M69 uniforms were introduced in 1969 and took effect on January 1, 1970. They were used, with little variation, until the fall of the USSR in 1991. KGB M69 uniforms are identical to Armed Forces M69 uniforms with the exception of the branch of service colour and insignia. Branch of service colours were royal blue for state security personnel and forest green for border guards. The branch of service insignia for all KGB personnel was the wreathed star (the same as used by army motor rifle troops and MVD troops).
M69 KGB State Security Officer Uniforms
KGB Officers used three uniform classes: Parade, Service, & Field.
M69 KGB Officer Parade Uniforms:
These were the same dark sea green colour as used by Ground Forces officers. This sea green colour, often called blue-green or teal in the west, was officially called "morskoi volny" ("sea-wave") in the USSR. The use of this uniquely Soviet colour dates back to the Tsarist era, hence another of its western names, "Tsar green". The uniform consisted of a peaked cap, single-breasted open-collar tunic fastened with four brass buttons, and breeches or trousers.
The peaked cap was sea green with a royal blue band and piping. It had a gold braid cap cord and the wide stamped-aluminum parade cap badge. The tunic was sea green with royal blue cuff piping. Royal blue collar tabs with gold edging and a gold arm of service insignia and gold parade boards with royal blue stripes and piping and gold stars were sewn on to the tunic. Trousers and breeches were sea green and had royal blue piping down their outside seams.
There were three minor variations of parade uniforms: in formation, off formation, & walking out. Parade in formation uniforms were used for participating in parades, military award presentations, taking military oaths, and honour guard duty. They were worn with gold parade belt, breeches, boots, and white gloves. Parade off formation uniforms were used for being present at, but not participating in, parades and for receiving government awards, military ranks, and command positions. They were worn with gold parade belt, trousers, black shoes, and white gloves. Parade walking out uniforms were used for leave on key state holidays, at cermonial events or official receptions, and at funerals. They were worn with trousers and black shoes and without parade belt or gloves. All variations of parade uniform were worn with a white shirt (with slip on white boards with royal blue stripes and gold stars) and a black tie. Orders, medals, and badges were worn on all parade uniforms.
M69 KGB Officer Service Uniforms:
These were olive green though were of the same cut as parade uniforms. They consisted of a peaked cap, single-breasted open-collar tunic fastened with four brass buttons, and breeches or trousers.
The peaked cap was olive with royal blue band and piping. It had a gold braid cap cord and the oval stamped-brass service cap badge. Initially the service peaked hat was worn with a black plastic cap cord. This was replaced by the gold braid cord in the late 1970s. The tunic was olive and had no piping. Royal blue collar tabs with gold edging and a gold arm of service insignia and olive service boards with royal blue stripes and gold stars were sewn on to the tunic. Trousers and breeches were olive and had royal blue piping down their outside seams.
The peaked cap could be replaced with a wedge-shaped "piltoka" or garrison cap. This cap was olive with royal blue piping along its upper edges. It used the same oval cap badge as the service peaked cap. It was lined in light green satin and was much higher quality then the plain khaki "piltokas" of enlisted personnel.
There were two minor variations of service uniforms: in formation and off formation. Service in formation uniforms were used for regular daily duties and training on military bases. They were worn with "sam browne" belt, breeches, and boots. Service off formation uniforms were used for regular daily duties and training in headquarters, staffs, institutions, and offices and on regular time off. They were worn with trousers and brown shoes and without. Both variations of service uniform were worn with a light green shirt (with slip on olive boards with royal blue stripes and gold stars) and an olive tie. Orders, badges, and medal ribbons were worn on all service uniforms.
In 1988 a wool service jacket was introduced in the Soviet armed forces. This unlined olive wool jacket had an open collar and was fastened by 5 small olive metal buttons. A further two buttons fastened the narrow waistband of the jacket and each or the narrowed sleeve cuffs was also fastened by two buttons. There were further buttons on the sides of the waistband and on the two breast pockets. These jackets were worn with regular slip-on shirt boards, olive with blue stripes and gold stars. It was worn over the shirt and tie. It was used as a replacement for the service tunic whenever its more "industrial" look was usefull. It was generally considered less-formal than the proper service tunic.
M69 KGB Officer Field Uniforms:
These were olive green and were of different cut from parade and service uniforms. They consisted of a peaked cap, single-breasted closed-collar tunic fastened with five plastic buttons, and breeches.
The peaked cap was a special subdued version. It was completely olive: fabric, band, piping, peak, plastic cap cord, side buttons, and oval stamped-brass cap badge. The field peaked cap was thus identical for all military and quasi-military personnel. There is no difference in the field peaked hats worn by KGB, motor rifle, armour, air force, etc. personnel. The tunic was olive and had no piping. It was a the same cut as M69 enlisted field and service uniforms. It was single breasted, closed-neck, fastened with a hook-&-eye and five olive plastic buttons, with a turned down collar. Subdued olive collar tabs with olive arm of service insignia and olive service boards with royal blue stripes and olive stars were sewn on to the tunic. Breeches were olive without any piping.
Field uniforms were used on field exercises and maneuvers and for combat duty. They were thus very rare for KGB state security personnel, most of who had no reason to ever go into the field. Exceptions were troops guarding nuclear weapons, the bodyguards for high military commanders (such as the Minster of Defence or the Chief of Staff), 3rd Chief Directorate (military counter-intelligence) personnel assigned to the OOs (special departments) of military units (although it is not clear when they wore KGB uniforms and when they wore the uniforms of the unit they were attached to), and selected KGB special troops.
Field uniforms were usually worn with "sam browne" belt and without any awards (although many individuals preffered to wear their awards in the field as was common during WWII). They could be worn with steel helmets and camoflage coveralls as the situation dictated.
This type of field uniform was replaced in the mid to late 1980s throughout the Soviet armed forces by a two piece camoflage outfit and "baseball cap" style field hat.
Other M69 KGB Officer Uniform Items
The standard steel-grey wool armed forces officer's greatcoat was used by KGB personnel. It was double breasted with 10 brass buttons. It had royal blue unpiped collar tabs with gold branch of service devices and sewn-on grey boards with royal blue stripes and gold stars. A special variation existed for honour guard duties and important parades in Moscow and other key Hero-Cities which used sewn-on gold boards with royal blue stripes and piping and gold stars.
The standard olive gabardine armed forces officer's raincoat was used by KGB personnel. It was single breasted with concealed buttons and a sewn-on waist belt. It had royal blue unpiped collar tabs with gold branch of service devices (greatcoat tabs) and slip-on olive boards with royal blue stripes and gold stars.
A Note on Warrant Officers
Warrant officers were a special rank class in the Soviet armed forces. They were created in the 1970s in an attempt to create a class of experienced specialists akin to the experienced NCOs in western militaries. (By contrast Soviet NCOs were "created". Certain conscripts were chosen during the basic training process to undergo a further 6-12 months training and were then made sergeants.) Warrant officers were thus given many perks including higher pay, better housing, separate messes, and the right to wear officer's uniforms. However there were minor differences in the officer's uniforms worn by warrant officers.
Warrant officers had different shoulder boards. These had no stripes or piping and had two or three small stars. Parade boards were a checker-board pattern of royal and pale blue and used gold stars. Service boards were a checker-board pattern of olive and light green and used gold stars. Field boards were plain olive cloth and used subdued olive stars.
In addition, warrant officers wore their applicable enlisted sleeve patch on the left sleeve of their parade uniforms and yellow length of service chevrons and stars on the lower left sleeve of their parade and service uniforms. The royal blue collar tabs on warrant officer service tunics were not piped in gold (although they were piped on parade uniforms). Finally, warrant officer service peaked caps maintained the black plastic cap cord even after regular officer's adopted the gold braid cord in the late 1970s.
KGB Lieutenant's Parade Uniform. Although the "wave-green" uniform colour comes out a little too dark in this photo the gold and royal blue boards and collar tabs are clearly visible. The parade hat can also be seen. A 20 year KGB service medal is visible on the left breast and a KGB school graduation badge (variation 2) and a KGB service badge are visible on the right breast. (Courtesy of Harry Troche.)
The "wave-green" colour of the fabric can be seen better in this view of another KGB Lieutenant's Parade tunic. (Courtesy of Charles Daum.)
KGB Officer's Parade hat. The "wave-green" and royal blue hat has the standard officer's wide parade cockade and gold cap cord.
MVD & KGB Officers Service Uniforms. The uniform on the right is a KGB Captain's service uniform (in formation variation). The royal blue branch of service colour is clearly evident on the cap band and piping, collar tabs, and board stripes. Several ribbons and a Komsomol membership badge are worn on the left breast while a standard KGB service badge and a graduation badge for a KGB school are worn on the right breast. The MVD Major's service uniform on the left shows the MVD's maroon branch of service colour clearly on the cap band and piping, collar tabs, and board stripes. There are several ribbons and a Komsomol membership badge on the left breast and an officer's specialist qualification badge (standard armed forces style) and a graduation badge for the Military-Political School of the MVD Troops on the right breast. (Courtesy of Glen Walters.)
KGB Officer's Service hat. Khaki with royal blue trim, oval service cockade and gold cap cord.
Inside of the above hat showing maker's label. In this case the Zarnitsa factory in Moscow, manufactured in 1989, size 56 (circumference in cm).
KGB Captain's Field Uniform photo-montage. The top left image shows the field tunic with its distinctive closed-neck, high-collar cut. The top right image shows a close up of the olive field boards with one royal blue stripe and four small olive stars (captain). The middle right image shows the subdued olive collar tabs with olive branch of service insignia (wreathed star), a ribbon bar set (unusual on a field uniform) on the left breast, and a "50th Anniversary of the Ukrainian KGB" badge on the right breast. The remaining three images show the subdued, all olive, officer's field peaked hat used by the KGB and all other branches of the military. (Author's collection.)
There have been some peaked caps described as KGB State Security General's caps for several years. These hats appear to follow the known uniform "rules". They are the same as army general's hats except for the KGB royal blue trim. However, there are some problems. There are no "rules" for KGB uniforms as the KGB's uniform regultaions have never been seen in the west. There are also no known pictures of KGB generals wearing these hats or general's uniforms with royal blue trim. On the other hand there are many pictures and testimony of KGB generals wearing standard army generals uniforms. Therefore, it is not know if these hats are genuine or recent items factory-produced for collectors. One possibility is that they were produced at the end of the Soviet era for a uniform change that was never introduced. They remain rare and sought by collectors whatever they are.
KGB General's Parade hat.
KGB General's Service hat.
Inside of the above hat with maker's label. In this case the 43rd Central Experimental Clothing Factory in Moscow, size 61.
KGB Enlisted Personnel used three uniform classes: Parade, Service, & Field.
M69 KGB Enlisted Parade Uniforms:
These were olive and were a different cut from officer's service uniforms despite their similarity. The uniform consisted of a peaked cap, single-breasted open-collar tunic fastened with four brass buttons, and trousers. The tunic collar differed from the tunic collar of officer service tunics (which uses the same type of collar as a western single-breasted suit). The enlisted collar closes higher up and is smaller.
The peaked cap was olive with a royal blue band and piping. It had a black plastic cap cord and the wreathed star enlisted cap badge. The tunic was olive without any piping. Royal blue collar tabs with gold edging and a gold arm of service insignia and royal blue boards with yellow "GB" (for "Gosudarstvennoi Bezopasnosti" or state security) lettering were sewn on to the tunic. Trousers were olive and unpiped.
There were two minor variations of parade uniforms: parade and walking out. Parade uniforms were used for used for participating in parades, military award presentations, taking military oaths, and special guard duties. They were worn with white parade belt, trousers tucked into boots, and brown gloves. Walking out uniforms were used for leave and holidays. (In the KGB walking out uniforms were also apparently worn for many regular duties since photos have shown guards in the Lubyanka prison wearing this class of uniform. This is likely due to its more formal and less field-like nature when compared to enlisted service uniforms. They were worn with trousers and black shoes and without parade belt or gloves. All variations of parade uniform were worn with a light green shirt (with slip on green boards with yellow "GB" lettering) and a green tie. Orders, medals, and badges were worn on all parade uniforms.
KGB Enlisted Service Uniforms
Service uniforms were used for daily duties, lessons, and free time at military bases. The uniform consisted of a "piltoka" garrison cap, a closed-neck tunic fastened with five brass buttons, trousers, a brown belt, and black boots.
The "pilotka" was khaki, unpiped, and had a small red star cap badge. The tunic was the same cut as a M69 officer's field tunic, however, it was khaki and had brass buttons. Royal blue collar tabs, unpiped, with gold branch of service devices and plain royal blue boards were sewn on to the tunic. Trousers were khaki and unpiped.
KGB Enlisted Field Uniforms
It is not known if this class of uniform existed for KGB personnel though it seems likely that it did. This uniform would be identical to the service uniform except that boards, collar tabs and insignia and buttons were subdued olive. Since the branch of service devices are identical for the KGB, motor rifle troops and MVD, all olive field uniforms would be indistinguishable for those branches.
The KGB's Special Guards: The Separate Kremlin Regiment & Lenin's Tomb
The guard personnel of the KGB's Seperate Kremlin Regiment and guard personnel posted to Guard Post #1 (Lenin's Tomb) used slightly modified uniforms. Personnel with the Separate Kremlin Regiment used normal KGB state security uniforms as outlined above, however, enlisted personnel had slightly different shoulder boards. The royal blue parade and service boards had the cyrillic letters "OKP" on them in stead of the usual "GB". This stood for "Otdelenie Kremlinskoi Polk" or Separate Kremlin Regiment. (Some sources say "Osobiye Kremlinskoi Polk" or Special Kremlin Regiment.)
On the other hand the enlisted personnel assigned to guards Lenin's Tomb in Red Square used very different uniforms. The enlisted uniform was based on the KGB state security officer's parade uniform (in formation variation). Thus they wore the regular officer's sea green peaked hat, tunic, and breeches with gold officer's parade belt, black boots, and white gloves. This officer's uniform was then modified in a few ways:
-royal blue enlisted parade shoulder boards were used. These had "GB" (not "OKP") in yellow letters and were piped along the edges in yellow.
-royal blue enlisted sleeve patches were worn on both sleeves of the tunic.
-gold braid aglets (sleeve cords) were worn over the right shoulder.
In late the 1980s (1988 or 1989) a special honour guard cap badge was added to the parade peaked caps of guard personnel at Lenin's Tomb. This cap badge, which was attached to the upper portion of the hat crown above the regular officer's parade cap badge, was similar to the special honour guard cap badge introduced for regular army personnel performing honour guard duties. It appears that guard personnel at Lenin's Tomb began wearing yellow piped shoulder buards with "OKP" on them at this time as well.
The only award seen worn on uniforms of guard personnel at Lenin's Tomb is the aluminum pin-back "For excellence in the Guard Service - ## of times on duty" badge.
For more information on the Separate (or Special) Kremlin Regument and the guards at Lenin's Tomb see Don Creamer's article "Post Number 1: The special Kremlin Regiment" in Border Post magazine, Summer 1997 issue.
KGB Senior Sergeant's Parade Tunic. This image clearly shows the royal blue branch of service colour on the boards, collar tabs, and left sleeve patch. The wide gold band on the boards indicates the rank of senior sergeant. The "GB" stands for State Security. (Author's collection. Thanks to Charles Daum for the photo.)
On the left is a KGB Private's Parade Tunic & Hat. The tunic is identical to the one in the photo above except for the lack of the senior sergeant's bars on the boards. There is a Komsomol membership badge on the left breast and an "Enlisted Specialist Qualification" badge (standard army style) on the right. The hat shows the royal blue band and piping and the standard enlisted cap badge. On the right is a KGB Private's parade uniform for a members of the Seperate Kremlin Regiment posted to Lenin's Tomb. The sea green colour of officer's parade uniform can be seen as can the royal blue KGB branch of service colour. Note the private's boards (in this case they are the 1988-1991 style: plain with "OKP" instead on "GB" with yellow piping) and the enlisted KGB sleeve patch. The gold officer's parade belt, white parade gloves and special gold honour aglet (sleeve cord) are all clearly visible. (Courtesy of Glen Walters.)
A photo of the changing of the guard at Lenin's Tomb. The special honour guard cap badge can be seen above the regular officer-style parade cap badge. The boards on these uniforms are piped in yellow/gold. The soldier on the front left has the three stripes of a sergeant and is in charge of the guard change. The soldiers carry SKS rifles with bayonets. (Courtesy of Glen Walters.)
KGB Border Guard Colonel's Parade Tunic. This "wave-green" tunic is piped in forest green. (Courtesy of Robert Pandis.)
KGB Border Guard Enlisted Parade Uniform for a Senior Sergeant. The single wide stripe of a senior sergeant can clearly be seen on the green boards. A Komsomol (youth wing of the Communist Party) membership badge can just be seen on the left breast. An Excellent Border Guards badge, 2nd class, and a Senior Border Guard badge (for patrol leaders) can be seen on the right. (Courtesy of Harry Troche.)
KGB Officer Cadet's Parade tunic. Officer cadets wear standard enlisted uniforms with the exception of the wide longitudinal stripe on the shoulder boards. (Courtesy of Robert Pandis.)
Proud papa Don Kakretz of Unique Soviet Relics and Souvenirs showing off his daughter Jennifer. He is wearing a KGB Border Guard Private's uniform. The tunic type is unusual and appears to be a variation of the M88 Officer's wool service jacket. The forest green branch of service colour can be seen on the tunic boards and collar tabs. The cyrillic "PV" on the boards stands for Border Troops. The famous border guards peaked hat has a forest green felt body, black band, red piping, and a standard enlisted cap badge. (Courtesy of Don Kakretz, of Unique Soviet Military Relics & Souvenirs.)
KGB Border Guard Senior Lieutenant's Wool Service/Duty Jacket. This wool spring/fall jacket was introduced for officers of all branches of service in the late 1980s. Shoulder boards are strap-on. A badge for the Leningrad Border District is worn on the left breast. 8x50 power Soviet Binoculars are worn around the neck and a Soviet General Staff map is seen below.
An excellent photo of two very similar and often confused camoflage uniforms. Both uniforms show the KMLK, or so-called "computer pattern", of camoflage. On the left is a burlap "sniper's style" uniform set up to show a typical Afghan War era VDV airborne soldier. The blue and white striped shirt used by the airborne and naval infantry, the tropical climate panama hat, the field belt with webbing, bayonet, grenade and ammo pouches, and the slung AK-74 rifle can be seen. This type of uniform was not worn by KGB Border Guard troops, although it is possible that members of the KGB Alpha Group (and other special KGB units) wore uniforms similar to this during the storming of the Duralaman Palace near Kabul in December 1979 as they were disguised as regular military troops. On the right is a KGB Border Guard Junior Sergeant's field camoflage uniform. This image clearly shows the unique qualities of the KGB border guard camo material, it is yellow-tan on olive and is thick cloth unlike the tan on dark olive burlap version to the left or the well known white on dark green thin cotton army issue pull-overs. The six pocket cut of the tunic can be seen as well ( 2 chest, 2 hip, and 2 sleeve). In addition the green boards, collar tabs, and sleeve patch are attached. The uniform is worn with the green and black KGB border guards hat. (Courtesy of Glen Walters.)
Summer parade-walking out uniform of a Colonel General of the KGB Border Guards. This is an extremely rare uniform type of an extremely rare rank. There have only ever been 6 KGB Border Guard Colonel-General's identified (3 have been the Border Guard Service Director's one of whom was promoted to Army-General, the only higher rank). This uniform is used and an award hole, and minor wear and aging to the cuffs, neck, and armpits. The tunic is light grey, summer weight, with forest green piping and gold embroidered laurel leaves on the collar. It has gold parade boards. It has 1980 dated general's buttons. The breeches are dark blue with forest green piping. The hat is forest green felt with lots of gold embroidery. There is a 25th Anniversary of WWII badge and a Distinguished Employee of State Security badge on the right breast and several ribbons on the left.
Close up of the above uniform. The green piping on the gold boards and fine green trim around the gold embroidered stars can bee seen.
Parade hat of KGB Border Guard Enlisted Personnel. This hat has a forest green wool felt (!!) body, black band, and red piping. It is used with a standard military enlisted cap badge (wreathed star) and black vinyl cap cord. Though officially for use with parade uniforms KGB Border Guard enlisted personnel used these hats with service and field uniforms as well. It was often seen with the KMLK (so-called "computer pattaren") camoflage as well. (Courtesy of Don Kakretz, Unique Soviet Militaria.)
Service hat of KGB Border Guard Officers. Made of the same material as the enlisted hat described above this hat uses the oval officer's service cockade and a gold braid cap cord. Like enlisted personnel, KGB Border Guard officers often wore these hats with field and camoflage uniforms. This specific example is a higher quality (perhaps private purchase) example. The peak is made of patent leather and the underside of the peak is covered in black felt. (Author's collection.)
Parade hat of KGB Border Guard Officers. Made of the same material as the previous two hats this type differs only with the use of the larger officer's parade cap badge.
Parade hat of KGB Border Guard Generals. Similar consctrution to officer's parade hat but higher quality with general's cap badge, gold embroidery and sequins on band and peak, felt lining on bottom of patent leather peak, and real leather sweat band.
M55 Parade hat of MVD/KGB Border Guard Officers. This parade hat was used 1955-1958. The border guards were under the MVD from March 1953 to March 1957 when they reverted to the KGB. The hat is similar in construction to later hats except for its smaller diameter, metal laurel-leaf wreathing on the peak, early two-piece heavy brass cap badge, and "pinkish" crimson (not red) piping.
Personnel of the KGB Border Guard's naval, or coastal patrol, units wore standard naval uniforms with minor modifications. Sailors had standard naval flat-top hats with special ribbons. This example is a white summer hat. The ribbon says "Morchasti Pogranvoisk" which is short form for "morskiye chasti pogranichnuyu voisku" or "Naval Units of the Border Guards".
RETURN TO UNIFORMS HOME PAGE:
BACK TO M58 KGB UNIFORMS: