SPECIAL FORCES YOU NEVER HEARD OFF- Part 1 of 4

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    When Alpha Group appears compromise disappears, there is an unwritten law amongst terror organizations never to take any Russian hostage

    Special Forces comprise of men who are cut above the rest, well equipped with the best weaponry and strategy. They are called upon when the scenario is too complex for regular forces. They perform an array of operations ranging from airborne operations, counter insurgency, counter terrorism, espionage, covert operations, hostage rescue, high value target elimination and unconventional warfare.

    The US as multiple Special Forces formation thanks to their military budget and population. United States Rangers, Delta force and Seal Teams are the most renowned special operations forces in the world due to their involvement in global counter terrorism operations around Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Somalia, their operations have inspired various movies such as Black Hawk down, American Sniper, Saving Private Ryan, Delta Force, Lone Survivor and Seal Team Six. With numerous documentaries detailing their acts of valor which critics opine are used to drive the American war superiority propaganda.

    Below are Special Forces formations, 95% of the world’s population haven’t heard of most of most of which were formed as a reaction to 1972 Munich Olympics;

    Alpha group insignia
    Alpha group insignia

    Spetsgruppa ‘A’- Russia; never underestimate the capacity of Russians especially when it comes to war and world geopolitics. Russia has multiple Special Forces regiments all of which are referred to as Spetsnaz; special purpose in English. Spetsgruppa ‘A’ simply known as Alpha Group is an elite stand-alone sub unit of the Russian Special Forces, Spetsnaz known for their speed, skill, intelligence and precision. They are a graduate only unit comprising of recruits with university education within the 22-27 year age bracket fluent in several languages. Their spectrum of operations isn’t defined they do everything in general nothing in particular.

    The Russian acronyms SPETSNAZ (spetsialnogo naznacheniya) and OSNAZ (osobogo naznacheniya), both meaning “special purpose”, are general terms used for a variety of special operations forces (or regular forces assigned to special tasks). What sets the Russian Spetsnaz apart from other specially trained special ops units around the world is their dailyexposure to physical punishment.

    They are the most secretive special operations formation with little or no information existing about their operations since most of their operatives decline to talk about their job even after retirement unlike their American Navy Seal counterparts who are often consulted as security experts by media outlets.

    A member of Russia’s Alpha Group, carries a child to safety during the 2004 Beslan Hostage Crisis. In spite having the elite Alpha Group and Vympel present, the incident at Beslan was costly, with 334 hostages killed, of which 156 were children. Both special forces units lost an estimated 10 to 15 operators combined, though no official number was released.
    A member of Russia’s Alpha Group, carries a child to safety during the 2004 Beslan Hostage Crisis. In spite having the elite Alpha Group and Vympel present, the incident at Beslan was costly, with 334 hostages killed, of which 156 were children. Both special forces units lost an estimated 10 to 15 operators combined, though no official number was released.

    A special unit within the centre of special operations of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) a creation of the Soviet Union KGB in 1974 in response to the 1972 Munich massacre. They are the most outspoken Special Forces formation in Russia protecting the state and ensuring national peace. They act under the direct control of Kremlin, Russia’s top political leadership. Candidates go through a three year training involving infantry training, parachuting, sniper operations, martial arts, practical shooting and foreign languages. They train with live ammo thus higher casualties in terms of deaths and career ending injuries.

    They were deployed to secure the 2014 winter Olympics in Sochi ensuring the Islamist separatists don’t harm athletes replicating what happened during the 1972 Munich Olympics thus making the event a success.

    Alpha Group performing drills
    Alpha Group performing drills

    The October 23, 2002 Dubrovka theatre siege by 40 armed Islamic separatist Chechens involving 850 hostages. The separatists went on to demand the withdrawal of Russian forces from Chechnya and the end of the second Chechnya war as their condition to end the siege. The complex layout of the theatre made it difficult for Russian Ministry of Internal affairs SOBR unit to deal with the situation considering the number of explosives the separatists had deployed in the theatre. The killing of two female hostages two days later after Russia refused to negotiate as usual, Alpha group were sent in inducing an unknown chemical infusion eliminating all the 40 terrorists, disarming the explosives and rescuing an estimated 700 hostages. The nature of the gas used during the operation remains unknown to date a clear indication of the extent Alpha group can go to get the work done, 9 foreigners were amongst the hostages who died in the rescue mission.

    Putin with FSB Alpha Group officers in Chechnya.Putin with FSB Alpha Group officers in Chechnya. Note the customized AK.
    Russian president Vladimir Putin with FSB Alpha Group officers in Chechnya.Note the customized Kalashinkov

    In 1985, Hezbollah kidnapped four Russian diplomats in West Beirut, various nations including the US and UK tried to negotiate in futility, the Soviet Union never tried to negotiate. After one diplomat was killed Alpha Group was sent in, surprisingly the remaining three remaining diplomats were released unconditionally and dropped outside the Soviet embassy. Alpha Group allegedly tracked relatives of the terrorists and their leader. They castrated, killed and cut their leader into small pieces before sending his remains to the kidnappers with a letter detailing how they will send the others in a similar state if anything happens to the remaining three diplomats. The long term unofficial policy by Russia of ‘Not to target the terrorist alone but the immediate family’ gives Alpha Group authority to do anything as long as the work is done. This explains why terror groups have low appetite for Russian citizens.

    Finger prints of their involvement in the 1979 presidential palace invasion in Kabul during the initial phases of Soviet invasion of Afghanistan are everywhere; they killed everyone present at the palace in a blink of an eye.

    Narcos insignia
    Marcos insignia

    Marine Commandos-India; shortened as MARCOS, is a Special Forces unit of the Indian Navy formed in 1987. An Indian Marco on an exchange programme in the USA topped the course with ease at the expense of members of the US Navy Seals. This brought the unit’s capacity into sharp focus and ‘discomfort’ within international power circles. Their extensive endurance training in various environments from jungles, mountains and deserts them expert static line Para jumpers with their ability to do free fall Para jumps be it High Altitude Low Opening (HALO) or High Altitude High Opening (HAHO). They are amongst the few Special Forces formations capable of being dropped into the sea in full combat gear. Only two Marcos teams guard the 250 square kilometer Wular Lake making it impossible for Pakistan based terrorists to infiltrate India a clear indication of their effectiveness.

    A Marcos operative
    A Marcos operative

    They showed their tactical superiority during the Mumbai attack in 2008 orchestrated by Pakistan based Lakshar e Taiba terrorists on the Oberoi Trident and Taj hotels taking out all the terrorists with minimal civilian casualties despite the complex maze of rooms.

    A year after their formation they were part of the 1988 Operation Cactus they thwarted an attempted coup in Maldives capturing the boat ferrying 46 mercenaries and their hostages who were fleeing after the failed coup attempt.

    Sayeret matkal insignia
    Sayeret matkal insignia

    Sayeret Matkal,-Israel; simply known as ‘The UNIT’ is a special forces unit of the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) founded in 1954 modeled around British Special Air Service (SAS). A field intelligence gathering unit conducting deep reconnaissance behind enemy lines obtaining strategic Intel, anti-terrorism and hostage rescue outside Israel. Their solid training, innovative weapons and exposure make them one of the deadliest special operations formations. Selection is based on high physical and intellectual capabilities of volunteers and handpicked soldiers who undergo 18 months of training involving hand to hand combat, urban warfare, night fighting, intense interrogation and torture to test their breaking points.

    Dressed in Syrian army uniforms they infiltrated a Syrian nuclear facility in mid-August 2007, confiscating nuclear materials which they took back for testing in Israel. After the material was tested, found to be radioactive and it originated from North Korea, the Israeli Air force took out the facility with an airstrike.

    Sayaret Matkal, Israeli Special Forces in action
    Sayaret Matkal, Israeli Special Forces in action

    When members of the Popular front for the liberation of Palestine hijacked a Paris bound Air France plane from Tel Aviv as it stopped over in Athens diverting it to Entebbe airport in 1976, with blessings from Ugandan strongman Idi Amin. Hoping to use the hostages as a bargaining chip for the release of 40 Palestine affiliated militants in Israeli prisons. The night operation ‘Operation Thunderbolt’ planned for a week took 90 minutes to be actualized. It saw Israeli transport planes transport 100 Sayeret Matkal commandos over 4000 kilometres to rescue the remaining hostages. A successful operation that saw 102 hostages rescued, all hijackers killed, grounding of 11 Soviet built MiG-17 and MiG 21 Uganda Air force planes and the death of 45 Ugandan soldiers. Three hostages died, 8 commandos were injured and the death of their unit commander, Yonatan Netanyahu who was the elder brother to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

    a sayaret Matkal commando
    a sayaret Matkal commando

    After the killing of 11 Israeli athletes during the 1972 Munich Olympic games by Palestinian terrorist group Black September, the mission to hunt down the perpetrators was handed over to The Unit. Code named Operation Wrath of God, the campaign saw a string of killings in Europe and Middle East of suspected perpetrators

    GIGN Insignia
    GIGN Insignia

    GIGN-France; Historically the French have been known for having the best army in continental Europe since the reign of Napoleon Bonaparte. National Gendarmerie Intervention Group abbreviated as GIGN is an elite special operations force created in response to the 1972 Munich massacre as an answer to counter terrorism. They have the toughest training programmes amongst all special ops formations in the world which sieves out 98% of all potential prospective candidates. They specialize in high density environments and urban warfare with special focus on terrorist attacks, hijackings of planes, ships, buses and trains.

    Their training takes 10 months covers swimming for two miles across a tunnel with hands and feet tied on the first day, ship assault, hostage negotiations, high attitude low opening parachute drops, desert operations, sniper marksmanship, combat skiing, repelling attacks and hand to hand combat. They receive more guns training than any other Special Forces group in the world carrying out more than 60 operations annually. They are the only commando unit in the world with the 357 Magnum revolvers as their side arms.

    GIGN operatives in action
    GIGN operatives in action

    In 1994 when four Algerian Armed Islamic group terrorists hijacked an Air France flight killing three passengers before the plane was flown to Marseille airport where the GIGN stormed it killing all the four terrorists but at a cost, the first GIGN commando through the door killed three terrorists but was hospitalized for months surviving though losing the use of one arm. The plan according to key figures in the terror group was to refuel the plane then blow it up over the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

     

    In 1976 Djibouti rebels hijacked a bus transporting 30 French school children,threatening to kill everyone on board if French authorities didn’t meet their demands. The French government refusing to negotiate with terrorist, after the aftermath of the 1972 Munich massacre where negotiations bore no fruits leading to the deaths of 11 Israeli athletes sent in the GIGN who tracked down the hijacked bus, 4 GIGN snipers opened fire killing all the rebels except one they missed storming the bus killing him then rescuing everyone on board.

    GSG9 Insignia
    GSG9 Insignia

    GRENZSCHUTZGRUPPE 9-Germany; abbreviated as GSG9 is the only police unit to make it to the top of the list in a field dominated by military formations. After the two World wars the German law was amended to forbid the use of the military in civilian operations. Simply known as border guard is an elite counter terrorism and special operations unit drawn from the federal police created after the 1972 Munich massacre where the Palestine terrorist group Black September killed 11 Israeli athletes, two of whom were killed in the Olympic village after a botched rescue mission by the German police who were untrained and unequipped for counter terrorism missions.

    GSG 9 operatives performing drills
    GSG 9 operatives performing drills

    One police officer, five of the eight terrorists and nine of the remaining athletes died in the botched rescue operation thus the ‘Munich Massacre’ The German authorities created the created the unit naming it BUNDESGRENZSCHUTZ , federal border guards before they were renamed BUNDESPOLIZEI, federal police.

    A GSG 9 operative
    A GSG 9 operative

    They are deployed in cases of hostage rescue, kidnapping, terrorism and extortion. They are also used to secure locations, neutralize targets, track down fugitives and sniper operations. They are active in developing and testing tactics for these missions which has made them to successfully complete 1600 missions since their inception in 1973, only firing their weapons five times.

    To be continued…………

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