FSB Alpha Group: Where Alpha appears, compromise stops

Eric Sof

FSB Alpha Group shooting drills

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 counterterrorism 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 counterterrorism force during the Olympics in Sochi.

Russian special forces - FSB ALPHA GROUP
Alpha Group operators posing with Russian president Vladimir Putin (Photo: XY)


The Alpha Group is a highly renowned Russian special forces unit, established in 1974 by the KGB Chairman Yuri Andropov in response to the 1972 Munich massacre. The unit was created to enhance the Soviet Union’s counterterrorism abilities and was initially called “Group A.” Its primary responsibility was to safeguard Soviet officials and conduct counterterrorism operations.

Over the years, Alpha Group has gained global attention due to its involvement in various high-profile operations. In 1979, the unit spearheaded the assault on the presidential palace in Kabul during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Subsequently, its members have played a vital role in numerous high-publicity operations, including the takedown of terrorists, insurgents, and kidnappers throughout the 1980s and ’90s.

In 1990, when parts of the Soviet military and the KGB attempted a coup, the Alpha Group was tasked with securing the parliament in Moscow and neutralizing then-president Boris Yeltsin.

Despite the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Alpha Group has continued to operate under the supervision of the Federal Security Service (FSB), the successor agency to the KGB. The unit’s confrontation with Hezbollah during the Lebanon hostage crisis remains one of its most ruthless and widely discussed operations.

The Alpha Group has also established territorial units across the former Soviet Union. The territorial units were formed to enhance the Soviet Union’s defensive capacity against terrorist attacks, provide security for the Soviet leadership during times of crisis, and augment its offensive capabilities. The territorial Alpha units include the 7th Group in Khabarovsk Krai, the 10th Group in Kyiv Oblast (later becoming the basis of Ukraine’s Alpha Group), the 11th Group in Minsk Oblast (after forming the basis of Belarus’ Alpha Group), the 12th Group in Almaty Oblast (later forming the basis of Kazakh NSC Arystan unit), the 13th Group in Krasnodar Krai, and the 14th Group in Sverdlovsk Oblast.

FSB Alpha Group Spetsgruppa "A" training
Operators of Spetsgruppa “A” (Alpha Group) at the shooting range (Photo: XY)

Apart from its military and counterterrorism activities, the Alpha Group has also been involved in politics. Several unit members, including the presidency, have held high-ranking positions in the Russian government. Nevertheless, the unit has faced allegations of conducting covert operations and assassinations on behalf of the Russian government.

Today, the Alpha Group remains one of Russia’s most elite and secretive special forces units, tasked with safeguarding Russian officials and conducting counterterrorism operations.


The Alpha Group is a highly prestigious anti-terrorist unit within the Russian state authorized to act under the direct control and sanction of the country’s top political leadership. The unit’s primary directives are believed to provide security for Russia’s leaders and foreign VIPs while in the country and conducting domestic and international paramilitary and covert operations.

The Alpha Group has played a significant role in various conflicts, including the war in Chechnya, where it was involved in several battles. The unit has also responded to major hostage situations, such as those in Budenovsk, Kizljar-Pervomajsk, Dubrovka, and Beslan, which have garnered significant attention from both the Russian public and the international community.

“Where Alpha appears, compromise stops.”

Primary operation motto of the Alpha Group

The unit mainly focuses on combating terrorism and terrorist groups, arresting and neutralizing their members, and resolving the most complex hostage situations, including storming hijacked planes, buses, and trains. Additionally, the Alpha Group has a separate detachment dedicated to VIP protection, underscoring the unit’s broad range of capabilities and responsibilities.


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 the Alpha group is an officer of the rank of general. The personnel selection for the unit Alpha is performed by the most stringent criteria for the anti-terrorist unit.

Selection and Training

Special Unit Alpha is an elite force composed of candidates aged between 22 and 27 years, while veterans of many actions occupy management positions and work as instructors in logistics services. Regardless of their background, all registered candidates, including police officers and special unit army personnel who have undergone specialist training, begin the selective course on equal footing. University education, physical and mental fitness, and high moral and volitional qualities are prerequisites for consideration.

The selection process takes over a year, and the decision to admit a candidate is made collectively. Once selected, the candidates undergo a rigorous three-year training program that includes infantry training, parachuting, diving, sniper operations, practical shooting, foreign language acquisition, martial arts, and studying terrorism in Russia and the world. By learning from the experiences of others in anti-terrorism, Alpha operatives are equipped to deal with any situation.

Operatives are organized into groups of 12 specialists divided into four teams, with a mission to stop compromise wherever they appear. Becoming a member of Alpha requires commitment, dedication, and hard work, but the rewards are worth it. The selection process ensures that only the most qualified individuals are admitted, and the training program prepares them to face any challenge with courage and skill. Special Unit Alpha is an elite force representing the best of the best, and those who are fortunate enough to participate are proud to serve.

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