The command of special operations forces remains one of the most closed structures in the Russian Armed Forces. It is known that in the last six months alone, two MTR fighters died in Syria: Fyodor Zhuravlev and Alexander Prokhorenko who has become posthumously the Hero of Russia.
The military personnel of special operations forces performed the most important tasks. They directed and corrected airstrikes, including cruise missiles, on the positions of the “Islamic state” banned in Russia, rescued the flight recorders of the Russian Su-24M fighter bomber shot down by the Turkish Air Force. This is a small part of the list.
Fees in Solnechnogorsk
History The special operations forces began in 1999, when the Training Center for Specialists was established in Solnechnogorsk, Moscow Region, and in fact a special-purpose military unit, reporting directly to the Chief of the Main Intelligence Directorate. Later, the center was named “Senezh”, and the fighters began to be called “sunflowers”. One of the founding fathers was the then Chief of General Staff, Army General Anatoly Kvashnin.
Sometimes this center is called a training center, but according to several interlocutors of the “Military-Industrial Courier”, “Senezh” never wore such a “prefix”, and the phrase “training of specialists” served as a cover rather than emphasizing the special status of the unit.
Initially, four areas of special operations were formed. Airborne fighters practiced challenging jumps - both long and with a parachute opening immediately after separation from the side. Possession of such methods allows special forces to fly dozens of kilometers unnoticed by the enemy. Experts jumped day and night using night-vision devices in bad weather, with strong wind and fog.
The military men of the mountain direction became combat climbers, learned how to storm high mountain peaks, to capture and hold passes, glaciers. The training of specialists took place, in particular, on the basis of the Terskol training center located in the Elbrus region. The fighters made difficult ascents, even climbed to the top of Elbrus.
Special forces of the assault direction learned not only to take houses and other structures. The tasks were set much wider - the seizure of enemy targets in various conditions, on any terrain.
The men of the sea direction mastered various water areas, practiced actions in diving equipment with the use of special tugboats and light boats. We learned to capture ships and coastal structures.
Already from the experience of hostilities in Chechnya, a fifth area appeared in the center - the protection of high-ranking military. The Defense Minister is protected by officers of the Federal Security Service But in the conditions of military operations, such officials as the chief of the General Staff, the commander of the troops of the district, used to be accompanied at best by reconnaissance or special forces. The training of such “guards”, to put it mildly, left much to be desired. Therefore, the question of creating a specialized unit dedicated to the protection of high-ranking representatives of the Ministry of Defense was acute before the emergence of the fifth direction.
At the same time, according to the interlocutors of the “Military-Industrial Courier”, in the center there was never a rigid binding of the fighters to a specific direction. All the "sunflowers" learned to jump with a parachute, go to the mountains, swim with an aqualung, storm at home. But depending on the tasks, individual elements of training for the fighters were more in-depth.
Moreover, the command tried to ensure that the specialists worked in several directions during their service. The exchange of experience, knowledge, skills and abilities between departments was carried out. For example, a fighter who came from the airborne direction to the sea, not only learned the peculiarities of working on the water, but also shared the skills of long parachute jumps with his comrades.
From the moment of their formation, the directions were staffed exclusively by officers and warrant officers. Conscripts served only in business units or drivers.
Future "sunflowers" were selected not only in units and subunits of the Airborne Forces and special forces, but also among tank crews, gunners, infantrymen, even air defense and RCBZ officers. Several times a year, “buyers” from the GRU visited military units, studied the personal affairs of military personnel and selected suitable candidates.
But this is how it all began. The officers and warrant officers arrived in Solnechnogorsk, where they were held the so-called fees, and in fact, entrance tests, where they tested and the physical training of future fighters MTR, and personal qualities, and most importantly - the ability to work in a team.
Sources of the Military-Industrial Courier emphasize that the main principle of the center is not to prepare an individual fighter with excellent skills and abilities, but to create a team acting as a single organism. This principle, which has been strictly observed throughout all the years of existence of Senezh, has always led sunflowers to victories.
Your way and cars for him
If we compare the organizational structure of the Center for Training Specialists with the American Delta and DEVGRU, the English 22 CAC regiment and the German KSK, performing similar tasks, it is striking that the Western “squadrons” (analogous to the directions in our center) have no orientation specific task - they are, if I may say so, universal. In particular, in the 22 regiment, each of the four squadrons is divided into four detachments: airborne, sea, mountain and automobile.
But as the Russian experience of combat special forces showed, the universal system is in most cases not optimal. For example, if a detachment of special operations forces conducts military operations in the mountains, then it is better to have in its composition more “climbers” and attack aircraft, but fewer paratroopers and sailors. Therefore, our specialists, unlike Westerners, act as consolidated detachments, where, depending on the task, groups from different directions are transferred. According to the interlocutors of the "MIC", this is not a universal, but an adaptive approach.
In the special operations forces of the NATO countries, it is considered necessary to create separate units trained to penetrate the enemy’s rear, make raids and ambushes on specialized vehicles, such as the Land Rover Pink Panther in the CN 22 regiment, the Pinzgauers in the American Delta ".
The experience of the Russian SSO showed that armored vehicles of the type of the domestic "Tiger" are in most cases not suitable for performing the tasks facing special operations forces. Therefore, the choice fell on the highly passable buggies, in the "Senezhe" highly praised Israeli SUV "Zibar".
From the very beginning, the leadership of the Russian center paid close attention not only to training snipers, but also to training specialists capable of conducting high-precision shooting and at the same time solving a wide range of tasks. Initially, Finnish high-precision TRG-42 complexes from Sako were purchased for these needs, and later British AWPs developed by the legendary shooter Malcolm Cooper appeared. Separately studied large-caliber sniper rifles of various firms, in particular the South African "Truvel".
In Chechnya and beyond the cordon
Immediately after the creation of the Specialist Training Center, his fighters found themselves on the front lines. In 1999, Wahhabi militants invaded Dagestan, but were defeated, and a few months later, Russian troops launched a counter-terrorist operation in Chechnya.
It is noteworthy that the name "sunflowers" was fixed for the fighters of the center after their first business trip to the Caucasus. On that trip, the servicemen donned Panamas, which were then not in other parts and units of special purpose. According to one version, the hats were from the SPN-2 summer field kit that had just appeared. According to another, Panamas, which the fighters saw in one of the American militants, were bought in a store selling Western uniforms and equipment. Whatever it was, for the unusual look, and also since the center is located not far from the suburban electric train station Sunflower, his fighters got the nickname “sunflowers”. Later, the drawing of a solar flower against the background of a crossed sword and arrow hit the center chevron.
Despite the fact that his activities in Chechnya are still under the heading "Top Secret", according to available information, "sunflowers" eliminated and seized high-ranking militants, found and destroyed the bases and caches of gangsters, solved other important tasks. As the interlocutors of "MIC" recall, it was not the 100 percent of the fighters of the center who were required to guarantee that the task would be completed, but all 300, were demanded from the center's fighters. They simply had no margin for error.
One event in the center does not like to remember. In the autumn of 1999, senior lieutenants Alexey Galkin and Vladimir Pakhomov were captured by Chechen militants. How experienced fighters found themselves in such a difficult situation is still unclear. But later, both officers, despite severe injuries, escaped from captivity and went to their own. Alexey Galkin became the Hero of Russia.
According to some reports, the fighters of the Center for the training of specialists not only fought in Chechnya, but also solved problems abroad. In particular, they participated in operations against pirates in the Horn of Africa.
The experience of military operations in Chechnya and foreign operations have shown that the subordination of the center to the chief of the Main Intelligence Directorate is not the most optimal solution. The head of military intelligence, for example, cannot give an order to the Commander-in-Chief of the Air Force, so that the “sunflowers” will be given an airplane or helicopters, a rather lengthy procedure is needed to prepare the request, and then to coordinate it. Meanwhile, in some cases, the time for the operation is measured in hours and minutes.
Two centers in the new look
The activities of Anatoly Serdyukov as Minister of Defense of Russia are still subject to serious criticism, but it was under him that the command of special operations forces was created. Just at the transition to the new look “sunflowers”, having received the official name of the center of special operations of the Ministry of Defense “Senezh”, they began to report directly to the Chief of General Staff.
Serdyukov visited the base in Solnechnogorsk near Moscow more than once. Money was allocated for the purchase of weapons and equipment, and several research projects were opened. The helicopter squadron from the Center for Combat Use of the Army transferred to the operational command of Senezh aviation in Torzhok. And in Tver, on a round-the-clock duty, there were military transport Il-76s, ready, if necessary, to deliver SSO fighters to designated points at any time.
It is believed that during the transition to the new look, Senezh, like the special-purpose brigades, was reduced, and many of its servicemen were either dismissed or retired. But it is not. According to the Military-Industrial Courier, the command of the center, taking advantage of this opportunity, conducted the certification of its fighters, selecting the best.
At the end of the 2000s, a second Special Purpose Center appeared in the Russian Defense Ministry, subordinate to the Chief of the Main Intelligence Directorate, dislocated in Kubinka, situated near Moscow. The appearance of the new CPS, nicknamed “Zaborobye”, is due to Lieutenant-General Alexander Miroshnichenko, who came to Anatoly Serdyukov’s post as deputy defense minister, who previously headed the “A” department of the Special Purpose Center of the FSB, in other words, Alpha.
Miroshnichenko and the management of Senezh immediately formed, to put it mildly, tensions. The former commander of Alpha believed that it was necessary to create the command of special operations forces of the Ministry of Defense, relying only on the experience of his former command. The command of the "sunflowers" reasonably stated that they have their own, equally serious developments and training school, and the tasks of Alpha and the special operations forces of the military department are different.
In the current situation, Serdyukov made a compromise decision - to create a second Special Purpose Center, the formation of which was entrusted to Aleksandr Miroshnichenko, who recruited former subordinates from the Special Operations Center of the Federal Security Service.
Employees of "Alpha", creating "Zaborobie", primarily focused on their own experience. The focus was on individual training of fighters, great attention was paid to physical training - at the level of high-performance sports. And the collective work, the key principle of Senezh, was not a priority for the creators of the new center.
The interlocutor of the "MIC" explains: "The" Alpha "is different. They were brought in a car to the place of the operation, they ran 50 meters and became heroes. Nobody wants to smell footcloths and crawl through the mountains for weeks - look for militants. ”
In 2013, this TsNS of the Ministry of Defense was subordinated to the command of special operations forces. The post of commander of the KSSO was taken by Major General Alexei Dyumin, who, according to knowledgeable people, in many ways became a compromise figure against the backdrop of the opposition of the management of Senezh and Alexander Miroshnichenko, who actively continued to implement the experience of the FSF special services center.
It is noteworthy that Zaborbie has maintained a close relationship with Alpha. Its former employees, as noted by many with whom the “Military-Industrial Courier” met, instilled in the fighters of the newly created center a desire at any price to be the best in everything.
We note the main thing - the fighters of both centers continued the traditions established by the founding fathers, performing the most difficult tasks: they defended the Olympics in Sochi, conducted a brilliant operation in the Crimea, and now work in Syria.