Sunday, December 22, 2013

Russian Special Forces: Trials Not Everyone Will Endure

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On October 24, Russia’s security-related agencies celebrate their professional holiday. When we talk about the Special Forces (commandos), we typically call to mind the well-known Latin phrase: “Mens sana in corpore sano.”

The desire to join is not enough. You need both physical strength and mental resilience.

A future commando’s typical working day begins at 6:50 a.m., with tidying up. There is a set list of jobs to do: making the bed, sweeping and mopping the floor. Then there’s a 2 to 4 km run, warm-up exercises followed by push-ups and the parallel bars. Basically, you keep going until you are completely exhausted: gasping and wheezing.

Next come showers and the long-awaited breakfast. Untouched dishes are unlikely to be seen at the end of the meal: every last scrap is eaten. “They stuff us with food, the only thing we don’t get enough of is dessert or sweets,” says one commando.

Their hefty breakfast is followed by a “duty parade.” Officers assign tasks and then classes and physical training begin. In addition to sports, these commandos study manuals, other countries’ armies, as well as undergoing special tactical and sniper training. Classes only break for lunch at 3:00 p.m., and then it’s back to simulator training and textbooks.

Commandos sum up their mission as “Seize. Reconnoiter. Destroy.” But far from everyone is able to withstand such schooling.

Before joining the elite ranks of the security agencies, one has to undergo a range of tests.

First comes physical training. If a candidate is good at sports, his chances are significantly improved.

It does not matter whether it is parachute jumping or canoeing. Stamina and endurance are key. An excellent grade, for example, is only given if the candidate can cover no less than 2.8 km in 12 minutes.

The next stage involves testing candidates’ physical strength and includes a whole set of exercises: push-ups, leg-raises, and squats.

But being in good physical shape is far from the complete formula of success. A soldier’s psychology is equally important. His desire to serve in the Special Forces, his intelligence, and his ability to find common ground with his peers are also taken into account.

The scarlet beret is one of the Special Forces’ main symbols and is something every man dreams of possessing. For most it remains a dream. It needs to be earned.

The right to wear the much sought-after scarlet beret is won by undergoing a series of tests.

The basic tests can be performed in a day and include a quick march (no less than 10 km), clearing many obstacles under extreme conditions, acrobatics, and hand-to-hand combat.

Your overall score has to be at least four points.


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