The US military experts are very carefully and critically studying the experience of the actions of the Russian army in urban conditions in the Chechen campaign. The military actions in Chechnya, in their opinion, are a prototype of future clashes between regular armed forces and an irregular adversary, a typical example of the fourth generation war. The United States, as American military experts note, must be prepared for such actions in the future, so the Russian (and Chechen!) Experience has universal significance.
The US Army instructions FM 3-06 “Operations in the city”, published in June 2003, directly states: “The Russian experience of operations in Chechnya in 1994 demonstrated the increasing importance of operations in urban areas. Chechen rebels, after failing to confront Russian troops outside the city, decided to turn the city of Grozny into a battlefield. The leaders of the Chechen crushed formations realized that fighting in urban areas provided them with the best chance for success. The complexity of the fighting in the city and the obvious advantages in the defense neutralized their numerical and technical gap. The urban landscape provided Chechens with fire protection, guaranteed their lines of communication, hid their positions and maneuver. Having received all these advantages provided by the city, the smaller and technically weak armed forces decided to fight precisely in the urbanized area. ”
The American military experts almost immediately after the first December 1994, the operations of the Russian troops in Grozny gave their first comments. In the summer of 1995, the Strategic Forum bulletin No. 38 of the National Strategic Studies Institute of the National Defense University of the United States published the analysis of Lester Grau “Russian tactics in the city: lessons from the battle for Grozny”. L. Grau is considered to be one of the most experienced and authoritative military specialists in Russia and the armed forces of the Russian Federation, therefore, his opinion was taken seriously in the United States.
In accordance with the tenets of the Soviet military science, L. Grau argues, large-scale offensive operations must be carried out at a fast pace, while unprotected cities must be taken, and settlements prepared for defense must be bypassed. The military campaign in Chechnya has put these well-established notions upside down.
The Russian military command viewed the Chechen campaign as “another march against Prague or Kabul”, where the local armed forces offered only symbolic resistance. When the first New Year offensive of the Russian troops was repulsed, the American expert writes, “instead of organizing and preparing a military operation against the Chechen capital, the Russians sent a ragged force assembled to the city for a police action. The result was utter failure. ”
Of the unsuccessful first lessons of the military operation in Chechnya, according to L. Grau, the Russians learned several of the most important lessons.
First of all, the storming of cities is required to prepare. The city should be isolated, “key objects” on the outskirts of the village should be seized, residential and industrial areas should be taken under control. Enemy forces must be broken, minefields removed, weapon - collected, and the city must establish full control (for example, in the form of a curfew).
Intelligence plays a critical role in operations in the city. Before the start of the military operation, the Russian military command did not have small-scale maps (1: 25000), access to images of aerial photography and space reconnaissance was limited.
The conceptual attitudes of the Russian command did not correspond to modern reality. L. Grau writes: “The Russians used assault groups and assault troops to act in the city. These formations proved to be ineffective. The best solution was to use the existing divisions, strengthening or strengthening them in accordance with the requirements of the situation.
The Russian experience in operations in Grozny showed a great need for units and subunits in melee weapons, primarily hand grenades, smoke grenades, hand grenade launchers and flamethrowers, as well as special equipment (ropes, hooks, prefabricated ladders, etc.). In the fight against enemy snipers and firing points on the upper floors of buildings, anti-aircraft installations and helicopters proved to be the best, but by no means Tanks. The experience of using floodlights and various pyrotechnic devices to blind the enemy turned out to be effective.
Artillery on the outskirts of the city fired at maximum distances, but within the city, artillery was used more and more effectively for direct fire.
L. Grau considers the RPG-7, a very light, cheap and simple grenade launcher, made in the USSR back in the 1961 year and now produced in different countries of the world as one of the most effective weapon systems used in combat operations in the city.
After analyzing the experience of Angola, Somalia, Afghanistan and Chechnya, an American expert concluded: “The RPG-7 anti-tank grenade launcher is one of the most common and effective weapon systems in modern conflicts. RPG-7 is widely used by regular infantry and partisans, whether for the destruction of American Blackhawk helicopters in Somalia, or Russian tanks in Chechnya, or the strongholds of government troops in Angola. ”
RPG-7, the effective range of which reaches 300-500 m, is an extremely important fire support system for small units operating in the city. Its effectiveness is the higher, the closer the enemy is, that is, in situations where the use of artillery and aviation impossible because of the danger of defeating their own troops. Namely, such a situation is typical for actions within the city.
The lessons of the first Chechen campaign of the Russian army were critically analyzed in the summer of 1999 by the captain of the American army, Chad Roop. In the magazine Armor, he elaborated on the tactics of Chechen militants in December 1994 - February 1995. Following other authors, C. Rup leads shortcomings in the preparation and actions of the Russian troops in that operation: weak intelligence, lack of maps of Grozny necessary for the commanders, underestimation of the enemy. The American expert states: “The Russians expected that poorly trained gangs from among civilians would surrender without a fight. The weapons were not loaded, and the soldiers simply fell asleep in the stern compartments of the armored personnel carriers during the attack. ”
Chechens formed a large number of strike groups of 3-4 people. These groups included a grenade launcher with an RPG-7, a machine gunner, an ammunition carrier, and a sniper. Attack groups were combined into larger militias - combat groups of 15-20 fighters. Each of these Chechen militant groups “accompanied” one Russian convoy of armored vehicles along its entire route through the city. Shock groups were spread over the entire length of the Russian armored columns, and in a convenient place (a narrow street, debris and destruction along the side of the road), the signal at the same time disrupted the first and last vehicles of the column. After this, the organized execution of the Russian column began.
The Russian military command soon realized that it was dangerous to operate in the same order of battle, and began to make movements as part of combined columns, which usually consisted of one tank, two infantry fighting vehicles or armored personnel carriers and an infantry unit to "clean up" buildings along the column’s route.
A sharp critical assessment of the actions of the Russian troops during the first battles for Grozny was given by V. Goulding. In a serious theoretical article in the Parameters magazine, he cites an anecdote (in which, he believes, there is some truth) about how the Russian operation was being prepared at the end of 1994. V. Goulding writes: “Two colonels from the General Staff were given the task to go to the state archive for collection historical information about the armed conflict in the North Caucasus. Despite attempts by archival staff to send them to shelves with important information, it soon became clear that the colonels were quite satisfied with popular general brochures. Therefore, the full-scale collapse of Russian intelligence is not surprising. ”
Another major critic of the Russian combat experience in Chechnya was Major Norman Kuling. According to him, during the first operation in Grozny in 1994, the Russian army acted extremely ineptly. The intelligence of the Russian army underestimated the mobilization potential of Chechen militants in Grozny, with the result that 6 to thousands of Russian soldiers fought 15 thousands of Chechens. World experience shows that offensive military operations in the city can be conducted with the balance of forces 6: 1 in favor of the attackers. The real balance of forces in Grozny at that time was 1: 2,5 in favor of the defenders. Thus, initially the military operation was doomed to failure.
The column of the Maikop brigade did not move in combat, but in marching order. Militants missed the convoy into the narrow city streets and suddenly attacked it. During 72 hours, 80% of the soldiers and officers of the Russian brigade were disabled. The loss of the brigade in the material part reached 20 tanks from 26 and 102 BMP and BTR from 120 available.
According to N. Kuling, during the first military campaign in Chechnya, about 6 thousands of Russian soldiers were killed, 1,2 thousands were missing. The losses of Chechen militants made 2-3 thousands of people killed and 1,3 thousands missing. Losses of civilians reached 80 thousands killed and 240 thousands injured. Most of the victims were recorded during the fighting in Grozny.
Timothy Thomas, a retired US lieutenant colonel and one of the most respected military experts in Russia, fully associates himself with the assessments and positions of previous American authors. In 1999-2000 in several military journals, he published a series of articles examining the lessons of Chechen battles for fighting in the city.
The author identifies five major lessons of the first Chechen campaign of the Russian army:
Know your opponent deeply and deeply. T. Thomas cites some facts testifying to the “complete misunderstanding of the Russians by either the Chechen culture or the specifics of the area of operations”. In particular, the Russian military command not only ignored the “deep feeling of hatred that left the Russian domination of the centenary for Chechen souls”, but also failed to understand the cultural characteristics of the region — in particular, the adat (code of honor based on revenge); tribal organization of the Chechen society.
Do not assume, but prepare, prepare and prepare again. According to T. Thomas, the Russian side on the eve of the conflict made several mistakes based on assumptions, and not on accurate knowledge of the situation. So, the will of the Chechens to fight was clearly underestimated; revalued their own ability to organize and conduct complex operations; Inadequately evaluated the state of combat readiness of Russian troops sent to Chechnya.
Choose the right weapon. Chechen militants were armed with grenade launchers, cell phones, commercial metal control systems, television and the Internet. In their arsenal, Russian troops relied more on the Kalashnikov assault rifle, grenade launchers, flamethrowers (comparable in effectiveness to 152-mm artillery guns). Both sides widely used snipers, which had a serious combat and moral and psychological effect.
To adapt the tactics of action to the situation. The conduct of hostilities in the city forced both parties to creatively choose the tactics of their actions. The Chechens preferred the so-called “defense without defense”, that is, they did not concentrate on holding individual strongholds or defensive positions, but preferred to conduct maneuverable actions and strike in an unexpected place for the Russian troops. Militants have often and successfully resorted to "dressing up" in civilian clothes, which allowed them to escape persecution, disappear, "dissolve" among the civilian population. They widely used mines, land mines and traps, secretly mining Russian roadblocks and locations of Russian units. The tactics of the actions of the Russian troops consisted mainly in the systematic assault of cities — house by house, quarter after quarter, and the subsequent “cleansing” of the occupied areas.
To solve problems of maintaining reliable communication in advance. Bad communication was one of the main shortcomings of the Russian army in Chechnya. In the platoon-battalion link, at the beginning of the conflict, the communication system was extremely poorly organized. This was aggravated by the initial decision not to resort to secret communications equipment, which allowed Chechen militants to be aware of the plans and intentions of the Russian side, and sometimes directly interfere with Russian radio networks. The quality of communication left much to be desired, and communications with portable radio stations were priority targets for Chechen snipers.
According to T. Thomas, the experience of the hostilities in Chechnya is not at all confined to the lessons formulated above. However, the main thing that needs to be remembered by military experts, as the American author notes, is “there are no two operations in the city that are similar to each other”
The operation of the Russian troops to capture the city of Grozny in 2000 was already organized and carried out taking into account the mistakes of the previous campaign of 1994-1995. According to T. Thomas, many past mistakes were eliminated. Thus, instead of a frontal assault on the city by heavy armored vehicles, Russian troops used armored vehicles to surround the city and its complete isolation. Following this, several hundred snipers were sent to the city, who had the task of destroying enemy personnel and conducting reconnaissance. For the first time, Russian troops decentralized the management of their artillery: it began to solve tasks in the interests of the advanced units, hitting the enemy at long distances, which significantly reduced losses among Russian troops. Improved communication system. Moreover, the political leadership of Russia has taken successful steps to win public opinion inside the country; The second round of propaganda war (in contrast to the situation of 1994-1995) turned out to be outside of Moscow. The military command organized and conducted several successful psychological operations on the battlefield. Thus, on the radio, local residents were shown several routes of exit from the besieged city. This took advantage of the militants, who under the guise of local residents tried to escape. However, the Russian military command was expecting such an outcome and sent the militants on the right route to pre-prepared minefields and ambushes.
American military experts are creative in studying the Russian experience of conducting military operations in Chechnya. Putting aside political moments, they compare their armed forces with the Russian in the sense that in future wars and conflicts they will have to face the same problems and difficulties that Russian troops face in the North Caucasus. That is why the Pentagon is carefully analyzing all the successes and failures of the Russian side.
Following the first unsuccessful Russian military campaign, Vincent Goulding concluded: “Of course, the Russians have given many examples of how not to fight in the city at all levels. The commanders of American units cannot indulge in a sense of complacency about the fact that they will never send their soldiers into battle without deciding the command, a clear formulation of combat missions and the necessary maps. The essence of the matter is that the Chechens have shown themselves worthy opponents and won - perhaps not quite “honestly” by our standards - but still won. Their success is a much more important phenomenon to explore than a Russian failure, since this is something that American troops may encounter in a similar situation in the future. Comparing ourselves with Russians is unproductive if it only serves the purpose of satisfying our sense of superiority. Although there is truth in this feeling, the main question is how much better we are than Russians. ”
Despite numerous (objective and subjective) critical assessments of the Russian experience in Chechnya, some positive examples of actions by the Russian army were included in the US charters. The FM instruction 3-06 notes:
"During the conflict 1994-1995. in Chechnya, Russian troops encountered difficulties distinguishing the Chechen rebels from the civilian population of Grozny. In appearance, they could not be distinguished, so Chechen fighters could freely walk around the city, suddenly disappear and just as suddenly appear again, firing from basements, windows or dark alleys. To identify the militants, Russian troops began to check the shoulders of men for bruises and bruises (the result of firing weapons) and their forearms in search of tan or burns (the result of hitting cartridges). They carefully examined and sniffed the suspects' clothes for gunpowder remnants. To identify Chechen artillerymen, Russian soldiers checked the folds and cuffs of clothing sleeves in search of oil stains from shells and mines. They forced Chechens to turn out their pockets, checking them for the presence of silver-lead plaque - the result of storage in the pockets of ammunition in the placer. Grenade throwers and Chechen mortar gunners were identified by Russian soldiers on the presence of cotton rags on their clothes for cleaning weapons. The command staff of the US Army needs the development of such ingenious methods of identifying threats. ”
The experience of the actions of the American armed forces in Iraq during and after the military operation against Saddam Hussein showed that the US military command tried to take into account the positive and negative experience of the Russian troops in Chechnya to the maximum.
An excerpt from the book I.Popova