I have been a special forces soldier for 5 years.
Hello reddit. My name is Daniel, and I was a soldier of the Russian special forces from 2014 to 2019. I participated in counter-terrorist operations in the North Caucasus, and also was in Syria for 9 months in 2017. During my service I was a gunner, machine gunner, sniper and squad leader. Ask your questions.
Here is my medal. The inscription on the medal: the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation, a participant in the military operation in Syria. https://imgur.com/ZG0ufMf https://imgur.com/Hkafsvr
Edit: Damn guys, I didn’t think this thread would become so popular. Thank you all. I will try to answer everyone I can.
I got PTSD and bipolar disorder. Yes, I'm regret I went to Syria. The war there is absolutely inhuman, I saw too much shit there.
What was the worst?
Two of my drunken colleagues moved to armored personnel carriers through a taxi with people. They were not punished in any way.
What is your opinion on Putin ?
I do not like Putin, I do not like his politics. I have never voted for him and am not going to.
Did you get to observe any special forces soldiers from any other countries? Any comments you can make about soldiers from other countries? Thanks for doing an AMA.
I never interacted with special forces of other countries, but I know how ordinary American soldiers fight in Syria. They are great, and they have a good preparation.
What was Syria like?
Very hot, everywhere spiders and snakes, problems with water and food, constant dysentery. Everything around is allowed, people are poor. I think that somehow.
What was difficult and an easy decision you had to make during your service? (Something that your allowed to tell us)
I shot a teenager with a rifle who shot at our convoy. He was about 14 years old, and I shot him with a sniper rifle. The simplest thing I did was shoot at people who were definitely involved in executions. No regrets.
What's the most beautiful place you've seen on the job?
I saw the old castles of the crusaders in Syria, it was amazing.
Does Russia take care of their veterans? Do they provide money and health insurance after you retire?
Oh yes, I already get $ 50 every month, lol. But there are many benefits, such as the absence of a tax on a car, etc..
Damn that’s it?!
Yeah, that's it.)
What do you think was the most dangerous situation you found yourself in? Did you know it was going to be like that or did it turn bad? Are there things most people don’t think are dangerous but you are wary of?
I was in armored personnel carrier, in the place of the shooter (although I should not have been there). Our convoy was attacked, and I shot a cannon in a tower. Suddenly she jammed, and I could see in the sight of a guy with an RPG, who then shot at us. He hit the tower. I got a concussion, a shoulder wound, multiple shrapnel wounds to my hands, and my body armor melted to my shoulder.
Fuck that sounds terrible and terrifying
But now I have as many scars as Geralt of Rivia.)
What is the worst thing your superiors made you do during your formation?
We fired on a ship that was moving towards our base. It was simply riddled with all that is possible. The crew did not answer on the radio, did not respond to signals and warning shots. It turned out that it was a ship from another country that brought a load of marble. In general, no one was left alive on this ship, and he was not subsequently removed. He was stuck on the coastal cliffs and tipped, so he stayed there until the end of my deployment.
What kind of relationship did you have with Americans? Was it like a love-hate relationship?
We treated them like soldiers like us. Ordinary guys who are stuck there too.
What was the most dangerous counter- terrorist operation in the North Caucasus region that you participated in?
We defused one guy in the house, who then took a makeshift explosive device. There were so many explosives that the house just shattered into pieces, fragments of the house flew everywhere, but none of us was hurt, surprisingly.
What do you do for fun?
At the end of my deployment, we threw the toilet with hand grenades. This damn toilet was on a hill, in a good position for shooting, so we had to go there in body armor and in helmets. I hated this toilet.
Special forces soldiers train to perform at their best. Did you ever see one of your guys do something that amazed you, whether it was something athletic, mentally surprising, at the firing range, endurance etc?
I saw my friend wounded by a splinter in the face, in the cheek area. Part of his face just hung down, there was blood everywhere, on him, on his rifle. But he calmly continued to charge his rifle, and then returned fire. Later he went to the hospital, and he had a scar left on his face, but his endurance struck me.
Thanks for your answer Daniel
You are welcome.)
What is your opinion on the use of Spetznaz typically being used as the "bad guys" in Western film and books? Additionally, in Russia are US special forces stereotyped to be "bad guys" as well? Thanks in advance if you answer this, hope your staying safe with everything going around right now.
Well, this is all an echo of the Cold War. Yes, in Russian films the bad guys are sometimes Americans. There is a film about countering Russian special forces and American special forces.
What was your most grueling physical exercise for training? Or special forces selection?
Running in full uniform with a rifle and full ammunition, in body armor and a helmet in the mountains. Hell, I hate running, but now I know how to do it very well.
"I am still Spetznatz."
Wow. I fucking butchered that word.
Seriously though, how amusing to Russians is Dolph Lundrens accent?
His accent is too crude, I would say.) But yes, I know that even just speaking calmly in English, it seems to others that I am a gansgter who is discussing something criminal.?
Approximately how many MRE bags have you shat into?
How much I ate them, you mean?
No. But I take that as none. For Americans, if we set up Observation/Listening Posts with the main mission is not being detected we often had to poop in our MRE bags and carry them back with us.
Ahahahah, I understand what you are talking about. Yes, there are different situations. We were allowed to put on diapers if you needed to.
Huh.. never thought about diapers.
Off subject a little bit. But looking back, how many of your actions were influenced by propaganda?
Do you feel disillusioned with war/ geopolitics now? This is something that hit me very hard about 5 or so years after I got out.
Of course, I was subject to propaganda, in terms of, "you are the last hope of the nation, son, and all this shit." But I really fought terrorism, disappointment came already in Syria. As for geopolitics ... I think they all just make money, the fight against terrorism is just an excuse.
I think they all just make money, the fight against terrorism is just an excuse.
I think the same about the US wars. In the Vietnam War, communism was the excuse. But I think it was really about money. Perhaps most wars come down to money if you really dig into the history of the conflicts.
Do you think this is a significant reason that veterans commit suicide, because they eventually discover that all the horrible things that they were subjected to was just a ploy to make some people money?
Yes, I think this is happening. It was just hard for me to live with the realization that I killed so many people.
What’s your favourite military movie?
Full Metal Jacket
Being in Syria did you find yourself in tense situations between US Forces and Russian Forces. Also what’s your opinion on US SF compared to Russian SF?
I have never personally met with American soldiers, my friends met. Well, I saw them at a distance of about 3 kilometers. There were no conflicts between us. I think that the American special forces are also real professionals, I saw a film about the training of SEAL, it was cool.
How do Russian citizens view Russian soldiers?
Usually good enough. All my friends believe that I am a hero. Not enough strength to dissuade them.
How about the local beer?
Shit as hell
Your name is Daniel and you’re part of Russian Special Forces. How’d that happen?
In general, my name is rather Danyl (Даниил), but in English this is such a variation of my name.
Makes sense. What made you want to join up?
Two reasons. Firstly, I grew up in a region with high terrorist activity and witnessed the terrorist attack when I was 17, so I wanted to fight this. Secondly, I had problems with the law, and in the army all this could be hushed up.
So how come you left last year? Had you just had enough and wanted to go back to civilian life or was there another reason?
Well, I got PTSD and bipolar disorder, so one day I wanted to stick my rifle barrel in my mouth and shoot. But my mother talked me out of the phone and made an appointment with a psychiatrist. After that, I realized that I had enough.
Good on you for sticking around. What have you been up to since you left?
Well, I drank, used drugs and drove drunk while driving. And I was treated by a psychiatrist, and now I am much better. I had money left after the army, so I could afford such a lifestyle. Now I am a trader on the stock exchange.
What do you think of the bombings of hospitals in syria?
I think that this is similar to why I was disappointed in the army.
When you become a special forces soldier, do you receive a special training to improve your fast thinking? Also, do special forces soldiers are the very best in hand combat (no guns)?
Yes, you are taught to shoot in any stressful situation. I don’t think we are the best at this, but we can fight well.)
Thanks a lot for taking the time to share your experiences with us. Is there anything in particular that you would like to talk about your life as a Spec Op?
I would like to say only one thing: think about whether you want to live such a life? Can you live with the blood of others on your hands? This is not a call of duty, everything is real here.
What are the simple things that you enjoy in life? Like food, hobbies, a place to be? Or something simpler? Thank you for doing this AMA. One of the most grounded and interesting ones I've seen in a while
It’s hard for me to enjoy something now, I'm still sick. I guess I like alcohol at the moment. I drink constantly. Well, I also love to drive in my car, but now I do not make it drunk.
How will the corona pandemic affect the military?
I do not think that this will somehow affect the military. In the military, diseases are not taken so seriously.
Thanks for doing this AMA!
You said you work as a trader now, ... how did that happen?
What's your educational background?
Do you think that an average but relatively fit man could train the skills you acquired in the special forces within a few years? Or are the soldiers all absolutely exceptional athletes?
What kind of skills do you train as a special forces soldier, apart from the obvioius ones like hand-to-hand combat or physical training? There are some videos on youtube of speznaz demonstrations, did you do these kinds of "show"-exercises?
Again thanks for doing this and greetings from Germany!
Well, I have an economic education, I got into the army after university (yes, I'm stupid, lol). Therefore, I understand trading on the exchange. All soldiers have very good physical fitness, and some things can only be learned in the army. But you yourself can learn to shoot well and develop physical skills. Tactical training, orienteering, first aid, fire training, mountain training, parachute training, ability to navigate maps, etc. I did not do this, but some of my friends participated in this.
Whenever I hear "special forces" I always think of super serious badass soldiers. Have you ever had any really funny moments with your squad members?
One of our guys went out to shoot at targets in full uniform (usually we shot everything). He looked cool in all this garbage. And so he takes the magazine from the rifle, drops it, tries to pick it up, but kicks it with his foot - and the magazine flies away.
Did you always know and understand the context in the larger scheme of worldwide politics that your individual missions were a part of? Did you, do you, always believe as your leaders do? How do you reconcile any differences relating to moral objections found after the fact?
I always understood that there was more than just a fight against terrorism, but it turned out that this was not a very important goal. The main thing is money and political influence, which I realized later. In the war, I did not feel anything, I did not care for the most part. Awareness of everything that happened came after.
If you could take it all back and choose a different path in life, would you?
Or would you do it all over again?
Yes, I would never join the military if I could return to the past.
And what career choice do you think you would have made if you hadn't joined the military?
I don’t even know if I would settle down as an office plankton, it sounds better to me than the army.)
What are your thoughts on Canadian soldiers ?
I have never met them. I think that they are the same professionals as any other modern army.
What’s the view of the U.S. military in the Russian SF? Are you guys like “fuck those guys cant wait to get a shot at them”? It’s always interesting to hear what people in other countries armed forces think of each other. Also I hate to double up on questions but what are your combat medicine guidelines like?
We always treated them well, the same soldiers as we are. Always carry an analgesic with you (Promedol, etc.) When I was wounded, no one had it, I received it only a few hours later at the base.
In the US Army when we train, the opfor we fight against is depicted as using soviet/Russian equipment, weapons and tactics. Then a lot of our training still has an anti-soviet focus as a relic of the Cold War, For example the silhouette targets we shoot at on the rifle range are nicknamed “Ivan”.
When Russian forces train what kind of forces are you basing your enemy on, is it primarily US based weapons and doctrine, or more of an EU focus, or do you train to fight against old Soviet era weapons as well since that’s what we face mostly in places like the Middle East?
Yes, you're right, we also have the main targets of American prototypes. The main tanks that are taught to shoot grenade launchers are Abrams and Bradley.
Hi Daniel. Thank you for posting this, and much respect to you for your service.
I've a question regarding your equipment, particularly as a sniper. What was an average day's kit like for you? I've a bit of a fascination with Russian weaponry (you guys make good stuff), so...definitely curious.
My rifle, ammunition for it, several sights, including night vision, a range finder, a device for measuring wind strength, binoculars, a first aid kit, a knife, an intercom, smoke grenades, hand grenades, a gun, full ammunition for it. Hell, I can’t remember everything.) I worked with a spotter, he also had a lot of equipment.
Have you ever watched Брат 2? If you had an American truck driver friend named Ben, would you be comfortable asking him for help in a tough spot?
Yes, I really love this movie, both parts. Of course, I would ask for help from such a cool dude.)
Здравствуйте, я изучаю русский язык))
What do you think of the terrorism in the Caucasus? How can it be stopped?
And what's the most beautiful part of Russia you've been to?)
Здравствуйте, желаю вам успехов в изучении языка.) I do not know the answer to this question, honestly. I would like to know. My homeland, the North Caucasus, there are the most beautiful mountains.
Hot chicks in Russia? Our news propaganda makes every russian chick look like a rugged old women
In fact, in Russia there are a lot of beautiful girls. Seriously, the girls here take great care of their appearance.
What are your thoughts on the War in Donbass? Your thoughts on Russian involvement in the conflict?
I think this is another dirty policy, no one needs this war. I think that Russia should not have participated in this conflict at all.
No, the person in the highest position I met was the Under Secretary of Defense. We guarded the landing pad of his helicopter.
Have you worked with or met any Swedish soldiers? What’s your impression in that case?
No, I have never met them.
Do you know any secrets that would surprise the world and what was the hardest part of your special ops training?
Yes, there are many things that I can’t talk about because of the non-disclosure agreement. Well, skydiving. I hate it, really hate it. I’m scared every time, as for the first time.
Is the whole “keeping a grenade in your pocket as a last resort to prevent capture” a propaganda thing or are you guys seriously trained to kill yourself to prevent capture?
Nobody wants to be captured by terrorists, so yes, I would blow myself up.
What martial arts have you trained in and did the military offer any martial arts? Judo, Sambo, Systema?
Well, I'm a master of sports in boxing. But I did this before the army. In the army we were taught army hand-to-hand combat. It's like sambo.
Do you regret your time in the Special Forces?
Did you make any good comrades?
The only thing I can not regret is good comrades. these guys are just the coolest friends that can only be.
Like, ummm, Stalker Zone?
M4 or Ak which do you prefer?
I never shot from m4, so I will choose AK.
Do you have a harder time watching action movies or playing video games? Like would you watch a military movie and the "nah, that's not how it works"
Yes, I constantly come across this, lol. In the first time after returning, I did not watch action films at all and did not play shooters.
What did you miss the most when you were deployed? Familiy? Food? 3-ply toilet paper? Or something else?
Beer and good cigarettes. Local cigarettes are just shit.
who do you think is in control of the situation in syria , the syrian or russian army and do you think all the rebels are terrorists ?
I think that several countries divided Syria, including Russia. Now the influence of foreigners there is stronger than local authorities. I don’t think every rebel is a terrorist, but if he shoots me, I shoot back.
What is your opinion of leftist politics and communism? Do you think the Soviet model defines what a worker's state should be, or do you think it's very, very possible for people to develop a worker's model past the authoritarian model the Soviets had? Is it true that most reports of Soviet brutality are exaggerated by the West in your opinion?
If you are too young or don't have parents that are familiar, it's very okay. I am just curious on your viewpoint as an actual Russian. :)
I think this is a pipe dream, the world cannot exist according to the laws of communism, the collapse of the Soviet Union demonstrated this. No, I don’t think these messages are exaggerated, my great-grandfather was repressed and died in the mines.
I read through much of the questions and I didn't see any related to your bi-poler condition.
During deployment would you ever get manic, stay up for days and then spiral down into a depression after? If so, how did you deal with this when you had a job to do.
Thank you for doing this, you seem a very nice person.
No, it all happened after Syria. I almost shot myself, it was after this that I turned to a psychiatrist.
And why do you think that I support it? I was against all this from the very beginning.
What made you leave? And do you have any regrets?
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