Academic journal article Military Review

Confronting the RMA in Russia

Academic journal article Military Review

Confronting the RMA in Russia

Article excerpt

Reverting to a theme that has not been seen in Russian/Soviet military writings since the 1920s, [General of the Army] Gareev stresses adapting military art to the problem of warfare between more-technologically and less-technologically developed states. In part, this is a lesson drawn from Afghanistan, but it carries with it two contradictory conclusions with very significant consequences. Advanced states may be able to conduct a new generation of warfare in which force is not focused on the direct destruction of the enemy but is used to politically and economically cause the opponent's military power to collapse from within.

RUSSIAN MILITARY ANALYSTS face three sets of fundamental issues when addressing the nature of future conflicts:

Why did Soviet military science fail to predict the trends leading up to the Soviet overextension of resources, the Soviet Union's collapse and the Cold War's end, and what should be done to restore such foresight?

What future armed conflicts are likely to threaten Russian national interests, and what are the military-political implications in Russia in the post-Cold War world?

What impact has the revolution in military affairs (RMA) had on technical questions associated with military doctrine and art? How will the RMA shape how Russian armed forces are raised, organized, trained, armed, deployed, sustained and reequipped? How will a post-communist Russia-in the midst of political, economic and social transformation-respond to the RMA's demands?

As yet, there are no definitive answers to these issues in Russia. But there is broad and intense debate concerning them. This article focuses on the RMA in Russia and Russian military theorists' responses to it. As expected during a period of dynamic change, military crises, internal instability and international reorganization, there are wide-ranging opinions about the RMA and its impact on future armed conflict. One of the most important voices in this debate has been that of General of the Army Makhmut Akhmetovich Gareev.

Gareev sees a persistent utility in military science and champions adapting it to new geostrategic and military-technological circumstances. For him and those who agree with him, the military forecasting crisis in Soviet military science was real but had other, political causes associated with the Soviet system's nature. Gareev sees a need to reform military science to broaden its institutional bases to include research centers outside the government, but he does

not reject military science's claims. Military systemology, a new discipline relying on modeling and cybernetics to establish a "theory of combat systems," and other forecasting techniques have their place, but expert opinion and experience are vital to military forecasting. However, this is not a "hind-bound" view that sees no changes afoot in military art. Evaluation of past combat experience is necessary but insufficient, and foresight is necessary but extremely difficult to develop.1

The Russian military, and especially its General Staff, inherited from the Soviet military the firm belief that revolutionary changes in warfare's nature are afoot and demand significant changes in military doctrine's military-technological side and in the approach to military construction. Beginning with Marshal Nikolai Vasil'evich Ogarkov's tenure as chief of the [Soviet] General Staff from 1977 to 1984, Soviet military analysts, including Gareev, began to speak of an RMA. They associated it with a new generation of nuclear weapons and advanced high-precision conventional weapons. Gareev, then

deputy chief of the Soviet General Staff and chief of the Directorate for Military Science, described the RMA: "Now we can speak about a turning point in the development of military science and military art. In general, a new qualitative leap in the development of military affairs, connected with the modernization of nuclear weapons and especially the appearance of new types of conventional weapons, is ripening. …

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