Alpha Group (Alfa), also known as Spetsgruppa “A” and Directorate “A,” is a special unit within FSB Special Purpose Center (TsSN FSB). The FSB is a successor of the Soviet’s KGB. The Alpha unit was founded in 1974. Like many other countries, Alpha was formed in response to the Black September attacks at the Munich Olympics in 1972.
Today FSB Alpha unit refers to part spy network, part counter-terrorism team, part general-purpose commando squad — and an entirely terrifying unit for the enemies of the state. They are the guards of the Russian state and its security, the most powerful unit in the country. The unit was the main counter-terrorism force in charge during the Olympics in Sochi.
The main task of Russia’s state-of-art Alpha Group is the fight against terrorism and terrorist groups, their arrest and neutralization, and solving the most complex hostage situation, which includes storming hijacked planes, buses, trains. The unit has detachment solely for VIP protection.
The Alpha unit has become famous in former SSSR after leading the assault on the presidential palace in Kabul during the initial phases of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. Throughout the 1980s and ’90s, its members participated in several high-publicity take-downs of terrorists, insurgents, and kidnappers.
When the KGB and parts of the Soviet military attempted a coup in 1990, members of Alpha Group were given the job of securing the parliament in Moscow and neutralizing then-president Boris Yeltsin.
Alpha Group survived the collapse of the Soviet Union and currently operates under the auspices of the FSB, the successor to the KGB. Yet its confrontation with Hezbollah during the hostage crisis in Lebanon remains one of its most widely discussed and ruthless operations.
Administration “A”- has five departments, and administration” B” has four departments. A department is a permanent unit consisting of an assault group of 30 people. All duties in the operative-fighting departments are officers. The Commander of Alpha group is an officer of the rank of general. The selection of personnel for the unit Alpha is performed by the most stringent criteria for the anti-terrorist unit.
Training and selection
The candidates for special unit Alpha are aged between 22 and 27 years, while the older and more experienced, veterans of many actions, remain in management positions, working as instructors in the logistics services. Every registered candidate, officers from the police, special units of the army, who have already undergone certain training facilities, including specialist courses, but on the selective course, they are all equal, and all of them automatically start from scratch. The candidate must have a university education, be physically prepared, mentally and physically healthy, and possess high moral and volitional qualities. Time for studying candidates takes more than a year in all training segments, and the admission decision shall be made collectively.
To become a top professional and member of the Alpha unit, the candidate must spend three years in training. They pass a very strenuous phase of infantry training during basic training, parachuting, diving, sniper operations, and practical shooting. They learn foreign languages and martial arts, study the phenomenon of terrorism in Russia and the world, following other people’s experiences in anti-terrorism. Operatives are organized into groups of 12 specials divided into teams of four members, and the primary operation motto of their mission is: “Where Alpha appears, compromise stops.”
As a central anti-terrorist unit of the Russian state, which enjoys a special prestige and status, the Alpha group provides security for leaders of Russia and foreign statesmen (VIP) while residing in the territory of Russia. Special unit Alpha passed through many great battles during the war in Chechnya. It was responsible for activities in all significant hostage situations, which have shaken the Russian public and the world: Budenovsk, Kizljar-Pervomajsk, Dubrovka, Beslan.