for each of them there are several answers. Based on them, psychologists assess the emotional training, identify positive qualities, and select a specialty for each soldier. The received psychological portrait will be attached to each soldier’s personal file. First of all, it is necessary for his immediate superior to understand why the person came to serve in the special forces. In addition to psychological tests, the future fighter of the special forces is tested on a lie detector. This is an important condition, as a young man is going to serve in a special unit, so he should have no secrets from his homeland.
Young people who want to serve in special forces should have higher education. A big plus in the selection process will be the presence of a document confirming the education in a military school or university, a sign of paramilitary knowledge (a serious plus for the understanding of military operations : no every candidate knows what are raids). Also of value is the special forces faculty, which is, for example, in Moscow, Novosibirsk, or other military schools. Often heads of special units or their representatives visit educational institutions, get acquainted with the personal affairs of cadets and select the best for their troops.
4) Who are the Russian special forces ?
Special task forces were created at several births of troops (that list is not exhaustive) :
- FSB : The distinctive feature of service with the FSB is that the candidate will have to pass serious psychological tests and lie detector tests. An important condition for the selection is the lack of criminal records of both the candidate and his immediate relatives. In these troops, the physical condition of the fighter is of great importance.
- VDV : It is impossible to make a career in the Airborne Forces if a recruit has a heart condition or has bad habits and abuses alcohol or smoking, as they will conduct delicate air force special operations. It is impossible to hide such things from the commission, it may cost the candidate’s life. A weakened organism simply can’t handle a lot of exercises.
- Marines : The candidate’s health requirements are similar to those of the Air Force. Soldiers of the Russian “Navy SEALS” are specially trained to conduct naval special warfare and defend naval bases.
- GRU : A special unit, which seeks to get into a huge number of young men. Together with good physical fitness, the candidate for service in the GRU must have high psychological stability and remarkable intelligence.
5) Spetsnaz : how to join them ?
The young person wishing to serve under a contract to become a commando, first of all, should contact the military registration office at his place of residence or go to the official website of the Ministry of Defense. There is a list of selection points for each region of the country. Having chosen a point, you should fill in a questionnaire and leave a phone number or e-mail address for communication. Further, at the appointed time the candidate should come to the specified address, where he or she will undergo medical examination, strength and endurance tests, collection of documents and work with psychologists.
A. Who selects candidates ?
The selection of candidates is carried out directly by heads of departments or their representatives who plan army special operations. For an effective special operations command, they need to select the best fighters based on their physical, moral and mental health indicators. For this reason, the eligibility categories in the military recruitment office are only recommendatory and do not mean that the young man will serve in the elite troops.
B. Possible reasons for rejection
Candidates for service in special units undergo a very tough selection. Quite often young men are refused. The main reasons are :
- Health problems
- Discompliance with physical parameters
- Failure to pass the standards for strength and endurance
- Lack of education
- The presence of criminal records or other dark spots on the biography of the candidate
- Failure of psychological tests and lie detector tests
Despite the fact that getting into special forces is incredibly difficult and not available to everyone, a huge number of young people dream to serve in special units. These are elite troops, whose fighters have not only a high status, but also bear a huge responsibility and perform complex tasks, often with risk to their own life to be the guardians of the national security.