Hard Lessons

The Russian generals rely on blunt force to stave off casualties. But a rebel ambush in Grozny proves they have more to learn

Russia's generals have learned some hard lessons. After the blood-soaked debacle of the last attempt to subdue Chechnya during 1994-1996, war gamers went back to the doctrine of the ferocious Russian who first conquered the Caucasus, 19th century general Alexei Yermolov: use siege warfare rather than frontal assault. Make slow advances under cover of heavy guns and bombardment. Avoid close encounters with a lightly armed but fearsome enemy. Applying these principles in their current campaign, which began in late September, Moscow's generals aimed to grind down the rebel force until the remnants would flee back into the mountains and then keep...

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