The GRU Processing Organs
The GRU processing organs are sometimes called the information service or more frequently simply 'information'. The chief of information has the rank of colonel-general and is a deputy to the GRU chief. The following are under his control:
i the information command point; ii six information directorates; iii the institute of information; iv the information services of fleet intelligence; v the information services of intelligence directorates of military districts and groups; vi all the organisations of military intelligence listed below which are concerned with the processing of secret material acquired.
The information command point is second only to the GRU central command point. It receives all intelligence material coming from illegals, undercover residencies, agents, from cosmic and electronic intelligence and also from the intelligence directorates of military districts, fleets, groups of forces, and from the military intelligence services of the satellite countries. It has full power to ask any resident, agent or illegal, in fact any source of intelligence information, to give more precise details or to re- check information submitted. The information command point works without breaks, without days off, without holidays. It carries out all preliminary processing of all the material submitted; each morning at six o'clock it publishes a top secret 'Intelligence Summary' destined for members of the Politburo and the higher military command, and in the morning all material which has come to hand during the previous twenty- four hours is transmitted to the informational directorates of the GRU for detailed analysis.
In all, there are six directorates plus the information institute on the strength of the information service. The numbering begins of course with the seventh directorate which is concerned with a study of NATO in all its aspects. The directorate consists of six departments, each of which consists of sections. Each department and each section carries responsibility for the study of individual trends or aspects of NATO activities. The eighth directorate carries out studies of individual countries worldwide, irrespective of whether that country belongs to NATO or not. Special attention is paid to questions of political structure, armed forces and economies, and special emphasis is put on a study of the personal activities of statesmen and military leaders. The ninth directorate studies military technology. It is very tightly connected with the Soviet design offices and with the armaments industry, as a whole. It is the only link between the Soviet armaments factories copying foreign weapons and the residents of Soviet intelligence who obtain the necessary secrets. The tenth directorate studies military economics worldwide, carefully watching arms sales, studying production and technological developments, strategic resources and vulnerable points. The idea of an oil embargo first saw the light of day in this directorate as a suggestion in the 'Locomotive Report' of 1954, when it was pointed out that, to wreck the 'locomotive of capitalism' it was not necessary to smash the engine, only to deprive it of a crucial ingredient. Immediately after this the Soviet penetration of the Arab nations began. Happily this stunning idea of the tenth directorate has not as yet been put into practice. The eleventh studies strategic concepts and strategic nuclear forces of all countries who possess such capabilities, or may in the future possess them. This directorate carefully monitors any signs of increased activity, any change in emphasis in the activities of strategic nuclear forces in any region of the globe. The officers of this directorate form the backbone of Soviet delegations to the SALT talks. Unfortunately we do not possess reliable information on the activities of the twelfth directorate.
The gigantic information institute functions independently of the directorates. It is controlled by the chief of information but operates outside the walls of the GRU. As opposed to the directorates, which base their analyses of the situation exclusively on secret documents obtained by agent, electronic and cosmic intelligence, the institute studies overt sources: the press, radio and television. The Western press is a veritable treasure house for Soviet intelligence.
The activity of each information directorate in many respects duplicates the activity of its neighbour directorates. The advantage of such a set-up is that it prevents a one-sided view and a subjective approach to problems. Directorates and sections look at problems in a narrow, parochial manner, giving their opinions not on the whole question but only on a part. A unified opinion is worked out by the head of information with the help of his best experts and the command point. Many reports from the procurement organs of the GRU are analysed simultaneously by several or even by all units of the information at the same time. Let us suppose, for example, that a case officer belonging to an undercover residency receives a short verbal report from an agent to the effect that a new jet fighter is in the process of being developed in the United States and no official announcement has as yet been made. Immediately after the meeting with the agent the case officer would send an enciphered telegram, one brief sentence, to Moscow. But the information command point has no other report on this question, nor any evidence to support it. The report would be published in the 'Intelligence Summary' under the heading 'unchecked and unconfirmed report'. The next morning all members of the Politburo and the higher military command would receive the volume printed during the night. At the same time all branches of information would be studying the report. The seventh directorate, trying to put itself in the shoes of NATO leaders, would endeavour to calculate what present and future value this fighter would have for NATO and, if it were really to be taken into service, how it would affect the balance of power in Europe and in the world. The question of which country of the United States' allies would be likely to buy such an aircraft would also be studied. Units of the seventh directorate would immediately start searching their archives for information on what NATO leaders have said about the future development of aviation. Simultaneously with this the eighth directorate responsible for individual countries including US studies would thoroughly research the question as to who insisted on the decision to develop a new aircraft; what forces in the country might come out against such a decision; which aviation companies might be drawn into the development of the aircraft by tendering for the contract; who would be likely to win and who to lose. The ninth directorate, on the basis of an analysis of the latest American achievements in the sphere of engine building, aerodynamics, aviation electronics, might be able to foretell the basic technical parameters of the aircraft. The tenth directorate would unerringly tell, on the basis of an analysis of military orders, military budgets and the budgets of the country's main corporations, which aviation companies would actually be involved and to what extent. The eleventh directorate would study the problem from the angle of the aircraft's potential use as a carrier of nuclear weapons. It would be able to draw conclusions without knowing very much about the new aircraft, simply on the evidence of existing carriers of atomic weapons, their replacement in service, the quantity of nuclear weapons and plans for their utilisation. At the same time, the information institute would call up all overt publications which might have some bearing on the problem and present its own opinion to the information command point. And all residents, illegals, independently operating agents, intelligence directorates of military districts, fleets and army groups would receive appropriate orders to increase their activity with regard to the question. Such an order would also be received by the 'younger brothers'. By the evening reports of all the branches would be collected at the command point and be printed that night in the routine 'Intelligence Summary', amongst hundreds of similar reports already confirmed.
The GRU lays great stress on questions of training specialists for the information directorates. Alongside professional intelligence officers work the best specialists from a wide range of scientific, technical and industrial fields. The GRU has the right to co-opt any specialist from cosmic research or atomic energy, microbiology or computer technology, strategic planning or international relations. Such a right was accorded to the GRU by the Central Committee on the principle that it is better for the Soviet Union to be in the know about the most modern achievements of the United States, Japan, Great Britain, France and the Federal Republic of Germany than to work out its own. In conformity with this the GRU, during the most dramatic moments of the space race of the sixties, unceremoniously co-opted the leading Soviet specialists in the field of piloted cosmic flights and, with their help, monitored every step of the Americans' progress. It is evident that every Soviet programme was based on an American model, but launched days or even months before the Americans carried out theirs. As a result every record, including the first orbital flight, the first multi-seater spaceship, the first entry into outer space went to the Soviet Union. This state of affairs continued right up to the time when the adventurism of the Soviet programme produced a series of tragic accidents.
The information directorates of the GRU have at their disposal the highest quality electronic equipment produced by the best American firms, and the GRU leadership, not without reason, considers that the technical equipment of the processing organs of the GRU is vastly superior to that of comparable units within the CIA - in spite of the fact that some Western specialists have said that the GRU information service is not as effective as it should be. They base this on two facts: that in 1941 the GRU had all the data on the forthcoming German invasion but was unable to evaluate correctly the information it had, and secondly, that much of the intelligence material was reported to the higher command in a 'grey' unprocessed state. It is impossible to deny either of these facts, although one may complain that they belong to past history and not the present. If the GRU information service is truly less effective than it should be, the answer lies in the communist system itself. General Golikov did possess detailed German plans for the invasion, but Stalin was not of a mind to believe them. Two years before, he had twice liquidated the whole staff of Soviet military intelligence from the chief of the GRU downwards. So what more was Golikov to do? Thirteen years later, the new chief of the GRU, General Shtemyenko, found the solution. He ordered the publication of an intelligence summary each night, which would include 'grey', unprocessed information and unsubstantiated data. In this way the gallant general implied that 'this is not my opinion, it is the opinion of my residents'. The GRU chief and the head of information would only give their own opinion twenty-four hours later in the next issue of the summary. (This stroke of genius on the part of the GRU was immediately adopted by the KGB too, which in the same way began to print 'grey' information each night and save its judgements for the following day.)
In a totalitarian state, every lower level is completely dependent on its superior, and there is no organ which can defend it from the caprices of its superior. This is the very essence of the Soviet Union, and this is why it is necessary for the leaders of Soviet intelligence to have recourse to such cunning. The system has been well-tried up to the present time and serves as a kind of lightning conductor. The chief of the GRU camouflages his own opinion, always adopting the position adopted by the general secretary of the Party at a given moment, and at the same time he is able to present the developing situation to the leadership in a most objective way, thus transferring all responsibility from his shoulders to the shoulders of his subordinates. The overseas intelligence organs, separated by thousands of kilometres from Moscow, cannot possibly know what opinion their rulers hold at a given moment. They are therefore forced to give simply objective material which can be directly reported to the higher command. Only in this way can the intelligence leadership exert any influence on its stubborn masters when the latter do not wish to listen to any opinion which contradicts their own.
But the totalitarian system still exerts a crushing influence on all branches of society, including the intelligence services. Nobody has the right to object to, or contradict, the supreme command. Thus it was under Lenin and Stalin and Kruschev and Brezhnev, and thus it will be in the future. Should the supreme command have an incorrect view of things, then no intelligence or information service can convince it otherwise; it does not dare. Nor does first-class American equipment help, nor the very best specialists. It is not the fault of the intelligence services, it is the system's fault. In cases where the supreme command is frankly deluded, as Stalin was in 1941, intelligence has absolutely no chance of influencing him and its effectiveness at that moment is nil.
However, it is not always like that. If the desires of the dictator and his intelligence service coincide, then the latter's effectiveness grows many times greater. In this case, the totalitarian system is not a brake but an accelerator. The dictator does not care at all for moral sides of a question. He is not at all answerable before society for his actions; he fears no opposition or discussion; and he is able to supply his intelligence service with any amount of money, even at a moment when the country is suffering from hunger. The GRU has carried out its most brilliant operations at exactly such moments, when the opinions of the dictator and the intelligence service coincided. And the information service has played a first-class role on these occasions.
Let us consider one example. During the Second World War a section of the tenth directorate (economics and strategic resources) was studying the trends in the exchange of precious metals in the United States. The specialists were surprised that an unexpectedly large amount of silver was allocated 'for scientific research'. Never before, either in America or in any other country, had such a large amount of silver been spent for the needs of research. There was a war going on and the specialists reasonably supposed that the research was military. The GRU information analysed all the fields of military research known to it, but not one of them required the expenditure of so much silver. The second reasonable assumption by the GRU was that it was some new field of research concerning the creation of a new type of weapon. Every information unit was brought to bear on the study of this strange phenomenon. Further analysis showed that all publications dealing with atomic physics had been suppressed in the United States and that all atomic scientists, fugitives from occupied Europe, had at the same time disappeared without trace from the scientific horizon. A week later the GRU presented to Stalin a detailed report on developments in the USA of atomic weapons. It was a report which had been compiled on the basis of only one unconfirmed fact, but its contents left no room for doubt about the correctness of the deductions it made. Stalin was delighted with the report: the rest is well known.