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Russian special forces - it's really a dangerous weapon, he will not stop at nothing
Material posted: Publication date: 22-08-2015
Interview with the General Roman Polko - a former commander of the special forces GROM.

Wirtualna Polska: How the Russian special troops since Soviet Union have changed?

The novel of Polko (Roman Polko): First of all, within the limits of army reform its number has been reduced. It has received additional equipment, tactics of actions has been modernised. The special troops began to be interested in how in modern conflicts solve the problems the western subdivisions, such as British SAS or the American group "Delta", has entered some elements at itself.

However the main principles underlying operation of these subdivisions, remained former, in particular strong subordination to command of military forces of a special purpose, that is that unit of army which is engaged in a collection of information. So was and with the Polish special divisions in the Polish army of times PNR which was guided by the Soviet patterns. Thanks to this place in structure the special troops receive an operative access to information which is extracted by investigation and counterintelligence, and can effectively carry out on this base the problems. It makes sense.

The second thing which needs to be understood, speaking about the Russian subdivisions of a special purpose, consists that their numerical railroad train reaches one and a half tens thousand persons. For comparison, in our special troops - about two thousand persons. This mass nature has minuses. The more people, the the elitism is more difficult to keep. We have gone during reform by the western way where aspire that professionals were not too much. In Russia - is not present. There the number cult still reigns, problems which are put before special troops do not change also. Its purpose, as before, there is an investigation and act of sabotage, that is revealing of object and its destruction. Speech basically about rocket objects, command and sensitive elements of grouping of the opponent. As during an epoch of cold war. It is characteristic for aggressive armies: they have the special subdivisions, which priority problem - conducting subversive actions in territory of the enemy.

- But the special troops are not only investigation and act of sabotage.

- Certain changes in the Russian forces of a special purpose have occurred because of terrorist threat which too has mentioned this country. Events in Beslan, theatre on Dubrovke have forced to evolve such subdivisions, as "Alpha" towards realisation of problems of police, antiterrorist character. It is necessary to mention also about being in submission of the Ministry of Internal Affairs group "Hero" which got hand in and took active part in the Chechen war. However the essence of problems in which she there was engaged difficult to name special. It was elite subdivision which the first has gone on war, but did not use characteristics inherent in such elite forces: special investigation, the instructions of the purposes, surgically exact blows of small groups on important objects of the opponent (that civilians have not suffered).

- During the Soviet operation in Afghanistan the special troops have caused a stir high efficiency in battles, and simultaneously unusual cruelty. These are qualities remain its "card"?

- Really, if in the western special divisions the emphasis is placed on observance of international conventions, on acting cleverly, and it to win the contender, and candidates on service in the course of a kit in subdivisions of the Russian special troops, especially combined-arms, the physical factor prevails are from this point of view selected. Roughly speaking, it should be tall "kachok" which can, executing the order, to give on a head to everyone in whom to it will specify, without thinking of that, it is correct or not. Certainly, war is always heavy and is almost always cruel, but when I commanded subdivision GROM, I simply discharged such fighters of fulfilment of tasks. Aggressive, bursting from testosterone and desire to kill people, they represent danger to the companions and success of operation. In the Russian forces of such soldiers hold, and the factor of rigid physical selection continues to be used.

It also is connected with differences in mentality and the approach to special divisions. During epoch PNR we too have been convinced that special forces should not worry concerning international conventions and principles of a use of force. Task fulfilment was a priority.

- What it is possible to tell about actions of special troops during the Chechen wars? Moscow has lost the first, but also during the second guerilla groups could put to the Russian special divisions painful losses.

- The special troops were the only thing who gained top as it has been prepared for actions guerilla and protivopartizanskogo character in these battles, and in it that war consisted. They extracted data and liquidated the main Chechen field commanders. Thus, though Russians include airborne or any elite parachute units in a special purpose composition of troops, they to this category do not belong. It simply more elite units of an infantry which, probably, support special divisions, however them are not. Command of the Russian army realises it and plans to create such units which will not yield SAS or "Delta". Only, as I already spoke, is first of all a mentality question, and besides - equipment. Rifle SVD (though I am am connected with it by some warm feelings as in the first years of service I too to it used) is not the weapon of that magnificent quality, as Heckler and Koch, Saco or Remington which are at our Polish soldiers.

- On the Russian special troops cast a shade such crisis situations, as act of terrorism at the Moscow theatre or at school in Beslan when many hostages were lost. These operations were so are badly planned and conducted or such number of victims has been connected with exclusive complexity of a task?

- I believe that actions at theatre on Dubrovke have been thought over and conducted quite skilfully. And our estimation of their efficiency recognises that we do not do the amendment on the Russian mentality, in which person (including the casual hostage as the spectator at theatre) is simply unimportant. Important that terrorists are killed. Therefore the help to the survived was led so chaotically, without the plan. Hospitals where hostages got, at all did not know, what gas has been used!

Beslan is another story altogether. No special subdivisions there worked. We can assume only on what - political or other - to the reasons this share was not too accurate. There can even be an impression that to such slaughter-house have finished specially to show cruelty of Chechens and to expose them in as more as possible unprofitable light. There was not neither negotiations, nor a subtlety in actions. I have told once that if the aircraft has decided to dump a bomb on school, victims would be as much, how many at such exemption of hostages which has been carried out.

Certainly, it is necessary to allocate what Americans have refused in the forces in the Russian special troops: those units which directly co-operate with investigation and can carry out the task of the highest complexity, for example, to search and liquidate the Russian citizens charged of treason to the native land; and also mass military forces of a special purpose which differ determination and will to struggle but for which ability to act "surgically precisely (after all we speak about professional special troops), fades into the background.

- How it is possible to estimate actions of the Russian forces of a special purpose in Crimea?

- First of all, it is necessary to pay attention to insidiousness of politicians and commanders which send soldiers on the task in shape without recognition symbols, as usual gangsters. In Crimea there were any forces of a special purpose, but, more likely, from their mass unit. It was well visible in photos and video: the obstinate "rolling", carrying out the problem set for them, that is simply intimidating the Ukrainian army which at all did not resist, and simply handed over objects, knowing that with these misters of a joke are bad. No subtlety in these actions existed. And at a meeting with such strange opponent which often is present on a modern military field, as journalists, they absolutely lost a head. One has forgotten to remove from a backpack a stripe with a surname, at another the state symbols which have allowed to identify it were visible and to find its page in Facebook. To tell the truth, when I have heard in mass-media that is elite subdivisions of special troops, I have frowned, because it was exaggeration. Probably, it was used for a raising of their moral spirit and a self-estimation, but with the validity of general had a little, especially - with the best in the world special divisions.

- But all the same colonel Yury Mamchur, the commander of a military unit in Belbeke who became a symbol of resistance to Russians, has told that if its soldiers used the weapon, them would dare in a flash.

- I will not estimate fighting spirit of the Ukrainian military men, but standard defensive operations of the country look so: first, it is necessary to defend the territory and if it is impossible to make it - to destroy technics, to recede and pass to irregular, that is to guerilla actions. It is the standard, instead of an exit without the weapon to the armed enemy. Charles a background of Klauzevits (Carl von Clausewitz) said that to win the enemy, it is necessary to capture territory, break its forces and to break its will to resistance. In Crimea this last element managed to be embodied improbably easily. Russians have entered, as a knife in oil.

And the colonel makes the best of a bad bargain. Probably, he knew that there are problems with preparation, equipment, and, first of all, fighting spirit of its soldiers. They did not have a desire to engage so now it is necessary to embellish the opponent somehow: to make from "volchonka" "wolf" or even the whole flight. Though Russia has struck not all power, and actually small forces.

- How the modern level of training and special troops equipment looks?

- First, it is the fighters capable of everything, with high fighting spirit. They do not recede before what even during the most difficult moments, feel the elitism and are ready to sacrifice oneself at fulfilment of tasks. A major factor at selection of shots which characterises these fighters, - determination. They are ready to act as terrorists and will not refuse one problem which before them is put. And if it will be necessary to shed blood, they are ready to make it.

If to compare to the past, it is necessary to name their equipment quite good: it is partially renewed, partially bought in the West. However it substantially the Soviet technics, automatic machines, whose design is based on "Kalashnikov's" design. But we, especially now, can envy their access to the prospecting information. The Russian authorities understand that forces of a special purpose should be in submission of the supreme bodies of management to receive a direct access to information and to persons making the decision. Only then they can act effectively. We had a Command of forces of the special purpose, were in submission of the Ministry of Defence; in PNR - the Second management of the Joint Staff which was engaged in reconnaissance activity. And now we have displaced special troops downwards, under the Main command, because of it degradation has begun: the way to the information, decisions was extended, and efficiency, accordingly, has decreased.

- Russians too have with it problems?

- No, there understand specificity of operation of forces of a special purpose, these troops are highly esteemed. Summarising: it, really, very much the dangerous weapon which is completely subordinated to decisions of the military and political authorities. They do not stop before what are ready to lead actions with a violation of international law that events in Crimea have shown. Their basic mission there are acts of sabotage, sabotage and even political murders - physical liquidation of concrete people, and also chaos provoking in concrete territory. In this sense they too are dangerous, as can enter into such countries of the NATO as Latvia or Estonia, and to undertake there actions on any kindling of disorders.

- How the most elite subdivisions of special troops in comparison with their best analogues in the West look?

- I could not contact to them personally, but I talked to Marchinom Kossekom (Marcin Kossek) which, in particular, was engaged in "Alpha" training, and it still had strong impression. But actually it is impossible to conduct such comparisons. It is other philosophy of forming of the commands, there the most important role is played by the physical factor, kinetic force, blow. In the western armies the rate becomes on the technical factor, mind, accuracy of actions. Anyway, both those, and others are an elite. And having met the fighter of "Alpha" or "Pennant" it is necessary to reckon with that before you there is a person who is self-assured, feels the elitism and it is ready to struggle up to the end because so him have taught.

- How on this background our special troops look?

- We began with that Soviet level which I have described. When I have come to army, there there were many decisions which work in Rossi till now. But during the last years we have noted huge progress. We have counted on quality and an elitism, instead of on number. We closely co-operated with Americans, British, that is with world to leaders, and it has allowed to create Command of forces specially appointments. It was said earlier that at us is only GROM which has well proved in Iraq and Afghanistan, now at the same level members of spetsnaz from Ljublintsa can carry out tasks. We have excellent subdivisions AGAT, NIL, Formoza and support groups. We actually have entered into elite.

Problem on mine (and not only mine, but also our partners) the sight remains decrease in position of troops of a special purpose in command system, its spraying. Special subdivisions cannot be squeezed in general usual process of command: at them other problems. It is difficult to perform special operations, submitting to the combined-arms commander. There was a unification, special purpose troops have subordinated to the Main command, and it is an error. It is necessary to return Command of forces specially appointments and to subordinate to its volume who has direct access to the prospecting information and the right to make on its basis of the decision, and simultaneously can provide privacy of conducted actions as it was earlier. Particularly, it should be the Minister of Defence, certainly, with coherent commands in all military structures.

- That to the Polish special troops or western "komandos" (except an access to information) should learn at Russians?

- I think, determination and firmness which are very important in these troops. Certainly, at us with it not so it is bad, but because of that, as here, and in the West, we live all better, and because of system which learns that on the first place always there is a person, and only then - mission, Russians can go much further. I will formulate it so: if to look in the past, the trained western special subdivisions remind knights, and Russians are similar, more likely, on ancient barbarians. Unfortunately, barbarians very often won knights because they did not adhere to knightly principles and game rules. And it should be realised at least.

Tomash Bednazhak (Tomasz Bednarzak)

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