Commentary from “Echoes of Chechnya”

Thoughtful commentary was provided by a Russian blogger known as Ironbound Concepts. It was indeed thought provoking and I felt it required an in-depth response and to some degree a clarification. His commentary:

Well, very reasonable writing. I’ll try to argue some points – not in reverse but in detail.

3-b – superior use is not equal to superior understanding. In army any decision made comes from high to low level. So, it takes a long way, and it takes a long time. Any commander (battalion or above) not enought confident in comms or not enought willing to properly fulfil his duties can completely kill comms. So, insurgents driven with a real intent to achieve success could find comms specialist and utilize his knowledge.

4-c – There was SIGINT in those wars, but as above, confidence needed to utilise gathered data. Here’s link to view with google-translate: http://www.radioscanner.ru/forum/topic37949.html / https://translate.google.com/translate?sl=ru&tl=en&js=y&prev=_t&hl=ru&ie=UTF-8&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.radioscanner.ru%2Fforum%2Ftopic37949.html&edit-text=&act=url

7-a – Soviet army prepared to battle big wars (read – against NATO), and had jamming equipment on lowband mostly. Insurgents used commercial VHF radios (you tell it in 7-d-ii). It’s very common, devil in details.

7-b – again i can’t agree with better understanding. It’s just about using intel as fact and not ignoring intel data. To say, homebrew data mining on any level – you barely know this concept as “every soldier as sensor”.

And my response:

A healthy rebuttal is always nice. I understand you are a Russian National, and I thank you deeply for visiting my blog. I hope you find it informative, as I often find most viewpoints from across the Bering most interesting and carefully considered. I have a healthy knowledge of Soviet Doctrine, based upon academic study, proffesional requirement, and respect for the utilitarian equipment designs and pragmatic school of thought. All of this being said, the post and assesment is simply that; an assesment, and a neutral one at that. An AAR to learn and further aid the Liberty Movement in the US. Several parallels can be drawn between the 90s decade in the Caucasus, and to ignore them would be doing a disservice unto ourselves and our progeny. This being said, my response to your points:
-Superior use requires superior understanding to properly implement. This principle applies to anything; superior implementation requires first understanding the most effective way to implement. Conventional unit commanders of any Army relies upon specialized staff, so should the signal officer find himself deficient it’s the Unit Commander’s duty to rectify this fault. In addition, military communications are, by a rule, fairly rigid for a number of reasons mostly stemming from interoperability requirements. This causes inflexibility, and subsequent “seams and gaps” to exploit. This is what occurred, and what was noted.

-As for SIGINT, you’ve pointed out one of the reasons they failed(at first). Rigid doctrine did not allow for freedom of movement at the small-unit level, and thus, another seam and gap was exploited. Additionally, any traffic can be intercepted- numbers stations, for example- but proper deciphering is another animal. As noted, the Chechen nationalists understood Russian radio procedures based on prior knowledge; no the other way around. They used this to their advantage and it worked in the first phase of the war.
-I am quite aware of what the Soviet conventional forces were equipped to do, all the way down to why the heaviest armor of the BTR and BMP were placed in the front and fuel tanks in the rear; why a unit Headquarters is referred to as “The Center”; the real reason why the VDV wears a Blue Beret, why Anatoly Lebed is a legend, and finally, that they set a very distinct pattern in combined arms manuever all the way up to Operation Magistral in Afghanistan. Dzhokar Dudayev knew too, hence why he organized his forces in the manner he did. Again, just as with any conventional force, they had the equipment they were given to fight with, which had drawbacks but also were not designed for unconventional school of thought. Seams and gaps exploited, yet again.

-Developing a quality Intelligence product and not ignoring the data is indeed “better understanding”. As with my first point, any tool not properly utilized is a tool misunderstood. Data mining of patrol-level soldiers, what you’ve referred to as “every soldier a sensor” is something actually well understood in many circles and higher echelon units in the US Army, but only after severe lessons learned in Iraq, similar in nature to the first Chechen conflict. In fact, both were quelled in a similar manner, with Putin’s strategy of first small unit reform, then use of small teams of Infantry to cut supply routes and work from Patrol Bases being closely mirrored in GEN Petraeus’ counterinsurgent strategy. It did indeed work(I was there for both phases of it- the reduction in the number of times I was shot at was living proof).

Understand also that this is no rebuke of Russian forces, in the second conflict they performed strikingly more effective due to the aforementioned reforms at the small unit level. When freed to do what they are taught, disciplined small teams work very, very well. (I know, it’s what I did and taught others to do.) Their success also complimented a large rift that grew between the Chechen Nationalists, the International Brigade that had worn out it’s welcome from co-opting the movement, and the more radical home grown elements. These issues, coupled also with a growing criminal underground merely concerned with profit, hastened a political solution which is still in place today. The whole affair is a very recent and striking example of what a “SHTF” incident will actually look like, from an economic collapse, occupation, guerilla war, hijacking, the criminal underground, elements resorting to terror, and two ideologically opposed sides fighting a Total War. It serves as an objective view to learn from and attempt to not make the same mistakes.

Again, I thank you for reading and taking the time to comment. I truly appreciate it and wish you a blessed day.

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