This brief could be alternatively titled, "how to coerce a major state for less than one million dollars."
How could global guerrillas fight on the strategic level? To explore this, I crafted a potential scenario that pits Chechen (or more precisely now, Caucasian Front) guerrillas against the Russian state. Part 1 provides an overview of the scenario. Part 2 explains how the moral center of a state has shifted to the markets it participates in (and how traditional symbolic terrorism can put the state on the horns of a dilemma). Part 3 (below) examines some of the mechanics of systems disruption necessary to accomplish the desired moral effects.Pipeline Disruption
Russia's energy exports is the main thread that ties it to the world's markets. Internally, the energy industry is directly responsible for 25% of the country's employment and 50% of the state's tax revenues. It is the single most important strength of the Russian state. In order to defeat the Russian state strategically, Chechen guerrillas turned this strength into a weakness. This was done through systems disruption. It turned the moral sentiment of global markets against the state (via uncertainty, menace, and mistrust).
On the face of it, the disruption of the Russian energy transportation infrastructure was straight forward. There wasn't any need for deep systems analysis to determine systempunkts (points of greatest vulnerability). The pipelines of Transneft's oil and gas transportation system are concentrated into two major conduits (see diagram of the gas pipeline system). These lines were both easy to access and disrupt using simple homemade thermite and propane tanks (DIY, or do-it-yourself, explosives that are very effective against infrastructure). An effects-based operation with the goal of causing immediate losses would make frequent small attacks against those lines to the east of Moscow. In many cases, these attacks impacted both oil and gas exports due to co-location vulnerability.Expansion of the Effort to Maintain Effects
However, the campaign got more complicated when it was forced to move beyond attacks on the main lines due radical increases in defensive efforts (which were only partially effective). To maintain the desired effect (a reduction in Russian gas/oil exports of 50% or more), Chechen guerrillas developed and exploited systempunkts in the rail, communications, and electricity systems. Since the disruption of these system exceeded the ability of a regional open source movement to accomplish, it opted to expand through a market-based approach. Guerrilla entrepreneurs sent into the field with financing hired participants from easily accessible criminal networks to provide target selection, bomb manufacturing, and emplacement services. Since these attacks didn't involve body-count terrorism, these participants were easy to recruit. The fluid marketplaces that developed emerged much more rapidly than the government could react to. Here's how these systems were disrupted:
- Rail. Transneft's oil transport capacity is limited to ~four million barrels a day. The rest is transported by rail. The Russian rail system exhibits many of the sparse network problems of the pipeline system. There are several links and hubs to the east of Moscow that provide a complete system shutdown capability. In order to immediately impact rail system performance, the Chechen guerrillas began to cut the fiber connections of the rail systems Unified Main Digital Communications Network (which follows the route of the tracks). These attacks disconnected the central routing and management system from downstream customers, trains, and stations. The ongoing disruption of these links made subsequent attacks on the tracks themselves more effective (since it slowed rerouting efforts and attempts to mitigate the disruption).
- Electricity. Systems analysis revealed the Russian electrical system, although more complex than the rail and pipeline infrastructure, had several key systempunkts. Attacks on only three high voltage substations was able to force the system into a cascading failure that collapsed electricity delivery in the central area north of Kazakhstan. Ongoing attacks on regional high voltage lines of 500 KV and above delayed repair efforts. This ongoing regional blackout complicated the repair of pipeline and railway disruption.
- Communications. To amplify the moral distress of markets in Russia's continued ability to participate in the global economy, Chechen guerrillas opted to focus their communications disruption on Moscow. To do this, the guerrilla began to systematically dismantle the cell phone tower infrastructure that supplied the city with robust communications capability. The high volume of calls routed to the remaining towers caused overloads and drops in service for the vast majority of subscribers.
(See Part 1 for a more descriptive Epilogue) The effect of this disruption campaign was a sustained reduction, by 50%, of Russian oil and gas exports for three months. Market reaction was fierce. The ruble fell precipitously (50 to 1), contracts with Russian oil and gas firms were embroiled in legal wrangling, and the cost of debt soared. Additionally, domestic opinion turned against the government which it blamed for the current problems. The Russian government was assailed from all sides. Facing collapse and major unrest at home, the Russian government offered Chechnya independence. Other provinces in the Caucasus would soon follow.