A friend in DC just forwarded this to me. It is very interesting. It confirms that competent and dedicated riflemen are unconquerable.

>>Russian Army Lessons Learned from the Battle of Grozny

The Russian Army learned many lessons from its experience in Grozny:

(1) You need to culturally orient your forces so that you don’t end up being your own worst enemy simply out of cultural ignorance. Many times Russian soldiers made serious cultural errors in dealing with the Chechen civilians. Once insulted or mistreated, they became active fighters or supported the active fighters. Russians admit they underestimated the effect of religion on the conflict (as usual).

(2) The psychological impact of high intensity urban combat is so intense that you should maintain a large reserve that will allow you to rotate units in an out of combat. If you do this, you can preserve a unit for a fairly long time. If you don’t, once it gets used up, it can’t be rebuilt.

(3) Training and discipline are paramount. You can accomplish nothing without them. You may need to do the training in the combat zone. Discipline must be demanded. Once it begins to slip, the results are disastrous.

(4) The Russians were surprised and embarrassed at the degree to which the Chechens exploited the use of cell phones, Motorola radios, improvised TV stations, light video cameras, and the Internet to win the information war. The Russians admitted that they lost control of the information coming out of Grozny early in the operation and never regained it.

(5) The proliferation of rocket-propelled grenade launchers surprised the Russians, as did the diversity of uses to which they were put. RPGs were shot at everything that moved. They were fired at high angle over low buildings and from around buildings.. They were sometimes fired in very disciplined volleys and were surely the weapon of choice for the Chechens, along with the accurate rifle fire.

(6) Not only were the Russians faced with well-trained, well-equipped Chechen military snipers, there were also large numbers of designated sharp shooters who were very good shots, using standard military rifles. These were very hard to deal with and usually required massive fire power to suppress successfully. Even then, the moment suppressive fire was lifted, the marksmen were back!

(7) As expected, the Russians reiterated the need for large numbers of well-trained Infantrymen. They emphasized that some tasks, such as conducting mop-up operations, can only be adequately accomplished by dismounted infantrymen.

(8) Logistical-unit soldiers, being hopelessly inept and usually unprotected, were easy prey to the cunning Chechens. Such successful attacks on rear areas lead to wide-spread shortages of critical supplies.

(9) They found that boundaries between units were always tactical weak points, not just horizontal boundaries either. In some cases, the Chechens held the third floor of a building, while the Russians held the first two floors and sometimes the roof. If a unit holding the second floor evacuated parts of it without telling the unit on the ground floor, the Chechens would move troops in and attack the ground floor unit through the ceiling. Often this resulted in fratricide, as the ground floor unit responded with uncontrolled fire through all of the ceiling. Entire battles were thus fought through floors, ceilings, and walls, mostly without visual contact. Losses were appalling!

(9) Ambushes were common. Sometimes, they were as many as three tiers. Chechens would be underground, on the ground floor, and on the roof. Each group had a different task in the ambush. Chechens were well organized and disciplined.

(10) The most common response by Chechens to the increasingly powerful Russian indirect and aerial firepower was “hugging” Russian units. If the hugging tactics caused the Russians to cease artillery and air fires, it became a man-to-man fight, and the Chechens were eminently well equipped to win it, and usually did. If they didn’t cease the supporting fires, Russian units suffered just as much as the Chechens, sometimes even more, and the resulting degradation of morale was devastating for the Russians.

(11) Both the physical and the mental health of the Russian units began to decline almost immediately upon initiation of heavy fighting. In less than a month, twenty percent of the Russian soldiers were suffering from viral hepatitis (serious, debilitating, slow recovery). Most had chronic diarrhea and upper-respiratory infections that often progressed to pneumonia. This was blamed on the breakdown of logistical support, which meant, among other unpleasantries, units had to drink contaminated water. Unit sanitary discipline broke down almost completely.

(12) Chechens were not intimidated by tanks and other armored vehicles! They assigned groups of RPG gunners to fire volleys at the lead and trail vehicles in armored columns. Once they were destroyed, the others quickly became bogged down and were gingerly picked off, one-by-one. Russian forces lost twenty of twenty-six tanks, 102 of 120 BMPs, and 6 of 6 ZSU-23s in the first three day’s fighting. Chechens chose firing positions high or low enough to stay out of the fields of fire of tank and BMP weapons. Devastating as these weapons are, they often frustratingly useless, because could neither be depressed nor elevated sufficiently to get at the Chechen positions. When under fire, Russian conscript infantrymen simply refused to dismount and thus often died in their burning BMPs, without ever firing a shot.

(14) Chechens were utterly barbarous, especially with prisoners. Some reports say the Russians were no better, but most agree the Chechens were the worse of the two sides. Whoever was at fault, the conflict quickly degenerated into one of “No quarter asked, none given.” Russian wounded and dead were hung upside down in windows of defended Chechen positions. Russians were thus forced to shoot at the bodies in order to engage the Chechens. Russian prisoners were decapitated and, at night, their severed heads were placed on stakes beside roads leading into the city, over which Russian replacements and reinforcements had to travel. Both Russian and Chechen dead bodies were routinely booby-trapped.

(15) Russians were not surprised by the ferocity and brutality of the Chechens. They expected them to be “criminals and animal brutes,” but they were surprised by the sophistication of the Chechens, in their use of booby-traps and mines. Chechens mined and booby-trapped everything, showing excellent insight into the actions and reactions of the average Russian soldier. Mine and booby-trap awareness was hard to maintain.

(16) Russians were satisfied with the combat performance of most of their infantry weapons. However, the T-72 tank was utterly unsatisfactory. Too vulnerable, too awkward, not agile, no visibility, poor weapons coverage at short ranges. Russians were forced to remove them from the battle. They were replaced by smaller numbers of older tanks and self propelled artillery. Precision guided weapons were useful, as were flame weapons.