Wounded Bear: The Ongoing Russian Military Operation in Chechnya
When people are entering upon a war they do things the wrong way round. Action
comes first, and it is only when they have already suffered that they begin to think.
Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War
Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War
October 1991 - Dzhokhar Dudayev becomes President
December 1991 - First armed clashes between
August 1994 - Moscow-backed Chechen forces
September 1994 - Fighting breaks out between
November 1994 - Opposition forces (clandestinely
December 1, 1994 - Russian President Boris Yeltsin
December 6-8, 1994 - Chechen President Dudayev
December 11, 1994 - Russian forces enter Chechnya.
The Russians were not prepared.
The Russians failed to anticipate the type of combat that they would fight in Chechnya.
Lack of training.
"Ad-hoc" nature of Russian units.
High number of casualties from "friendly fire."
1.In a recent article in Parameters, author Ralph Peters describes how most military organizations are ill-equipped to fight in cities and villages:"The US military, otherwise magnificently capable, is an extremely inefficient tool for combat in urban environments. We are not doctrinally, organizationally, or psychologically prepared, nor are we properly trained or equipped, for a serious urban battle, and we must task organize radically even to conduct peacekeeping operations in cities." Ralph Peters, "Our Soldiers, Their Cities," Parameters, Spring 1996, p. 43.BACK
2.In Military Misfortunes, authors Eliot Cohen and John Gooch discuss the types of failures that can overcome a military organization. They conclude that catastrophic failures occur when a military organization experiences three kinds of failure simultaneously (failure to learn, anticipate or adapt). The Russian military experience in Chechnya initially demonstrated two of the three characteristics. As the authors explain, if all three types of failure occur simultaneously, total defeat and political collapse are likely. Eliot A. Cohen, John Gooch, Military Misfortunes: The Anatomy of Failure in War, The Free Press: New York, 1990.BACK
4.For a political-military analysis of the Chechen conflict see Timothy L. Thomas, The Caucasus Conflict and Russian Security: The Russian Armed Forces Confront Chechnya, Foreign Military Studies Office, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, 1995.BACK
6.Dzhokhar Dudayev was a former Major General of the Soviet Air Force. He commanded a division in Estonia in 1990 and retired from the service in 1990, when he became Chairman of the Executive Committee - All National Chechen People's Congress. He was killed by a Russian air strike in April 1996.BACK
7.Natalya Pachegina, "Kreml' gotovitsya k vvedeniyu chrezvychaynogo polojeniya v chechne" [Kremlin Prepares to Declare State of Emergency in Chechnya], Nezavisimaya Gazetta (Independent Newspaper), November 30, 1994, p.1.BACK
8.The operational plan was prepared by the General Staff, the staff of the North Caucasus Military District and a combined staff in Mozdok. No one was clearly in charge and no one wanted to take responsibility for the outcome of the decisions. "Russian Military Assesses Errors of Chechnya Campaign," International Defense Review, No. 4/1995, p.6.BACK
9. Description of the phases of the operation taken from Novichkov, N., Snegovskii, V., Sokolov, A., Shvarev, V.,Rossiyskie Voorujennye Sily v chechenskom konflikte: analiz, itogi, vivogi [Russian Armed Forces in the Chechen Conflict: Analysis, Results, Conclusions]. (Holveg-Infoglov: Moscow, 1995), pp. 28 - 29.BACK
13.Anatoly S. Kulikov (Translated by R. Love), "Russian Internal Troops and Security Challenges in the 1990s," Low Intensity Conflict & Law Enforcement, Volume 3, Autumn 1994, Number 2, p. 209. "For all practical purposes, the Internal Troops have no heavy weapons or military hardware, and they are not capable of carrying out large-scale combat actions."BACK
14.Dr. Jacob Kipp, a Senior Analyst at the Foreign Military Studies Office, commented that President Yeltsin faced a constitutional/legal dilemma here. Law and doctrine said that Armed Forces could only be used inside the Russian Federation if an extraordinary situation was proclaimed. Without this proclamation, internal order belonged to the Ministry of Internal Affairs. In an attempt to maintain surprise, Yeltsin did not proclaim an extraordinary situation, thus limiting legal basis for MOD - Federal Counter-Intelligence Service (FSK) - MVD cooperation and coordination.BACK
17.One estimate lists 20,000 Chechen combatants of which approximately 3,000 were mercenaries. Shevtsov, p. 3. General Pavel Grachev, Russian Defense Minister estimates that Chechen forces numbered approximately 30,000 before the fighting started (plus 6,000 mercenaries). Mikhail Shevtsov, ITAR-TASS World Service, 28 February 1995 as reported in FBIS-SOV-95-040, 1 March 1995, p. 29.BACK
27.Col.-Gen. Nikolay M. Dimidyuk, "Bog voiniy na perelome" [The God of War at the Turning Point], Armeyskiy Sbornik (Army Digest), No. 7,1995, pp. 9-12. Gen. Dimidyuk, Commander of Ground Forces Missile Troops and Artillery, explains how the Soviets used the "artillery offensive" to support the actions of the ground forces.BACK
28.Dr. Jakob Kipp, a Senior Analyst at the Foreign Military Studies Office, pointed out that no military force currently has a working doctrine to fight insurgents in a modern city. The U.S. Army's doctrine on fighting in an urban environment is already seventeen years old and does not fully address the problems that would be encountered while fighting a three dimensional battle in a city. The U.S. Army's experience in Mogadishu demonstrates the difficulty of fighting in a city with the population in place.BACK
29.Colonel Sergey Leonenko, "Ovladenie gorodom" [Capturing a City], Armeyskiy Sbornik (Army Digest), No. 3, 1995, pp. 31-35. "The fact is that in one case troops take a city using all weapons without restriction, and in another case [they are] under orders to preserve the city as a cultural and economic center."BACK
30.An exception may be the reported use of a self-guiding missile that homed in on the transmission of Chechen President Dudaev's satellite phone, killing him as he stood in an open field on 21 April 1996.BACK
33."The basic 9M55K rocket fired by the Smerch has a high explosive cluster warhead that carries 72 unguided, dual-purpose bomblets to attack personnel and the vulnerable upper surfaces of armored vehicles." Smerch Submunitions Make Show Debut,' Jane's Defense Weekly, 30 September 1995, p. 15.BACK
34.In an article in Jane's Intelligence Review, the author estimated that the Chechens had an artillery regiment consisting of 30 light and medium artillery pieces. There have been numerous cases, however, of the Chechens employing BM-21 multiple rocket launchers during the campaign. Dr. Mark Galeotti, "Decline and Fall - What Went Wrong in Chechnia?", Vol. 7, No. 3, p. 98. A more accurate assessment of the Chechen's capability is probably the one in Kraznaya Zvezda in which the author states that the Chechens had about 200 artillery pieces to include 18 BM-21s. Shevtsov, p. 3.BACK
35.The Chechens also used automobiles as mobile mortar platforms for their ambushes. Colonel Aleksandr Kostychenko, "Uroki groznogo" [Lessons of Grozny], Armeyskiy Sbornik (Army Digest), No. 11, 1995, p. 29.BACK
41."Frontal and Army Aviation in the Chechen Conflict", Conflict Studies Research Centre, The Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, Camberley, England, June 1995, p. 4. This report was based on the book The Russian Armed Forces in the Chechnya Conflict (see footnote #9).BACK
50. In 1995 the Russian government received only 24 per cent of the available number of conscripts."The Russian Armed Forces: From Super Power to Limited Power," Jane's Defence Weekly, 14 February 1996, p. 17.BACK
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