The Insurgency in Chechnya and the North Caucasus
From Gazavat to Jihad
by Robert W. Schaefer
October 2010, 303pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-0-313-38634-3
$73, £57, 64€, A100
eBook Available: 978-0-313-38635-0
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

The shocking events of the Moscow airport terrorist attack make it clear that the North Caucasus insurgency is still strong—despite the Kremlin’s announcement in 2008 that the conflict was “over.” Find out why Russia has been promised a “year of blood and tears” in 2011, and what this means for the Sochi Olympics in 2014.

For the first time, a military expert on both Russia and insurgency offers the definitive guide on activities in Southern Russia, explaining why the Russian approach to counter terrorism is failing and why terrorist and insurgent attacks in Russia have sharply increased over the past three years.

The Insurgency in Chechnya and the North Caucasus: From Gazavat to Jihad is an comprehensive treatment of this 300 year-old conflict. Thematically organized, it cuts through the rhetoric to provide a contextual framework with which readers can truly understand the “why” and “how” of one of the world’s longest-running contemporary insurgencies, despite Russia’s best efforts to eradicate it.

A fascinating case study of a counterinsurgency campaign that is in direct contravention of U.S. and Western strategy, the book also examines the differences and linkages between insurgency and terrorism; the origins of conflict in the North Caucasus; and the influences of different strains of Islam, of al-Qaida, and of the War on Terror. A critical examination of never-before-revealed Russian counterinsurgency (COIN) campaigns explains why those campaigns have consistently failed and why the region has seen such an upswing in violence since the conflict was officially declared “over” less than two years ago.


  • Information drawn from the North Caucasus Incident Database (NCID), compiling every violent incident in the region over a two-year period
  • Charts showing the complex strategies of the insurgency and the Russian counterinsurgency campaigns
  • Maps, charts, and a bibliography
  • The first doctrinal analysis (classified or unclassified) produced on the conflict in over 10 years
  • Declassified Intelligence reports
Lieutenant Colonel Robert W. Schaefer is a highly decorated, U.S. Army Special Forces (Green Beret) and Eurasian foreign area officer. For more than 20 years, he has served in a variety of special units and he has participated in virtually every U.S. overseas operation since 1990. He is uniquely positioned to explain this complex conflict due to his extensive participation in counterinsurgency and counterterrorist operations around the world and his firsthand experience with the conflict. LTC Schaefer was the recipient of the Special Operations Command (US SOCOM) Award of Excellence in 2001. He obtained a masters degree from Harvard University in 2005, served as a Caucasus consultant for the PBS news program "WorldFocus," and was the host of National Public Radio's Memorial Day Special in 2007 and 2008. His website for this book is


2011 - USA Book News Best Book Award for Current Events—USA Book News, November 1, 2011

Kirkus Reviews' Best of 2011—Kirkus Reviews, December 5, 2011

2012 - Independent Publishers Book Award for Foreign Affairs (Bronze)—Independent Publisher, March 4, 2012

2012 - "Top 150 Books on Terrorism and Counterterrorism" —Terrorism Research Initiative, July 1, 2012

2012 - MWSA Gold Medal Award-History—Military Writers Society of America, October 2, 2012


“A remarkable book. . . . Col Schaefer’s book does a fine job in summarizing the breadth and depth of the conflict, and making the latest military thinking about insurgencies accessible, while steering clear of polemic or bias. This book tells you a lot about the Caucasus. And also about the brainpower assets of the American military." —The Economist, April 13, 2011

"Schaefer’s debut is an in-depth critical assessment of the Russo-Chechen conflict that reflects a deep understanding of counterinsurgency in general and how it relates to that region specifically. . . . His reasoning is honest, well-researched and refreshingly free of partisan rhetoric. A tour de force in breadth and depth."—Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review, February 18, 2011

"Scrupulously researched."—The National Interest, March 29, 2011

"A first-rate study that is part history, part counterinsurgency theory, and part predictive analysis. . . . The North Caucasus is a complex and bewildering ethnic and cultural mix that is hard for a foreigner to understand. Robert Schaefer has done much to overcome this through his thorough research and balanced approach. His history of the region and the post-Soviet phase is especially well done. . . . Strongly recommend."—The Journal of Military History, October 14, 2011

"Enormously helpful in understanding the ongoing conflict in the North Caucasus, and the gnawing feeling of dread as Russia prepares to host the 2014 Winter Olympics. . . . Free of cynicism and romance. . . . It makes one wish military analysts had taken on the Afghan puzzle with similar energy, say, a decade or so back." —New York Times, January 20, 2012

"Thoughtful and comprehensive analysis . . . useful to the policymaker. . . . Helps answer the paradox that most of those who have studied the region grappled with: Why have the Russians never succeeded in extinguishing this 300-year-old insurgency while, at the same time, the Chechens have never been able to win their independence?"—Parameters, August 1, 2012

"A 'must-read' for those who are looking for answers about how to stop the brutality and violence in Southern Russia." —The New Book Review, April 12, 2011

"Comprehensive and informative. . . . Schaefer’s informed analysis of the Chechen insurgency makes this a book that every student of counterinsurgency or the Caucasus region should own."—Military Writers Society of America, November 28, 2011

"This book presents the facts and gives the reader a basis for interpreting how much is hype, often Russian-proliferated hype, and how it differs from reality on the ground. It is a fascinating, engaging read about a region that receives too little coverage and I highly recommend it for anyone interested in learning more about the geopolitical realities of the North Caucasus."—E-International Relations, August 1, 2013

"This work is perhaps the most current book on this Chechen war and is a must read for anyone who wants to understand the nuances of the conflict in the Caucasus. Schaefer’s work cuts through much of the anti-Chechen disinformation of other works and succeeds in providing a masterful overview of the ongoing Chechen insurgency in Russia with applications for those studying insurgencies in other areas such as Iraq or Afghanistan." —Brian Glyn Williams, Associate Professor, University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth and author of The Crimean Tatars: The Diaspora Experience and the Forging of a Nation

"A most interesting approach to understanding the Chechen and North Caucasus insurgency in the light of Western thinking about insurgency and counterinsurgency. The author rightly sees these phenomena as a single linked pattern and exposes Russia's strategic operations and their failures to the unforgiving light of day. Western students of the Chechen wars and of counterinsurgency and insurgency alike will benefit from this work that brings Russia's hidden war into the open." —Professor Stephen Blank, Strategic Studies Institute, US Army War College

"Are you curious why Chechnya’s 400 year-old insurgency persists and the Sochi Olympics will likely 'bomb'? The answers are here. With laser-like precision, a matter-of-fact clarity and an adept pen, this Special Forces practioner demystifies our longest running graduate-level conflict. A practiced ‘COIN eye’ will recognize the nature of the Chechen war as the ensuing chapters move back and forth between the Maoist stages of protracted warfare and a 'bez predel' (without limits) conflict.—Col. Andrew N. “Nick” Pratt, USMC (Ret.), Director, Program on Terrorism and Security Studies and Professor of Strategy and International Politics, George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies

"Incisive, insightful -- in short, invaluable."—Liz Fuller, Analyst, Journalist, Editor, and Author of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Caucasus Report

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