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Roots of Russian Irregular Warfare

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Technical Report

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Naval Postgraduate School Monterey United States

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The Russian experience with irregular warfare runs deep. Russian forces used irregular warfare to defeat Napoleons army in 1812. Russia conquered vast territory in the latter half of the 19th century, defeating irregulars with impressive economy of force. The Soviets employed partisan guerrillas with increasing skill during the Bolshevik Revolution and the Great Patriotic War. In Afghanistan, the Soviets avoided a Vietnam-like collapse while employing irregular tactics fighting against the Mujahedeen. Russia was at first defeated by, then learned from and turned the tables on, insurgents and irregulars in Chechnya. The experience Russia gained across the past two centuries of irregular warfare left an indelible mark on and shaped Russian forces for their invasion of Ukraine in 2014. Understanding the roots of Russian irregular warfaretheir experiences and how they adapted to unique challengescould prove invaluable to understanding the future of it.

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