Spetsnaz: Russias Special Forces

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Author: Mark Galeotti
Illustrator: Johnny Shumate

Number of Pages: 64

When the shadowy, notorious Spetsnaz were first formed, they drew on a long Soviet tradition of elite, behind-the-lines commando forces from World War II and even earlier. Throughout the 1960s-70s they were instrumental both in projecting Soviet power in the Third World and in suppressing resistance within the Warsaw pact. As a powerful, but mysterious tool of a world superpower, the Spetsnaz have inevitably become the focus of many 'tall tales' in the West. In this book, a peerless authority on Russia's military Special Forces debunks several of these myths, uncovering truths that are often even more remarkable. Now, since the chaotic dissolution of the USSR and the two Chechen Wars, Russian forces have seen increasing modernization, involving them ever more in power-projection, counter-insurgency and anti-terrorism and the Spetsnaz have been deployed as a spearhead in virtually all of these operations. This book offers a unique, absorbing guide to the secrets of the Spetsnaz, their most noteworthy missions and personalities, but is also packed with details such as orders-of-battle, equipment and operational doctrine.


Professor Mark Galeotti, formerly senior lecturer in international history at Keele University, is Clinical Professor of Global Affairs, New York University. He is a former Foreign Office adviser on Russian security affairs, and for 15 years (1991–2006) wrote a monthly column on this for Jane’s Intelligence Review.


  • Introduction: overview background in Russian history and culture 
  • The Spetsnaz Tradition: special units of the Bolshevik Red Guard, and behind-the-lines NKVD operations in World War II 
  • Cold Warriors: foundation by GRU, 1950 
  • Operations 1960s-70s: Angola, Czechoslovakia, etc, and order-of-battle 1980 
  • Operations in Afghanistan, and order-of-battle 
  • Spetsnaz after the USSR: the turmoil of the 1990s 
  • Tajikistan and Moldova, imitation units in post-Soviet states 
  • Operations in Chechnya, the Chechen Spetsnaz 
  • Modern Spetsnaz: increasing strength and importance 
  • Naval Spetsnaz, and order-of-battle 2013 
  • Special Weapons 
  • Index

Used with permission, copyright ©2015 The Osprey Group.
Copyright ©2015 Brey Corp. t/a Hobby Works.

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