Sochi, the Olympics, the Islamic Caucasus Emirate and the emerging “Russian Scalpel.” Lots of folks are talking about Sochi and the Olympics. Not as many are truly cognizant of the threat level there. Can you imagine how much work Alfa and FSB are doing right now? Have you seen the Triple-A ring they’ve set up around the city? TOR M1s and Pantsir-s trucks all over the place. Grozny is just over 800 klicks from Sochi – Danger Close for Chechen Jihadis, they can ruck that far and hit a target. However, as today’s guest writer Sean “Groz” Burke says, the Rodina looks to be prepping a Russian Scalpel vs. a Russian Hammer. Read what he has to say before. Burke’s perspicacity, as you will see, is partucularly perspicuitous. Mad Duo
In less than a month the world will converge on the southern Russian city of Sochi for the first Olympic Games in Russian since the USSR. This event will be Putin’s show piece of a resurgent Russia. However, recent terrorist attacks in Volgograd formerly known as Stalingrad have overshadowed this event. In this we see the conflagration of Putin’s nationalist Russia and Jihadis from the Caucasus region. The question of how Putin will react to the attacks been asked repeatedly.
Putin’s reaction, however, maybe very different what it was after previous attacks.
Conflict in the Caucasus has become a consistent and undying problem since the fall of the USSR. This conflicts back story could fill several articles so if the reader desires a thorough explanation consult some of the great works done on this conflict (books like Russia’s Chechen Wars). However, for brevity’s sake we will be discussing where the latest terrorist attacks will lead the region before the Olympic Games begin in February. This conflict has witnessed an evolution on both sides of TTPs (tactics, techniques, and procedures). The two converging forces we find interlocked here are Putin’s evolving security apparatus and the self described Islamic Caucasus Emirate. ICE is comprised of Chechens, Ingush, and Dagestanis primarily, with some foreign fighters from Middle Eastern and European countries.
The current terrorist activity in Volgograd is a continuation of the previous Chechen Wars so let us analyze the actions and reactions of the two sides we may witness.
ICE Jihadis The Islamic Caucasus Emirate’s jihadis are a very different breed from the stereotypical jihadi fighter both in capabilities and actions. These are not the jihadis we encountered in Iraq, blind firing AK’s and carrying three magazines on their person in a beat up Chicom chest rig. Rather they are often prior USSR or Russian Federation troops that are familiar with Russian TTPs and equipment.
These are not the jihadis we encountered in Iraq, blind firing AK’s and carrying three magazines on their person in a beat up Chicom chest rig.
The ICE forces are seasoned fighters who excel in small unit actions without logistical support. Their squads are often built around heavy weapons such as PKMs, RPGs, and grenade launchers. This weapon heavy TOE allows them to conduct complex ambushes and attack much larger Russian units. ICE forces also contain specific anti-armor and anti-helo “hunter- killer” teams that have extracted a heavy toll on Russian forces. Past operations have varied from suicide operations such as those in Volgograd to reinforced company size assaults. This tells us that follow on actions after the recent bombings could come in a variety of forms.
A past SOP has been to conduct an “operational pause”, providing the Russians with a false sense of security before launching an all out complex operation. An example of this was the subway hijacking of the rail system into Grozny. Chechen forces came from outside of Grozny on the subway in reinforced company strength and assaulted Russian checkpoints from the inside of the city out. This operation was conducted after a lull in the fighting that led the Russian Federation to consider Grozny pacified. The result was mass Russian casualties and a shattered internal security system.
A past SOP has been to conduct an “operational pause”, providing the Russians with a false sense of security before launching an all out complex operation.
Chechen fighters are also renowned in their ability to carry out long range operations in the mountains between Grozny and Russia proper. Numerous pictures show ICE forces with Bergen style packs and LBVs loaded for sustained long range ambushes. They have mastered the art of modern guerrilla fighting in modern times. With Sochi only about eight hundred kilometers from ICE territory crossing the mountains on foot could become a realistic avenue of approach for Jihadi assault teams.
Russian Forces Now let us consider the evolution of the Russian forces that are confronting the ICE Jihadis. During the first Chechen War 1994-1996, Yeltsin massed armored forces largely comprised of green conscripts. These were nearly annihilated by the Chechens. We are now witnessing an evolution of Russian counter terror forces. After lessons learned from the first war, Putin deployed a much more professional force in the Second Chechen War 1999-2009. Best described as a task force, this unit was comprised of VDV paratroopers and Naval Infantry backed up by Special Forces troops. With improved command and control, these forces were more effective than those in the First Chechen War.
This shift from massed armor and artillery (their classic doctrine) to utilizing smaller, more elite forces has increased since the Second Chechen War. Russia has poured vast resources into its Special Operations Units. It is well known that Russia does not pour rubles into anything they do not intend to get their investment back on. The days of Spetsnaz circus tricks like jumping through burning hoops and breaking bricks have morphed into a Western style Special Operations Force. These units are mirroring such Western Counter Terror and Direct Action units as the SAS, SMU/CAG, and GROM in equipment and training.
The days of Spetsnaz circus tricks like jumping through burning hoops and breaking bricks have morphed into a Western style Special Operations Force.
An example of this are their uniforms and armor, which appear very close to Western units—including, wait for it—MultiCam. We are also seeing such Western gear such HSGI Tacos, Aimpoints, PEQs, and Surefire lights becoming almost standard issue. This is not, however, just some MilSim airsoft dress up show. Weapon systems better suited for CT operations have also begun to appear, weapons like the Vityaz PP-19-01 SN submachine gun and even Heckler and Koch MP-5s. These subguns and of course the Kalashnikov famil
y of weapons being issued are set up for attaching optics, lights, and PEQs. From recent news footage of the Russian CT units, we can also observe that while they are still showing typical Russian ‘machismo’, they are also refining their tactics to a more Western-style array of TTPs. Another important change includes improved, integrated comm systems.
On the less overt side, Putin has been true to his legacy KGB doctrine. He has been pivoting on covert operations and political activity to move the proverbial chess pieces in the Rodina’s favor. It is concerning that former converted rebels are finding their way into positions of power in the Caucasus’s Russian sponsored government. Many actions are carried out by the FSB and other internal paramilitary units.(think FBI/ATF/DHS, only with more guns) With Putin’s control of the press the Russian reaction to the bombings will only be shown as what he wants the world to see.
There will be a very public display of Russia’s military might at the 2014 Winter Olympics. However, do not expect massed tank formations in the Caucasus. Instead we may witness the shelving of the Russian Hammer and the first incision of the new Russian Scalpel. The traditional crushing doctrine is being replaced with one built around finesse and modern intelligence gathering.
Instead we may witness the shelving of the Russian Hammer and the first incision of the new Russian Scalpel.
There is one thing that we as the western world can be absolutely sure of. That is, if Putin has his say, he will not allow the Olympic Games to become an embarrassment to the Russia Federation. This is the first time his nation has hosted the Games since the fall of the Soviet Union. The world spotlight is on the new Russia, and they cannot suffer a repeat of what happened in Munich during the 1972 Olympics.
Whether he can do so remains to be seen.
Sochi SITREP Part 2: https://www.breachbangclear.com/site/10-blog/601-sochi-sitrep-part-2.html
Sochi SITREP Part 3: https://www.breachbangclear.com/site/10-blog/608-sochi-sitrep-part-3.html
Sochi SITREP Part 4: https://www.breachbangclear.com/site/10-blog/628-sochi-sitrep-part-4.html
About the Author: Sean “Groz” Burke is a former Assault Section Leader in the Marine Corps infantry with combat deployments to assorted sunny Middle Eastern and African locations. During his tenure as a gyrene many doors were kicked, gates blown and people’s days excessively ruined. During these deployments Sean often instructed the use of foreign weapon systems, helped his command understand the armament capabilities of the enemy and was his unit’s resident “terp wrangler.” He attended numerous PME schools, including Sensitive Site Exploitation and the Iraqi Arabic and Culture Course. After departing the Marine Corps Sean graduated Temple University with a degree in history and is now (no shit) a high school teacher. When not teaching he continues to compulsively study foreign weapon systems, world affairs and foreign policy. Groz is one of the biggest geardos the Mad Duo knows (which is really saying something). He is a wealth of information regarding al things Cordura, Steel and COMBLOC.
Note – images were gathered via Google image search. With the exception of Vitaly Kuzmin we don’t know the original source. If it’s yours, let us know and we’ll gladly give you credit.
Mad Duo, Breach-Bang-CLEAR!