Military Operations in Urban Terrain The Battle of Grozny -- how not to attack in an urban area Geographic Context: • Chechnya ppx. 5,800 square miles Chechnya Grozny in the center • 1994 population was around 449,000 – city covered roughly 100 square miles. A large Russian minority was in Grozny, while Chechnya’s overall population then roughly 1.2 million – of that, 269,000 were ethnic Russians. http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/commonwealth/chechnya_rel01.jpg Operational Setting • December 1994 – Harsh natural conditions • Snow • Brutal cold • Fog • 4 Stage Operation planned by the Russians Russian plan • Stage 1 (November 29 to December 6, 1994) - Preparation • Create force groupings for operations in Mozdok (Ingushetia), Vladikavkaz (North Ossetia), and Kizlyar (Dagestan) and by December 5 take control of the starting positions for the operation. • By December 1, shift tactical aviation and ground forces’ aviation assets to appropriate airfields. • Simultaneously establish air defense system to ensure complete defense of the airspace over the Chechen Republic. • Prepare allocated electronic warfare assets to destroy the command system of illegal armed bands on the territory of the Chechen Republic. *As per General Anatoly Sergeevich Kulikov Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs Russian Plan • Stage 2 (December 7–9) • Advance force groupings with air support advance on Grozny from six directions and blockade the city, creating an inner and outer ring. – Ring one was to be Ministry of Defense controlled / roughly the city administrative boundary – Ring two Ministry of Defense was the city’s outer limits • Allocate some forces to blockade larger populated areas controlled by illegal armed bands and disarm them. • Internal Affairs Ministry Forces was protect communications and prevent the approach of armed groups from territory neighboring the Chechen Republic. • Special forces subunits of the FSK and Internal Affairs Ministry were to ensure the isolation of diversionary operations / armed actions in the rear. *As per General Anatoly Sergeevich Kulikov Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs Russian Plan • Stage 3 (December 10–13) • Formations and units advance from the north and south were to capture the presidential palace, government buildings, television and radio facilities, and other important structure [in Grozny]. • Then, together with special forces subunits of the Internal Affairs Ministry and FSB, continue to confiscate weaponry and materiel. *As per General Anatoly Sergeevich Kulikov Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs Russian Plan • Stage 4 (December 15–23) • Formations and units of the armed forces to stabilize the situation and transfer zones of responsibility to the troops of the Internal Affairs Ministry who had been tasked with finding and confiscating weaponry and armaments from illegal armed bands and the population at large throughout the Chechen Republic. *As per General Anatoly Sergeevich Kulikov Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs Russian Plan • Russians believed that the Chechen forces set up 3 defensive rings – An inner ring, centered around the Presidential Palace, had a radius of 0.5–1.5 km. – A middle ring, at a distance of about 1 km from the inner ring in the northwest and up to 5 km in the southwest and southeast. – An outer ring along the perimeter of the city and stretching to Dolinsk. Outer and middle defense rings based on strongpoints Military Balance: Russian Order of Battle • Estimated 40,000 troops for the invasion of Chechnya – a joing Ministry of the Interior and Ministry of Defense operation – 6,000 mechanized troops – Appx. 230 T-72 and T-80 tanks, 208 ICVs and APCs, 182 artillery and mortar pieces • Russian forces use in Grozny – Estimated 24,000 men, 19,000 from armed forces; 4,700 from the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD) Internal Forces – 34 battalions (5 motorized rifle, 2 tank, 7 airborne, and 20 Interior Ministry (MVD battalions) – 80 tanks, 208 BMPs, and 182 artillery pieces and mortars – 90 helicopters Military Balance: Chechen Order of Battle • Chechen Order of Battle – 1st Chechen War – 15,000 Active, 10,000 Guerilla forces – Appx. 50 T-62 and T-72 tanks – Primarily armed with AK47s and RPGs, other small arms • Battle of Grozny (1) – Russians believed Chechens had 10,000 in men in Grozny (1) • 80 122 mm Howitzers, 25 tanks, 35 armored personnel carriers. • Some Grad rocket systems. – Chechens say 4,500 – 6,000 in Grozny Fighting the Battle http://www.globalsecurity.org/jhtml/jfram e.html#http://www.globalsecurity.org/mili tary/library/report/2002/Grozny_Map_2.jp g|||Grozny%20Map%202.jpg%20%284822 3%20bytes%29 From Bad Start to Phyrric Victory – Battle of Grozny Part 1 • December 31 Grozny battle begins 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 – Russians lost an estimated 225 armored vehicles in the first month of combat – Grozny eventually fell to the Russians on February 13, 1995 • Between January and May 1995, Russian losses in Chechnya were approximately 2,800 killed, 10,000 wounded, and over 500 missing or captured – Chechen losses were also high especially among civilians Fighting the Battle Russian Tactics • Move in large formations / columns through the city • When resistance hit, it pounded positions in city (homes, apt. buildings) with mortar, artillery and air fire, followed-up with armored columns and armored led columns moving through the streets and main avenues of approach to objectives – exposed • When receiving fire or in an ambush, call-for-fire (air, mortar, artillery, armor) Chechen Strategy – Exploiting the terrain • Chechen forces had no chance on the open battlefield – Chechens fought the Russians on the outskirts to delay their entry, then allowed the Russians to enter Grozny to isolate and or demolish Russian armored columns by hit and run attacks and ambushes looking to bog and or trap the Russians isolate units, and then rain in with mortars, artillery and grad (when available) fire • Peripheral buildings in and around central Grozny were primarily single-story, -- a positional advantage over the attackers was established by carrying out anti-armor (AT) ambushes along roads, using the taller buildings in the city’s center for spotters and firing positions. • Mix use of “regular” and irregular forces Chechen Units • Regular Forces: • Chechen “regular” forces were concentrated around the presidential palace where Dudayev was running the operation from – Appx. 2,000 men • Basic unit: Squad-sized, or 8-10 men, usually armed with one or two RPGs, a light machine gun (RPK), 1-2 snipers and the rest with Kalashnikov assault rifles (AK-47) • 35 tanks (dug into defilade to the hull in between buildings and or inside buildings – fields of fire of the tanks were down avenues of approach) – Several Grad multiple rocket launch systems – Equivalent of a US light infantry brigade with tank attachment Chechen Units • Smallest unit: hunter-killer team composed of RPG gunner, machine gunner and sniper • Snipers and designated marksmen omnipresent in Grozny • Squad two or three hunter-killer teams • Each squad had two heavy machine gunners (base of fire), two RPG gunners, one sniper, and three riflemen • Team/Platoon (20-30 men) • 75-100 man Company sized element -- 3 Platoons Chechen Tactics • Ad hoc, mobile Defense -- small to large teams roaming and moving around the city as needed • RPG and sniper fire was continuous and directed at everyone and everything – Used as area attack weapons against armor, personnel and air (low-flying helicopters) – Fired at an angle to clear buildings to strike targets on other side – Fired in volleys • All Chechen units tried to hug (get as close to as possible) the Russians as much as possible to prevent the Russians from firing on their own (not always a factor – its Russians we are talking about) with air support, artillery, mortar etc. If the Russians acted like Russians, they would at least kill their own. Chechen Tactics • Snipers, designated marksmen omnipresent • Hit and Run – Smallest unit: hunter-killer team composed of RPG gunner, machine gunner and sniper – Also had mobile groups (squads) of ten to twelve people with each group consisting of one grenade launcher, two snipers, and the rest with automatic weapons – Whittle down Russian forces as much as possible and or goad them into walking an ambush Chechen Tactics • Ambushes were led by cca. 75-man units broken into three cca. 25-man mobile squads (platoons): – Each of these had a minimum of two heavy machine gunners (base of fire), two RPG gunners, one sniper, and three riflemen – Three of these 25-man groups (supported by an 82mm-mortar crew with two tubes) would conduct an ambush as a 75-man unit. – Three of the eight-man squads would serve as a "killer team" and set up in three positions along the ambush route. They would occupy the lower level of buildings in the ambush zone to prevent being killed, wounded or forced to take cover by incoming artillery. The remaining men would occupy blocking positions to prevent the entrapped from escaping and to prevent and be able to react to reinforcements from/trying to enter the ambush area – Both hit and run and ambushes always had escape routes Chechen Tactics • Chechens would try and inflict as much damage to approaching Russian forces in the streets and alleyways as possible • In Grozny’s buildings, Chechens in basements, on the ground floor, on the 1st floor, on the 2nd floor, etc., underground, and on the roof – they were all over the Russians – Chechens would make (or use) holes at key points in walls, floors and ceilings for fire / grenades, nail bombs, Molotov cocktails , etc. by having Chechen units move out of a position as Russians advanced and allowed the Russians in a building / floor or room to entrap them – poor coordination and improper clearing and holding by Russians assisted the Chechens inflicting terrible casualties on Russian forces Russian Tactics – Adapt and Overcome • NCMD staff decided that they would have to seize Grozny in by section, one building at a time. • By Jan. 3 Russian commanders divided the city into sectors, assigning a small base unit of four to six men to each. • Every group consisted of a leader, a radio operator, a marksman, a grenadier, and a couple riflemen. • Russians began using tanks and artillery in support of the dismounted infantry. Heavy artillery fire on a route of advance to reduce buildings to rubble. • To an extent effective but it also put rubble in the streets which slowed tanks and armored vehicles, leaving them exposed, and piles of rubble made natural ambush positions / new, unmapped obstacles / cover for Chechens • February 13 Grozny officially in Russian hands – Chechens go to the southern mountains to continue fighting – switched tactics to fit the terrain Aftermath • Chechens went to the hills and waged a guerilla war for the next year-and-a-half • On the verge of total defeat, a last-ditch attack on Grozny exploited Chechen knowledge of the terrain, Russian forces lack of discipline – 15000 to 2500 Chechens forced approximately 12,000 Russians in Grozny to surrender in August 1996 in Operation Zero Option, seizing key terrain, entrapping Russian forces Lesson • Clear, secure and hold your ground!