ENIGMA 2000 Newsletter - Issue 6

September 2001
Articles, newsreports and Items of interest : e2k_news@hotmail.com

Morse stations | Voice stations | Oddities | Simon Mason's column
This is Radio Enoch | Book review : A spy's London | News Items
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The Simon Mason column

Hello again and welcome to my first column in the ENIGMA 2000 newsletter. I have been persuaded to come out of semi-retirement to write an occasional piece for ENIGMA 2000 and hope to produce about 2 or 3 per year with the permission of the editor.

An anonymous person high up in the intelligence services of a certain Nordic country got in touch with me and provided some fascinating details. Here is part of his story:

Prior to 1991, we had positively targeted five Soviet transmitters as supporting intelligence operations against Scandinavia -- in Murmansk, Leningrad, Kaliningrad, Moskva and Rovno, between Kiev and Minsk.

They all conform to the pattern you describe. However, the by far greatest volume of instructions are sent as high-speed Morse (analogue) or as digital impulses -- there were no significant differences between KGB and GRU in this respect.

An agent would typically receive a message from twice a month to once every quarter, unless considered highly important (see below). Things such as covert mailboxes, routines for calling emergency meetings, work schedules for the next period would be covered by the regular debriefings taking place in a third country.

The KGB and GRU had a very strict and rigid pattern of promotion and postings, everybody who has left for the West agrees on that even if they agree on nothing else. If you perform an analysis of the subsequent career of those identified as Soviet intelligence operators, you get a density of roughly 5 secret agents per million in neutral states (always the most heavily targeted by both sides) and 3 per million in the US dependencies, making a total of some 800 active Soviet agents operating in the West at any given time, a highly likely figure (actually, there is more to this figure and how it is arrived at, but that remains classified). You can compare this to the number of transmissions each day.

The "old nations" -- whether Russia or Germany or France or Britain -- have proved themselves very adept at adopting efficient low-tech approaches of the "I-could-have-kicked-myself" kind, drawing from their very extensive repositories of experience. The Russians and the Germans are the masters of this game, and, interestingly, nearly always arrive at the same conclusions (which turn out to be embarrassingly correct); that the Soviet system produced a lot of constraints and political aberrations, should not obscure the basic soundness of their Staff work. They look reality into the face and make the best of a bad lot.

The touchstone remains whether the solution at hand will do the job or not. You can transmit your numbers in full four-channel stereo, if you like; it would add nothing but complexity and cost.

If you have some ancient vacuum-tube transmitters and reel-tape-recorders laying about, and can gainfully employ a good number of NSA Cray super-computers on trying to reveal nothing and that way prevent them from revealing more sensitive things, why not use the left-overs ? This is true Russian thinking.

Russian covert intelligence methodology does not rely on on-site training, as your interpretation would suggest. The long and difficult haul is to recruit a new agent -- that might take ten years, and usually be worth it. Training, which is normally part three on the road to agentship, nearly always takes place in a third country: in the last major case we had, the agent in question was first approached during a UN tour to Cyprus, said "yes" three years later, trained in Lebanon and Syria, worked in Sweden and was debriefed all across Europe and the Middle East, with Tel Aviv as the preferred choice.

And speaking of transmissions: he received them every Sunday, at the same time but according to a preset pattern of HF frequency changes; should he miss his instructions, the transmission was repeated 24 hours later. If one of my Staff came up with a report of extensive training transmissions, I would believe it -- but I would not believe there is any single agent at large, without further evidence.

What happened to the Stasi officers ? Well, they were most welcome outside Europe -- Africa (Zimbabwe in particular), Asia and South America (Chile, Ecuador, Peru) have stocked up on them, and now they can easily get up-to-date equipment. The losers seem to be KGB technical staff -- I know several who have moved to **** because they feel they will have no future in Russia.

There was a lot more material that I cannot divulge without betraying the gentleman's confidence, but the above details are the most relevant to Number Stations.

©Simon Mason.

Morse stations | Voice stations | Oddities | Simon Mason's column
This is Radio Enoch | Book review : A spy's London | News Items
Web sites | Requests | Stop press | Contribution deadlines
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