During the 1970s, when the Cold War was at its height, the West became aware of the existence of Soviet Spetsnaz troops, which were grouped into what were known as "diversionary brigades".
Today, although the Cold War is long since ended, Spetsnaz units are still part of the Russian order-of-battle, although their missions have changed. Spetsnaz (Spetsialnoye nazranie = troops of special purpose) were raised as the troops of the Glavnoe razvedyvatel'noe upravlenie (GRU) and in the 1980s numbered some 30,000.
These were deployed:
one Spetsnaz company per Army;
one Spetsnaz regiment in each of the three "theaters of operations",
one Spetsnaz brigade in each of the four Soviet Fleets,
and an independent Spetsnaz brigade in most military districts of the USSR.
There were also special Spetsnaz intelligence units, one to each Front and Fleet: total 20. A Spetsnaz company was 135 strong, normally operating in 15 independent teams, although they could also combine for specific missions. A Spetsnaz brigade was 1,000-1,300 strong and consisted of a headquarters, three or four parachute battalions, a communications company, and supporting troops. It also included an anti-VIP company, composed of some 70-80 regular troops (ie, not conscripts) whose mission was to seek out, identify and kill enemy political and military leaders. A naval Spetsnaz brigade had a headquarters, two to three battalions of combat swimmers, a parachute battalion, supporting units, and an anti-VIP company. It also had a group of midget submarines designed to deliver combat swimmers to distant targets.
The existence of Spetsnaz was a closely guarded secret within the Warsaw Pact and individual troops were not allowed to admit membership, to the extent that army Spetsnaz wore standard airborne uniforms and insignia, while naval Spetsnaz wore naval infantry uniforms and insignia.
by: Elena Semenek, http://www.SystemaSpetsNaz.com
Article date: Jan 2007.