A different front in what’s really the same war

Russian security forces foil ‘another Beslan’ in republic near Chechnya

‘Another Beslan’ apparently doesn’t mean ‘another school raid’ in this case. Via Rantburg:

In a gunbattle lasting more than 15 hours on Saturday, using heavy weaponry, special forces fought the five militants who had holed up in a house near the Dagestani capital Makhachkala.

A spokesman for the Dagestani interior ministry, Colonel Abdulmanap Musayev, told ITAR-TASS that a base used by the gunmen had been discovered with large quantities of weapons and bomb-making equipment.

The siege near Makhachkala began when a police patrol came across the armed rebels in the street early Saturday as they left to carry out the terror act, ITAR-TASS reported.

The gang were forced to barricade themselves in a house, taking hostage a family living there, but later released them.

NTV showed pictures of special forces with armoured vehicles firing anti-tank rockets at a burning building, which was levelled to the ground by a tank. The five gunmen, who had taken refuge in the basement, stopped returning fire by late evening Saturday, and officials said the bodies could be buried under the rubble.

I’ve often been impressed by the Russians’ willingness to actively fight terrorists, but their actual capability to do so seems to be woefully inadequate. Recall the raid on that theater a few years back when they killed a large number of hostages. And their celebrated failure in Afghanistan.

I’m reminded of a passage in “The March Up”:

[USMC] Lance Corporal Answitz, twenty-four, had served in the Spetnatz, the Russian special forces, before emigrating to the United States. Spetnatz had pushed the recruits harder physically, he said, making them exercise in T-shirts in subzero weather, but the Corps was mentally tougher; those Marine drill instructors got inside your head.

With all the complaints about the poor quality of Iraqi troops, keep in mind that they’re being compared to US warriors. When held up to that standard, most will fall short. Even Russian special forces.


  1. Thank you, Murdoc, for pointing this out. There are some very good Iraqi troops, it just takes longer to train the specialized forces we want to leave in place. There are several (I believe it’s 3) battalions of Iraqi special forces that we have trained very heavily, and these forces do very well. However, most of the Iraqi N.G. soldiers get very little training. Those PBIs (Poor Bloody Infantry) are getting less training than many of the insurgents they are fighting. Every time I hear an argument about Iraq, it’s get our guys out, let the Iraqi’s take care of their own security, blah, blah, blah, blah….ad nauseum. We need to help get a TRAINED military, police, and border patrol system in place first. Corrupt soldiers and officers will do the Iraqi people no good. We need time to train the Iraqi Security forces to a level of proficiency never before seen in an Arab country. Most of the Middle Eastern military establishments are rife with corruption ranging from extortion to rape and murder. Now don’t get me wrong, there’s @$$holes with guns in every part of the world, and some places just don’t screen the people coming into their military. Some of the countries in the region have some very proffessional soldiers, others have almost none. It will take us at least (my guess) three years to build a decent military with a fairly good command staff. You have to remember that most of the officers of Saddam’s army(read-staff trained, and experienced) were also hard-core baathists. So we are starting with a very limited pool here. It’s going to take time to train, equip, and instill pride in the Iraqi forces. Give us the time, and Iraq will be a self-sufficient democracy in a land that has never really known one.