Echoes of Chechnya



Echoes of Chechnya- SIGNAL Magazine

Why do I seem to reference Chechnya so often?

The Chechen experience, much like the Spanish Civil War, was and is a preview of warfare to come. The article implanted in the link is 15 years old, and yet, could easily be written about Ukraine, Syria, Libya, Iraq, Nigeria, or anywhere else on the planet MAJ H. John Poole’s 4th Generation Warfare is being waged.

The problem is the fact that we don’t seem to learn from the past- the rabid beast is attempting to explain to us how he should be treated, and yet, we seem to be saving the bullet for ourselves.

The troubles in the Caucasus were very much a testing bed on many dimensions. First and foremost, it must be understood that two things were happening concurrent to each other- that a proxy war was continuing to be waged against the Russians by way of the Saudis(and others), and future Jihadis were learning that their war could not only be waged in a leading nation, but learning how to do it with brutal effect. The new generation, much more concerned with exporting global jihad than the Afghans a decade before, learned how to not just fight superior combined arms forces but set up cadre for replication abroad.

Everything that happened in Chechnya, will indeed happen again. Study Beslan then compare with Mumbai, then Paris, and all the subsequent attacks that will occur.

This is not the focus of the article, rather it serves to give a certain perspective. Removing the justified veil of bias towards anything jihadist, many lessons can be gleaned to benefit the forces of good. What they did, right and wrong, can serve as a great teacher to prevent the mistakes of the past and make our road to victory just a bit easier.

Why is this important?

Two important notes can be gathered from careful study:

  1. Use their hard lessons as a primer.
  2. Learn to use their patterns against them.

Chechnya in its genesis was a semi-autonomous Islamic region, repressed first by the Tsars then by the Marxists, with close to 100% of their military aged males conscripted into the Soviet armed forces. Post collapse, most defected with the anticipation of creating a breakaway state. They tried, at least. Although Islamic in name, much like their central European cousins, the religion was more a label of cultural identity than a rigidly followed dogma. This would cause a great rift later on.

To their asset, the early guerilla forces largely had previous military discipline, and many had recent combat experience in Afghanistan. (Does this sound familiar?) They understood Light Infantry Warfare; and were more effective than the poorly equipped and fragmented former Soviet forces. In the beginning at least, they had the right idea.

Soon, after the first few victories including the legendary defense of Grozny, a rift developed between the Nationalists and the rising numbers of Volunteer Jihadists coming from abroad. Muslims were coming from all over, infused with Wahabbi-based fatalistic desires that only Sunni Islam can infuse. Led by Ibn al-Khattab, the presence of outsiders alienated the majority of the natives. The Jihadis were overtaking the Nationalists and the war was hijacked to foment a larger Jihad. In doing so, it caused a rift between the Chechen locals and the Jihadis, pushing the Chechens towards cooperation with the Russian Federation and isolating the more radical of the hometown heroes. Aqil Collins graphically illustrates this in his book, My Jihad, and gives a glimpse of exactly where a lot of this mindset originated.


Thus, Beslan. Dubrovka. Snipers in Iraq and Afghanistan. Exported IED/VBIED makers. ISIS or DAESH, whichever you prefer. All products of the roots founded in Chechnya. This guy, a Georgian ethnic Chechen, Omar al-Sishani, is the military commander of ISIS:


Don’t forget we trained him in Georgia to “bolster” their Special Forces just prior to the Russian invasion of Georgia. If you don’t know, now you know. Does that have anything to do with his current role? Well, he seems to be putting his training to good use.

Their war is ongoing and will not stop; ISIS is it’s current manifestation, and a culmination of several missteps(whether on purpose or not is up to the reader to decide, and not for I to debate) and the war has indeed spilled into Europe as well as here at home. They may be someone’s proxy but make no mistake they are also very much their own animal. Might as well learn a thing or two before going toe to toe with something so many don’t understand. Ditto for asymmetric warfare against an occupying force.

Critical Lessons from the two conflicts in Chechnya

  1. Chechens knew their enemy, right down to their likely routes. The Russian Army set a pattern that did not change from Berlin onwards.
  2. Utilizing the Human Terrain advantage, the Chechens baited the superior Russians into brute force tactics and alienated the population they wished to subdue. During the Nationalist phase, this galvanized the population.
  3. Chechens reacted to change far greater than the Russian Army.
    1. Faster flow of information
    2. Superior understanding of communications methods
    3. Better understanding of Tactical Terrain Analysis
  4. Russians did not understand Chechen culture.
    1. Social Barriers and no attempt to contact local leaders were a serious detriment to Russia.
    2. There was little respect for the Chechens as a people.
    3. The Russians had no understanding of local dialect, which led to serious Communications Intelligence failures.
  5. Ill discipline among the Russian Army caused many well-publicized war crimes.
    1. Local media control by the Chechens was critical in influencing the populace.
  6. During the First Chechen War, Russian Army Units were badly fragmented and under supplied.
  7. Chechens had superior means of communication.
    1. As stated in 3-2 and 4-3, Chechens exploited large seams and gaps in Russian capability. Hence why several who know harp on communications.
    2. Chechens, through superior methods of COMINT and understanding of Russian Army methods, often confused forces through erroneous traffic.
    3. Chechens knew each others’ voices over the radio and used local slang and dialect. (Local, Local, Local…ring any bells?)
    4. Chechens equipped women and children with radios to be used as spotters.
      1. These reported to a central relay network that changed position regularly.
      2. The radios were commercial/off the shelf sets bought from outside the region. (Every movement has outside help from somewhere.)
      3. Had they had the ability, many have stated that they would’ve equipped everyone with a radio. (on our end, we can do that.)

All of these factors, at least initially, led to a series of great successes. Until it’s hijacking by outside influences, it served as a model of how an insurgency can work. It failed only after the radical elements alienated the native population and overstayed their welcome; fast forward 15 years, and they’ve moved on to bigger and better.

DAESH is here, in Europe and the US. Not much you as the individual can do about that. Hate to say it, but it’s more of a first responder’s problem. Common sense also states to what ends they’ll likely be used. Not much you can do now about that. On our end, it’s important to lose the Walter Mitty notions and start studying and training for what worked. It’s going to be quite different from what you may know, and it’s certainly no Hollywood affair for all the Benny Martin wanna-bes. The Russian Army burned, thermobaric bombed, gassed, and raped their way across the region. There were no “safe spaces” or regard for anyone or anything. The Chechens are also a very hard boiled people, born of the Caucasus Mountains not unlike many growing up in the poverty of the Appalachians and Foothills here. This is something youthful suburban dwellers have little understanding of.

Understand also the inherent brutality of the occupying forces attempting to “subdue” the native population; we’ll be faced with this same issue. This is not an exclusive “Russian cultural issue” as so many academics are quick to dismiss. Do not fall into the fallacy of thought that the Army of today will be the same Army tomorrow. They will  not hesitate to wipe us out by the most heinous means possible. Your opposition already hates you and everything you are. Do not forget.



24 thoughts on “Echoes of Chechnya

  1. Pingback: Brushbeater: Lessons From Chechnya | Western Rifle Shooters Association

    1. First, thanks for the link to the dissertation. While I have not yet read it(I need some coffee first this morning), I’m familiar with the material. If interested, find a copy of both The Bear Went Over the Mountain and The Other Side of the Mountain, both vignettes of Afghanistan. LTC Lester Grau thoroughly researched and wrote both with first hand accounts of the men who lead each mission. He had significant input in the companion work Fangs of the Lone Wolf by Dodge Billingsly, a similarly structured book about operations in Chechnya. Also, Yousef Bodansky’s work Chechen Jihad is another excellent resource.

      In short, it’s important to analyze the the two phases of the conflict(Nationalist vs. Jihadist Terrorist) and understand exactly what happened and why. In my observations and experience, it’s the closest to understanding exactly what lies ahead for us(and how to win) as well as what the terror modus operandi will be once the European Invasion comes to a head.

      1. Welcome. I hope you get some good things from it. Your gonna need a big pot of coffee.

        Gonna be some rapid steep learning curves. No question rude and brutally ugly.
        Im trying to fully grasp and appreciate the reality of the imperatives, also understand your imperatives behind conveying these unknowns, and how vital they are, and your motives for wanting to enlighten others. Critical things here. You have one reader here who is all ears.
        Those look like very important works you recommended. Should be able to scrounge them up.

        This is a fictional work: “Victoria”,
        Takes place in the near future in New England and a possible future for the country as a whole. But I think what is important about this yarn is it possesses many of the human elements of war of cultural extermination in regards to the thinking, faith, indomitable will, cause and virtue, in how to win. Mind set and beliefs. So much always comes back to hearts and minds.

        I’m getting the drift of your point about two phases of the Chechen conflict, many of the possible parallels. I’ve considered it and have a vague feel for how pertinent it is. Its complex for sure, so many variables. Context and culture and western Judean/Christian mores verses cultural marxism verses the amerikan nomenklaturer verses the leviathan verses jihad and its western enablers. And how does the useful dupes and corporate slave class fit in? The liberty movement is in for a tough time. Gonna get it ass handed to it before, if it coalesces into a viable fighting element. And then there is leaderless resistance. A wild card right there. Cant ignore the criminal element either. Its a myriad of dynamics, what distills out of this soup is hard to define or even predict. But one things for certain if your going to survive and win understanding it all best as possible and how to anticipate, and fight will make all the difference to winning.
        There is another element to all this too, the jihadis in the US are proxies. Some are foreign, but there is a growing indigenous jhadi cadre, and how its structure is created to fit into the conflict. That is a kind of different nationalism dynamic right there right? Is that a component of the Chechen Nationalist vs. Jihadist Terrorist your talking about here?

      2. A lot to digest, brother.

        In attempting to answer without muddying the waters further, replace Islam in the Caucasus with Christianity, all of which attempting to break free of the atheist marxist dominated society. Your aim is your own nation, based on shared cultural identity. I think that will answer a number of questions.

        Now imagine that outsiders begin to show up, with a more militant and fatalistic attitude, claiming to fight on your behalf. Some locals side with them, as happens in any movement. Within a few years however, rifts develop between personalities, trust erodes and not everyone stays on the same sheet of music. The outsiders have other goals, and the locals become weary rather quickly of bearing the burden of war. They begin to ouster the insurgent; he’s worn out his welcome. Thus, the new outlaws find themselves without a nation behind them, and resort to small scale/ high payoff attacks( what terrorism actually is) which drive the rift even wider.

        That’s what happened, and still happens. That dynamic should alone serve as a cautionary tale.

        As far as proxies are concerned, almost always it’s a movement who’s leaders get into bed with a sponsor, to do the sponsor’s bidding for some reward. Sunnis do this, but do not forget that the Russians do this quite well too. Aside from this, the proxies themselves are very much their own people, and have their own aims. The used are also the users.

        As far as the Nationalist element is concerned, it’s entirely dependent upon shared cultural identity. All Sunnis who follow that dogma are complicit with the aims of DAESH, that’s a fact. All Shias who follow their dogma believe in the resurrection of the Twelfth Imam in Qum, only to be risen after purifying al-Quds(Jerusalem) with fire. This allows us to understand why they so desire a nuclear weapon.

        All of the other elements, including criminal, are present everywhere and in every movement. It’s human nature. But the Chechen example is very much an important one to understand, because in my studies it’s perhaps the closest in relevance to what the coming balkanization may look like.

        Thanks for the link on Victoria, I’ll have to read that.

  2. 55six

    I have said for many years that those who do not understand that today’s military WILL FOLLOW ORDERS and not really concern themselves with rights and the Constitution are doomed to find out the hard way. I realize that there are exceptions, but the body at large will just do what they are told by the new leaders installed over the past few years. The old guard is gone.

    Excellent assessment BB, keep the great writing coming.

    1. Indeed they shall. I haven’t been out long personally, but the last couple of years in between deployments it became pretty visible what was happening. There’s a reason so many previous restrictions are being removed, and it’s not so that people’s “feelings are respected”. The erosion of acceptable personnel standards breeds erosion of critical thought and moral objection; thus the core of what’s illegal, unethical, or immoral orders can no longer be decided.

      Fortunately, there’s a large silver lining with this. One of the underlying messages of the post was that what happened in 92-97 Chechnya will likely be a similar picture in breakaway pockets of the US, along with the same warnings of getting your movement co-opted by outsiders with little regard for the locals’ desires, as happened in 95-Present Chechnya. The Army will break down in a similar manner as the post-Glasnost Soviets (and some friends still in say it already is) resulting in many of the same technical errors of the Russians. Their skill will falter no matter how great their leaders tell them they are. Make no mistake however, this does not negate the heavy cost in human life from our side as well. Hence, the importance of losing the notions of “bugout bags”, “survival trinkets” and other silly tripe that permeates the more militant-conservative conversations. Everyone needs to understand that they hate you, will do everything in their power to destroy you, and have been for a long time at the subliminal level.

      Communications were emphasised both in my article and the link, due to both it’s great importance and more importantly how effective it can become when done right. It’s a tough skill to learn, and requires constant practice, but properly implemented is the most effective weapon a Army can field.

      It’s important to study other peoples…and learn as history is circular.

      1. Really want you to understand I appreciate your thoughts and insights. You have a lot to say worth listening to and taking further.
        Thank you.
        Looking forward to the future.
        Lets win!

  3. Pingback: Brushbeater: Lessons From Chechnya | The Defensive Training Group

  4. Pingback: Echoes of Chechnya | Rifleman III Journal

  5. Well, very reasonable writing. I’ll try to arque 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: /

    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”.

    1. 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 occured, 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 Hedquarters is reffered 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 aformentioned 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 stiking example of what a “SHTF” incident will actually look like, from an economic collapse, occupation, guerrilla 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.

      1. Thank you for the warm welcome 🙂

        Just trying to explain “poor understanding but productive use” approach. One can make efforts and get results, with no deep theory, no holistic (solid) understanding, no system methodology. Needless to say, these results would be much more superb with theory, methodology and so on, but they are great then compared with completely no effort and no result. So to speak, “housewife intelligence is better than no intelligence at all”.

        My interest in SIGINT awakened due to SHTF considerations too 🙂 Some troubles assumed here in Russia. In this connection, have you interested in ukrainian conflict, specifically comms aspect? Interesting article:
        As far as i know, both sides in conflict mostly use baofengs as volunteers gifts – at least, on team-platoon-company levels.

        Best regards!

  6. You’re very welcome. And certainly understand your angle on it. For now, the best that can be done by all parties is to make ourselves the absolute best we can at as much as we can, including examining every avenue of approach.

    You’re absolutely right on the money with the “housewife intelligence” remark, at you’d be surprised just how much truth there is in that.

    I have followed the Ukrainian conflict since it was in it’s genesis as a “street protest” with all of the same earmarks of the “protests” of the Arab Spring. On the commo front, from the videos I’ve seen it seems the little Baofengs get quite a workout.

    Thanks for reading, and might I add that your blog is most interesting as well. Thanks again, and feel free to contact me anytime brother.

  7. Yes, an Appeal To Heaven is most appropriate. As is winning, so lets do so.

    Been thinking about everything you have wrote here about Chechnya. Had an epiphany of sorts. Maybe i’m going out on a skinny limb on something, but I’m going to walk it cause I think it bears consideration. It involves asymmetrical psychological warfare for the purpose of manipulating Americans who can or would rise up against those working to destroy our values and principles of Christianity and liberty.
    If you don’t care bear with me while I try to put my fleeting insights into a brief comment.
    It involves another kind of “Chechen” conundrum taking place here right now.
    Like I said I’m going out on a limb, (trolls welcome to attack).
    I smell a rotten fish, where there is a definite pattern to all the “events” taking place in our country. I want to predicate that last comment on another observation, where this we as a nation of people, and I’m talking flyover nation people, who for all our warts and foibles, as a cultural rule we don’t commit the kind of violence atrocities we witness for the last couple of decades. Sure there are wild cards and crazed maniacs, thats part of humanity, I’m talking about the seeming convenient crisis which assault every facet of our culture. They are too pat, they fit to well into the politics and narratives of authority of the state and in particular the accumulation of power and control. But even more insidiously they are crisis with a much more insidious attribute, they all end up, from Waco to San Bernardino, to exemplify the appearance of force and violence of the state. In every instance, the state always uses violence and gets the perpetrators.
    Like I contend, there is a under taste of contrivance in common with these crisis’s as a means, something just isn’t right about them. Be that as it may, if I’m even a tiny bit close to the truth, I also believe there is another intent involved in these “events”, and it is pretty simple and a credible reason, to mentally disarm America. It is the use of fear for making enough American’s afraid of standing up to those running things. Of course there are a myriad of other uses for these “events” and they cover every aspect of undermining Christian values and freedoms of this great nation, but the greatest reason is about guns. Who has them, who doesn’t, who controls guns, and who is controlled by them. And greatest of all keeping those who are not afraid and has guns from rebelling against those who desire to control us all.
    When you see every day, these violent events so untoward the America of flyover nation, and you see these supposed perpetrators portrayed as apprehended in the most violent overwhelming force imaginable in breathless living fashion, along with the interminable efforts of disarmament by the political class of cultural marxism along with all the other cultural revolution claptrap, and everything is directed at belittling and pogrom of flyover nation, in a fashion it is an America Chechnya psyops operation without the shooting between all involved, yet.

    I know that all seems kind of disjointed, but I hope my point comes across.

    1. From what is known about each incident, mass shooting or otherwise, comes an attempt at a monopoly on control of the people. Government grows with each cry for answers to why.

      As for psychological operations and such, I deal with what’s known. Perhaps it’s all a conspiracy, who knows, but at the end of the day, concrete fact is what will indeed win in the end. It’s not what you know, it’s what you can prove.

  8. I havent forgotten the lessons I’m learning about Chechnya and beginning to apply to the present here at home, it is most pertinent and relative to the events in Oregon if I grok the intent of your posting about recent Chechen history. The many factions of self declared militia’s and their stated reactions and intent raises a lot of questions. Not to mention the actions of the state itself.

    1. Yeah…I wrote it for a reason. As I stated, many parallels can be drawn, both good and bad. Redoubters, Southerners, Mountain Men, etc. should take heed; the train is picking up steam.

  9. Pingback: Code tables using for the ignorant stupid lazy people | Ironbound Concepts

Comments are closed.