- Military officers were assigned to diplomatic missions as attachés from the time of Petr I (1689–1725), to act as representatives of the Russian army and navy and to collect sensitive military information. In tsarist times, military attachés were expected to collect intelligence on their hosts’ military and military technology. Military attachés were encouraged to take sabbaticals to travel inside foreign countries to collect intelligence. (This was the usual practice in the 19th century; for example, British, French, Prussian, and Austrian officers attached themselves to the northern and southern armies during the American Civil War.) They also recruited and ran agents in certain circumstances. Alfred Redl, for example, was run from 1908 to 1913 by Colonel Mitofan Marchenko, military attaché in Vienna.In the Soviet period, all military attachés were officers of the Chief Intelligence Directorate, the GRU. Attachés had combat arms experience and were trained at the Military-Diplomatic Academy in languages, history, politics, and intelligence tradecraft. From the 1930s, military attachés played an important role in Soviet clandestine human intelligence activities, serving as case officers and running agents. In the 1940s military attachés recruited and ran agents engaged in penetrating the American, Canadian, and British nuclear weapons labs. Soviet military attachés were also assigned to military diplomatic missions. A special military mission was established in both East and West Germany by NATO and the Soviet Union.
Historical dictionary of Russian and Soviet Intelligence. Robert W. Pringle. 2014.
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