Spetsnaz Selection Procedure; What Makes it Tough?

Spetsnaz is a Russian term for Special Forces prepared according to a special program for the formation of ground forces, aviation and navy, as well as border agencies, police, gendarmerie, internal troops, and troops of the National Guard designed to conduct special operations using special tactics and means. Considering the load of the duty, the selection procedure to be a part of the Spetsnaz is known to be hard and not for the faint-hearted. What makes the selection tough? We are about to find out.

Distinctive Features

The ability to perform tasks autonomously in extreme conditions is a must for a Spetsnaz soldier. Due to the frequent need, in accordance with the mission, to act in isolation from the main forces, including behind the front line and in the rear of the enemy, special forces are forced to travel considerable distances from their territory to the place of the task’s accomplishment on their own, moving away from settlements and loved ones. As a result, the event can last a very long time, which implies the delivery of all equipment and usually carried out by the soldiers alone, including provisions. Due to the small number of Special Forces, the difficulty of obtaining fire support and evacuation, the need to fight on foreign territory, they must be able to fight with much greater effectiveness than the regular troops.

In the USSR, the term Spetsnaz was applied to formations in the 1930s. By the time the diversion and reconnaissance units were created in 1950, the country already had a Special Forces Regiment (Kremlin Regiment) and other units and formations, in addition to special purpose units (CHON), which were available, in particular, as part of the internal troops. Obviously, the concept of Spetsnaz was originally used in the names of units designed to perform certain secret tasks, the list of which is much wider than special intelligence.

In the USSR, Special Forces included border troops, internal troops, a special regiment and other units of the OGPU – NKVD – KGB. Later, special units of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the USSR were also created.


Depending on the departmental affiliation, Special Forces are designed to solve the following problems:

  • Intelligence, sabotage.
  • Counterintelligence, anti-sabotage activities.
  • Anti-terrorist activities which include; search, capture (arrest) or destruction of existing terrorists and release of hostages.
  • Ensuring public safety; suppression of riots, patrol service in especially dangerous criminal areas, and elimination of illegal armed groups organized by criminal groups.
  • Protection of especially important persons or especially important objects.
  • State border protection.
  • Convoying convicts and persons in custody.
  • Any extremely difficult tasks other than the main mission of the military branch; conducting hostilities in urban areas, conducting stripping, and participation in the composition of assault groups, destruction of pillboxes and strong points of the enemy.

Requirements for candidates for admission to Special Forces

Special requirements are imposed on servicemen serving in the Spetsnaz unit, according to which a Special Forces soldier must be physically developed and ready to perform responsible service and combat tasks, have excellent health and high moral and psychological qualities.

Therefore, for the selection of military personnel for military service in the special unit, an appropriate technique was developed that allows assessing the physical capabilities of the candidate, where during the test endurance, strength, speed, flexibility and dexterity of the subject are evaluated.

The Tests

The candidates of the Spetsnaz special force soldiers must undergo a series of tests:

  • Test 1: Estimated Stamina, the candidates must run continuously for 12 minutes to be measured by the distance traveled by the subject in the specified time.
  • Test 2: Strength Endurance, the candidates must perform 4 sets of exercises, one done straight after another. The candidates must try to complete the maximum number of cycles.
  • Test 3: Strength Estimation, pulling on the bar from the hanging position. In the lower position, the feet may not touch the ground (floor), in the upper position; the chin should be above the crossbar. Swinging and jerking are not allowed during the test.
  • Test 4: Evaluated Speed Performance, candidates must run ten segments of ten meters in a minimum period of time.
  • Test 5: Evaluated Flexibility, the candidates must do four exercises including longitudinal twine, transverse twine, head to knees with no bending legs allowed, and backward fold.
  • Test 6: Evaluated Agility, the test consists of five exercises, sequentially following each other without stopping. Each exercise must be performed technically and correctly (for not technically completed exercises, 10 penalty seconds may be added). The test must be performed in the indicated sequence in the shortest possible time.
  • Test 7: Evaluated Courage, the ability to show self-control and endurance in a training duel according to the rules of boxing.

Testing is carried out in one day; the sequence of tests should correspond to their numbering. The time between each test should not exceed 10 minutes, while assessing the ability of a person to carry various loads in a limited time.

Mandatory Commission

The credentials committee is held at the final stage of the selection of candidates for the Spetsnaz Special Forces unit, where the commission members alternately talk with the candidates, study the test results and official characteristics, and hear the health worker about the state of health of the candidate. With high test results, a positive testimonial and medical evidence, the candidate is credited to the special unit. If the certifiable has low performance in testing, then he can be credited to the reserve for service in Special Forces.

From the explained series of tests above, it is obvious what the selection is really tight. It is definitely going to be hard and difficult for them who only wish to be a part of the elite force but never regularly train themselves both mentally and physically. Just like the saying goes; with a special force, comes a special responsibility too.

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