KGB Alpha team training manual

KGB Alpha team training manual

(Parte 4 de 8)

Captured KGB Alpha Team titanium helmet and stun grenade. Photo courtesy of Jim Shortt specialized in mountain warfare reconnaissance. In June 1989, they moved on to Novyi Uzan in Kazakhztan for more ethnic firefighting. The next month, they were sent to Abkhazia in southern

Georgia to rescue hundreds ofTurk-Meshkhetis people from Georgian fanatics who wanted to murder these Muslims. Legend has it that 10 of the men from the unit defeated 100 rioters in hand-to-hand fighting. NATO has always estimated that the MVD Internal Forces numbered some 30 divisions, or about a quarter of a million troops in July 1989, at the height of ethnic unrest in the USSR. Interior Minister Vadim Bakatin stated that he had a resource of 700,0 militia and only 35,0 troops, of which only about

18,0 poorly equipped men were available for rapid deployment-including a now airmobile unit formed within the Felix Dzerzhinsky Division. However, in 1990 this was contradicted by the commander of the Internal Forces, Col. Gen. Yuri Shatalin, who revealed that the overall strength of MVD Internal Forces was 350,0.

A breakdown of units showed that 15,400 troops had been sent to the Transcaucasian republics to deal with ethnic unrest. This rose to 25,0 by the spring of 1990. Added to this, the 104th Guards Airborne Division was transferred to the control of the KGB Chief Directorate of Border Guards and operated in the disputed enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh, where at least 10,0 MVD troops were then based, including the now airmobile unit. On 19 April1990, General Shatalin said that the MVD had Spetsnazovtsy assets of 2,500 men, but this may include the MVD militia units called OMON, which strictly were not part of the Interior Forces.

However, Interior Forces in the various republics did set up their own maroon-bereted units. I have come across these in Latvia. In March 1992, I had returned to Tallinn and Riga to teach an explosives course using Semtex and Soviet TNT. At the close of the course, I met with the Latvian prime minister before the rest of the team and I were taken to a farewell dinner, during which members of the group were attacked by a larger number of Russian mafia. 26

The fighting was with whatever weapon came to hand, but the area was too confined to draw firearms. While I was trying my soccer technique on someone's scrotum, a gangster tried to get behind me with a knife, which I presume he wanted to freely give to my back. However, he had forgotten the Sixteenth Law of Murphy: Never take a knife to a gunfight. Andy Kern, one of the 15A Team, drew his two-inch barrel Smith & Wesson .38 revolver and shot him. The ball went through his left chest and through the hand of another villain who was pushing the thug forward, through the cheek of the gang boss, and then broke a mirror. Actually, the first gangster was rather lucky, as the new round had been part of a cocktail mix and was a hydroshock. The gangster broke and fled, but within 90 seconds a maroon-bereted Interior Ministry unit arrived in body armor with AKS-74s and AKS- 74Us and war dogs. These Russian mafia had been paid to cover the gangsters' retreat if things went wrong. What the mafia hadn't known was that they were pitched against government security forces, not tourists. There is now an investigation into the activities of the unit.

Preliminary findings indicate that the mafia thugs were from the Interior Ministry, they wore maroon berets and camouflage, and they were festooned with weapons. They were not, however, from the Felix Dzerzhinsky Division. Members of the latter unit make reference to imitators and how they give their unit a bad name. They recall how in Semipalatinsk in Kazakhstan a unit was sent to rescue hostages, resulting in the death of the unit's major and some hostages and the wounding of the second in command (a captain).

In 1987, the first OMON27 unit appeared in Leningrad with the support of the city's CPSU first secretary. They were formed from the Militia Patrol Regiment and were seen as a protector of the CPSU at a time when Communism was becoming less and less popular within the USSR. The Leningrad OMON adopted black berets as their headgear since there was a plentiful supply through the local Naval Infantry, and a number of the OMON had served in it. When the first secretary, Lev Zaikov, was promoted and moved to Moscow, he suggested that the OMON be set up in the capital. Initially formed from the Moscow 2nd Police Patrol Regiment, the new Moscow OMON chose gray berets to match the gray militia uniform.

Another special unit, the OMSN, a plainclothes antimafia group within the MVD, was already in Moscow at 38 Petrovka Street. Often films and photos of this highly professional unit

OMON beret and insignia with black beret (chornyi beret). Photo courtesy of Jim Shortt wrongly bear the caption of OMON or MVD V. The Soviet Ministry of the Interior regularized the formation and operation of OMON as police special assignment units similar to S.W.A.T. and antiriot teams under Regulation 4603 in August 1988. While Interior Forces special units were centrally controlled, this gave authority to the ministers of the interior of the 16 republics that made up the Soviet Union. Some republics like Estonia told the ministry that they had adequate police resources to deal with their problems and did not form OMON units. Others like Lithuania, Latvia, Moldavia, and Azerbaijan formed units. OMON units were set at between 100 and 300 men equipped with AKS-74Us, Makarov pistols, ballistic vests, riot shields, batons, and, normally, VDV camouflage uniforms. OMON troops were first used on 21 August 1988 against prodemocracy protestors in Pushkin Square. From the beginning, OMON units were to be under the control of the various republics' MVD and not the USSR.

In March 1988, the Ovechkin family of eleven smuggled weapons on board an Aeroflot TU-154 in Irkutsk and hijacked it in an attempt to get to London. They touched down in Leningrad, but the militia pretended they were in Helsinki. After two hours of negotiations, a five-man OMON team stormed the aircraft. The hijackers detonated an explosive device in the rear of the plane, turning it into a fireball and killing nine people and injuring 19.

In October 1988, Vladimir Kryuchkov became chairman of the KGB and the Kaskad program of the Eighth Department. He immediately formed a new KGB intervention unit based in KGB

HQ at Dzerzhinsky Square in Moscow. The CO was Col. R. Ishmiyarov, and the assault term commander was Maj. O.G.

Aliyev. The team was provided with equipment similar to that used by the GRU Spetnazovets, plus a variety of silent weapons including the AP5 Stetchkin 9mm, which converts to full automatic. Volunteers came from the KGB Border Guard Service and . received training at the Balashikha school.

The team was trained in rukopashnyi boi and related physical methods by A.l. Dolmatov of the Central Dynamo sports club in Moscow, who produced the manual you are about to read. For this manual, he borrowed in part from the two 1945 GRU Spetsnaz texts for reconnaissance and prisoner handling, and reconnaissance in mountains. 28 From the start, it was obvious that the role of the Alpha teams and their MVD counterparts was not confined to humanitarian intervention. They also had a war role linked to Kaskad, which was run by Lt. Col. I. Morozova at this time. That role covered the traditional NKVD functions of fighting behind enemy lines and dealing with dissidents and enemy special forces.

MVD Spetsnazovets of the Spetsrota of the Dzherinsky Division in physical training. Note the Dynamo T-shirts. Photo courtesy of Novosti Information Agency

Alpha teams first came to public attention on 1 December 1988, when four criminal seized a bus containing 30 school children in Ordzhonikdze and ransomed them for an IL-76T aircraft, money, and weapons. The operation ended on 2 December 1988 at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv when the Israelis convinced the criminals to surrender. The Israelis handed the hijackers over to the KGB Alpha team, who flew them back to Moscow. On 30 March 1989, 2-year-old Stanislav Skok hijacked a domestic

Moscow OMON units training in rappelling, entering buildings, and rukopashni boi. Photo courtesy of N ovosti Information Agency

flight from Astrakhan to Baku with 76 passengers and crew. He claimed to have a bomb in his bag and ordered the aircraft to land at Bina Airport in Baku, demanding a ransom and flight to Pakistan. At 1:30 A.M. on 31 March 1989, Major Aliyev and four other Alpha team members wearing Aeroflot coveralls entered the front of the aircraft. When the hijacker stepped away from the bag to light a cigarette offered by the team, he was seized and subdued.

Afghanistan was the catalyst for all special assignment units, whether GRU, KGB, or MVD. After the Eighth Department's

Lieutenant Colonel Talybov failed during 1979 to kill President Amin, the USSR decided to invade and take over Kabul. Since the May 1979 murder of Soviet advisors and their families in Herat, two Soviet special divisions composed of Uzbek and Tajik nationals and dressed in DRA (Afghan army) uniforms positioned themselves along the Soviet-Afghan border. These two divisions were chaperoned by the 105th Guards Airborne Division and reinforced by two regiments borrowed from 103rd and 104th Guards Airborne Divisions.

The invasion of Afghanistan started on 28 December 1979. At this stage, the Eighth Department was depleted and had to borrow KGB officers from other departments of the First Chief Directorate. They also borrowed personnel from the Felix Dzerzhinsky Division Spetsrota and the Spetsnaz Brigade based at Chirchik, along with the 1st Battalion of the 16th Spetsnaz Brigade at Chuchkovo. The KGB team was led by Colonel Boyarinov, the Balashikha school commander, while the overall pacification of the Afghan administration was under the command of Maj. Gen. Viktor Paputin of the MVD.

As in Czechoslovakia, Afghan notables were invited to a reception at the Soviet Embassy in Kabul, where they were seized and locked in the cellar by a Spets group. An airborne battalion provided the security group and perimeter for the Spets group, which landed at Bagram Air Base. Soviet advisors had disarmed most Afghan military units under the guise of an equipment check, as had been done in Czechoslovakia. The group using the

Spetsnaz favored BTR APCs escorted by VDV BMD-ls and headed for the Darulman Palace. An Afghan sentry who opposed them was dispatched with a silent Stechkin pistol.

On reaching the palace, the BMDs rammed the palace gates, where one stalled and stuck. The paras secured the perimeter, eliminating the palace guard. The KGB/MVD/GRU Spets group . led by Colonel Boyarinov stormed the palace and ran into heavy opposition and started taking casualties. Boyarinov ran out to get the paras to bolster the assault, forgetting his order for them to kill anyone who ran out of the palace. So the VDV killed the Spets mission commander. The assault continued, and everyone in the palace was killed by the group except Talbov, the Eighth

Department assassin who hid under the stairs until, in his own words, the voices "sounded human again." Other Spets groups seized the radio and TV stations and vital government centers.

The primary principle here is that groups such as the Spetsrota that are trained to enter buildings, kill terrorists and criminals, and rescue hostages are more capable in entering building and killing people when they don't have to worry about hostages.

All three services provided special assignment groups while the war lasted. The KGB trained assassins and saboteurs and fielded special border guard units to intercept and ambush mujahideen supply caravans. The MVD-trained Afghan Interior Ministry special assignment troops and the GRU-supplied Spetsnaz brigades intercepted supply caravans. The Russian nickname for the Spets groups in Afghanistan was okhotniki karavana, caravan hunters. Periodically, they raided mujahideen concentrations and bases, and toward the close of the war they formed special "Singer" hunter teams that were airmobile. They were heavily involved in Operation Mistral, the Soviet clearing of the road from Gardez-Khost. I was in Paktia province serving with National Islamic Front of Afghanistan (NIFA) mujahideen at the close of that operation, and certainly the greatest threat of being shelled and bombed came from Spetsnaz ambush.

Since returning from fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan, I have been to Ryazan' to undergo their training, drink vodka and

Jim Shortt in the Gardez-Urgun-Khost area during the war in Afghanistan. Photo courtesy of Jim Shortt samogonka (moonshine) with them, and share their banya (steam bath). Since my company, International Bodyguarding

Association (IBA), first became involved in assisting the Baltic States in 1989, I have had many former GRU and MVD Spetsnaz and Spetsnazovtsy under my command, and several have become dear friends. Many are veterans of the Afghan war and count me as an afghanets29-even though I fought against them. I can say that that war left a mark on the soul of anyone involved, just as Vietnam did on Vietnamese and Americans alike. The history of special operations in Afghanistan has yet to be written, but for the purposes of this book, this quote from GRU veteran Lt. Col. Sergei Balyenko of the Spetsnaz staff of the Fifth Directorate sums up how they saw it: "Afghanistan was a polygon-a training ground."

During and following the Afghanistan War, MVD and KGB special assignment units received a large influx of former Spetsnaz and paratroopers, according to the chief of Internal Army troops, General Shatalin. When creating the OMON units, many commanders selected only those with special assignment unit combat records. However, Moscow OMON, which boasted of being packed with afghantsy, had mostly former militia men. Its commander, Colonel Ivanov, was nearing retirement age in 1991, and the unit contained men well over 40 even though the official line was that OMAN consisted of fit, young paratroopers between the ages of 23 and 26.

Other problems troubled the OMON forces as well. Firearms training was limited to 30 rounds per man per year by order of the Interior Ministry. On 2 August 1990, former Spetsnaz participating in Airborne Forces Day beat up 15 OMON troopers sent to arrest them and then went on a wrecking spree while the Interior Ministry held the 150-man OMON reserve unit back. This incident caused a spate of resignations from the Moscow gray-beret unit.

Pay in 1991 was 260 rubles a month, about $2.60 for an OMON recruit, yet in 1991 Moscow OMON numbered 1,500 men.

In the Soviet press of 30 May 1991, prominent Soviet figure

Dr. Alexei Kiva warned that the conservative military-backed Soyuz group in Parliament was "a mixed bag of dictators" and were planning a coup d'etat. His article is a precise analysis of the forces at work in the USSR-a collaboration of conservative Communists who had lost power and influence under Gorbachev and aligned themselves with a new breed of Russians who wished a return to the previous glory of the old Russian Empire devoid of Communism. These Russian imperialists viewed the Baltic States, the Caucasus, Poland, and even Finland as part of the historical Russian empire, with the same fervor as the Islamic fundamentalists speak of reestablishing the Islamic Crescent (Spain, North Africa, the Middle East, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines) before the final battle with the "Christian" nations.

(Parte 4 de 8)

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