It depends on whether one is looking at the First or Second Chechen war. Both wars are actually very apt for the West, since they show the wrong way to fight a war against insurgents, and a right way to fight a war against insurgents.
In the First Chechen War, the Russians got hit and hit hard. The Russian defeat (and to be honest it was a defeat)was due to several reasons, ranging from a very poor C&C structure (some troops were even refusing to fight and there was a lot of infighting between different units), there were not enough troops, the troops that were there were ill-trained conscripts, the tactics used (particularly in urban warfare) were sorry (e.g. sending tanks and BMPs unsupported into urban terrain is basically sacrificial), and the equipment was poor.
Fast-forward to the Second Chechen War. The Chechens got decimated! The Russians started with massive air attacks (between August to September 1999 the Russians had made 1,700 sorties), which totally softened up the Chechens. It does appear that the Russians had copied Western tactics. Following that, Russia's prime minister (the newly posted Putin) gave orders for the land war to commence. Rather than sending wet-behind-the-ear conscripts, the Russians sent in their better trained troops, including special forces, who were backed by artillery and air assault. They also gave them their best weapons.
Result? The Chechens couldn't even mount up any effective defense. When they tried to mount up some strong defense of Vedeno and Shatoy the Russians simply started using Fuel-Air bombs (basically daisy-cutters). The only real stand the Chechens did was in the mountains, where they (to their credit) did a good job for almost two weeks, killing over 50 Russians (and losing hundreds of their own men) before it all fell apart.
Basically, when fighting an insurgency it is important to realize one is in a war. You cannot send people will poor equipment and poorer training. However, if you send in the right people in the right numbers with the right equipment, and you are not too concerned about public perception, no insurgency can survive. The problem with insurgency, for the West, is that people are too afraid of what the media will say. Take that aspect out and the US could crush any insurgency in a matter of weeks ....there would just be a lot of collateral damage.
I was in Russia in January 2002.
The Americans had started bombing Afghanistan just a couple months before that. The Americans were very, very careful not to cause any collateral damage. Why, they even used solid concrete blocks to crush the bad guys rather than blowing them up with explosive bombs in order not to offend anybody.
So, here I am, an American in Russia in 2002 watching the hotel’s newsfeed on the TV. All the Euroweenies were wringing their hands about the Barbaric Americans, bombing Afghanistan. Oh, the Barabaric American imperialists!
So, I switched from the Euroweenie news to Russian news, where they had a segment on the war with Chechnya. So, the Russians surround a town with artillery and tanks. They leaflet the town with the following instructions.
“You have 48 hours to evacuate. You must have your papers in order and pass through the checkpoints. If your papers are not in order, you will be detained. If you try to avoid the checkpoints, you will be shot.”
When the 48 hour deadline lapsed, the aerial bombing and artillery shelling began. They destroyed everything. Houses, apartment buildings, schools, mosques, churches, hospitals, everything. Then they moved in with large earth-moving equipment bulldozing the smoldering wreckage. No looking for survivors.
The earth-movers were followed by tanks and ground troops. There was no resistance.
So this is going on in the Euroweenies’ back yard, but they are complaining about the Barbaric Americans.
***..is that people are too afraid of what the media will say.****
My thoughts are that when the first newspaperman or reporter begins to ring his hands about hurting the enemy, that person should immediately be press ganged into a front line unit in that particular war. This should also include some congress critters.