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SECTION I - CURRENT INTELLIGENCE
CHECHNYA - THE BATTLE OF GROZNYY -- - - Russian generals are re-learning the lessons of their first effort (in 1995) to take Groznyy, the capital of Chechnya. The following observations provide a better overview of the situation and the problem than many other reports available in the public media, most of which contain slants that decrease credibility. It is uncertain how many times the Russians will need to re-learn the lessons, but by the same token, some of these observations have validity for fighting local wars by other than Russians.
1. The general's found that you need to culturally orient your forces so 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 (the Chechens) either became active fighters or began to support the active fighters. Russians also admit they underestimated the importance of religion (Islam) on the conflict.
2. Chechens were brutish, especially with prisoners. The battle degenerated quickly to one of "no quarter asked, none given." Russian wounded and dead were hung upside down in windows of Chechen positions. Russians had to shoot at the bodies to engage the Chechens. Russian prisoners were decapitated and at night their 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 were routinely booby-trapped.
The 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 Chechen 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. The Russians found that mine and booby-trap- awareness discipline was hard to maintain.
3. You need some way of sorting out combatants from non-combatants. The days of uniformed and organized units are past - soldiers and civilians meld together . To find the combatants, Russians had to resort to searching the pockets of civilians and examining them for shoulder bruises and flashburns, and to sniffing them for the smell of gunpowder and gun oil. Trained sniffer dogs were used, but were not always effective. Nevertheless, dogs probably are the best way to determine if a person has been using explosives or firing a weapon recently.
4. Both the physical and mental health of the Russian units began to decline almost immediately upon initiation of high intensity combat. In less than a month, almost 20% of the Russian soldiers were suffering from viral hepatitis (very serious, very debilitating, slow recovery). Most had chronic diarrhea and upper respiratory infections that turned to pneumonia easily. This was blamed on the breakdown of logistical support that resulted in units having to drink contaminated water. In many instances unit sanitary discipline broke down almost completely.
The psychological impact of high intensity urban combat is so intense that units must maintain a large reserve that will allow them to rotate units in and 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. (NOTE - a lesson from the first world war!)
5. Training and discipline are paramount. You can accomplish nothing without them. If necessary, you need to do the training in the combat zone. Discipline must be demanded. Once it begins to slip, the results are disastrous.
6. The Russians were surprised and embarrassed at the degree to which the Chechens exploited the use of cell phones, Motorola radios, improvised TV stations, lightweight 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.
7. The proliferation of rocket propelled grenade (RPG) launchers surprised them, as well as 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 with little or no attempt made to aim. They were sometimes fired in very disciplined volleys and were the weapon of choice for the Chechens, along with the sniper rifle. Not only were the Russians faced with well-trained, well equipped Chechen military snipers, there were also large numbers of designated marksmen who were very good shots using standard military rifles. These were very hard to deal with and usually required massive firepower to overcome.
8. As expected, the Russians rediscovered the need for large numbers of well-trained infantrymen. They said that some tasks, such as conducting logpack operations, could only be conducted by infantrymen, but that many of the poorly trained draftee soldiers and units, including logistics troops, were hopelessly inept at basic military skills, such as perimeter defense, establishing security overwatch, etc. and thereby fell easy prey to the Chechens.
9. They found that boundaries between units were still tactical weak points, but that it wasn't just horizontal boundaries they had to worry about. In Grozny, in some cases, the Chechens held the third floor and above, 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 ceilings, including the ones below that section of the building still occupied by Russians. Entire battles were fought through floors, ceilings, and walls without visual contact.
10. The most common response by the Chechens to the increasingly powerful Russian indirect and aerial firepower was" hugging" a Russian unit. If the hugging tactics caused the Russians to cease artillery and air fires, it became a man-to-man fight and the Chechens were well equipped to fight it. If they didn't cease the supporting fires, the Russian units suffered just as much as the Chechen fighters did, sometimes even more, and the morale effect was much worse on the Russians.
11. Chechens developed tactics to deal with tanks and BMPs. They assigned groups of RPG gunners to fire volleys at the lead and trail vehicles. Once they were destroyed, the others were picked off, one-by-one. The Russian forces lost 20 of 26 tanks, 102 of 120 BMPs, and 6 of 6 ZSU-23s in the first three days of fighting in Grozny. Chechens chose firing positions high enough or low enough stay out of the fields of fire of the tank and BMP weapons. Russian conscript infantry simply refused to dismount and often died in their BMP without ever firing a shot. Russian elite infantry did much better, but didn't coordinate well with armored vehicles initially.
12. The Russians were satisfied with the combat performance of most of their infantry weapons. The T-72 tank, however, was dead meat. Too vulnerable, too awkward, not agile, no visibility, poor weapons coverage at close ranges.
The Russians removed them from the battle and replaced them with smaller numbers of older tanks and more self-propelled artillery, more ADA weapons, and more BMPs. Precision guided weapons and UAVs were very useful. There was some need for non-lethal weapons, but mostly riot gas and tranquilizer gas, not stuff like sticky foam. The Russian equivalent of the M202 Flash flame projector and the Mk 19 grenade launcher were very useful weapons. Ultimately, a strong combined arms team and flexible command and control meant more than the individual weapons used by each side. (courtesy Ed Milligan) (16 Jan 2000) (Jonkers)
NEW VICE CHAIR OF SENATE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE. Sen Richard Bryan (D-NV) will take over as vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee for the coming year. Bryan replaces Sen Bob Kerrey (D-NE) who is leaving the committee because his eight-year term on the panel has ended. Bryan, who has been a long-standing member of the Senate intelligence panel, will only serve one year as vice chairman because he is not seeking reelection to the Senate. Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota will make the decision on which senator will fill the vacancy left by Kerrey's departure from the Democratic side of the Intelligence Committee.http://abcnews.go.com/wire/Politics/reuters20000110_3914.html ( (10 Jan 00) (Macartney)
NEW NATIONAL NUCLEAR SECURITY ADMINISTRATION -- Energy Department's Secretary Bill Richardson sent his plan for a new, semi-autonomous agency to run DOE's nuclear weapons programs to Congress on January 7th, 2000. The new agency is to be autonomous, but the key positions will be dual-hatted. An Under Secretary of Energy will also serve as the Director of the new National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). The recently appointed DOE Director of the Office of Security and Emergency Operations, General (ret) Eugene E. Habiger, will also be NSSA's Chief of Defense Nuclear Security. In addition, the current DOE Director of Counterintelligence, Edward J. Curran (formerly FBI), will also serve concurrently as the NNSA Chief of Defense Nuclear Counterintelligence. It is transparently clear that the Secretary's plan resembles a shell game. Rep. William Thornberry (R/Tex) said that Richardson's plan falls short because it attempts " to shoehorn the (DOE) bureaucracy into the NSSA management structure. . . . this approach runs counter to the spirit and intent of the law." It is also true, however, that reorganization, a favorite Washington sport, does not protect against political leadership failures, shortcomings and laxity -- often cited as the root causes for the security problems at the Labs in recent years. The current DOE leadership has made significant corrections. (based on Wash Post 15Jan 00, p. A15, Walter Pincus) (Jonkers)
CHINA CONTINUING TO SUPPLY NORTH KOREA MISSILE PROGRAM. China is continuing to supply materials for North Korea's long-range missile program despite promises that it would tighten exports of such technology. The latest shipment was arranged by China just two weeks ago. A Pentagon intelligence report sent to Clinton administration policy-makers in late December stated that NSA uncovered the transfer. http://www.washtimes.com/world/news3-20000106.htm (Macartney)
COMMERCIAL SATELLITE IMAGERY OF NORTH KOREA MISSILE SITE. The first 1-meter images of a secretive North Korean missile base, taken by a commercial satellite and released last week, show a small rural site that analysts clashed over yesterday as to whether it is perilously menacing or surprisingly primitive. The most noteworthy features, said the Federation of American Scientists, a private group in Washington, were those missing: the rail links, paved roads, fuel tanks and staff housing needed to support a major program for long-range missiles. http://www.nytimes.com/library/world/asia/011100nkorea-missle.html http://www.nytimes.com/library/world/asia/011100nkorea-missile.1.GIF.html http://www.fas.org/nuke/guide/dprk/facility/nodong.htm (11 Jan00) (Macartney)
SECTION II - CONTEXT AND PRECEDENT
INTELLIGENCE IS NOT A CRYSTAL BALL - Former National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft authoritatively articulated the uses of intelligence "estimates of the future" by top national decisionmakers. In a letter to the editor he took on Melvin Goodman, who had relieved himself of an article entitled "Who is the CIA Fooling? Only itself," postulating that CIA failed because it did not predict the collapse of the Soviet Union. Wrote Scowcroft: "Did the CIA tell President Bush on inauguration day that on December 25, 1991, the Soviet Union was going to disappear? No. And if it had? The policymakers would have treated it as nothing more than an informed "guess," perhaps better than many, but nevertheless a guess. More importantly, policy choices themselves, along with a myriad of other variables, modify the future, and therefore the intelligence community's "estimates" of future events. . .. The most difficult task the foreign affairs policymaker faces is making decisions in an environment of ambiguity and inadequate information. The role of intelligence is to narrow the range of uncertainty within which a decision must be made. What really matters is not how well the intelligence community predicts particular events but its ability to spot, track and interpret trends and patterns.
A principal policy goal of the Bush administration in the last days of the Cold War was to encourage liberalization in the Soviet Union, and especially in Eastern Europe, but at a rate that would not result in a crackdown by Soviet security forces. Our problem was, we did not know what rate of movement was sustainable. The CIA analysis of the situation helped to keep our policy within sustainable bounds. Had there been an "intelligence failure" in this case, we might still have a hostile Soviet bloc facing us."
NOTE: Brent Scowcroft participated in the superb Symposium on Cold War Intelligence conducted by CIA's Center for Intelligence Studies and the (President George) Bush School of Government at Texas A&M in November '99, in which the quality of Intelligence Community analyses were discussed in depth and at length. This letter succinctly places intelligence (or the CIA) in context of top level decisionmaking. (Brent Scowcroft, Wash Post 12 Jan00, p. A18) (Jonkers)
MODERNIZING THE CIA. In his Jan 10 on-line column, Washington Post reporter Vernon Loeb reports on DCI George Tenet's plans for "changing" (Tenet rejects the word "reform") the CIA. Excerpts: In the DO .... Tenet is opening new stations and bases overseas, expanding its cadre of operations officers by 30 percent over the next seven years, and emphasizing exotic new technologies to intercept data. -- including -- human intelligence stealing secrets and signals intelligence -- - merging data streams to form an entirely new discipline. To wit: Cold War spies recruited foreign military officers and picked up stolen documents at pre-arranged dead drops; information age spies recruit systems administrators and use the passwords they furnish to rummage through computer data bases without a trace. ....
As for the DI, which reformers say is resistant to openly available data and all sorts of overt expertise, Tenet is adding analysts in key areas and expanding training, language instruction and travel in an attempt to build analytic depth. The notion voiced by reformers that CIA analysts are obsessed with secrets at the expense of open sources simply doesn't reflect what's happening inside the directorate, said Tenet.
The entire operation, he said, is migrating to the World Wide Web, analysts now have data mining tools unavailable in the private sector and further technology is being developed so that analysts will be able to sift through 10 times as much data as analysts do now. ..... and all CIA intelligence estimates now include input from academics and other outsider experts, a sea change in the agency's analytic process. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A18519-2000Jan7.html (Wash Post 7 Jan 00) Macartney)
POLITICIZED INTELLIGENCE? In an op-ed piece titled, "The Strange Case of Russia, Big Oil and the CIA," Washington Post columnist (and spy novelist) David Ignatius says that the CIA may have gotten too involved in a recent policy dispute involving the State Dept's squelching of a $500 million Ex-Im Bank loan guaranty to a Russian Oil Company, Tyumen Oil, which was locked in a bitter dispute with BP Amoco and George Soros. This was and is a very complex matter. http://washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/politics/columns/ignatiusdavid/ (Jan 00) (Macartney)
SECTION III -- NEW BOOKS
AT COLD WAR'S END: US INTELLIGENCE ON THE SOVIET UNION AND EASTERN EUROPE, 1989-1991, Benjamin B. Fisher, ed. CIA, 1999, ISBN 1-929667-02-7. This is a compendium of national intelligence estimates and assessments divided into four topic areas, starting with NIE's covering the political crisis in the USSR, focused on Gorbachev and the perils of Perestroika; continuing with NIE's addressing the situation in Eastern Europe and the end of empire; and followed by NIE's on "new thinking" in Soviet foreign policy, and on the military balance of conventional forces in Europe. The editor, Ben Fisher, wrote a masterly Foreword that is worth the price of admission. It is an outstanding summary capturing a set of momentous and convoluted - almost unexplainable - events. This is a basic source document -- a contribution to knowledge by CIA's Center for the Study of Intelligence. Highly recommended, especially for students of international politics. Copies are available from GPO email@example.com, or NTIS firstname.lastname@example.org, and the text can also be found on CIA's website www.cia.gov.csi. (Jonkers)
THE CIA'S BLACK OPS: COVERT ACTION, FOREIGN POLICY AND DEMOCRACY, by John Jacob Nutter, PhD, Prometheus Books, Amherst NY, 2000, ISBN 1-57392-742-2. The fundamental underlying perspective of this book is the notion that covert action is inimical to democracy, as indeed, in an ideal academic dream world, it unarguably is. This perspective inevitably leads to a focus on - the "numerous fiascoes" of covert action. In the end, however, amidst qualifiers and regrets, the author reaches the reluctant conclusion that "Covert action is here to stay. Most of the important justifications for it during the cold war are gone, but it is so ingrained in American intelligence, the military, and the political elite that, despite a track record of limited success and catastrophic failure, it will remain a weapon of choice." If one can accommodate to the author's perspective and consistent slant, the book can be interesting and educational in terms of the discussion beneath the message, addressing an intriguing topic that deserves to come under periodic critical scrutiny. For the discerning reader, a worthwhile read. (Jonkers)
WIN excerpts, commentaries and critiques are based on open source reports, and selected and written by the producing editor (Roy Jonkers) and the two associate editors (RADM (ret )Don Harvey and Dr. John Macartney). Each of the editors is a former intelligence professional with a perspective based on several decades of experience in the business. Professor Robert Heibel and other AFIO members (such as George Dothyl, Clark Griffith, Tom Hart, Ed Milligan, Chip Beck and Dr. Kiracoffe) also contribute articles or reference material.
WINS for 1998 and 1999 are stored on our Website at www.afio.com . The AFIO site contains a keyword search engine to facilitate research.
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