Its always interesting to see other nation’s perspectives on training for combat, especially those nations who’re training on an incredibly limited budget. While I take basically everything from Communist nations with a heavy grain of salt, the techniques described below are sound and mimic some of our training techniques in the Army and what I replicate in the Scout Course. The Cubans place a special emphasis on infiltration, which goes back to the early days of third generation warfare and has been a hallmark of the Eastern style of warfare training for special operations as described by MAJ. H. John Poole’s classic, The Tiger’s Way. Take every lesson where you can get them. -NCS
Today, April 19, is a holiday on Liberty Island! Their individual Victory Day. Fifty-one years ago, the Cuban people inflicted a crushing defeat on the United States at the Battle of the small town of Playa Giron in Cochinos Bay on the southern coast of Cuba. In our country these events are better known as the “Operation in the Bay of Pigs”.
Then, in 1961, the Cubans managed in 72 hours to defeat the so-called “Brigade 2506” – a military formation of Cuban emigrants, trained under the leadership of the CIA for the invasion of Cuba ((4 infantry, tank and airborne battalions, a heavy artillery division and special forces – only 1,500 people Of the 1350 invaders who landed on the shores of the Cochinos Bay, 1173 were captured, the rest were destroyed.
Decades have passed, but the small country continues to live the life chosen by its people. Life in constant expectation of a possible war with a terrible, well-armed and definitely stronger enemy. Have you ever wondered why the United States, which easily conducts military operations in all corners of the world, has not yet “brought democracy” to Cuba? Although this desire is periodically voiced!
The answer is simple – the Americans are very well aware of what it will cost them …
The current Revolutionary Armed Forces of Cuba (Spanish: Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Cuba, or simply FAR), grew out of the Rebel Army, which operated under the slogan “Homeland or Death!” – Today, in terms of the level of training of personnel, the state of technology, its content, they are one of the best in the world, and certainly in Latin America. At the same time, of course, neither in numbers nor in equipment modern views weapons it cannot be called that. In the 90s, in the face of the country’s economic difficulties, FARs were significantly reduced. However, even today they are very combat-ready, have a high training of officers and a high morale of all personnel. FARs are completed on the basis of a draft for active military service, the term of which is 1 year. At the same time, there are no delays, except for the state of health. Both men and women serve in FAR (they serve purely voluntarily, and there are a lot of them in the army – up to 20%, in Cuba there are helicopter regiments and tank companies, where only women serve).
Numerous tourists visiting Cuba have no idea that pillboxes and fortifications are hidden everywhere next to the beautiful beaches and in the shade of luxurious palm trees, and in numerous karst caves, which Cuba is so rich in, there are camouflaged firing points and storage bases for military equipment (in Cuba, up to 70 % of military equipment is in storage, but it is ready for immediate use – tanks, armored personnel carriers, infantry fighting vehicles, self-propelled guns, self-propelled air defense systems – are stored separately (by batteries), along with ammunition and batteries, etc., etc. – nothing will need to be received where something in the warehouse – it is ready for combat use immediately. The equipment is covered, and the necessary conditions have been created for it: an average annual temperature of + 21 ° C and optimum humidity. For this, very expensive imported equipment is installed in the warehouses).
In 1980, the Supreme Commander-in-Chief Fidel Castro Ruz officially announced the military doctrine of the Island of Liberty, which bears the eloquent title of “National War”. And the Cubans turned their country into one powerful fortified area and a base for a general guerrilla war.
Millions of people are involved in this task, and not only military personnel, but also civilians. All of them are united in the system of the people’s militia of the territorial troops, covering the entire national territory of the island. These popular forces, in close cooperation with the regular army, are ready at any time to deploy in the theater of operations in order to successfully resist any aggressor. This means that in the event of an attack on a country, not only the country’s armed forces will fight the enemy, but also the civilian population – everyone who is able to hold weapons.
This doctrine assumes that not only any soldier, but also every civilian participant in the defense of the island must know well his maneuver, that is, where to head at the “X” hour, what to do upon arrival at the place. Cubans claim that in case of aggression, more than 1,400 zones and lines of defense will be activated on their territory! Cuba, in the figurative expression of Raul Castro, will turn into a hornet’s nest for the enemy!
All measures for a possible repulse of aggression are periodically practiced at the Bastion combined-arms exercises. These maneuvers take place in Cuba every few years and are attended by both the military and the civilian population, and in more numbers than the army! I must say that the Russian army never dreamed of (after the collapse of the USSR) maneuvers of this magnitude! For example, about 100,000 servicemen, about 400,000 reservists, and millions of civilians took part in the Bastion 2004 exercise. For comparison: up to 20 thousand servicemen took part in the so sensational Russian exercises “Vostok-2010”, about 12 thousand servicemen of the two countries took part in the joint exercises of the armed forces of the Russian Federation and Belarus “Union Shield-2011” 2011 “12 thousand servicemen …
The Cubans are planning the next Bastion exercises this year, timed to coincide with the US elections.
But today I would like to tell you about Cuban professionals, about whom we know very little!
So, who lives in the “wasp’s nest” promised by Fidel for any conqueror?
Special Forces of Cuba – Tropas Especiales “Avispas Negras”, or simply – Black Wasps.
It was originally created to ensure the personal safety of Fidel Castro and other leaders of the Cuban Revolution and is officially a division of the Ministry of the Interior. Initially, it consisted of fighters who already had serious experience in guerrilla and insurgent fighting in various Latin American countries, many of them fought alongside Che Guevara, including in the Congo, fought with Batista’s supporters in Cuba itself. But very soon they were in demand outside the territory of the Freedom Island. On the personal order of Fidel Castro, special forces soldiers began to provide assistance to revolutionary movements abroad. They were the first to be sent to Angola in November 1975, fought together with our “military advisers” in Ethiopia and Mozambique, etc., in many countries of Central America (including Nicaragua). They are still fighting today (of course – unofficially), the United States stated that the fighters of the “Black Wasps” supported the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution in Ecuador in 2010.
Cuban special forces “Black Wasps” specialize in warfare in the jungle. Today, some experts believe that this is the most combat-ready special forces in the tropics and the individual training of individual fighters has no analogues in terms of its complexity.
In 1980, a Training Center was opened in Cuba (the Cubans call it the “School” – Escuela Nacional de Tropas Especiales Baragua) troops special purpose in the city of Los Palacios, in the province of Pinar del Rio. The Training Center, known as “Baragua” 🙂 occupies a rather large area, there are several artificial reservoirs and swamps built there. There is a model of city streets in real dimensions, a network of underground communications, and so on. At the same time, about 2500 people are trained and retrained at the Training Center – not only “Black Wasps” but also parachute troops and marines. However, not all cadets are Cubans. As well as teachers – since 2000. in Baragua “on exchange”, several PLA (Chinese Army) officers teach as instructors, and so on.
At the Baragua Center, fighters are trained in jungle combat tactics, survival in difficult conditions and infiltration into enemy territory, sabotage, martial arts, special sniper operations, parachute and diving training, psychological and information warfare.
Hand-to-hand training is primarily based on “karate-operetiva”, a style developed by officer Raul Riso (aka Domingo Rodriguez Oquendo, Joshinmon Karate Master). It should be noted that the name of this person is directly related to the training of hand-to-hand fighters of the special forces of the KGB of the USSR and the training of specialists of the GRU General Staff of the USSR Ministry of Defense. It was he and his school who at one time had a great influence on both our “Alpha” and “Vympel”. Unfortunately. this man passed away not so long ago, but will remain in the memory of very many.
In tactics, “Black Wasps” are guided mainly by the actions of small groups of reconnaissance saboteurs or even lone individuals, for a long time of autonomous action on the enemy’s territory, and so on. The training program includes compulsory study of materiel and gun shooting Different countries, and they use it masterfully. Standard armament: AKMS, AKMSN (more precisely B is a version produced in Cuba with a silencer and a night sight), AMD-65 (Hungarian version of AK), SVD, AS “Val” and VSS “Vintorez”, RPG-7V, pistols APS and APB, PM (produced in Cuba under license) and Czech CZ 75. And much more.
These are the “Black Wasps”!
Cuba celebrates Cuba’s Revolutionary Armed Forces Day on Friday. On December 2, 1956, a group of Cubans led by Fidel Castro disembarked from the Granma yacht in the Cuban province of Oriente and began an armed struggle against the government of the dictator Fulgencio Batista.
After winning the guerrilla war, Castro began building a new Cuban army, relying on military aid USSR. At some point, the armed forces of Cuba became one of the most powerful armies in Latin America, and the policy of “exporting revolution” allowed the Cuban military to gain valuable experience in guerrilla wars in Congo, Bolivia, Argentina, Venezuela and Nicaragua, as well as large-scale hostilities with the use of tanks, artillery and aviation in Angola and Ethiopia.
“In December, about 500 Cuban military personnel arrived from Angola on airplanes, including the personnel of a tank battalion, which, under our leadership, began to master the T-62. The Cubans turned out to be literate guys, and by the end of 1977 the Cuban battalion on the T-62 was ready for combat use, “recalled a Soviet specialist who participated in the armed conflict in Ethiopia, in an interview with the official newspaper of the Russian Ministry of Defense” Krasnaya Zvezda “.
According to him, the Cubans, unlike the Africans, were serious, disciplined fighters with whom they “plugged holes” on the fronts in Ethiopia and Angola.
In Angola, according to the publication, from 1975 to 1988, there was a contingent of Cuban troops numbering up to 58 thousand people. Cuban pilots also took part in these wars, successfully solving combat missions at the controls of Soviet Mi-8 helicopters and MiG-17 and MiG-21 aircraft.
Now a small Cuban army with outdated Soviet military equipment cannot compete with the modern armed forces of large global and regional players. However, ranking 79th in the Global Firepower 2016 ranking, Cuba is ahead of, for example, some post-Soviet countries: Georgia, Kyrgyzstan and Estonia.
The fighters of the Cuban special forces – “Black Wasps”, are especially famous in the world.
On the official website of the Cuban Ministry of Defense, this unit is almost not mentioned: in the list of educational institutions of the Cuban armed forces, the National School of Special Forces Baragua is indicated.
“Located to the west of the capital, it fulfills its mission of training officers for the Special Forces of the Revolutionary Armed Forces,” reads the description of the institution. Due to the rigor of training and a high level of physical training, a few cadets become graduates of this school, the Cuban military explains.
While Cuban pilots, sailors or tank crews were trained by Soviet instructors, Fidel Castro’s special forces, with their experience of participating in partisan movements, trained their colleagues from the USSR themselves. A veteran of the special purpose group of the KGB of the USSR “Vympel”, Colonel of the FSB reserve Valery Kiselev, spoke about this preparation in his memoirs.
“The camp was a barracks located in the lowlands surrounded by wooded hills. Local special forces by that time were taken out of the camp. There were only 16 “Vympel” members and several teachers and instructors of the Cuban special forces. Other teachers came only to teach and then left for their training camps. The Cubans provided the very best teachers from various special schools. In all special disciplines they are real aces in their field, ”wrote Kiselev in his memoirs.
The Cubans told Vympel specialists that they would be trained on the Che Guevara trail, where the legendary revolutionary trained with his squad before the march to Bolivia.
It was a special route, about 7.5 km long, over the hills of 250-300 meters high around the training camp. There were training booby traps, stretchers and other special obstacles along the entire length of the trail. The Cubans taught the KGB special forces to pass minefields, disarm them with their hands and blindly different types mines, overcome barbed wire barriers, remove sentries, penetrate warehouses, airfields, barracks, fuel terminals, and so on.
The Cuban instructors, experienced in guerrilla wars, paid particular attention to synchronized covert movement in a bent position, in which the fighters were forced to walk for hours. “The one walking first touches the ground in front of him with his feet in order to find mines and stretch marks. Movement goes trail to trail. It is known that the human eye perceives only rapid movement. Nobody pays attention to slow motion. Therefore, you need to move in this position very slowly and smoothly in order to instantly freeze if a lighting rocket takes off. The fighter practically merges with the environment“, – explained Kiselev.
At night, the KGB officers practiced crawling for 10-12 hours in a row, so that a group of four to five people could penetrate a guarded object of a simulated enemy – a fuel terminal, an airfield, ammunition depots or barracks – and destroy it. The group had to crawl very slowly, overcoming minefields, special noise obstacles: dry leaves, mats of reeds, straw, fragments of slate and barbed wire fences. Everything is absolutely synchronous and silent.
While the leader of the group felt and neutralized the mines in complete darkness, the rest of the group lay motionless, ignoring the ants and other tropical insects running along them.
For protection and stealth, the fighters were smeared with a camouflage composition of herbs or dirt, and the weapons were processed so as not to give glare.
The training of the saboteurs was calculated in such a way that seven special forces with the help of TNT bombs, mines, grenades and machine guns could destroy the enemy battalion (about 400 soldiers and officers) in the barracks and leave, disguising the passages in the obstacles. Fighters of the Vympel group took courses in Cuba for a period of three or six months.
The Cubans also carried out “urban preparation”: secret operations, methods and locations of basing, covert movement, detection of surveillance and evasion from it – all in urban conditions.
“The Cuban special forces are one of the best specialists in organizing ambushes and kidnapping. They taught all this to our officers as well, ”says the FSB colonel.
In addition, the Cubans trained the KGB special forces to open door and safe locks with improvised means. When, at the end of the training, the “Pennants” were given a special complex lesson to test their skills in the presence of KGB General Alexander Lazarenko and Raul Castro, the representative of the Soviet side was surprised at the new skills demonstrated by the Cuban-trained fighters.
Based on the abstracts and reports of the fighters about these missions, Vympel prepared manuals for training Soviet special forces using the Cuban method.
According to Kiselev, it was the Cubans who first taught the “pennants” new elements of hand-to-hand combat – a combat kata with a machine gun. “Today, paratroopers also perform such a technical complex. And in a more advanced form. And at that time it was the newest technique with long-barreled weapons in hand-to-hand combat. Until that time, even the “Vympel” fighters had not seen this and were only trying to come up with something similar. The Cubans already had everything well thought out, ”said the officer.
Last October, Fox News, citing US officials, reported that Cuban leader Raul Castro had sent his special forces to Syria to help Bashar al-Assad. Allegedly, the Cubans were even delivered to Syria by Russian transport planes, and this was confirmed to American journalists by an anonymous Arab military who visited Damascus airport. A spokesman for the Cuban Embassy in Damascus denied these reports.
16 people arrived in Havana. Two groups of seven officers each and two leaders from the 8th department of the “C” Directorate. We got out of the plane. Heat. In the shade 35 degrees. In the hall for delegations and VIPs of the airport we met with representatives of the Cuban special forces. We tried real Cuban coffee. Small cup. Literally half a sip. None of them have tasted anything tastier and more aromatic before.
We left the airport in cars. They brought me to some villa. There are tangerines and bananas in the garden. The house has air conditioners, VCR with TV. In 1985 in the Soviet Union only a few knew about the existence of video tape recorders.
Unloaded. Accommodated. Representatives of the Cuban command arrived. We met and had a friendly dinner. Cubans speak Spanish, but not all Pennants understand their speech. Learning a language was an extra burden to what they were going to learn.
The first week was spent at the villa. Excellent feeding. Many impressions. “Vympelovtsy” were taken around Havana. Showed sights. They swam in the ocean. We visited spearfishing. We also visited the world famous cabaret club “Tropicana”.
The indoor palm trees are illuminated with colorful lights and garlands. On stage, 10 black violinists in white tuxedos play classics and national motives. There Cubans taught Russians to drink rum and smoke cigars.
The show began. 200 beautiful half-naked girls danced on stage, between tables and on special platforms arranged on illuminated palm trees. This action lasted over two hours.
Everything was great and beautiful, but no one knew yet that it was just acclimatization.
The rest period is over. We were given khaki panties. Some kind of slippers. Camouflage is not very beautiful to look at, although it was comfortable to wear. We changed our clothes and were taken to a Cuban special forces training camp near Havana.
The camp was a low-lying barracks surrounded by wooded hills. Local special forces by that time were taken out of the camp. There were only 16 “Vympel” members and several teachers and instructors of the Cuban special forces. Other teachers came only to teach and then left for their training camps. The Cubans provided the best teachers from various special schools. In all special disciplines they are real aces in their field, but we learned that later.
We were informed that we would train on the Che Guevara trail, where he and his squadron trained before leaving for Bolivia. This trail is a trail through the hills around the camp in the middle. The hill is 250-300 meters high with a slope of 30-45 degrees. Above there is a small plateau 15-20 meters in diameter, then downhill. There are seven such hills along the perimeter of the camp, and the entire trail is 7.5 km long. But that’s not all. All along the trail there are booby traps, stretch marks, various obstacles and all other “delights” of special operations. Dress code – only underpants (shorts) and no shoes. For complete pleasure, each “pennant” was given a metal blank weighing half a pound (8 kilograms), vaguely reminiscent of a Kalashnikov assault rifle. With the help of a rope (instead of a belt) tied to the “barrel and neck of the butt”, it (this piece of iron) was worn around the neck, and it was impossible to part with it. In addition – a pouch with imitation of mines, which was also issued for weight and hung on the belt.
When we passed the Che Guevara trail for the first time, we returned to the camp “dead”. And how well it all started … “Tropicana”, rum, cigars, ocean, fishing …
We were taught to pass minefields, to clear mines by hand and blindly, various types of mines. Pass barbed wire fences. Take off sentries, infiltrate warehouses, airfields, barracks, fuel terminals and more.
All this is interspersed with the “Che Guevara path”, physical training and working off different ways movement. Just moving in a bent position is worth it! .. Even after 15 minutes in this position, all muscles begin to ache. And we were forced to walk like this for hours.
You need to walk in this position absolutely synchronously with the whole group. The one walking first touches the ground in front of him with his feet to detect mines and stretch marks. Movement goes trail to trail. It is known that the human eye perceives only rapid movement. Nobody pays attention to slow motion. Therefore, you need to move in this position very slowly and smoothly in order to instantly freeze if a lighting rocket takes off. The fighter practically merges with the environment. How much training does it take to master this method of movement perfectly!
Or night crawling exercises. For 10-12 hours in a row. The meaning of this movement is that a group of 4-5 people must penetrate a protected object, for example, into the barracks, where the enemy battalion is located, and destroy it. It can be any object – a fuel terminal, an airfield or ammunition depots. The group moves very slowly, overcoming minefields or special noise obstacles: dry leaves, reed mats, straw mats, slate fragments. Barbed wire fences.
The movement of the whole group is absolutely synchronous and noiseless. The presenter finds mines, in complete darkness checks them for anti-handling or traps, removes stretch marks, removes them from the aisle or indicates their location. While the presenter deals with the next “surprise”, the whole group lies motionless. And at this time ants and other insects run along them, looking for a place where they could bite more painfully.
The forewarned security guard of the facility closely monitors the entire situation and from time to time fires flares. The whole group is smeared with a masking compound of herbs or mud. The weapon is also processed to prevent glare. From clothes on each only panties.
We passed the minefield. Then a barbed wire fence. It is in the cinema that they bite a thorn and move on immediately. In real life, the wire is bitten and then broken by hands so that it does not make a sound. They are spread apart with special hooks and mark the exit passage.
After practicing such operations, we went to special comprehensive classes at various objects.
How to put a magnetic mine with a time fuse on a tank that turned out to be empty? Night. Silence. You bring the magnet to the barrel, and there is a sound like an explosion. That’s it, the task is failed, and you “died”.
“Destroyed” the battalion in the barracks. In belt bags, which are called “bolso” in Spanish, they wore thick checkers. We got up unnoticed. At the command of the commander, the soldiers throw thick checkers into the windows of the barracks, and they explode. Towers with sentries explode at the same time, if they were not destroyed in advance.
Seven special forces are destroying a battalion (about 400 soldiers and officers)! The survivors of this nightmare will not be able to stand up for a long time due to wounds and contusions. Airplanes explode on airfields, fuel terminals and ammunition depots. And the spetsnaz group has already left, disguising the passages in the engineering barriers behind them.
One OTC group trained in Cuba for three months. Then they were returned to the Union. The second group remained to study for another three months. At the same time, the Cuban instructors did not diminish. And all their attention went to the remaining officers.
At first, the group commanders thought they were going to lead. However, the Cubans decided otherwise – come here, lie in front and ahead along the route. You came here to study, and you cannot learn otherwise. And the commanders trained with the fighters. They sometimes went to seemingly meetings at the embassy. But on Saturday and Sunday. Preparation on the “Che Guevara trail” lasted five months. Everyone was fed as if they were slaughtered, and at the same time everyone lost weight. Training turned into power and energy for every fighter. Three fighters – Abakar Sadulaev, Yuri Lunev and Valery Kislov – still managed to work on “iron” after training at the training ground. They had a barbell in their villa, about 90 kilograms, and at every opportunity they practiced pull-ups on any apparatus – a horizontal bar, a cornice of a windowsill, a tree branch, and the like.
It makes no sense to remember all the weapons that they had to master. Cubans taught them how to shoot for real. And day and night, and to sound, and in motion, and on a moving target, and on a flash, and from the hip, and much more.
They fired from an 82-mm mortar without a base plate. The total weight of the 82mm battalion mortar is 56 kilograms. One barrel from a mortar is heavy, and with a base plate it can only be transported by transport. The commandos were taught to shoot without a base plate. The barrel rests on the ground and is roughly aimed at the target. Aiming is carried out with the help of a special compass, and the mortar is fixed in this position. The hitting accuracy with such shooting is 3-5 meters. For a mortar, this counts as an accurate hit. One of the commandos recorded the position of the mortar, and the second lowered the mines into the barrel. From the moment the mine was first launched until the first explosion on the ground, the fighters managed to fire up to 12 shots. After that, the mortar crew left the firing point. The fire strike on the enemy was tangible.
In the last month, “Vympelovites” were transferred to urban training. The same thing happened as in Russia. Forest and urban groups. Cache operations, methods and locations, movement around the city, detection of observation and avoidance of it.
Cuban Special Forces are some of the best specialists in ambush and kidnapping. They taught all this to our officers.
From the memoirs of Vympel veteran Lieutenant Colonel Vitaly Albertovich Eremeev:
“The Cubans have all the materials for the training of special forces systematized and arranged on the shelves. The teacher first gave lecture material. Then we all discussed the information received. Then we watched a film, most often a feature film. The classic film for the discipline “sabotage” “They were known only by sight.” After such sessions, the film looks completely different.
We were taken along the route and given instructions on how the object would move along it. Each of us was assigned a separate task. One – to develop a plan of abduction, another – elimination, the third – something else, and so on.
Then there was the “tribunal”. The masters of the Cuban special forces came, and we had to defend our developments in front of them and prove that this was the most acceptable and correct course of action in accordance with the task and based on the existing conditions of the operation. After defending the plan of operation, we practiced it in the city.
The object was real. It was an intelligence school teacher who did not know us by sight, but he was warned that work was underway on him. This is a common practice for Cubans. Each of the teachers can go to war at any time. If he notices something unusual around him, he is obliged to immediately report to the management.
I had to disguise myself. Cubans teach their tactics in great detail and in parts. They made everyone think.
A commander or a fighter can make the only correct decision only when he has a great variety of such decisions. For this, it is necessary to think over any surprises at the stage of preparation. All introductory notes that can in any way affect the fate of the operation are worked out in advance. Even the most incredible. Only when, in reality, a special forces officer is faced with new factors, he can instantly make the most correct decision, since he has already gone through this in practice.
The very same “tribunal” exists to work out all possible options for the operation. At the same time, questions and introductory questions are asked by people who themselves have repeatedly participated in the implementation of such events in practice. Therefore, the questions and introductory questions are very serious.
Cubans taught us to think on the ground. The main point of such exercises is that by definition, unexpected questions and situations during special operations should not be. Everything should be thought out in advance. Only in this case will the operation be doomed to success. ”
“Vympelovtsy” in Cuba were given another type of training. It took a week. Cubans never said in advance what they were going to teach. The instructor would just come and announce a new topic or subject for today’s class.
At that time, an old man came to the villa and brought with him a huge number of different castles. Some have been cut up so that you can clearly see how they are arranged and work. Everyone sat down for round tableand he began to show and explain how to open locks without keys. He explained the structure of all types of locks that existed then – from padlocks to safe locks. He explained and showed how a master key can replace a key. Then he gave each one a lock and offered to start training. When it started to work out and all the locks were opened, we went to train at the locks of the villa. Then they started working on the safes. Everyone was seriously warned so that no one else would learn about these skills.
After completing all types of training, “Vympelovites” were given a special complex lesson to test the skills they had acquired. General Alexander Ivanovich Lazarenko flew in for this exam from the Union. Raul Castro was present. The Pennants passed the exam with excellent marks. Lazarenko was surprised by the new skills they demonstrated. This he had never seen before.
In addition to combat training, all the “Vympelovites” daily took notes of their lessons. On the basis of these notebooks and reports of soldiers on a mission to Vympel, manuals were prepared for training special forces according to the Cuban method. Cuban special forces were considered one of the best in the world. They constantly fought in Angola, Congo, Bolivia, Nicaragua and other countries.
After returning from Cuba and preparing reports on the trip, one of the newly acquired skills was demonstrated – a combat kata with a machine gun. It was one of many practical (deliberate and systematic) exercises that gave some skill in using the machine gun in hand-to-hand combat.
Today, paratroopers also perform this technical complex. And in a more advanced form. And at that time it was the newest technique with long-barreled weapons in hand-to-hand combat. Until that time, even the “Vympel” fighters had not seen such a thing and only tried to come up with something similar. The Cubans already had everything well thought out. Of course, time and martial art do not stand still. Today it is already more refined, more applied and beautiful in execution. But at the time, it was a novelty. The kata ended with a blank shot upwards. The whole hall was quiet at first, and then burst into applause.
After this study at the OTC, all employees were tested using Cuban methods. Almost all of the Vympel employees had higher education, and the teaching materials on the Cuban special forces school were compiled at a good professional level. For officers who already had at least one higher education behind them, self-education using the available benefits was not a problem.
The Vympel instructors and advisers used the same methods to train special forces in Afghanistan and other countries.
The business trip was short – only three months. Four staff members of the OTC were assigned to learn from the experience and provide assistance to the Sandinistas. Particular attention should be paid to the activities of special forces, which constantly participated in hostilities. It was they who at that time brought to power Daniel Ortega, who was considered a great friend of the Soviet Union.
It all started with the fact that the Sandinistas created their own partisan detachments, which, as in Cuba, were called columns. At first, they acted only in forests and mountains, then they began to conquer cities. In the end, the Sandinistas captured the country’s capital, Managua, and came to power. The opposition started a partisan war against the new government. The situation was very reminiscent of Afghanistan. There were pockets of resistance in the jungle, in the mountains, and in cities. They led fighting with active financial, technical and military support from US CIA instructors.
The Nicaraguan special forces had a high record of suppressing anti-government protests. “Vympelovtsy” got acquainted with the reports of almost all military operations carried out by the Nicaraguan special forces. Simultaneously, they participated in the planning and preparation of new operations. One of the main advisers of the special forces at that time was an employee of the 8th department of Directorate “C” Captain 1st Rank Viktor Vasilyevich Vasiliev, with whom the “Vympel members” were familiar from a Cuban business trip.
The colony of Soviet specialists in Nicaragua was small. Almost everyone knew each other. Viktor Vasilyevich had a good friend among them, a prize-winner of many shooting championships, Yuri Kudryashov, who coached Nicaraguan athletes. And he invited us to get acquainted with the Nicaraguan pistol shooting technique.
After going through special fire training in Cuba, we believed that it was no longer possible to teach us something new in shooting. But Kudryashov insisted that we take a look at this type of shooting, and introduced us to two Nicaraguan shooting specialists – Luis and Jorge.
Louis trained in this shooting in the United States and, returning to Nicaragua, taught many to shoot this way. Jorge was his student. It was shooting “flash”, or the so-called defensive shooting. Its principle and meaning are quite simple.
The inventors of this type of shooting have investigated about 5 thousand cases of military clashes between police officers and bandits, drug dealers and terrorists. It turned out that combat contacts in 90 percent of cases occur at a distance of three to 10 meters. That is, the average distance of a fire fight is approximately five meters. This is the basis of the principle of aimed and accurate “defensive” shooting at a short distance, but shooting should be carried out with two shots at once.
The point of shooting “flush” is that if you even manage to shoot first, and for this you need to pull out the pistol, load it or remove it from the safety lock, aim and shoot, then when you hit your opponent will automatically have time to pull the trigger, and there is a high probability that the result will be mutual defeat. Another moment is when the opponent is physically strong and tough. Even if you get into his heart, he, being actually killed, will have time to consciously pull the trigger and hit you. Therefore, when shooting a “flush”, two shots are fired at once. Double shooting gives a greater chance of knocking the enemy off his line of sight due to the kinetic energy of the bullet. A single bullet, even of the most common caliber, does not guarantee that a bullet hitting the body will take him out of the line of sight. Two shots in a row act like a good boxer’s punch. The enemy is blown off the aiming line. Therefore, those who think that shooting “flush” is designed to reliably destroy the enemy, are slightly mistaken. The main principle This shooting is to remove the enemy along with the weapon from the aiming line and to protect yourself.
Jorge talked about cases from his practice, when he collided nose to nose with an armed man on the trail in the jungle. He stood with the gun, already almost pointed at Jorge. The range for the shot was about five meters. It was impossible to miss. Jorge was the first to shoot twice. The enemy also managed to pull the trigger, but the buckshot charge went overhead. Two bullets knocked over the enemy.
A spetsnaz soldier must be able not only to receive a pistol from a warehouse, disassemble it, free it from factory lubricants, assemble, load and fire, but also prepare this pistol under his arm. He must adjust the ammunition for himself, pick up a comfortable holster.
Closed regular army and police holsters are designed for the safety of carrying personal weapons, but in the special forces this had to be waived for the sake of the speed of “exposing the barrel”. Otherwise, the pistol will remain intact, only there will be no one to use it. Therefore, instead of the standard holsters, their own developments appeared, which made it possible to carry the pistol at any angle convenient for the shooter. In particular, shoulder holsters with a barrel arrangement from vertical to horizontal. Including with the open part of the barrel to fire backwards, without removing the pistol, right through the jacket.
Not only do you need to have time to get the pistol, load, and so on, but you also need to hit the target twice.
It was at Vympel that the first models of holsters were developed jointly with the Scientific Research Institute of Special Equipment, which are now used by officers of the criminal investigation department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and soldiers of many special forces. They were the first to develop and use them in the OTC.
We have made many types of holsters. To be worn on the side, armpit, for attachment to body armor.
When we began to prepare for the new firing program – to get the pistol, remove it from the safety lock, reload, bring the front sight and rear sight to eye level and fire two shots – I had to write new instruction shooting.
Every day, each of the officers, in order to acquire the necessary skill, shot at least 20-30 cartridges. During that period, shooting in the OTC was one of the main subjects of training. Equipped a new shooting gallery. They shot from morning to evening. From evening to morning. They shot on the move – both the shooter and the targets. To the flash, to the sound. In the fall. Somersault. Against three and up to eight opponents. All this must and could be learned.
On this occasion, I have prepared a methodological manual for training in shooting “flash” at the OTC. This training manual also includes the skills acquired while studying in Cuba. The so-called police positions for shooting No. 1 and No. 2, shooting from behind cover and other methods. The methodology fully describes how to train for high-speed marksmanship at close range. From the way you hold the pistol to fast reloading. There are also methods for firing a pistol at 50 meters. This is particularly done from police position # 2 (sitting on the ground and using a bent knee as a pistol holder).
After we worked out and systematized this technique, we began to show it in other departments. In the Moscow department of the KGB, in the 7th department, in “Alpha”, in the 9th department. This was the basis of a new method of shooting, which could be developed further in any direction – depending on the tasks of a particular unit.
It takes about four months of daily training to be good enough with a pistol. And the “pennants” achieved excellent results. Even with a one-on-seven action, the chance of hitting all targets before the return fire starts is high. All this, together with reloading a new clip, took about five seconds for trained shooters. The shooter himself chooses the tactics of shooting and the priorities of targets: which one needs to hit first and which one to finish. All this is done depending on the location of the targets and the degree of the likely threat. In this case, all the targets were in motion, at different heights and distances from the shooter and with different kinds “Weapons”.
Later Jorge came to Moscow. He was at that time one of the most prominent party and military leaders of the Sandinista government and came here as a tourist. We persuaded him to give us some shooting master classes. Classes were held in shooting galleries in Balashikha and in the Moscow department of the KGB.
The master class assumes that the students involved in it already understand what it is about, and they themselves are fluent in these techniques. Jorge showed our employees interesting masterful nuances and high-speed shooting techniques for a week. When I was developing a methodological manual, Pavel Kochnev and Bek Bekenbaev helped me by drawing illustrations for it.
It should be noted that the exercises for developing high-speed shooting skills are not similar to each other. Learning consists in not teaching standard situations, because there are no standard situations in life. Therefore, after mastering the standard positions for shooting and acquiring the skills of quickly reaching the pistol, loading and aiming it, each time it is necessary to practice these skills in a new training exercise and in new conditions. This is the only way to learn how to shoot “flush”.
For example, there was such an exercise, when during shooting someone had to push you to unbalance, interfere with aiming. And you have to get your weapon and hit the target. Then it was generally an unthinkable violation of all safety rules and regulations. But all the leaders of the OTC perfectly understood that in a real battle anything can be, and they themselves went through such trainings.
Or another situation. The shooter sits on his knees with maps (geographic), and at this time a target situation with a non-standard situation rises. And you need to fulfill the standard from an uncomfortable position and hit all the goals. Moreover, the weapon at this moment can be anywhere: on a table, in a holster, under cards, behind a belt, etc. With a wounded left hand, with a wound in the right hand. How to reload a pistol when wounded in the arm, if it does not work? .. And that’s it – for speed.
To increase the speed, every nuance was thought out. Each shooter came up with little tricks for himself. For example, a weight on the right floor of a jacket if the pistol was worn in a holster on the right side. With a sharp turn of the case to the right, the weight opens the jacket due to inertia, which saves time for taking out the pistol. And there are hundreds of such tricks.
Another offshoot of Nicaraguan shooting was the long barrel (submachine gun) operation. The meaning of shooting with a long barrel is different. From the experience of many wars, it has been calculated that an average of 50 thousand rounds of ammunition are needed to destroy one soldier. Naturally, spetsnaz cannot carry that amount of ammunition with them. Therefore, the long barrel job is to only fire single shots, and each bullet must hit the target. It was forbidden to use the fire translator on the Kalashnikov in automatic mode. And single shots meant only aimed fire.
This is how a new technique appeared for firing a machine gun at distances from 20 to 100 meters. In this case, a shooter with a machine gun at the ready, with a stock pressed to his shoulder, on command must hit the target with a single shot in the shortest possible time.
Jorge told another incident, which he witnessed during one of the battles for locality… Two submachine gunners from the warring camps jump out towards each other. The distance between them is 10 meters. At the same time they throw up their submachine guns, release half a shop and hide behind the corners of houses. No harm done…”
In order not to burn cartridges empty, “Vympel” were taught to shoot from a machine gun from any position and in any direction. One shot – one hit. From this point of view, the Nicaraguan experience was unique for the Pennants.
Cuban special forces – Tropas Especiales “Avispas Negras” (Spanish. Special forces “Black Wasps”), or simply – Black Wasps, was originally created to ensure the personal safety of Fidel Castro and other leaders of the Cuban Revolution and is officially a division of the Ministry of the Interior.
Initially, it consisted of fighters who already had serious experience in guerrilla and insurrectionary struggle in various countries of Latin America, many of them fought alongside Che Guevara, including in the Congo, fought with Batista’s supporters in Cuba itself.
But very soon they were in demand outside the territory of the Freedom Island. On the personal order of Fidel Castro, special forces soldiers began to provide assistance to revolutionary movements abroad.
They were the first to be sent to Angola in November 1975 to help the People’s Liberation Movement for the Liberation of Angola. This African state was a very tasty morsel for the United States and South Africa – the country possessed rich minerals: diamonds, oil, phosphates, gold, iron ore, bauxite and uranium, so they made every effort to prevent the leaders of the pro-Marxist movement from coming to power. Today we can confidently assert that the mission of Cuban military specialists contributed to Angola’s choice of the socialist path of development.
Besides, cuban Special Forces fought in Ethiopia and Mozambique, in the countries of Central America. One of the Cuban officers who fought in Ethiopia said that “Russian advisers for Ethiopians are like Martians. Firstly, they are “faranji” (white), and secondly, they live almost under communism. Another thing is we, Cubans: there are many mulattos among us, there are negros. Besides, recently we lived in the same filth and hopelessness, just like the Ethiopians. Therefore, we easily understand each other. ” And today Cuban military advisers are fighting in many countries of the world.
Cuban Special Forces “Black Wasps” specialize in jungle warfare. Today, some experts believe that this is the most combat-ready special forces in the tropics and the individual training of individual fighters has no analogues in terms of its level of complexity.
The tactics of the “Black Wasps” are based on the action of lonely or small groups of reconnaissance saboteurs, who are in a state of autonomous mode for a long time when operating on enemy territory.
The Black Wasps fighters masterfully own all types of weapons from many countries of the world: be it AKMS, AKMSN, Vintorez, RPG-7V, SVD, AS Val or Hungarian ADM-65 or Czech CZ 75, or Cuban-made weapons.
In 1980 in Cuba, in the city of Los Palacios (Pinar del Riobyl province), the Special Forces Training Center was opened – “Escuela Nacional de Tropas Especiales Baragua” (Cubans call it “School”).
The Training Center, known as “Baragua”, occupies a fairly large area, there are several artificial reservoirs and swamps built there. There is a model of city streets in real dimensions, a network of underground communications, etc.
At the same time, about 2500 people are trained and retrained at the Training Center – not only “Black Wasps” but also paratroopers and marines.
However, not all cadets are Cubans. Like the teachers – since 2000 in Baragua “on exchange”, several officers of the PLA (Chinese Army) teach as instructors, and so on.
At the Baragua Center, fighters are trained in jungle combat tactics, survival in difficult conditions and infiltration into enemy territory, sabotage, martial arts, special sniper actions, parachute and diving training, psychological and information warfare.
Hand-to-hand training is primarily based on “karate-operetiva”, a style developed by officer Raul Riso (aka Domingo Rodriguez Oquendo, Joshinmon Karate Master).
It should be noted that the name of this person is directly related to the training of hand-to-hand fighters of special forces of the KGB of the USSR and the training of specialists of the GRU General Staff of the USSR Ministry of Defense. It was he and his school who at one time had a huge impact on our “Alpha” and “Vympel”.
This is how the soldiers of the Soviet Alpha unit, who were trained in the Cuban military training center, described the training of the Cuban special forces “Black Wasps”.
The camp was located in a picturesque lowland, surrounded by hills covered with forests. The teaching was conducted by the aces of their business. Especially the Alpha members remember the trainings on the so-called “Che Guevara path”.
The trail is a trail that passes through seven hills, the length of the trail is about 8 km. Training booby-traps, obstacles of various difficulty, stretch marks and other unexpected surprises for the special forces were installed on the trail.
Dress code – shorts and no shoes. To increase the load, each fighter carries with him a blank weighing about 8 kg, imitating a Kalashnikov assault rifle, and a pouch with training mines was also attached to his belt.
Alpha members remember well that from the first training session they came back “dead”.
In the future, the teachers of the center taught the cadets to go through minefields, and it was necessary to clear all types of mines “blindly” and by hand, quickly overcome barbed wire barriers, remove sentries and penetrate airfields, warehouses, fuel terminals, etc.
Daily passage of the Che Guevara trail, practicing various modes of movement, intensive physical training – routine training for a Cuban special forces soldier.
Special forces are taught to fully merge with the environment. Moving in a bent position after 15 minutes causes pain in all muscles, and cadets are required to walk like this for hours. In addition, this walking was practiced as part of a group: the one in front probes the ground in front of him with his feet in order to detect stretch marks and mines. The group follows the trail.
Since the human eye reacts to rapid movement, the group moves slowly and smoothly for greater stealth so that they can immediately freeze if a flare takes off.
That there are only night crawling movements for 12 hours in a row. In this case, the task of the group is to invisibly enter the protected object.
Fighters move slowly, overcoming obstacles different levels, including noise mats made of reed, dry leaves, fragments of slate, barbed wire fences (the wire is first bitten, broken by hands – in this case, it does not make a sound, then spread with special hooks in different directions and provide a passage for exit).
In complete darkness, the leader of the group, when finding mines, checks them for retrievability, disarms traps, removes stretch marks or indicates their location. At this time, the group lies motionless and waits for his command.
The soldiers are smeared with mud or a masking composition of herbs, the weapons are also processed so that no glare is visible.
In the process of training, the fighters of the Cuban special forces, in addition to group operations, participate in complex exercises at various facilities. For example, they learn to place a magnetic mine on a tank that turns out to be empty, because when a magnet is brought up to it, a sound is heard, comparable to a small explosion, and as a result, the task will be considered failed.
During a training assignment for the destruction of a battalion stationed in a barracks, seven Cuban special forces soldiers imperceptibly creep up to the object and throw thick checkers, previously brought in belt bags (bolso), into the windows of the barracks. Towers with sentries are being destroyed at the same time. Those few enemy fighters who survived after the first strike of the special forces, as a rule, can no longer offer decent resistance.
Fuel terminals, airplanes at airfields, ammunition depots are exploding, and a special forces group has already left the facility, disguising its campaigns. Such training builds power and energy in every fighter.
All existing types of weapons are mastered in the training center. Cuban instructors teach you how to shoot for real: day, night, on the move, on sound, on a moving target, from the hip, on the flash, and much more.
The soldiers master the unique skill of firing a mortar without a base plate (from the moment of the first launch to the first explosion, the cadets managed to fire up to 12 shots) – the fire strike turned out to be deafening, and the calculation left the firing point in time.
The fighters also undergo training in the conduct of hostilities in urban environments – they master secret operations, methods and locations, methods of movement around the city, detection and evasion from observation.
It is believed that the Cuban special forces are one of the best in organizing ambushes and kidnapping.
The Cubans, teaching the tactics of the operation in the most detailed way, make all participants think without exception. They believe that a commander or a fighter will be able to make the only correct decision only when he knows many such decisions, and for this training is based on practicing any surprises.
Inputs to assignments can be incredible. The main goal of the training is that there should not be unexpected questions and situations during special operations. All possible situations are thought through as much as possible – only then any operation is “doomed” to success.