Spetsnaz’s First World War

Train wrecks, random oil spills, bird flu outbreaks and other pestilence seeping into America today…

As a reader, you should do yourself a favor by reading this (full version at the source) and asking yourself how much of this looks eerily familiar today and what in the near-term can potentially happen. There just might be a further underlying cause and it isn’t random.

It’s long, but very much worth your time and is highly encouraged.

The entire book is also worth your read and is crucial to understanding this chapter presented. All this is written by Viktor Suvorov, a Soviet Army Cold War-era Soviet military intelligence officer who defected to the United Kingdom.


I was standing on the top of an enormous skyscraper in New York when I saw King Kong. The huge gorilla surveyed Manhattan triumphantly from a dizzy height. Of course I knew it wasn’t real. But there was something both frightening and symbolic in that huge black figure.

I learnt later that the gorilla was a rubber one, that it had been decided to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the showing of the first film about King Kong by creating a gigantic inflatable model of the beast and placing it high above New York. The rubber monster was hauled up and swayed about in the wind. From the technical point of view the operation had been a real triumph by the engineers and workmen who had taken part in it. But it was not an entire success. The monster turned out to be too huge, with the result that holes appeared in its body through which the air could escape. So the gigantic muscular frame quickly collapsed into a shapeless bag. They had to pump more air into it, but the harder they pumped the bigger the holes became and the quicker the air escaped from the monster. So they had to keep on pumping….

The Communist leaders have also created a rubber monster and have hauled it up to a dizzy height. The monster is known as the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, and the Soviet leaders are faced with a dilemma: to expand or to decline rapidly and become a flabby sack. It is interesting to note that the Soviet Union became a superpower in the course of the most destructive war in the history of civilisation, in spite of the fact that it suffered the greatest loss of life and the greatest destruction on its own territory. It has become a military superpower and perhaps war is essential for its existence.

I do not know how or when World War Three will start. I do not know exactly how the Soviet high command plans to make use of spetsnaz in that war: the first world war in which spetsnaz will be a major contributor. I do not wish to predict the future. In this chapter I shall describe how spetsnaz will be used at the beginning of that war as I imagine it. It is not my task to describe what will happen. But I can describe what might happen.

* * *

The last month of peace, as in other wars, has an almost palpable air of crisis about it. Incidents, accidents, small disasters add to the tension. Two trains collide on a railway bridge in Cologne because the signalling system is out of order. The bridge is seriously damaged and there can be no traffic over it for the next two months.

In the port of Rotterdam a Polish supertanker bursts into flames. Because of an error by the captain the tanker is far too close to the oil storage tanks on the shore, and the burning oil spreads around the harbour. For two weeks fire brigades summoned from practically the whole country fight an heroic battle with the flames. The port suffers tremendous losses. The fire appears to have spread at a quite incredible speed, and some experts are of the opinion that the Polish tanker was not the only cause of the fire, that the fire broke out simultaneously in many places.

In the Panama Canal the Varna, a Bulgarian freighter loaded with heavy containers, rams the lock gates by mistake. Experts reckoned that the ship should have remained afloat, but for some reason she sinks there and then. To reopen the canal could well take many months. The Bulgarian government sends its apologies and declares itself ready to pay for all the work involved.

In Washington, as the President’s helicopter is taking off, several shots are fired at it from sniper’s rifles. The helicopter is only slightly damaged and the crew succeed in bringing it down again safely. No one in the craft is hurt. Responsibility for the attack is claimed by a previously unknown organisation calling itself ‘Revenge for Vietnam’.

A serious accident takes place on the most important oil pipeline in Alaska. The pumping stations break down and the flow of oil falls to a trickle.

In West Germany there are several unsuccessful attempts on the lives of American generals.

In the North Sea the biggest of the British oil rigs tips over and sinks. The precise reason for this is not established, although experts believe that corrosion of main supports is the culprit.

In the United States an epidemic of some unidentified disease breaks out and spreads rapidly. It seems to affect port areas particularly, such as San Francisco, Boston, Charleston, Seattle, Norfolk and Philadelphia.

There are explosions practically every day in Paris. The main targets are the government districts, communication centres and military headquarters. At the same time terrible forest fires are raging in the South of France.

All these operations — because of course none of these events is an accident — and others like them are known officially in the GRU as the ‘preparatory period’, and unofficially as the ‘overture’. The overture is a series of large and small operations the purpose of which is, before actual military operations begin, to weaken the enemy’s morale, create an atmosphere of general suspicion, fear and uncertainty, and divert the attention of the enemy’s armies and police forces to a huge number of different targets, each of which may be the object of the next attack.

The overture is carried by agents of the secret services of the Soviet satellite countries and by mercenaries recruited by intermediaries. The principal method employed at this stage is ‘grey terror’, that is, a kind of terror which is not conducted in the name of the Soviet Union. The Soviet secret services do not at this stage leave their visiting cards, or leave other people’s cards. The terror is carried out in the name of already existing extremist groups not connected in any way with the Soviet Union, or in the name of fictitious organisations.

The GRU reckons that in this period its operations should be regarded as natural disasters, actions by forces beyond human control, mistakes committed by people, or as terrorist acts by organisations not connected with the Soviet Union.

The terrorist acts carried out in the course of the ‘overture’ require very few people, very few weapons and little equipment. In some cases all that may be needed is one man who has as a weapon nothing more than a screwdriver, a box of matches or a glass ampoule. Some of the operations can have catastrophic consequences. For example, an epidemic of an infectious disease at seven of the most important naval bases in the West could have the effect of halving the combined naval might of the Soviet Union’s enemies.

The ‘overture’ could last from several weeks to several months, gradually gathering force and embracing fresh regions. At the same time the GUSM would become involved. Photographs compromising a NATO chief appear on the front pages of Western newspapers. A scandal explodes. It appears that some of the NATO people have been having meetings with high-ranking Soviet diplomats and handing over top secret papers. All efforts to refute the story only fuel the fire. The public demands the immediate dismissal of NATO’S chiefs and a detailed enquiry. Fresh details about the affair are published in the papers and the scandal increases in scope. At that moment the KGB and GRU can take out and dust off a tremendous quantity of material and put it into circulation. The main victims now are the people whom the Soviets had tried to recruit but failed. Now carefully edited and annotated materials get into the hands of the press. Soviet Intelligence has tried to recruit thousands, even tens of thousands, of people in its time. They include young lieutenants who have now become generals and third secretaries who have now become ambassadors. All of them rejected Soviet efforts to recruit them, and now Soviet Intelligence avenges their refusal. The number of scandalous affairs increases. The nations discover to their surprise that there are very few people to be trusted. The Soviet intelligence service has nothing to lose if the press gets hold of material showing that it tried to recruit a French general, without saying how the attempt ended. It has even less to lose on the eve of war. That is why the newspapers are full of demands for investigations and reports of resignations, dismissals and suicides. The best way of killing a general is to kill him with his own hands.

There is a marked increase in the strength of the peace movement. In many countries there are continual demands to make the country neutral and not to support American foreign policy, which has been discredited. At this point the ‘grey terror’ gathers scope and strength and in the last days of peace reaches its peak.

From the first moment of the first day of war the main forces of spetsnaz go into action. From then on the terror is conducted in the name of the Soviet Union and of the Communist leadership: ‘red terror’.

But between the ‘grey’ and the ‘red’ terror there may be an intermediate period — the ‘pink’ terror, when active military operations have not yet begun and there is still peace, but when some of the best spetsnaz units have already gone into action. The situation is complicated by the fact that, on the one hand, Soviet fighting units are already in battle, but that, on the other hand, they are not yet operating in the name of the Soviet Union. This is an exceptionally risky moment for the Soviet high command. But he who risks nothing gains nothing. The Soviet commanders want to gain a great deal, and so are ready to risk a lot. A great deal has of course been done to reduce the level of risk. Only a relatively small number of spetsnaz troops take part in the ‘pink’ terror, but they are the best people in spetsnaz — professional athletes of Olympic class. Everything has been done to make sure that not one of them should fall into the hands of the enemy before the outbreak of war. A great deal has also been done to ensure that, if one of them should fall into enemy hands at that moment, it would be very difficult to establish his connection with any country whatsoever.

The ‘pink’ terror may continue for no more than a few hours. But those are the most important hours and minutes — the very last hours and minutes of peace. It is very important that those hours and minutes should be spoilt for the enemy and used for the maximum advantage to the Soviet side. It must be pointed out that the ‘pink’ terror may not be carried out at all. It is used only when there is absolute certainty of the success of the operations and equal certainty that the enemy will not be able in the remaining hours and minutes to assess the situation correctly and strike the first pre-emptive blow.

* * *

For Soviet Communists the month of August has a special significance. It was in August that the First World War began, which resulted in revolutions in Russia, Germany and Hungary. In August 1939 Georgi Zhukov succeeded in doing something that no one before him had managed to do: with a sudden blow he routed a group of Japanese forces in the Far East. It is possible that that blow had very far-reaching consequences: Japan decided against attacking the Soviet Union and chose to advance in other directions. Also in August 1939 a pact was signed in the Kremlin which opened the flood gates for the Second World War, as a result of which the USSR became a super-power. In August 1945 the Soviet Union carried out a treacherous attack on Japan and Manchuria. In the course of three weeks of intensive operations huge territories roughly equal in area and population to Eastern Europe were ‘liberated’. In August 1961 the Soviet Union built the Berlin Wall, in violation of international agreements it had signed. In August 1968 the Soviet Army ‘liberated’ Czechoslovakia and, to its great surprise, did not meet with any opposition from the West. Suppose the Soviet Communists again choose August for starting a war.

* * *

On 12 August, at 0558 local time, a van comes to a halt on the vast empty parking lot in front of a supermarket in Washington. Three men open the doors of the van, roll out the fuselage of a light aircraft and attach its wings. A minute later its motor bursts into life. The plane takes off and disappears into the sky. It has no pilot. It is controlled by radio with the aid of very simple instruments, only slightly more complicated than those used by model aircraft enthusiasts. The plane climbs to about 200 metres and immediately begins to descend in the direction of the White House. A minute later a mighty explosion shakes the capital of the United States. The screaming of sirens on police cars, fire engines and ambulances fills the city.

Three minutes later a second plane sweeps across the centre of the city and there is a second explosion in the place where the White House once stood. The second plane has taken off from a section of highway under construction, and has a quite different control system. Two cars with radio beacons in them have been left earlier in the middle of the city. The beacons have switched on automatically a few seconds before the plane’s take-off. The automatic pilot is guided by the two beacons and starts to descend according to a previously worked-out trajectory. The second plane has been sent off by a second group operating independently of the first one.

It was a simple plan: if the first plane did not destroy the White House the second would. If the first plane did destroy the White House then a few minutes later all the heads of the Washington police would be near where the explosion had taken place. The second plane would kill many of them.

At 0606 all radio and television channels interrupt their normal programmes and report the destruction of the White House and the possible death of the President of the United States.

At 0613 the programme known as Good Morning America is interrupted and the Vice-President of the USA appears. He announces a staggering piece of news: there has been an attempt to seize power in the country on the part of the leaders of the armed forces. The President of the United States has been killed. The Vice-President appeals to everyone in the armed forces to remain where they are and not to carry out any orders from senior officers for the next twenty-four hours, because the orders would be issued by traitors shortly to be removed from their posts and arrested.

Soon afterwards many television channels across the country cease transmitting.

* * *

The Soviet military leaders know that if it doesn’t prove possible to destroy the President of the United States in peacetime, it will be practically impossible to do so at a time of crisis. The President will be in an underground, or airborne, command post, somewhere extremely inaccessible and extremely well guarded.

Consequently the leaders, while not abandoning attempts to kill the President (for which purpose several groups of assassins with every kind of weapon, including anti-aircraft missiles, have been dropped in the country), decide to carry out an operation aimed at causing panic and confusion. If it proves impossible to kill the President then they will have to reduce his capacity to rule the country and its armed forces at the most critical moment.

To carry out this task the Soviets have secretly transferred to Washington a spetsnaz company from the first spetsnaz regiment at the strategic level. A large part of the company is made up of women. The entire complement of the company is professional athletes of Olympic standard. It has taken several months to transfer the whole company to Washington. The athletes have arrived in the guise of security men, drivers and technicians working in the Soviet embassy and other Soviet establishments, and their weapons and equipment have been brought in in containers covered by diplomatic privilege. The company has been split into eight groups to carry out its mission. Each group has its own organisation, structure, weapons and equipment. To carry out their tasks some of the groups will have to make contact with secret agents recruited a long time previously by the GRU rezidentura.

On 11 August the GRU rezident in Washington, a major-general known by the code-name of ‘Mudry’ (officially a civilian and a high-ranking diplomat) receives an encyphered telegram consisting of one single word — ‘Yes’. On the rezident’s orders the spetsnaz company leave their places of work. Some of them simply go back home. Some are transported secretly in the boots of their cars by GRU officers and dropped in the woods round the city, in empty underground garages and other secluded places.

The group commanders gather their groups together in previously agreed places and set about carrying out their tasks.

Group No. 1 consists of three men and the group is backed up by one secret agent. The agent works as a mechanic at an airport. In his spare time he builds flying models of aircraft of various sizes. This particular model was designed by the best Soviet aircraft designers and put together in America from spares bought in the open market. The agent himself does not play any part in the operation. A van containing a light radio-guided aircraft and its separate wings has been standing in his garage for some months. What the aircraft is for and to whom it belongs the agent does not know. He only knows that someone has the keys to the garage and that that person can at any moment come and take the van along with the aircraft. In the middle of the night the spetsnaz group drives the van out into the forest where they take the explosive charges from a secret hiding place and prepare the plane for flight. At dawn the van is standing in the deserted parking lot.

Group No. 2 is doing roughly the same at that time. But this group has three agents working for it, two of whom have left their cars with radio beacons parked in precisely defined spots in the centre of the city.

Group No. 3 consists of fifteen spetsnaz men and five experts from the REB osnaz. They are all wearing police uniforms. At night the group kidnaps the director of a television company and his family. Leaving the family at home as hostages guarded by three spetsnaz men, the rest of the group make their way to the studios, capturing two more highly placed officials on their way, also as hostages, but without giving cause for noise or panic among the staff. Then, with guns threatening them and supervised by Soviet electronics experts, the director and his assistants insert, instead of the usual advertising programme, a video cassette which the commander of the group has given him. The video cassette has been made up in advance in the Soviet Union. The role of the Vice-President is played by an actor.

The Soviet high command knows that it is very difficult to cut into American military channels. If it is at all possible, then at best it will be possible to do no more than overhear conversations or interrupt them. It is practically impossible to use them for transmitting false orders at the strategic level. That is why it is decided to make use of the civilian television network: it is difficult to get into a television studio, but it is possible and there are many to choose from. Operations are carried out simultaneously in several different cities against various TV companies. If the operation succeeds in only one city it will not matter — millions of people will be disoriented at the most critical moment.

The operational plan has provided that, just after the ‘Vice-President’ has spoken several retransmitters will be destroyed by other spetsnaz groups and one of the American communication satellites will be shot down ‘by mistake’ by a Soviet satellite. This is intended to deprive the President and the real Vice-President of the opportunity to refute the false declaration.

But events do not go entirely according to plan. The President succeeds in addressing the people and issuing a denial of the report. After the television network throughout America has suffered such major damage, the radio immediately becomes the principal means of communication. Radio commentators produce different commentaries about what is happening. The majority of them report that it is difficult to say which report is genuine and which was false, but that the only fact about which there is no doubt is that the White House has been destroyed.

At the moment when all these events are taking place in Washington another spetsnaz company from the same regiment is ordered by the GRU rezident in New York to carry out the same operation but on a much larger scale. They do not make use of radio-guided aircraft, but seize two television studios and one radio studio which they use for transmitting the same false report. Five other spetsnaz groups emerge from official Soviet offices and make open, armed attacks on underground cables and some radio and TV transmitting and receiving aerials. They manage to damage them and also some transformer stations, as a result of which millions of TV screens go blank.

A few hours later spetsnaz detachment I-M-7 of 120 men lands in New York harbour from a freighter sailing under a Liberian flag. Using its fire-power the detachment makes its way to the nearest subway station and, splitting into small groups and seizing a train with hostages, sets about destroying the underground communications of the city.

In the area around the berths of America’s huge aircraft-carriers and nuclear submarines in Norfolk, several mini-subs are discovered, as well as underwater saboteurs with aqualungs.

In Alaska eighteen different places are recorded where small groups have tried to land from Soviet naval vessels, submarines and aircraft. Some of the groups have been destroyed as they landed, others have managed to get back to their ships or, after landing successfully, hidden in the forests.

Spetsnaz detachment I-S-7 consisting of eighty-two men lands on the coast of Mexico, immediately commandeers private cars, and the next night, using their fire-power and new mobility, cross the United States border.

Small spetsnaz groups land and use routes and methods employed by illegal immigrants, while others make use of paths and methods used by drug dealers.

Islands and the military installations on them are more vulnerable to sabotage operations, and at the same moment spetsnaz groups are landing on Okinawa and Guam, on Diego Garcia, in Greenland and dozens of other islands on which the West has bases.

* * *

The motor yacht Maria was built in Italy. In the course of a decade she has changed owners several times and visited the oceans of the world until she was sold to some wealthy person, after which she has not been seen for several years in any port in the world. But when the international situation takes a turn for the worse the Maria appears in the North Sea sailing under a Swedish flag. After some modernisation the appearance of the yacht has changed somewhat. On receiving the signal ‘393939’ the Maria travels at full speed towards the coast of Great Britain. When it is inside British territorial waters and within range of Fylingdales Moor the yacht’s crew removes hatch covers to reveal two BM-23 Katusha-like multi-barrelled missile-launchers. The sailors quickly aim the weapon at the gigantic spheres and fire. Seventy-two heavy shells explode around the installation, causing irreparable harm to the early warning system. The sailors on the yacht put on their aqualungs and jump overboard. For two hours the yacht drifts close to the shore without a crew. When the police clamber aboard, she explodes and sinks.

In the past Sweden was lucky: she always remained on the sidelines in a conflict. But at the end of the twentieth century the balance of the battlefield is changing. Sweden has become one of the most important strategic points in the world. If war breaks out the path of the aggressor will lie across Sweden. The occupation of Sweden is made easier by the fact that there are no nuclear weapons on its territory, so that the Soviet leaders risk very little. They know, however, that the Swedish soldier is a very serious opponent — thoughtful, disciplined, physically strong and tough, well armed, well acquainted with the territory he will have to fight over, and well trained for action in such terrain. The experience of the war against Finland teaches that in Scandinavia frontal attacks with tanks do not produce brilliant results. It requires the use of special tactics and special troops: spetsnaz.

And so it goes on, all over the world. In Sweden the capital city in reduced to a state of panic by the murder of several senior government figures and arson and bombing attacks on key buildings and ordinary civilians. In Japan, American nuclear bases are destroyed and chemical weapons used on the seat of government. In Pakistan, a breakaway movement in Baluchistan province, instantly recognised by the Soviet Communist Party, asks for and receives direct military intervention from the USSR to protect its fragile independence: Soviet-controlled territory extends all the way from Siberia through Afghanistan to the Indian Ocean.

It may not even need a third world war for the Soviet Union to occupy Baluchistan. The Red Army may be withdrawing from Afghanistan, but knowing what we know about Soviet strategy and the uses to which spetsnaz can be put, such a withdrawal can be seen as a useful public relations exercise without hindering the work of spetsnaz in any way. With a spetsnaz presence in Baluchistan, the Politburo could be reaching very close to the main oil artery of the world, to the Arab countries, to Eastern and Southern Africa, to Australia and South-east Asia: territories and oceans that are practically undefended.

Full article: Chapter 15 — Spetsnaz’s First World War (militera.lib.ru)

Full book: Spetsnaz. The Story Behind the Soviet SAS (militera.lib.ru)

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