35th Anniversary of ‘Vympel’ Spetsnaz

The reason Russians are being shown more than slightly revealing footage of the Vympel spetsnaz being put through their training paces at a highly secure facility outside Moscow is clear — the Russian government is psychologically preparing its population for a short, intense war with combined NATO/US proxy forces. The hope in Moscow clearly is that by publicizing Russian preparations for devastating counteroffensive operations in Ukraine, Moldova/Transnistria or elsewhere, the neocons and globalists will be undermined/backed off by a U.S. military that has stared into the abyss — and a war won’t happen.

Thanks to the research and translations of Soul of the East and Espionage History Archive blogger Mark Hackard, non-Russian speakers and non-specialists can read about Vympel’s founding. – JWS


Vympel, the KGB’s spetsnaz group for overseas action, was a unit forged, in the words of its initiator KGB Chairman Yuri Andropov, “without equal.” The following text outlines Vympel’s founding, the unit’s training process, and its general operational history. – Mark Hackard

The idea for founding a commando unit for the KGB belongs to the chief of Directorate S (Illegals) Yuri Drozdov, one of the men who directed the storm of Afghan President Hafizullah Amin’s palace. Returning from Moscow, he went to KGB Chairman Yuri Andropov and presented him with a plan to create a special-purpose group for carrying out operations during the “special period” – in short, a commando unit.

On August 19th, 1981, at a closed joint session of the CPSU Central Committee’s Politburo and the USSR Council of Ministers, the decision on creating a top-secret special-purpose unit in the system of the KGB’s First Chief Directorate (FCD: Foreign Intelligence) was made. Thus came into the world the special-purpose group “Vympel” (Pennant). Structurally it was part of the Eighth Department of Directorate S, subordinated to the chief of the directorate, Maj. Gen. Yuri Drozdov, and the chief of the department, Maj. Gen. Nikolai Yefimov (subsequently Maj. Gen. V. Tolstikov). The decision for activating the group was made at the level of the Politburo, and it went into action only by the written orders of the KGB chairman. The official name of Vympel was the Separate Training Center (STC) of the USSR KGB FCD, and it was situated in Balashikha, just outside of Moscow. Commanders of the group were: Captain Evald Kozlov (1981-1984), Rear Admiral Vladimir Khmelev (1984-1990), and Colonel Boris Beskov (1990-1992).

For Vympel men were selected not only in the KGB, but also from the army and border forces. At first both officers and soldiers were taken, but then it was decided that the group should be made up exclusively of officers.

Vladimir Vasilchenko was at that time the chief of the combat operations department. He recalls:

For the first ‘draft’ into the unit, they gave us a very tough time period. That was dictated by the necessity of quick deployment of men to Afghanistan.

Approximately in February of 1982, 75 men came to us. It’s hard to remember now how many candidates we went through, but the selection turned out not bad.

They trained them for three months. There was no time for more than that. Already in April the first 123 men left for Afghanistan. And then we selected the second “assortment” longer and more scrupulously, essentially the whole remainder of 1982. Well, of course we trained them more substantively…

What should we understand under the word “substantive?” Operators were accepted into the unit accounting for their service of no less than 10 years – i.e. professionals were being trained. Consequently to make a new trainee a fully qualified special-purpose intelligence officer required five years. It took two years for a graduate of the Ryazan Higher Airborne School to be made into a Vympel operator.

“They taught them robustly in Vympel,” remembers General Drozdov.

General physical training, multi-kilometer marches along traversed areas, power exercises, jumping from heights from a half-meter to two-and-a-half meters, exercises for general development. Training in hand-to-hand combat not on soft mats, but asphalt. Shooting from everything that shoots: pistols, grenade launchers, machine guns of Soviet and foreign manufacture, special weapons, etc… Driving cars and armored vehicles. Explosives, including means of producing explosives from everyday chemicals. Training in radio work: free functioning on radio stations of any type both in closed text and with the help of Morse code. They studied cryptography, and they also mastered radio triangulation and eavesdropping devices.

…Aside from that, Vympel officers, as users, themselves participated in developing weapons and equipment and gave technical assignments to the constructors, who made special items according to their orders.

…Tactics for combat actions in small groups. Airborne, medical training, rappelling. Fundamentals of intelligence and counterintelligence activity. Analytical work. Surveillance.

The study of foreign languages and regional specialization. In “his” country, an officer of a special unit should not in any case be “unmasked.” And not only because of incorrect pronunciation… It was necessary to be freely oriented in everyday matters, not feel like a black sheep among the local population, know the history of the region, the national customs, national psychology.[i]

However, it soon became clear that the idea of training supermen was a utopian one. Then a three-year course of instruction was developed, and operators of a more narrow specialization began to be trained. First there were snipers, intelligence officers, and sappers, and then there were added mountain scouts, hang-glider pilots, combat swimmers, and parachutists.

The basic purpose of Vympel was intelligence actions deep behind enemy lines, work with agents, raids on strategic objects, the seizure of ships and submarines, protection of Soviet facilities abroad, fighting terrorist organizations, etc. Operators underwent combat experience in the commando units of Cuba, Nicaragua, Vietnam, and other nations; in Angola and Mozambique, they acted under the cover of military advisors.

In October of 1985 in Lebanon, Vympel operators freed two KGB officers from the Beirut residency, Oleg Spirin and Valery Myrikov (diplomat Arkady Katkov was killed by the captors), who had been seized by a Palestinian group. But Vympel gained its main practice in Afghanistan.

The FCD’s spetsnaz operated in Afghanistan as part of the KGB’s special-purpose detachment Kaskad, created by resolution of the CPSU Central Committee and USSR Council of Ministers on June 18th, 1980. The detachment had a dual subordination – to Moscow Center and to the KGB representation in Afghanistan, which was headed by Gen. Viktor Spolnikov and then Gen. Boris Voskoboinikov. From July of 1980 up to April of 1983, four units of Kaskad served in Afghanistan. The commander of the first three Kaskads was Col. Aleksandr Lazarenko, and the fourth was led by Col. Evgeny Savintsev, both officers of the Eighth Department of Directorate S.

Kaskad’s mission was: rendering assistance to the security organs of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan in detecting and interdicting subversive activity of the counterrevolutionary underground, bandit formations, and terrorist groups, i.e. carrying out in full measure intelligence activity, hunter-killer actions, and special operations. In April of 1983 Kaskad-4 was replaced by a different unit of Vympel – group Omega(commanded by Col. Valentin Kikot). Its assignments were human intelligence operations in Moscow Center’s interests, combat and special operations, and advisory-instructional work in units of Afghan state security. In April of 1984 Omega’soperators returned to Moscow. Until the year 1987, 94 officers of Vympel were in Afghanistan and 61 operators gained combat experience as part of their probationary period.

Read the rest of Mark Hackard’s translation at the Espionage History Archive

13 thoughts on “35th Anniversary of ‘Vympel’ Spetsnaz

  1. https://www.superstation95.com/index.php/world/2072
    With Google translate, this arabic sputnik link says the same thing, the Russians just retaliated.
    "According to the source field of the province of Aleppo, that the three rockets from Caliber kind launched by the Russian ships that recently targeted operations room for terrorists in Dera Izzat west of Aleppo in the Mount Simon, which is famous for the harsh nature of the mountainous and contains ancient caves area."
    "The source for "Sputnik", the operations room with 30 leading officers of the Turkish and the US and Saudi Arabia and Qatar and the British army and the Mossad, running terrorist operations in Aleppo and Idlib."


  2. One last source:
    ALEPPO: I’ll bet some of my readers did not believe me when I kept telling them the SAA-MI people were intercepting chatter between British-accented terrorist enablers and the cannibals of Nusra/Alqaeda. Well, yesterday, the Russians bore me out. A Russian missile warship off the coast of Latakia fired 3 Kaliber cruise missiles at a site where a “massive” amount of electronic communication was monitored. It was near Daaret ‘Izza in the shadow of Mt. Sam’aan north of Aleppo and Barakaat Mountain to the west. It appears that the liars at the American State Department who were claiming they were in favor of a cease fire had over 70 terrorist spies operating out of caves and safe houses in the area directing terrorists in the war against the people of Syria and its great army."Read more at http://syrianperspective.com/2016/09/30-american-british-and-zionistsaudi-intel-agents-fried-in-aleppo-by-russian-kaliber-cruise-missiles.html#roCcKK75pWFm646w.99


    • Mark,
      I forwarded that link to the RM team including W the Intelligence Insider. Syrian Perspective is pro-Damascus propaganda, but it’s often right. And there is no doubt the TU214 ELINT aircraft one of the most advanced in the world has been hunting for native English if not Hebrew speakers among ISIS and the other terrorists especially those with British accents…
      Here’s the Southfront video on the TU214 and an open source satellite shot from late August at Kheimmim:



      • For those who use Google Earth, the name of the town is ‘Dar Ta izzah, Aleppo Governate, Syria’. Also the location is more West-Northwest of Aleppo
        The location near to the border of the Turkish province of Hatay, the only part of Turkey to share the East Mediterranean Coastline with Latakia as well as share the border with Idlib and Aleppo governates, as well as the mountainous terrain made this a choice location to supply terrorists and offered the illusion of security that they would be difficult to detect or be attacked.
        The choice of cruise missiles suggests there were risks involved in using manned bombers including their large radar signature giving advanced notice of their arrival, again indicating this factor was considered when choosing this location.
        Its likely Moscow knew of this place for a while and waited for enough key members to be in the location, as well as recent events to play out before the strike was ordered.


      • SOF: Agree with all these points. Detente with Turkey or not the Russians aren’t going to risk their heavy bombers being shot down along the border after the lying Turks insist the Backfires or Blackjacks violated Turkish air space when they did not. Cruise missiles and even accurate to within ten meters with 1,100 ib warhead Iskander hypersonic rockets if the target is high enough priority and there’s a strong chance of killing Saudi/Qatari special forces alongside the Nusrats and Daeshbags is a safer choice.


      • Pro-Damascus propaganda it is, but makes for epic reading:’Recorded chatter from trapped rodents inside east Aleppo describe hopelessness in a way that makes our soldiers more determined than ever to continue the onslaught until all of these vermin are rendered into blackened chunks of charcoal.’
        I like charcoal.
        Also props for hairy chested gas masked SAA dude saying ‘F U’ to the Peace Prize winner.


      • As of now the status of this is ‘unconfirmed’ according to Southfront with the origin of the report from the Arab language service for Sputnik news.
        "Iran’s FarsNews has deemed this report credible via several sources. FarsNews is a cautious news agency that has zero history of publishing B.S. and that is good news, because it means Russia has called it right, and started kicking @ss for real…. Given the current geopolitical situation the news could not possibly get any better than this. This is so good I am suspicious it is fake and only went with it because FarsNews covered it as fact." – Jim Stone’s opinion


  3. James and SOF,
    The Russian move is quite clever. If the U.S. complains, and the light is shone on this, the hypocrisy of all of the players involved is revealed in spades. Impossible to spin the skullduggary, especially for the Israeli’s, how do they explain their people in that remote location except as being up to no good, as they have pretended to be ‘neutral’.. Completely the opposite of how ‘transparent’ Western societies are supposed to operate.


    • Geography gives it away. Stick it in a mountainous region near a border (to eliminate the ground invasion option and valleys make border patrols in the air without IR less effective), right next to the only part of Turkey that projects that far South into Syria and connects with 3 governates of Syria, all of which have seen influx of new terrorists. Basic requirements for a typical up-to-no-good operation.
      Would have been great if Russia had acted a year earlier (we are now nearing the 1st anniversary since Russian involvement in Syria got active, September 30th) but I imagine they had a good reason for waiting.
      Waiting for the war to go badly -> force the real puppeteers/key personnel gathered in one spot as possible -> Hit the Delete Button when an outrageous act on SAA is carried out.
      Because no plan survives combat action, not acting too early is also a strategy as taking military action gives some clue of the previously unknown capabilities of the Russian military.
      Western societies/individuals if not affected by the Club of Rome/Tavistock social engineering are less infected with the top-down management style and less transparency of Oriental societies, they just need to get away from the scumbags bleeding off their money through taxes and the common core crap.


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