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Chapter Eight.

Tactical Reconnaissance

There is yet another level to the practice of military intelligence. Intelligence organs and detachments subject to tactical units and formations of divisional strength and below, which facilitate their military operations, come under the heading of tactical reconnaissance. Their activities are under the full control of operational intelligence, which of course comes under the control of the GRU central apparatus. So all tactical reconnaissance organs have, in exactly the same way as operational intelligence organs, a twofold subordination. The head of reconnaissance of a division is subordinated to the chief of army intelligence, more accurately the first group of the Army Intelligence Department. The chief of regimental reconnaissance is subordinate to the regimental chief of staff and the chief of divisional reconnaissance. Each motorised-rifle and tank division has on its strength an independent reconnaissance battalion. The word 'independent' shows that the battalion does not form part of the regiment but is directly subject to the divisional staff. Each of the four motorised-rifle and tank regiments on the strength of a division has a reconnaissance company. Reconnaissance companies are controlled by the regimental reconnaissance chiefs. Artillery and anti- aircraft missile regiments are not included as their reconnaissance detachments are not active in the enemy's rear.

A divisional independent reconnaissance battalion consists of a headquarters, a deep reconnaissance company, two reconnaissance companies, a company electronic reconnaissance and auxiliary services.

Deep Reconnaissance

The deep reconnaissance company is the smallest but the best of all the companies and batteries of the division. There are twenty-seven men in the company including six officers and an ensign. It has a small headquarters of the commander and a sergeant-major, and five reconnaissance groups of four men, each with an officer at its head. There is a total of six jeeps, each group having one and one for the commander.

The company's task is to discover and destroy enemy rocket launchers in its divisional sector. Deep reconnaissance groups are deployed in the enemy's rear by helicopter, either with or without their jeeps, to depths of from thirty to 100 kilometres.

On discovering an enemy rocket installation, the group immediately reports it to the staff. Should the rocket be ready for launching, the group must attack it. However, unlike the Spetsnaz groups, the group will not kill its wounded unless the action is on foot - a rare occurrence. The deep reconnaissance company may also be called upon to kidnap staff officers and to hunt for their staffs, but only in cases where the commander of a division is certain that there are no enemy nuclear facilities in his divisional sector.

The Reconnaissance Companies of the Battalion have exactly similar organisation. In each company there are three tanks, seven reconnaissance vehicles and ten motorcycles.

The Electronic Reconnaissance Companies have eighty men and thirty vehicles with electronic equipment. The company operates only from its own territory. Among its tasks are intercepting and deciphering radio conversations of the enemy, taking bearings on radio stations and radio locators, and monitoring the extent to which its own side observes radio security regulations.

Each motor-rifle and tank regiment has its own reconnaissance company. Regimental companies operate at a depth of up to fifty kilometres as against the battalion company's operation to eighty kilometres. All these companies penetrate enemy territory under their own power, using gaps in the enemy's defence. The basic method of obtaining information is the capture and cruel interrogation of prisoners.

The Soviet army has approximately 180 motor-rifle and tank divisions. Many of these, especially those deployed in the rear, are under strength. Undermanning is never allowed, however, in the case of reconnaissance detachments. There is about the same number of independent reconnaissance battalions, and there are also about 700 regimental reconnaissance companies. In other words there are about 95,000 men directly under GRU command in tactical reconnaissance. We have not included in this number the strength of chemical, engineering and artillery reconnaissance companies independent of these.