A YouTuber called Bloke on the Range with an interest in the history of weapons recently got some hands-on experience with an incredibly rare rifle, one with a controversial history which turned into a fairly substantial scandal for the Swiss government.
This week, I wrote an article about how U.S. Special Forces have been training Polish and Latvian National Guard units in unconventional warfare, preparing them for the stay-behind mission in the event their countries are invaded by Russia. In such an event, stay-behinds would go to ground and wait for enemy forces to sweep over them while blending in with the civilian population. Once behind enemy lines, they would activate, recover weapons and explosives in hidden caches, then conduct acts of sabotage against enemy forces. Today, we conduct this training as a part of the Ridge Runner exercise but American-trained stay-behind networks have a controversial history in Holland, Italy, and other western nations.
The Swiss stay-behind network was known as P-26, which operated as a secret unit within the military and outside of the control of Parliament or Swiss civilian control. Guerrilla warfare was, and is, a key part of Swiss military strategy to this day. In recent years, Swiss military contingency plans envisioned what would happen if the Euro collapsed and Western Europe went to war with itself once more. The Swiss would largely retreat to the mountains, dropping bridges and tunnels as they withdraw, then ambush their antagonists in favorable terrain. During the Cold War, P-26 members would move to hidden bunkers and recover weapons they would need to carry out their missions.
One of those weapons would have been the G150 rifle which fired the 10.4x33mm sub-sonic round. The narrator of the video points out that this weapon has been called an anti-material weapon and that P-26 was not tasked with assassinations.
Forgive your author for opining on this topic for a moment. My perspective comes as a former U.S. Special Forces weapons sergeant, sniper with 3rd Ranger Battalion, a degree in political science, and my own extensive research into Special Operations units and various types of clandestine warfare. From that viewpoint, this was absolutely a weapon designed for assassination. The integral suppressor and sub-sonic ammunition make the G150 almost silent. The 10.4 round is designed for short-range engagements, the scope does not even have stadia lines or a mil-dot reticle inside for range and wind holds. The bullet itself would be useless in an anti-material role which favors large calibers (.50 and above) to shoot out engine blocks, electrical substations, etc.
On paper, the G150 may have been labeled as being for anti-material use but this was mere political correctness. Especially after the fact, when the existence of P-26 was revealed to the public during the Fichenaffäre scandal of 1989, which was sort of like the Swiss version of the Ed Snowden disclosures. There was good reason to paper over what was really going on. It is worth noting that a P-26 whistleblower and member of the Swiss secret services named Herbert Alboth was murdered in his apartment in Bern before he was able to reveal what he knew. The culprits were never identified.
However, it should also be noted the “assassination” or targeted killing of enemy soldiers belonging to a hostile military which has invaded your country would appear to be perfectly lawful under the Geneva Conventions, of which Switzerland is a signatory.
There is scant information available in the English language on P-26 and the stay-behind networks which existed in nearly every country in Europe during the Cold War. Two books I can direct interested parties to are “NATO’s Secret Armies” by Daniele Gansar and David Teacher’s “Rogue Agents,” (5th Edition). Teacher’s research concluded: “P-26 worked closely with MI6 who had created Gladio’s European operational basis. The last secret agreement between MI6 and P-26 was signed in 1987, three years before the parliamentary inquiry.”