They are, as always, hidden under black masks, without mentioning their names, receive military awards with the door closed, and for most of their service at all is a big mystery. But for more than a quarter of a century, they have been performing all the same tasks - protecting the interests of their native state. They are all those who called and call themselves a simple, but very important word for them - “pennants”.
19 August 1981 held a closed meeting of the politburo of the Central Committee of the CPSU and the Council of Ministers of the Soviet Union, which jointly decided to establish a special-purpose unit within the KGB structure, the main tasks of which were to conduct secret special operations outside the country. interests. Approximately the same day the chairman of the State Security Committee Yu.Andropov signed an order according to which began the creation of a separate training center of the KGB - is the name given to the new unit. But over the years, another name has become synonymous with true professionalism, valor and honor - “Vympel”. At the head of the group was put the captain of the first rank E. Kozlov. It is similar to the nautical theme (admiral's pennant at the mast head of the ship), and there was a detachment of the name, which has become a legend in the near future ...
Thoughts about creating a unit of this format did not arise overnight, the path to understanding the need for such a unit was quite long. Several years after the end of the Second World War, the formation of the NKVD and MGB Soviet Union, who were engaged in the liquidation of Nazi collaborators and criminals in the enemy rear, have ceased to exist. In the middle of the 1970-ies, the eighth section of the Office of the State Security Committee "C" (in other words, illegal intelligence) was created. The structure of this unit included some former members of those units. Thus, the department became an information and research intelligence structure, which was engaged in the operational tracking of all that was related to NATO special forces. In addition, in case of hostilities, the unit was engaged in the preparation of a special reserve.
If we talk about those units that existed before, then the immediate predecessor of the Vympel special squad was the Officer Enhancement Course, which operated from the KGB since 1968. The courses provided special training for operational officers, which they needed to carry out sabotage and reconnaissance missions in the event of war. Graduates of these courses, while being part of the Zenith unit, together with Alpha and the landing force, took part in the storming of the Amin Palace and other government facilities in Kabul in 1979. Subsequently, the officers of the graduates of the courses were formed units of "Cascade", which took part in the hostilities in Afghanistan, performing reconnaissance, sabotage and combat missions.
The initiative to create a special forces personnel, which is capable of it would have an impact on the enemy, in exceptional circumstances and in any corner of the world, he was made head of the "C" Major General Yu.Drozdov. Later, when the decision to create a new division was finally made and documented, Y. Drozdov received a farewell from Andropov, who took the floor with the major general that the new division would have no equal.
The fact that the order of the chief of the State Security Committee was executed at one hundred percent is evidenced by events that took place only a few months after the creation of the detachment. Equal fighters formation really were not: they were real virtuosos in terms of operational fictions, ready to risk their own lives and intelligence resourcefulness. The main feature of the new special unit was that it was not just a powerful force, but a force able to think, even in the most difficult situations, independently weigh everything, think about and make the right decisions, and then implement them.
Employees of the division received an unusual definition for special forces - “special purpose intelligence officer”. Yuri Drozdov was convinced that it was precisely this term that demarcated the functions entrusted to an ordinary intelligence officer, who acted in quiet peaceful conditions under the guise of diplomacy and was not involved in the performance of complex combat reconnaissance operations, and the functions assigned to perform tasks of particular complexity.
Initially, Vympel units were staffed exclusively by officers, but over time, ensigns began to be accepted as instructors. At the same time, it was very difficult to get into the squadron, because out of a hundred candidates, as a result, no more than a dozen people remained. The most stringent requirements for candidates were put forward regarding the state of health, psychological qualities and knowledge of foreign languages.
Therefore, there is nothing surprising in the fact that almost 90 percent of Vympel fighters not only spoke fluent foreign languages, but also had higher education in 2-3. With all this, the main criterion for selection in the squad was the sincere desire of the candidate himself to serve in the elite special unit.
As soon as the formation was completed, intense training began. Painstaking work was carried out daily, during which officers formed skills in hand-to-hand combat, mine explosives, shooting from many kinds of weapons, mastered the methods of carrying out illegal exploration of objects of particular importance. In addition, much attention was paid to the study and improvement of knowledge of foreign languages, and also studied the features of the regions of possible operations. All this knowledge was necessary so that the fighter, once in a foreign territory, did not fail the operation, did not feel uncomfortable and did not stand out among the local population. Thus, each employee of the Vympel unit became a top-class professional who did not know the word "Impossible." Training of those who came from the "citizen", as a rule, took five years, and about two years to train a fighter who already had military training.
The baptism of the Vympel unit took place in Afghanistan, when, starting from 1982 to 1984, there were fighters of the detachment united in the Omega and Kaskad-4 groups here. Over time, the Vympel officers received the functions of advisers. The stay in Afghanistan helped a lot during the formation of the unit, because there was a real opportunity in practice to work out actions during real hostilities, to gain experience, which was later used to improve the training programs of the young generation of “pennant-men” officers. Moreover, situational awareness, responsiveness, ability to establish contacts with the leaders of the gangs and local authorities helped the soldiers to achieve the main goal - to significantly reduce the loss of the Soviet armed forces in the war.
However, Afghanistan was far from the only place in the world where the Vympel fighters had to hone their skills. Special Forces officers conducted observation and advisory activities in Mozambique, Angola, Cuba, and Nicaragua.
As for the exercises of the unit, the first, called "Neman", were held in 1984-1985. Then during exercises on the territory of Belarus, a large group of saboteurs, spies was abandoned, whose mission was to incapacitate large railway junction, the elimination of an oil mill. In addition, other sabotage attacks were successfully carried out, in particular, at the Armenian NPP and at the synthetic rubber plant in Yaroslavl.
As part of the 1985 exercise, it was decided to check how the authorities, the Ministry of the Interior and the State Security Committee of the Chukotka District and the Magadan Region would act if a group of saboteurs from Alaska penetrated their territory. In addition, the Vympel fighters worked at the Leningrad NPP, the Chita TPP, helping a large number of managers to strengthen the secrecy regime at particularly important, in particular, nuclear facilities. During the entire time since its inception, the subdivision remained in the reserve of the USSR, by force, which it was impossible to resist. However, for its intended purpose, the group was not involved ...
And then perestroika began, which became a powerful catalyst for the bloody, destructive processes in many union republics. The military doctrine has changed, the leadership did not understand at all, under what conditions can Vimpel be used. All this has led to catastrophic consequences: the men who were true professionals in reconnaissance and sabotage activities and that it was not the same, they began to be used as a regular police. This was followed by business trips to Baku, Nagorno-Karabakh, Vilnius, Tbilisi, and other hot spots. All this was a big blow to the spirit and prestige of the fighters of the unit. And even despite the fact that the direct participation in the dispersal of rallies and demonstrations, the group is not taken, the mere presence in the troubled republics evoked fighters protest and incomprehension.
Similar feelings to the "pennant" had to endure later, in 1991, in August. The beginning of the coup, ironically, coincided with the division's 10 anniversary. The country's leadership decided to give the fighters a “good” gift by embedding them in a new adventure. But this was prevented by the order of L. Shebarshin, who at that time was at the head of intelligence, to obey exclusively to him. In addition, the officers themselves were determined not to oppose the people.
When the August events subsided a bit, intelligence from Vimpel turned away. The unit proved to be defenseless against groundless resubmissions, reorganizations and numerous accusations. Unique in their professional qualities, the special forces were first placed under the jurisdiction of the Inter-Republican Security Service, then the Federal Security Agency of Russia, and later, in accordance with the Presidential Decree on the formation of the Security Ministry, Vympel became an autonomous administration since the beginning of 1992.
New times began to dictate and new tasks. Now the priority for the Vampyrelovoe has been the fight against terrorists, the protection of environmentally unsafe and strategically important objects from sabotage and terrorist activities, the fight against drug trafficking and criminal armed groups. Accordingly, the training program for fighters has changed. During the exercises held in the summer of 1992, the special forces beat off the control panel at the Kalinin NPP from the “terrorists”, seized the nuclear-powered icebreaker “Siberia” during exercises in Murmansk.
In 1993, the officers of the unit were once again awaiting difficult tests. Fighters "Alpha" and "Vympel", Russian President Boris Yeltsin ordered the storming of the government building, the question about saving the lives of the defenders of the White House did not go. However, this time too, the "pennants" refused to shed the blood of people. Therefore, they entered into negotiations with the besieging government building, taking it a few hours later without firing a shot. It is possible that the actions of special forces saved the country from far more serious consequences. However, the government did not forgive the special forces disobedience. Soon the order of B. Yeltsin appeared, according to which the Vympel group came under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. This decision was a real stab in the back for officers ...
This was the reason that most of the officers left the unit, few wanted to serve in the Ministry of Internal Affairs, many transferred to other power structures, in particular, to the SVR, the FSB, the Ministry of Emergency Situations, another part went to commercial structures, non-state security services.
Thus, many years of unique experience and high-class professionals have been lost. For some time the group even lost its proud name, retaining only the first letter in the new name (“Vega”). Then it seemed that the unit, whose fighters did not know the word "impossible", became part of stories. However, the fighters of the new division, who, by the way, continued to call themselves "Vampirelo", proved that they could keep the traditions of "Vympel". The proof of this was the successful operations in Chechnya, Budennovsk, Pervomaisk.
In the end, the common sense of government officials took precedence over ambition and stupidity, and the unit was returned to the control of the FSB. Today, officers of the “A” (“Alpha”) and “B” (“Vympel”) directorates resist terrorism, having turned into a powerful weapon in the war on terror in recent years ...