This is a dry, almost mechanical description of a poorly understood but intriguing and vitally important subject: the GRU. After the KGB, the GRU (Chief Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff) is arguably the second largest and most powerful intelligence agency in the world. The author, whose true name and identity are masked, is a defector uniquely qualified to reveal the purpose, structure, and methods of the GRU. Unlike John Barron’s readable books on the KGB, this work unfortunately reads like a biology textbook.
With an estimated 100,000 uniformed troops, 5,000 senior officers, undercover agents who recruit non-Soviet spies, the GRU seeks out information on the military capabilities of its enemies. Although smaller than the KGB, the GRU has a larger budget. Why? Because all of the many Soviet ministries charged with the development and deployment of military weapons provide the GRU with money for buying or stealing the latest technology. Beginning with information about the atom bomb, the track record so far is impressive. With the Soviets falling behind in advanced technologies, the GRU will need to step up its industrial espionage.
Many of the most recent sensational spy cases—the father-son network of the Walkers, for instance—are probably GRU rather than KGB operations. Suvorov fully describes the techniques of recruitment, initial payment, and subsequent extortion. He also explains that communist sympathizers in target countries are never used as intelligence agents. The GRU finds success in first enticing a selected informant through the offer of personal gain and then—after he has broken the law—controlling him through threats of exposure.
In addition to its agents collecting “strategic” intelligence necessary for achieving military objectives, the GRU has trained about 30,000 elite cutthroats for the task of assassinating military and political leaders behind enemy lines. These spetsnaz units, which operate in six-man teams with elaborate support mechanisms, are also trained to destroy the enemy’s key power and transportation centers. These undoubtedly are the “frogmen” which appear unannounced in Sweden with increasing frequency.
One secret the GRU and its bitter rival, the KGB, appear unable to discover, Suvorov says, is how to feed the Soviet Union. He does not see how either of the agencies will find this information. Even if one of them did, the other must destroy it as a doctrinal deviation.
[Inside Soviet Military Intelligence, by Viktor Suvorov (New York: Macmillan) $15.95]