Spetsnaz GRU, or Russian army special forces, are the original SPETSNAZ and are generally considered the best trained units of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. Despite this, they are not very similar to the Special Forces of the US. The Spetsnaz have created a fierce reputation as one of the best special forces in the world today due to the very harsh standards of their training. They are controlled by the GRU (the Russian military intelligence agency). During the Cold War, these units were deployed in Eastern Europe in order to carry out reconnaissance and sabotage missions against the NATO forces in the event of a war in Europe. The units of Spetsnaz GRU have no official names, such as is the case with units of Spetsnaz MVD. They are generally referred to by numbers, for example, “16th Separate Brigade of Spetsnaz”, much like any other military unit, and are usually integrated in the structure of the VDV (airborne troops) though not under VDV command aegis. Few details are actually known about the operations of Spetsnaz GRU, but it is known that the units were heavily involved in wars in Afghanistan and Chechnya. Spetnaz GRU teams usually wear standard-issue VDV uniforms, light blue VDV berets and unit patches in order to avoid identification. However, they can also wear different uniforms, for instance, they would wear the uniform of a unit which is stationed nearby, in order to blend in.
Here are most of the Spetsnaz Brigades and the location at which they are stationed:
- 2nd ObrSpN – Promezhitsy (Pskov region); strength around 960 (Leningrad Military District)
- 3rd Guards ObrSpN – Roshinskij (Samara Oblast); (Volga-Ural Military District)
- 10th (Mountain) ObrSpN – Molkino (Krasnodar region); activated July 1, 2003 (North Caucasus Military District)
- 12th ObrSpN – city of Asbest-5 Sverdlovsk region); (Volga-Ural Military District)
- 22nd Guards ObrSpN – Kovalevka (Rostov Oblast); (North Caucasus Military District)
- 67th ObrSpN – Berdsk (Novosibirsk Oblast); Siberian Military District
and many others, including:
- 14th Separate Brigade of Special Designation Ussuriysk, Far Eastern Military District
- 16th Spetsnaz Brigade – formerly Teplyi Stan, suburb of Moscow, now Chuchkovo, Moscow Military District
- 24th Spetsnaz Brigade – Kyakhta, Siberian Military District
A Spetsnaz brigade consists of three to five Spetsnaz battalions, a signals company, support units, and a headquarters company containing highly skilled professional soldiers responsible for carrying out assassinations, kidnappings, and contact with agents in the enemy rear area. The organization of a naval SPETSNAZ brigade reflects its emphasis on sea infiltration, with up to three frogman battalions, one parachute battalion, and a mini-submarine battalion, as well as the signals company, headquarters company, and support elements.