In February, the head of the Chechen Republic of the Russian Federation, Ramzan Kadyrov, announced the creation of a “state-of-the-art Special Forces training center the size of a city” in Gudermes, Chechen Republic. Kadyrov stated that the construction of the training center would not take longer than a year and that the facility would provide services to a number of foreign militaries and security forces:

That seems like an ambitious timetable given what Kadyrov says he has planned (among many other things, facilities for training in ‘underwater combat’), but if it ends up actually being built, negotiations are underway with Belarus and Kazakhstan to train their forces at the center. Latin American, Arab, and other ex-Soviet countries are other potential customers, Izvestia reports. (Joshua Kucera,, February 16)

The planned center will be led by Chechen Special Forces instructors who have real-world experience and can apply any number of training methods and skills acquired from forces around the world. Belarus and Kazakhstan have already been mentioned as potential partners in the facility. According to observers and experts noted in Russian media publications, the long-term plan of the center appears to concentrate on recruitment of personnel from the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), the Arab world, and Latin America. Among the training events highlighted in plans for the vast, sprawling complex are hostage rescue operations:

Under the project, the center will highlight a unique tactical town – a complex where you can fulfill the skills to free the hostages from the high-rise apartment buildings, schools, hospitals, kindergartens, and theater. In addition, the center will be able to conduct parachute, mountain, forest, water and other types of training. Also, there are plans to build a wind tunnel for testing operations in different physical conditions. (Interfax, February 16)

There will also be sports facilities on the grounds of the planned complex. Kadyrov is a well-known supporter of organized sporting events; he has a particular affinity for soccer and mixed martial arts.

Chechen Special Forces

Kadyrov commands the Chechen Special Forces. The group’s purpose is shrouded by rumor, much of which is attributable to the secret nature of its existence. Mark Galeotti, a well-respected observer of Russian government, politics, and organized crime who specializes in modern Russian history and security affairs, is currently the clinical professor in global affairs at the Center for Global Affairs of the NYU School of Professional Studies. In writing this week to disabuse the notion of a Kadyrov challenge to power in Moscow, Galeotti writes of the secretive nature of Kadyrov’s Chechen special services:

The more than 20,000 so-called “Kadyrovtsy,” the Chechen security forces, are notionally part of the national Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD) structure, but in practice swear a personal oath to Kadyrov. He himself selects their commanders and issues their orders.

Similarly, his personal authority over Chechnya is absolute. He has used this to fill the republican hierarchy with his allies, friends, and relatives.