Spetsnaz News from Russia

Spetsnaz Teams Competition Honoring the 40th Alphas` Anniversary


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Posted in column: News Photo: K. Lazarev

In amid of the last month on the Moscow city territory an international competition was organized to mark the forty years from establishing the famous Russian Alpha Group, part of the present Alpha Department of the FSB Special Operations Center.

The competition was attended by 15 teams in total, made of the special forces operators from Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Armenia. Present specialists underlined these competitions are of special meaning for all of them, because “despite the disintegration of the former country, our professional relationships remained unchanged. For the Spetsnaz operators there are no boundaries, we are all one big family”. Four-day competition was held within the well-equipped complex of the Moscow Shooting Club “Object” where specialists were solving various situations in the field of anti-terrorist operations in urban environment, while the second part of the competition was organized at one of the FSB ranges which allows performing actions in mountainous and forested environments.

Even though competitions of this type are became common nowadays, a group of organizers, made of the experienced Alpha Group instructors made sure this competition to be a unique so far and that the tasks and stages were organized as much as close to the real combat situations, because, as one of them points out: “Terrorism and global threats are constantly evolving nowadays, thus our training must constantly improve and adapt, so can enable us to attain advantage over the enemies in crucial moments. Special attention we pay to the succession of generations of our fighters. The transfer of knowledge and various combat experiences is of great importance to our younger operators”. By analyzing real combat situations from Spetsnaz practice stages were organized and set to the competing teams, for which completion operators had to apply multiple skills studied within their training, as well as strong teamwork. In order to make environments more realistic, most of the stages remained unknown to the teams, while judges at briefings before stages were on purpose giving misleads, in order to create a surprise factor and force operators to make decisions and improvise when under stress.

A part of the tasks teams had to complete as soon as possible (to start measuring the moment of the first shoot was taken), in order to provide more points and better placement and all omissions were sanctioned by time penalties. Specific to these tasks was they consisted of several phases needed to be completed in a row, with no time for planning. An aggravating circumstance was that the teams were not familiarize with the content of the next phases, so they had to come up with their tactics while on the move and adapt it to the current conditions, as is often in the case of real combat situations.


Shooting was performed with various types of small arms. Photo: K. Lazarev

On the other hand, it is a common for a real enemy to make a sudden move in a split of second even after several hours of continuous fighting. Therefore, operators must preserve their composure and concentration at very high level all the time. That is precisely why the part of these stages was conducted without a time limit.

It is interesting to note that organizers did not set any security checks of firearms as mandatory during the execution of stages. Thus every operator at all times was responsible for his weaponry because in the case of safety standards neglect he would have been immediately banned. On their professionalism it must be said that during four consecutive days of competition none was banned. The barrels at no point were muzzled at another person. In addition, no restrictions were set with the usage of available accessories and weaponry, because every team was free to use everything they brought. Final gear and weaponry configurations were chosen by team leaders. Although this would have seemed unfair to man (in the terms of sporting equality) in combat situations the enemy would have been looking for every weak point or gap in the armament of the security forces in order to use it for his advantage. That is precisely why the gear is not a kind of luxury nowadays, but the imperative for the units of this type. Moreover, if this approach would have become common, maybe it could affect units` commands and state officials to invest more in equipping their operational personnel. During the competition it could have been noticed that many operators use foreign armament before domestic models, and this practice is gaining a momentum within Spetsnaz units. Handguns such as Austrian Glock 17 Gen 4 and SIG Sauer P 226 almost became a standard, and when considering SMG category, more and more present are German MP5 series in various models, as well as personal defense weaponry like HK MP7. As for the assault rifles, Kalashnikov models are still dominating, but systems like SIG Sauer 516, HK 416 and HK 417 are growing popularity. This should be a strong incentive to the local constructors to think over the competitiveness of their models comparing to ones abroad.


Successful completion of stages required the realization of more correlated tasks. Photo: K. Lazarev

A special effort has been made to the positioning of the targets, which in this tournament were not common cardboard-made, but specially made manikins with sensors able to confirm a shot (therefore target neutralization) only if it hit the head section. On the other hand, the fact that no team knew was that the “enemy” will return fire on them. Operators were exposed to paintball fire, and if hit, team would have been sanctioned by judges and resulted in unsuccessful completion of the task.

The judges noticed this innovation “was a big surprise to many teams, while others acted like in real combat situations, which confirms the validity of plans and programs of training within their units”. At the end of the second phase of competition three teams made of Alpha operators gained a significant advantage over others, so were separated by the judges and started competing among themselves. It should be pointed out that snipers of the Alpha Group just before this tournament participated in the international sniping competitions in the Czech Republic and Hungary, while other specialists were engaged in a complex crisis, but they all arrived on time and achieved excellent results.

Some of the stages were:

Neutralization, urban environment

On a crowded street three-member terrorist group armed with assault rifles is trying to plant an explosive device. One of them is planting while other two are providing cover and monitoring the surroundings, ready to fire if security forces approach. The task was to identify


Some stages were set indoors, as well as during the night. Photo: K. Lazarev

and simultaneously neutralize all the terrorist and prevent detonation. The time limit was determined by the stopwatch on the device, but teams did not know at the time was set.

Dynamic facility breaching, urban environment, night

In the populated environment, four-member terrorist group armed with assault rifles have barricaded in a four-room facility. Layout of the facility was unknown. The task was to conduct a breach by any tactics and neutralize all the terrorists. A circumstance hidden to the teams was that one of the present “citizens” is going to simulate wounding, thus had to be extracted, respectively. There was no time limit for this stage.

Building breaching, rural area, night

In the building in rural area, four-member terrorist group took hostages. The front door of the building were mined. The execution had to be started with a reconnaissance in order to collect intel and send it to the team leader. Then the second part of the team must come up with breaching tactics. The scout had to remain unseen while advancing, and in the case of activating explosives the team would have received time penalty of 90 seconds.

Neutralization, urban environment

On a crowded street a terrorist group is preparing an attack. The teams will conduct the attack after receiving a signal from the agent at the scene. The signal can come at any time. After receiving the signal, the team has to arrive to the crisis scene using vehicles, identify the terrorist and neutralize them before they attack. An aggravating circumstance, unknown to the operators, was the presence of a girl at the scene trying to catch a kitten. The girl must not be harmed.

Ambush, rural area, night

A reconnaissance group falls into an ambush set by armed terrorists. On that occasion two operators were killed and the third is in combat under heavy fire. By receiving his assistance request the team must arrive before he is killed or captured, because he only can provide the information about terrorists` positions. The task was to neutralize all the terrorists and evacuate KIAs and wounded operator in a limited period of time.

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