Feb 23, 2013

Weapons & Warriors: The Spetsnaz, Russia’s Elite

The word Spetsnaz actually stands for Special Forces. This term is used for a lot of different militant groups around Russia. If the soldier was able to complete Spetsnaz training it means that he is one of the elite. The Spetsnaz training is the Russian equivalent of the U.S. Green Berets training. Although it is the equivalent, that doesn’t mean they are exactly the same. I am a proud son of a marine, and a patriot, but when I look at some of the training sessions used by the Spetsnaz, I have no problem saying that I would never want to be the guy having to stand toe to toe with that killing machine.

I’m not going talk about the show Deadliest Warrior, which did square off the Green Berets and Spetsnaz against each other, and the Spetsnaz won the “contest” with a very close victory. As much as I find much of the weapons tests to be very useful on that show, I rarely agree to the outcomes of their face off. I can however see the Spetsnaz getting the upper hand in a one on one hand to hand fight, and that is because of the extreme conditions of their training. Some of the techniques are swimming in pools with barbed wire strung across it, tied to chairs and beaten to a pulp, tied and dragged around by vehicles, having concrete blocks smashed with sledge hammers while sitting on a man's chest, smacking bare skin with heated poles, etc. Sound crazy to you? What does that accomplish you ask? It works, it’s inhuman and cruel, but a fully Spetsnaz trained soldier will never be caught crying after being hit in the back with a bat. Instead, the assailant might find a knife in his throat before he realizes the Spetsnaz shrugged off the blow. He's had worse in training after all.

Spetsnaz training is very intense and far more violent and aggressive than the training of US marines. When I say more aggressive, I don’t mean in the volume of the Drill Sergeant’s shouting, and in no way am I saying the U.S. Marines have it easy. The Spetsnaz train in a manner that is illegal in the United States, which to me means they belong on my list of world’s most deadly warrior cultures. They might be too recent to be considered history, especially since there are still Spetsnaz serving and training today. Someday some professional historians will say the Old Russian Communist culture is an strong warrior culture right beside the Samurai and Spartans.

Much of the standard training for Spetsnaz is the same as other advanced nation's military; marksmanship, survival, martial arts, discipline, etc. What sets the Spetsnaz apart from other countries is the focus on pain. These guys actually train on how to completely ignore pain and injury. I’m not talking about ignoring the bruise after getting punched in the face. I’m talking about men getting up after being thrown down by an explosion, grabbing their firearm, and checking their perimeter for more hostiles despite bleeding ears and chest pains. Some of the things I hear are probably exaggeration, but I doubt they are much more exaggerated than the things I’ve read about Sparta. I‘ve heard only 20% of men training for Spetsnaz actually complete the training. Only another 10% of those who survived will compete and earn the Crimson Beret, which signifies the most elite of the Spetsnaz forces.

Whatever you do, don't make a bet to outlast any Spetsnaz trained man when pain is involved. Here's a video I found on YouTube that shows some of the training. The quality of it isn't real great, but some of the stunts are really amazing.

I hope you enjoyed this edition of Weapons and Warriors, click here to view the entire catalog of weapons and cultures. Thank you, see you next week.


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