IN THE MONTHS LEADING UP TO THE CHECHEN invasion, there were abundant warning signals that Russia's army remained a ragtag conglomeration of units still reeling from the wrenching upheavals of the preceding five years. Russia's ground forces, an important component of any large-scale military operation in the Caucasus, continued to experience severe problems, including staff levels that remained stuck at about 50 percent, dismal re-enlistment rates among younger officers, and an aging and increasingly decrepit infrastructure.

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