On February 8, the newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta carried a critical assessment, written by military journalist Mikhail Khodarenok, of the announced plan to base Russian military forces in garrisons in 162 population points located throughout Chechnya. The author of this plan, Khodarenok underscored, was General Anatoly Kvashnin, chief of staff of the Russian Armed Forces.
The Kvashnin plan, which was slated to go into effect on February 10, is likely, in Khodarenok’s opinion, to prove an abysmal failure. “It is difficult,” the journalist wrote, “to rid oneself of the impression that someone is strongly interested in having military activities continue in Chechnya for as long as possible.” The idea of breaking up the Russian Combined Group of Forces into a number of small garrisons “represents a path which is de facto a dead end.” The garrison strategy will ensure that “the second Chechen campaign is never ending.”
Many of the new garrisons, Khodarenok pointed out, will be manned by platoons, headed up by young lieutenants only recently graduated from institutes and universities. These young lieutenants will have to become instant specialists in intelligence and counterintelligence, and in “interethnic relations,” and also be able to direct the economy of an isolated garrison. “Do we have such platoon commanders?” Khodarenok asked rhetorically.
The supplying of the garrisons, Khodarenok went on to observe, will be a nightmare. Today large automobile and truck columns moving through Chechnya have to be protected by intricate military operations which include the use of army aviation. “The destruction of small columns of two-to-three vehicles carrying food or ammunition to small garrisons will soon become the favorite sport of the Chechen rebels.” General Kvashnin, Khodarenok concludes, ought to reconsider his ill-advised plan.