Friday, August 29, 2014

Russian military doctrine revealed

In the bad old days of the cold war, Kremlinologists poured over Soviet newspapers and other publications, looking for clues to power structure and plans. They knew that Communists were big believers in doctrine, as are most modern armed forces. We in the West learned of Soviet interest in the "revolution in military affairs" long before we began pursuing it ourselves.

Now it turns out that the Russians under Putin have been quite open about their military doctrine and their use of all forms of power to pursue their goals.  A fine article in the Financial Times discusses that. And it includes this nugget:
Nato refers to this form of conflict as “hybrid war”. The phrase refers to a broad range of hostile actions, of which military force is only a small part, that are invariably executed in concert as part of a flexible strategy with long-term objectives.

Predictably, the most lucid exposition of the concept is Russian. In February 2013, Valery Gerasimov, the newly appointed chief of Russia’s general staff, penned an article in the Russian defence journal VPK.

War and peace, Mr Gerasimov wrote, in remarks that now seem prophetic, are becoming more blurred.

“Methods of conflict,” he wrote, have changed, and now involve “the broad use of political, economic, informational, humanitarian and other non-military measures”. All of this, he said, could be supplemented by firing up the local populace as a fifth column and by “concealed” armed forces.
Mr Gerasimov quoted the Soviet military theoretician Georgii Isserson: mobilisation does not occur after a war is declared, but “unnoticed, proceeds long before that”.
Thanks to Google, I found a translation of Gerasimov's article.

The lesson here is that we should not have been surprised by Russian tactics in Ulraine.

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