The Training and Privileges of Personnel
These are the educational institutions which take part in the training of personnel for Soviet military intelligence: the Intelligence Faculty at the General Staff Academy; the Training Centre of Illegals; the Military- Diplomatic Academy; the Reconnaissance Faculty of the Frunze Military Academy; the Reconnaissance Faculty of the Naval Academy; the Special Faculty of the Military Signals Academy; the Military Institute of Foreign Languages; the Cherepovetski Higher Military Engineering School for Communications; the Special Faculty of the Higher Military Naval School of Radio Electronics; the Spetsnaz Faculty of the Ryazan Higher Parachute School; the Reconnaissance Faculty of the Kiev Higher Military Command School; and the Special Faculty of the Second Kharkov Higher Military Aviation and Engineering School.
This list gives an impression of the extent of the training of specialists for the GRU system. Some of these educational establishments are devoted exclusively to this work, others have only one faculty. However, in any case, we are talking of many thousands of first-class specialists who go into military intelligence every year. All the higher military schools give instruction at university level to their students. The best of these subsequently enter the academies which provide a second university education.
Students entering the Soviet Army's higher military training establishments undergo a period of instruction which lasts for four to five years. The minimum age is seventeen, maximum twenty-four. Candidates must have finished secondary education and be of normal mental and physical development with a suitable ideological background. They sit an entrance examination and are interviewed by a medical commission; they then take a competitive examination. The vast majority of them have no idea of the true character of the educational establishment they have chosen. In some cases, the name of the school gives a reasonably exact idea of the subjects studied in it. The Ulyanov Guards Higher Tank Command School leaves little to the imagination. But what does a name like the Serpukhovski Higher Command Engineering School tell us? If a candidate chooses it, he may be surprised to find himself learning about strategic missile troops. Signals schools are largely the same - the candidate has little idea of exactly what subjects are studied there. He selects one of them, the Cherepovetski school, say, and finds himself in strategic intelligence. The point is that there is no choice.
Graduates of higher command schools receive the rank of lieutenant and a university diploma on graduating. Graduates of higher military engineering schools receive the rank of engineer lieutenant and an engineering diploma. After graduation, the officer is posted to a unit on the instructions of the General Staff, and from the first day of his service his fight with his fellow officers for the right of entry to the academy begins. The academy is the passport to the higher echelons of the Army. Without passing through the academy, the officer may serve on until major or lieutenant-colonel level at the most. Success in the academy opens wide horizons and speeds up progress on the promotion ladder. The officer may submit his first application to the academy after three years of service. The application is confirmed at every level of command, beginning with his immediate superior. Any higher commander may hold up the application under any pretext: that the officer is too young; too old; too stupid; or too clever. In which case the officer will put off his application until the next year ... and the next year, and so on possibly for all his twenty-five years of service.
There are more than fifteen military academies in the Soviet Army, but for most officers it does not matter which one he gets into. The important thing is to get into one of them. If his commanders decide that an officer is suitable, he must still pass examinations and undergo a rigorous entrance competition. The period of study at all the academies is three years, and they are all similar bar one, the General Staff Academy. To enter it there is no competition and no examinations, nor are there applications for entry. Candidates are selected by the Central Committee from the number of the most successful and dedicated colonels and generals up to and including colonel-general, who have already completed their study at one of the military academies.
The General Staff Academy is the passport to the very highest levels of Soviet military leadership. The colonel or general continues to serve and never suspects that he may suddenly receive from the Central Committee an invitation to attend yet a third spell of university education. The General Staff Academy is the highest dream of the most eager careerists.
Let us examine the progress of an intelligence officer on the promotion ladder. As a graduate of the intelligence faculty of the Kiev Higher Command School, for example, he will be posted to the command of a reconnaissance detachment of a regiment or division. Here begins the officer's gradual upward movement on the service ladder, from platoon commander to company commander to commander of regimental reconnaissance and deputy commander of reconnaissance battalions. To secure further promotion, the officer must now enter the reconnaissance faculty of the Frunze military academy. This same faculty is also open to graduates of the Spetsnaz faculty of the Ryazan Higher Parachute School. All officers study there together and then return to their own units, only this time with a higher command.
So far all this is straightforward, provided that the officer's superiors co- operate in signing the necessary documents. But one institute, the Military Institute instructing in foreign languages, is rather peculiar. This is a privileged establishment for the children of the highest echelons of the Soviet Army. The Institute exists on the same basis as the Military Academy, although young people enter it according to the rules laid down for military schools. This means, in fact, that a candidate's father has only to worry about placing his little son on the first rung of the military ladder and the ladder itself will move upwards.
The period of study in the institute is from five to seven years depending on the faculty. The student receives education to the level of that of the military school and the rank of lieutenant; he then proceeds with his training as he would in a normal military academy. That is to say, these scions of the military aristocracy are spared the rigours of genuine military service as well as the cruel competition between officers for the right of entry to a military academy. Everything proceeds automatically.
The Institute is not only a stepping-stone to the highest Army ranks, but to the highest ranks of the KGB too. The conditions of acceptance are naturally graded according to rank: for the children of colonel-generals and higher, there are no examinations; the children of lieutenant-generals undergo a very cursory examination; and the children of major-generals undergo the most rigorous examination. However, in order to soften this clear class distinction, the Institute every year accepts a ten per cent intake of 'non-aristocrats', sons of colonels and majors, sometimes even of workers and kolkhozniks.
Discipline and competition are fearsome. Should any student commit the slightest offence, he is speedily expelled from the Institute in disgrace. But there is a deeply-entrenched set of privileges too. For the sons of lieutenant-generals, and colonel-generals even more so, the special entrance provides for the appointment of individual tutors and the taking of examinations privately at home, so that the candidate does not get nervous. For colonel-generals and above, there exists the privilege of being able to send not only their sons to the Institute, but also their daughters, who constitute a special little group. The girls are given instruction in French for the sake of prestige and in English for obvious commercial reasons. They, together with everybody else, receive officer's rank. They will find their way into the Ministry of Defence.
After the Institute's final examinations, interested organisations carry out their selection of the graduates. The first selection is carried out by the KGB and the GRU according to the principle of 'one for you, one for me'. There is no friction, firstly because the system has been laid down for many years and secondly because KGB and GRU have different interests.
The KGB is quite happy to choose the sons of high-ranking, serving KGB officers, but the GRU devotes its attentions largely to the proletarian ten per cent. For two principal reasons the GRU has had a long-standing rule that it will not admit the sons of high-placed parents into its organisation, nor will it admit children of GRU officers whatever post they occupy. Only after a father retires from the GRU can his son be considered for admission. The reasoning goes that if a son is refused something the father may refuse the same thing to all his subordinates. Secondly, there is no father who really wants to risk his own career by linking it with that of a son who is on agent work and to whom anything could happen. This principle of the GRU's has to a very great extent eradicated corruption in the selection of officers, although corruption flourishes in other GRU fields of activity. (The KGB has adopted diametrically opposed principles. Everywhere within it are the children of Tchekists, frequently under the direct supervision of their fathers. This is justified by the false notion of handing down traditions from father to son.)
The unclassified name of the institution is 'military unit 35576'. Its secret designation is the Soviet Army Academy. Its top secret designation is the Military-Diplomatic Academy of the Soviet Army. Regardless of the abundance of names, none gives any idea of what is studied there. If somebody wanted to convey an idea of its activities by means of a name, then that name would most probably be something like the Military Academy of Agent Intelligence. Very few people inside the Soviet Union know of the existence of this academy, and should any officer ever hear a rumour about it, and write an application to enter it, immediate enquiries would be made to establish the source of the information. One may rest assured that a culprit would be found and put in prison for spreading government secrets. For spreading a secret like the existence of the Soviet Army Academy the sentence is ten years in prison, perhaps fifteen, perhaps even the 'ultimate sanction'. Those connected with the Academy understand this rule and obey it enthusiastically.
The GRU seeks out candidates for the Academy and secretly suggests to officers that they should enter. Before making this proposal to an officer, the officer will of course have been very carefully checked out by the GRU, who must not only be certain that he will agree but will also have obliged him to sign a document about the divulging of military secrets. In this document are described all the unpleasant things which await him, should he decide to share his secrets with anybody else. However, they do not tell him any secrets. They simply tell him that there exists a certain academy which is keen to welcome him as a student. To his question as to what sort of studies he will undergo, he receives the answer that the work is very interesting. There will be no soldiers and no hierarchy of rank, and the conditions of life are vastly better than those of any other organisation known to him.
At the outset this is all they will entrust to him. The GRU holds nobody against his will and is perfectly frank about future privileges. For the GRU officer who completes the Academy, success is assured - unless he makes a mistake, in which case retribution is equally swift. He may either be deprived of overseas work and be sent instead to work in the central organs of the GRU in Moscow; he may be deprived of work in the GRU and sent back to the Army; and finally, he may be shot. All of these punishments, not only the last, are regarded as harsh in the extreme. The first means the end of overseas life, and GRU officers are envious even of dustmen overseas. The second means an end to privilege and the sweet life within the GRU, and a return to the grindstone of life as an ordinary Soviet officer. The third is only marginally worse.
The Soviet Army Academy is located in Moscow on Narodnogo Opolchenia Street, but many of its secret branches are scattered all over the place disguised as innocent offices, flats or hotels. The central building reminds one of an elegant museum with its Greek colonnade and richly carved ornamentation. Around it are several large buildings, and the whole is surrounded by a very high iron lattice-work fence. The area wallows in greenery so that nothing can be seen. There are no name plates or number plates on the building. From the outside there is little to indicate that it is secret. Only sometimes on the upper storeys and in certain windows can one see grilles and casements covered in cord nets, an indication that within those rooms there is work on top secret documents being carried out. The string nets are so that no pieces of paper can be blown out of the windows by draughts.
The Academy is an integral part of the GRU. The chief of the Academy has the military rank of colonel-general and is a deputy head of the GRU, not of course first deputy head. The chief of the Academy has four deputies who are lieutenant-generals beneath him. These are the first deputy and the deputies for the political, administrative-technical and academic sections.
The first deputy is in charge of the graduate school, four faculties and academic courses. The political deputy is responsible for the state of political awareness and the morale of all officers of the Academy. The administrative-technical deputy is responsible for the personnel department and the security department (with the commandant's office and a company of security guards) together with the finance, stores and transport departments. Under him there are also the libraries, including collections of secret and top secret literature. The deputy for the academic section has under him the academic sub-faculties which are headed by major-generals. These sub-faculties are strategic agent intelligence, operational agent intelligence and Spetsnaz (dealing with the armed forces of likely enemies), strategic and operational trade-craft of the Soviet Army, foreign languages and study of countries, history of international relations and diplomatic practice and, finally, Marxist-Leninist philosophy.
The first and second faculties prepare their students for the central GRU apparatus. However, the first faculty is called the Special Services Faculty and the second the Military-Diplomatic Faculty, and it is officially considered that the first faculty prepares officers for civilian cover - embassies, civil airlines, merchant navy, trade representations - while the second faculty prepares its students for military cover. But we must again remember that Soviet military attaches are the same GRU officers as those who work under civil cover. They face the same tasks and use the same methods as all other officers of the GRU. For this reason the instructional programme in both faculties is absolutely identical. Furthermore, when students have completed their studies, in whichever of the two faculties that might be, the GRU will post them under whatever cover they consider suitable. Many of the officers who have studied in the first faculty will find themselves working in military organisations and vice- versa. The artificial distinction exists in order to further the following aims: to confuse Western intelligence services and to create the illusion that there is some difference between military attaches and other GRU officers; to segregate the students for security reasons (a defector will not know all his fellow students, only half - with this in mind the first faculty is isolated from the central block of the academy buildings); to simplify control over individual students; and finally, since the academy is after all designated as a military-diplomatic academy, it seems wise that not all its faculties should bear names connected with espionage.
The third faculty deals with operational agent intelligence and Spetsnaz intelligence, preparing officers for intelligence directorates of military districts. There exists a deep enmity between officers of the first two faculties and officers of the third. An officer of one of the two strategic faculties, however newly arrived, feels the very deepest contempt for all those studying in the third faculty. He will be going abroad but the despised third faculty student will recruit agents from Soviet or satellite territory only. But fate can be cruel - and kind. When the worst (usually the most arrogant) officers have graduated from the strategic faculties, they are sent to operational agent intelligence; in their place are taken the best of the officers graduating from the third faculty.
The fourth faculty, like the first, is not located on the academy premises. Moreover, its individual courses and groups are separated among themselves in conditions of the strictest secrecy. The fourth faculty trains foreigners - Poles, Germans, Czechs, Hungarians, Bulgars, Mongols and Cubans. Naturally, not one of these has ever set foot in the academy buildings and has no idea where the academy is located; equally naturally, the Soviet trainees in the academy must not have even the slightest contact with their 'brothers'.
For each of these students in the Soviet Army academy, a special personal cover story will have been worked out. Frequently, many of them will study for a year in some normal military academy concerned with tank or artillery studies, for example, before spending their three to four years on secret premises. And these students do not receive diplomas from the Soviet Army Academy. Their diplomas come from, for example, the Tank Warfare Academy. Only a handful of people will know what is hidden under this name.
The academic courses are something different. These are designed not to provide a complete training, but only partial one, and the period of study is only one year. They are attended principally by the most experienced officers and those with the greatest future prospects, who were chosen for entry to strategic faculties of the academy but then transferred by the GRU into the diplomatic (civil) or overseas trade academy where they completed a full course of study. They are considered on a par with the other civil students and carry out their specialised training in their spare time and receive the same diplomas as the graduates of the two strategic faculties, having already received genuine diplomatic diplomas. This is the most secret part of Soviet intelligence after illegals, for even genuine 'clean' diplomats consider them their own kind and do not suspect their intelligence connections. The academic courses are also attended by graduates of the Military Foreign Languages Institute who have been chosen by the GRU for work abroad. The GRU uses them in residencies mainly for duties with technical and technical-operational services. After a first assignment abroad these may, provided they have served successfully, enter the academy in one of the strategic faculties. Lastly, the academy receives specialists from other fields whom the GRU invites to work in technical services or on information work.
There is a post-graduate school too, which prepares scientific personnel for the GRU and also instructors for the academy itself. An officer who has completed one of the strategic faculties, and has been abroad on agent work and shown good results, is accepted by the post-graduate school for a period of instruction of two to three years during which he must prepare and defend a scientific dissertation on a subject chosen by himself. The resulting qualification is a scientific degree, Master of Military Science.
Who is eligible? This is a very complex problem. The candidate who hopes to please the GRU must fulfil the following conditions: racial purity - there must be no Jewish blood as far back as the fourth generation (the KGB has no such restriction); ideological stability and purity; membership of the communist party; the absence of any contact with overseas, excepting the 'liberation' of Hungary and Czechoslovakia and the 'defence of socialism in eastern Europe'. He must have a wife and children of complete ideological and racial purity. He must have strong and reliable family connections, on his own side and his wife's. There must be no compromising material on the files of any of their relatives. None of his relatives may have been either prisoners of war in Germany, nor on Soviet territory under the temporary occupation of German forces. And there must be no signs whatsoever of alcoholism, sexual promiscuity, family problems, corruption and so on, nor must the officer have any prominent distinguishing features or speech defects.
One of the most difficult things in selecting candidates is to find people who understand the political situation in the world and can clearly see possible future developments without being secret free-thinkers. Obviously anyone who is politically inept is not acceptable to the GRU, but if a man is moderately intelligent, there is always the danger that secret doubts will begin to penetrate his head. Naturally, when this rare creature is found he is instantly made to sit meaningless examinations and, from the very first day, accorded appropriate honours.
In a classless society, everybody is equal and life is therefore happy and free. All people are friends and brothers and nobody will try to do his neighbour down. People may pursue their ambitions without let or hindrance. Of course, if you live in the country, you cannot move to the city, still less the capital Moscow, without the permission of the Central Committee. Society may be classless, all right, but it is divided, for the good of the people, into parts - you have the right to live in the city or you have not. You may rightly say that you would prefer to live in the city, but you are branded from birth - if you were born in the country, you must stay there and so must your children and grandchildren - for their own good. Unless - unless you do something like become a GRU officer. Immediately, you will find yourself in Moscow, with a permanent residence permit. This is good news for not only you, but your children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren down to the fortieth generation, who will all have Moscow residence permits and will legally reside in Moscow.
It is as if you had moved onto a higher sphere, as if you and your relations had suddenly been ennobled. You should draw your family tree on the wall of your apartment so that future generations of your family will know who it was who lifted them up to the heights.
In capitalist societies, where everybody is naturally out for each other's blood, people move around chaotically, causing untold social problems. These could all be eradicated with the introduction of residence permits on the Soviet model. The Moscow residence permit, logically, is the first privilege of a GRU officer. There are others, of course. For example, an ordinary general staff officer is unable to buy a car during the whole of his life unless of course he steals or is sent abroad. A GRU officer may in three years buy not only a car, but also an apartment. Drawing another distinction, it is often asked how much more a GRU officer abroad earns in comparison with the same officer in Moscow. It is impossible to answer this question sensibly, because in Moscow the officer spends money which is to all practical purposes incapable of buying anything except food of rather inferior quality and equally inferior clothes. He who is sent abroad, however, receives foreign currency and can buy everything he needs both while he is abroad and at home in the Soviet Union in the special foreign currency shops. In possessing foreign currency a GRU officer becomes a man of completely different class, very sharply distinguished from all those who do not have it. Special shops and restaurants are open to him, where he can buy anything he wants, without queueing. The ordinary Soviet citizen, including the general staff officer or even the GRU officer who does not serve abroad, may not even enter these shops.
So Soviet society is as racial as it can possibly be, only race is not determined by the colour of your skin but by whether you have the right to travel abroad or not. Imagine any country, France perhaps, putting up outside shops the announcement that: 'Nobody of French nationality is allowed to enter this shop. Only those on the list of the Central Committee of the Communist Party are admitted.' But in the Soviet Union there are everywhere shops, hotels, restaurants which Russians may not enter, because they are Russian. Life for a GRU officer possessing foreign currency is on an infinitely wider scale than for the 270 million who are deprived of the right to hold foreign currency. And once he has become a representative of the upper class, he becomes inordinately jealous of his right, fearing above anything the loss of the privilege which allows him to travel abroad. This is why he defends himself against any revelation about his own person, against any, even the most insignificant, contacts with the police. This is why he tries to hide from his superiors even the smallest shortcomings. This is why he is capable of any dirty trick upon anybody, including his own comrades, when what is at stake is whether he should remain another year in a hot, humid, subtropical posting - or return early to Moscow.