Logistics: July 13, 2002


Russian military operations in Chechnya are being severely hampered by a shortage of ammunition, being felt in infantry, artilley and air force units. The Russian newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta blew the whistle on 5 July, theorizing that the counterterrorist operation in the Chechen republic could "indeed end soon, but for entirely different reasons" than a Russian battlefield victory.

Even with the huge stocks of available Soviet-era ordnance to draw on, the OPTEMPO of modern warfare is a drain. The T-80 main battle tank has virtually disappeared from Chechnya's battlefields, replaced by the T-62. The supply of 125mm high-explosive fragmentation shells, gas-turbine engines, spares and accessories was never plentiful and is now Spartan. 

Artilley ammunition is running out and in some cases, exhausted. The Federal artillery has fired virtually all its modern 152-mm shells (the modern 2S19 "Msta" rounds ran out first) and 122-mm D-30 howitzer stocks are dwindling, to the point that there is serious talk of dragging out the old 1938-vintage 122mm howitzers. Troops in Chechnya are also relying on the 40-year-old BM-21 Grad multiple rocket launchers, since there were insufficient rockets for the Uragan and Smerch multiple rocket launchers. The Air Force's stocks of conventional free-fall bombs are pretty well depeleted and the high-precision correctable bombs used up against rebel targets long ago. 

Another complaint is the level of unwarranted and uneconomical waste, with Federal troops sometimes firing several million rounds (mostly small arms) in a week. This would explain why the Kremlin has extracted munitions from the former 14th Army stockpiles in Moldova. - Adam Geibel


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