SOVIET VIEWS ON THE UNEXPECTED AND OTHER ISSUES IN COMBAT
The Soviet concept of combat is that it is a dynamic, two-sided
process taking place in a defined domain of time and space; a contest of wills
in which each side employs its resources to optimize their effectiveness in the
given environment and degrade as much as possible the effectiveness of the
opponent. The outcome is measured at the first order of analysis in terms of
movements of forces, attrition to the forces, and changes in the environment.
The outcome at the second level order is a change in the mind and will of the
For the Soviet thinker the world is a material realm in which all activity is
governed by laws of cause and effect. Combat is a human, social activity of the
utmost complexity. Nevertheless it is governed by the laws of social and human
behavior just as is all other human activity. The material forces being
employed by the human actors, such as weapons, act in accordance with physical
laws. With sufficient scientific study, it is possible to learn what these laws
are and thereby learn to predict the outcome of combat. The task is formidable
due to the complexity of human individual nature compounded by the complexity
of the human organizational systems being employed in the combat process.
Therefore Soviet planners do not believe it is possible to predict the future
in its entirety, but only within certain limits.
One way to deal with the inherent difficulty in forecasting is to limit
severely the time and space dimensions for which one attempts to make a
forecast. Another practical measure is to include all conceivable contingencies
in the forecasting process and analyze the results of each. Another is to
establish overwhelming reserves of strength by doubling or tripling the
resulting answer. An engineer does this in designing a bridge when he
calculates all the stresses in accordance with conservative design
specifications and then chooses even stronger structural members than his
calculations suggested. In the final analysis one deals with the unforeseen by
foreseeing that it will in fact occur despite all precautions to the contrary
and by creating extra, otherwise uncommitted reserves to counter it.
In order to cope with the unforeseen in a dynamic process and employ the
reserves one has created, one must establish a very sensitive monitoring system
which constantly takes the measure of all relevant indicators and reacts
accordingly to control the process. This is true whether the process is
occurring in a chemical plant or on a battlefield. The Soviets call this system
the "troop control system" and recognize that it is actually not an
external entity, but a part of the combat process being controlled.
This paper will describe Soviet views on the unforeseen in ground combat, what
can be predicted and what cannot, what can and is being done to expand the
range of prediction and increase its validity, and what practical and
theoretical measures are taken to deal with the residual uncertainty and the
unforeseen when it does occur. The discussion includes the role of
reconnaissance as main procedure used to decrease the level of uncertainty or
surprise. The paper also includes discussion of the role of computers in
planning against uncertainty and the affect of uncertainty on the operations of
Classification of the unexpected
Each of the components of the combat process is subject to uncertainty in that
it may turnout during combat to be different from predictions. The components
are the following:
Environment - enemy forces - friendly forces - troop control system and
The environment includes such components as the weather, the terrain, and other
external factors such as world public opinion etc. These might be different
from the prediction or they might be as predicted but with a different effect.
The enemy and friendly forces include the entire gamut of components from each
weapon system to supporting equipment to the men who use them and the leaders
who direct them. Errors in prediction can range from narrow and specific
failures such as the appearance of a small enemy force at an unexpected time
and place to broad and systematic failures such as miscalculation of the
effectiveness of a class of tanks or of the morale of an entire army.
The troop control system itself is subject to errors in prediction as to its
capability, survivability, gullibility and other factors. In essence the troop
control system depends on information and its proper flow. This flow in modern
combat is a direct function of the reconnaissance and radio electronic warfare
(REC) systems. Consequently discussions about planning for the unexpected in
combat inevitably include Soviet concepts, methods and organizations for
reconnaissance and REC.
This paper will classify the components of combat and the possible failures of
prediction associated with each. The measures taken to prevent this, the
effects of such failures and the responses to these initial failures by the
regulating organs of the troop control system will be related to this
QUESTIONS ON THE UNFORSEEN IN FRONT PLANNING
1. How does decision-making differ at different echelons of command
when the Soviets plan for using airborne forces and air forces? What additional
factors may enter into the decision because of having to deal with these
additional forces? How is their commitment affected by sudden changes in
battle? How are the changes dealt with and by whom?
A: There are differences in two aspects of planning at the different echelons
of command. Planning is different in both its qualitative and its quantitative
aspects. At higher echelons the volume of work is greater, the scope is greater
in time and space and number of elements included in the plan. The time
available for planning is greater, as is the size of the staff doing the
planning. At higher levels there are more assets (both force assets and
planning staff assets, ed.) These all cause an increase in the work,
preparation of more documents, and study of more factors affecting combat
because of the larger space it is going to cover, the greater time frame being
covered and the more factors that are becoming relevant.
For instance, at the battalion or regiment level, the commander is dealing with
an area probably a dozen kilometers in depth and 5-10 km in width. In this area
he is operating against an enemy and terrain and he uses his own forces and
also coordinate with adjacent forces and the forces or the elements used by
higher echelons in his areas. He are concerned mostly with these factors. But
once consideration goes beyond the regiment to the army and especially
front, the commander is concerned about an area 600-800 km in depth and
400 km in width. Therefore, he is concerned about many other things: the
economic situation there, the political situation, the meteorological
situation, topo-geodetic situation there, so this actually forces him to
examine more factors before he can come to a conclusion.
The same is true for the quantity. For instance, at the battalion level, the
commander has three companies and some other artillery units, mortar, rocket
launchers and troops, anti-tank guided missiles, anti-tank rifles. Also
probably he would think about the reinforcements he has received from higher
echelons, such as engineering units, artillery battalions, and so on. But at
the army level, he has the army artillery, and with the army artillery he is
not only dealing with a single element, but he must distribute that artillery
to different echelons and he must assign them missions, coordinate the other
operations and activities, and also make sure that he supports their
operations. They support the operations of his maneuver units, but he must
support their support missions. At the army level there are 5-6 divisions and
they operate for 6-9 days, therefore he have many elements to assign missions
But there is a principal rule in staff procedure: the commander must follow
some specific steps in order to make decisions in the planning. In the Soviet
system they call it podgotovka, or preparation. This preparation
consists of different things: making decisions is only one step. What there
are, are several of them; a dozen. For instance, decision-making, and then
planning, and conveying the decision to the troops, assigning missions to them,
assigning coordination --actually it's not coordination, it's interaction
between the troops, establishing combat or operational support measures. These
are specific measures the commander must take. These include reconnaissance,
concealment, air defense, protection against mass destruction weapons,
topo-geodetic, logistic, engineer support, preparing the troops for the
operation, establishment of a organization of command posts, a command and
control system. And of course preparing the starting area is another thing the
commander must take care of. The list is a very long one, and only one step is
the making of the decision.
The problem is that, this is a problem with the Soviets as well, they
concentrate more on the decision-making process and the planning of the
operation. It should be clear that organization and planning are two different
things in that system. In the organization phase they actually do everything to
reach a decision. The commander clarifies the mission, prepares the data (the
initial data), makes an estimate of the situation, evaluates the terrain or
goes to the terrain actually. Then he makes a decision. This is organization.
In the organization phase, he actually tries to make a decision. He evaluates
and assesses the situation. A lot of assessment and rationalization is
concerned here; argument and rationalization.
Even the staff officers who present the report, the assessment, to the
commander will concentrate on the why they suggest a particular course of
action. For example, the artillery group of the army should not be established
and instead, the artillery groups of the division should be reinforced. In the
absence of mountainous terrain, there is no reason the artillery group of the
army cannot cover the entire front of the army, but in mountainous terrain the
divisions are separated. Therefore, the divisions should be reinforced by
artillery to establish stronger artillery groups. Something like that for the
artillery. The same goes for the other staff officers or chief of combat
support arms and services to present their suggestions on the distribution of
their combat support arms and services among the combined arms units.
After the decision, the commander and staff actually start planning. The basis
for the planning is the commander's decision. The preliminary part of the
planning could be conducted parallel to the decision-making; but the actual
planning starts when the commander makes a decision. In the planning, they try
to establish a favorable situation or conditions for implementation of the
decision made by the commander. A large amount of calculation is involved here.
It very clear that at the front and army level the organization phase
will take a few hours, but the planning will take many hours or days. At the
battalion level or the regiment level, sometimes this clear distinction between
organization and planning phases is not apparent. They are conducted in
parallel. At the battalion level or the company level, you don't see the
estimate of the situation. The commander conducts several thing at one time:
clarification of the mission, estimate of the situation, evaluation of the
terrain, coordination, and many other things-- he can do it at the same time.
While at the division level, it's not possible. At the army level, it becomes
more difficult. So, although the commanders follow the same specific steps in
the decision-making process or planning, it is the actual implementation or
actual practical steps which are different at the different levels.
Now it comes to the higher level. There the forces include the airborne or air
forces. Of course it makes a difference, but not only airborne or air forces.
There are many other facets. Take a company: a company normally attacks without
a second echelon: three platoons up. So this company will run out of steam very
soon, and after that this company will not do anything to influence the course
of the combat situation. So there is a certain time and space to be covered by
the company. Beyond that, the company is at the mercy of the higher echelon to
do something for the company to continue the attack. Take, for instance, the
front: of which if you calculate the first echelon armies and then take
first echelon divisions, then take first echelon regiments, then take first
echelon battalions, then take first echelon companies in the battalion, you see
that most of the forces are in the second echelon of different levels by the
time they start the attack. This means that the higher commander has several
second echelons to commit before he commits his own second echelon. Therefore,
it is not only the airborne or air forces, but many second echelons of his
forces that he is concerned with, that would affect the procedure in making the
decision and planning the operation.
As far as the airborne and air forces are concerned, one can see that wherever
they are attached to a unit, to the front or to the army, there is the
possibility not only for their operational use, but also for their logistics
and support, for their training and distribution and also for their
coordination. But with those elements they would receive as reinforcements from
a higher echelon, they are mostly concerned with their operational use. Even if
they are attached to a command, and that echelon would have some responsibility
of supply, it would be a temporary responsibility.
At this point it is well to consider another question, considering the special
requirements which may exist for planning of airborne and air operations. By
the nature of their being employed at an army level and thinking about the
planning times, airborne and air operations may require certain types of
reaction in the context of the unexpected. In other words, at the army level,
what is required in order to mount an airborne operation in terms of time and
space and prior planning. Also, what might the Soviets do if unexpected enemy
reserves are discovered to be moving into the area where the airborne operation
is due to be conducted.
Before we discuss this, we should beware of one thing: the airborne and air
force organic to the front, given to the army, are not something to be
considered as a reserve to be used whenever the commander has a danger or
unexpected situation. This is something like a second echelon; a second echelon
is not a reserve, either. It could be used as a reserve if you changed its
role, but initially the commander plans the use of his air army at the
front level. The front will allocate 15-20 sorties of air
regiments to the army for the entire operation, initial and subsequent
missions, plan the allocation to the divisions daily missions and also allocate
the air for the preparatory fire, for first day, for immediate missions,
subsequent missions, and it will have some part in reserve. But what they have
in reserve, will be considered a reserve, and that can be for the unexpected.
But the rest is allocated.
There is no plan that will not be susceptible to change in the course of the
operation. The better the quality of forecast, of anticipation, the more that
will be assured in implementing the plan. Of course there are unexpected things
in the battle, but there is one thing: when any commander thinks that there are
unexpected things, these are no longer unexpected. When he believes that in the
course of the operation the enemy reserve will probably react in these certain
ways, but there might be other ways. It is not unexpected as long as there is
something to deal with it, in the form of air reserves, second echelon, and so
on, then the commander can deal with these unexpected things.
But what is the real unexpected? It is the thing that will totally change the
plan. For example, the decision by the enemy to resort to the use of nuclear
weapons, beyond the commander's expectation. It will change a situation
totally. Then he will have to change his plan totally.
If airborne forces are involved in a ground forces operation, the situation is
complicated by the fact that more different forces are involved. But even if
one has airborne forces, and air forces, they plan their use as they plan the
use of their armies. Then, they adjust their use.
At the front level, planning is different from the army level situation.
At the front level,they plan the use of their air armies. At the
front there are 2-3 divisions of fighter aircraft, 1-2 fighter/bombers,
and 1 division of bombers. Of course, a transportation division, also. They
plan their use. How many of them, when they will participate in strategic air
operations, how many of them will be used in the preparation for the attack,
and what the targets are. Then they have the air operation and preparation for
the attack. All of these air assets are employed or used centrally. They are
controlled centrally. Once the armies start their attack, then they allocate
their assets to the armies. The armies will have 15-20 fighter/bomber regiment
sorties, but this does not mean that these 15-20 will be available at any
moment. First day they will have 6, the second day 2, the third day one. they
use the most the first day and for the intermediate mission.
Therefore, they have a plan for the distribution. Now the armies will allocate
their assets to the divisions, and then there is an air army at the
front level that just supervises the overall level. Then there is the
aviation control group coming from the air army to the army's headquarters.
This is a temporary group composed of the air force officers of the air army
who will coordinate the use of the allocated assets with the operation of the
army divisions. Then from this air control group there is a detachment from the
division operations department. They will have their own communications sets
and means to contact the airfields and aircraft and report to the air control
group at the army, and through them to the front.
For them the situation is, for instance, one day a division will have one
regiment sortie. At the regiment this is 34 aircraft once (in one sortie). Or
three squadron sorties, or nine flight sorties. The commander can use 9 flight
sorties on nine targets, the commander can use 3 squadron sorties on 3 targets,
he can use 1 regiment sortie, or a combination. Then they plan it according to
the suggestion of the commander. It is very difficult to change the sorties
from the army or front level. What they change, they change the kind of
allocation they have for the subsequent days. This is a kind of a rolling type
of planning; once they make any decision it is subject to confirmation before
they actually do something.
For example, if a division decides it's halfway to its subsequent mission and
its second echelon regiment is getting in trouble. Can it change the air
allocation form the army to get more air?
This kind of situation is a very major one for the army and for the
front. Army does not use all of its allocations. The army keeps some of
it in reserve. The first thing to do would be to use the reserve. The same goes
for the front. If the army runs out of reserve, then the front
will have some reserve, if it is very, very crucial. If not, the front
will not use it.
How long would it take to generate this whole action? From division commander
at 3 o'clock in the afternoon who thinks he's going to need some more air.
The situation tends to become more complicated when the enemy reacts more
forcefully. Which is normally either with the air force, second echelon,
movement of the reserve, or it is able to establish stronger defenses in the
intermediate positions. In any case, the regiments, once they are committed
according to the plan, it means that up to that point, the division doesn't
have any problem. Everything goes according to the plan, the second echelon is
committed...then it will be several hours before the higher headquarters knows
that the second echelon is in trouble.
The army's second echelon is normally committed for the accomplishment of the
immediate mission or subsequent mission. If a situation is that bad that it is
not going to be accomplished, the army will commit the second echelon. But, if
it is not bad, than there are other means to accomplish the mission, the army
will not commit its second echelon. The second echelon of the army normally
follows the first echelon from a distance of 50-60 km. It would take the second
echelon division 4 hours to be committed.
As an example of flexibility in planning take the situation in which, toward
the end of the afternoon, the first echelon division has accomplished its
immediate mission on time, its moving toward its subsequent mission, but the
commander believes he only needs a small amount of air support. The army
commander doesn't want to commit the army's second echelon. How long would it
take to obtain air support? Three hours?
No, if the commander uses the air reserve at the army level, it would take less
than that. But probably it would take less than one hour. The problem is that
the army commander must believe that the division needs that air. Otherwise the
regiment or division commander will cry for air support to anyone. The army
commander must be made to believe they need it. It is very difficult for the
army commander to decide suddenly but, the situation in the division develops
gradually. It does not mean that the army commander just sits there, gets the
report from the division or regiment commander that they are in trouble and
after that will decide if he is really in trouble. The army staff is
continuously following the situation.
It could be that the army may decide that it needs to commit its air reserve
even before the commander asks for it. At the request of the division it will
speed up. On the other hand, the divisions are continuously reporting to the
higher echelon. Normally after 2 hours, or after a drastic change occurs in the
situation. In these cases the situation report that they send will have a
picture of the enemy's situation, their own situation; the commander's decision
at that particular moment is whether to continue the attack as scheduled or he
says that he has made a decision to change that part. To support this position
they request air or something. Then the commander will be in a position,
because he is following the situation, to decide. The assessment of the
situation is a continuous process.
There is air available for on call use at various times during the day even
though it wasn't planned ahead of time. There is a reserve in the air army. It
is always there. At the beginning I said that if you believe that there will be
unexpected events, then it is no longer unexpected, as long as you have
something to deal with it. Of course, if you are without the reserve and
something happens, then you have to change your plan and reallocate your
assets, which is very difficult.
We're trying to focus on just how difficult that reallocation is.
The need should be confirmed. The request for the use of air normally comes
from lower echelons along the chain of command to higher echelons. Probably if
a company commander wants it the battalion commander will probably say it is
not necessary, so it will stop there. But let it go to the regimental commander
and it will take some time before the battalion commander presents it to the
regimental commander. But sometimes the request will originate at the
regimental or divisional level. For instance, what kind of air support will a
platoon need that the regiment is not aware of? It is a very unrealistic kind
of thing. The kind of threat the platoon is facing could always be handled with
artillery, which is battalion or regiment level.
What is the typical target of the air?
Normally once the attack has started, the enemy columns, reserves moving to
interfere in the situation, only the most dangerous enemy elements. The enemy
elements which will change the situation, the correlation of forces, or if the
situation involves very stubborn resistance. At the same time, this does not
concern the platoon or the company. In this kind of close contact with the
enemy, the air force is not a good means to deal with it. The air is targeted
against a concentration of enemy in depth, or movement of the enemy reserve, or
enemy columns in depth. These are elements which if not delayed will cause
problems. For instance, the regiments are moving and the second echelon is to
be committed in 2 hours; but there is a movement of the enemy reserve. It could
reach the same area in one hour and 30 minutes. The commander cannot commit his
second echelon early, so perhaps it will be engaged with a meeting engagement
with that reserve. The advance will lose momentum in the attack. So destroy
that reserve, or at least delay them, that is crucial. Artillery cannot delay
it, so to get it effectively, the commander must use the air force.
In the Soviet system, it's very doubtful that platoon, company or even
battalion commanders are calling for air support. It would be regiment and more
likely division itself; and that is also the lowest level the air operational
control group is at.So by the nature of the target and so forth.. The platoon
leader is concerned with only 250 meters. If it is the problem of several
platoons, then it is a battalion or regiment problem.
The commander can use whatever is available at that time, and he accordingly
can change the allocation pattern for the future. One cannot expect that the
allocation made for 7 or 8 days will stay the same until the end of the
operation. Each day the commander and staff must look at what to expect the
next day to know what kind of allocation they will make. Or for future days
it's kind of a rolling planning system. Each day the staff reconfirms what it
had planned initially.
When considering airborne operations in support of the front the
flexibility of the Soviet system to make changes in response to altered
situations is an important consideration. How easy or difficult is it to change
a planned airborne operation? Might an operation be cancelled within hours of
its planned execution?
Change is a relative thing. A change for a tactical unit is in terms of a few
hours. But a change at the operational level normally takes days. It is just
isn't normal that an operational activity such as an airborne landing would be
changed a few hours before it is planned to take place. It is not normal that a
discovery that the operation should not take place would be made just prior to
its execution. That is not possible. It's not realistic. It's good at the
tactical level, but unrealistic at the operational level. Of course, there
might be changes, but those are the changes that make the commander adjust his
support, not change the actual plan. Maybe in the projected landing zone there
is an activity of the enemy establishing obstacles. But this does not mean that
in a few hours the obstacle will be such a danger that the commander will call
off the operation. He will just try to increase his supporting measures. Unless
there's something exceptional happening, like a Chernobyl thing.
At the front level an airborne operation would be used toward the
accomplishment of the immediate mission, or during the accomplishment of
subsequent missions. Considering the European theater, for instance: A typical
airborne operation would be to capture the centers or the capitals of some of
the NATO countries before the ground forces reach there, in order to form a new
government or maybe to get the ports of western Europe to block the arrival of
new reserves from overseas. These operations are planned and supported by many
other elements. It would be 2-3 days before the operation is scheduled that the
commander would know that he possibly have to change them. To think of such
things happening within just a few hours is unrealistic, unless the Soviets you
run out of all reconnaissance. If their reconnaissance fails totally, then it
is something else, but normally it would not be so.
2. How does the management of intelligence and target acquisition
change from one echelon to another in the hierarchy? What are the intelligence
and target acquisition assets at each echelon? How are they organized and
controlled? How might this be changed if a normal situation changes into one in
which the prior plans are disrupted by enemy actions or other unexpected events
or situations.? How does the control of intelligence assets change as a
function of the criteria the commander is using to determine that unexpected
events may upset his plans?
A. (See also the separate report "Soviet Reconnaissance")
Depending on the level of the command, there are many different assets of
reconnaissance. As one goes upward, the reconnaissance becomes more
sophisticated, exotic, and more related to other forms of reconnaissance. Take
the regiment: there is a reconnaissance officer who is an infantry officer and
has an assistant or deputy, a training officer, and another four or five
Then at the division level there is some form of sophistication. There the
Soviet division has in addition to the reconnaissance battalion a SPETZNAZ
company and OSNAZ units in the form of radio electronic reconnaissance units.
Although they are not organic to the division, they are deployed in the
division area by the army . Again, the SPETZNAZ company will not be the same as
the SPETZNAZ company of the army. The army will conduct more exotic things. The
division's company will be deployed mostly for deep reconnaissance. A depth of
maybe 40-50 km; because the division is mainly concerned with that depth. When
one considers the army level, the Soviets have all other elements of
reconnaissance. There is a company of SPETZNAZ, a battalion of radio
electronics, a battalion of radar reconnaissance. At the front, they
have regiments of radio reconnaissance, and even air radio electronics.
Again, at the division level, the reconnaissance will be something between
specialized and tactical. Once one gets to the army and front, the
reconnaissance will become more specialized and the officers there will be
specialized intelligence officers. They have specialized sections of
reconnaissance, SPETZNAZ, also there is troop reconnaissance, and agent
reconnaissance. They will have their own intelligence centers. They have
information sections, the center of all information. They have a decoding
section. Troop reconnaissance will be led by infantry officers and tank
officers; the others will be specialized.
The assets are also different. They have different levels because they have
different areas of responsibility, assets, and the methods of reconnaissance
they are conducting have more variety. As one goes higher and higher, some
acquired intelligence information from peacetime and the type of target to
locate is different. At the division level there is a reconnaissance battalion.
This is normally used for combat patrols, reconnaissance detachments,
conducting raids, ambushes, covering the flanks, screening. It consists of 2
companies of mechanized infantry mounted in (BDM). It means combat patrol
vehicle. Another company has light tanks, PT-76. The SPETZNAZ company they have
for deep reconnaissance, dropped 40-50 km. They conduct observation, raids,
This company can detach 9 groups, each group consisting of 5-7 people. The area
they cover will be 25-50 sq km. Besides that, the division will get some
information acquired by other means from higher echelons. The army will deploy
some of its assets to the division; 1-2 radio listening battalions, each to
control 3-4 radio nets of HF. One-2 radio interception battalion, to locate 30
radio stations in 1 hour. This is a method of planing to locate them. 1-2 radio
technical forces to locate and determine the characteristics of 20-30 radars
per hour. The technical characteristics will tell them what type of
headquarters they are because they have lists of what kind of radar is organic
to what the division, to artillery command posts, and so on. They will
determine if it is a command post, an observation post, etc. Also, the radar
system for air defense is working in a specified system.
For instance, the air defense regiment of a division has its own reconnaissance
radars and the information received by these units is disseminated to other
units as well. The army has a force, a center of air target acquisition.
Information from that center comes to the air defense section. At the same time
the army deploys 1-2 SNAR radars. That is a radar which can locate a gun
position or mortar position by following the trajectory. It is effective to 18
km. Besides that, there is the artillery reconnaissance, the engineering
reconnaissance forces, chemical reconnaissance. Although they are used to plan
the respective arms and services, the information is also passed to
reconnaissance sections to be used for operational purposes.
The artillery will get 2 batteries per division: a sound battery and an optical
battery. The sound battery is deployed on a frontage of 4-6 km, and operates
over a sector of 6-8 km up to a range of 18 km, depending on the caliber of the
enemy artillery. So they actually deploy this sound equipment with certain gaps
and after a gun fires they record the sound and triangulate. The optical
battery also has a front of 4-6 km and covers an area 6-8 km wide. The range
depends on what kind of visibility you have. In a normal area that is 12-15 km.
While the division will detach 9 groups, the army will detach only 6 groups.
The groups are different. They can operate up to 350 km. The army also have a
battalion of radio technical and radio.
The army is given an A type radio-electronic warfare battalion from the
front. There are two types, A type and F type. Both are organic to the
front. The A type is meant to be attached to the armies, F type is for
front. Each army gets an A type, although the mission of that is
jamming, radioelectronic suppression. There is one company of reconnaissance
radio; that is used to locate the radio electronic units that are to be
suppressed. Information received from that company is also passed to the other
section of recon for operational purposes. In the army artillery and rocket
forces they have recon and engineering recon. The chemical forces have a
company which consists of 5 platoons, which can do many things: cover several
assembly areas, monitor the doors of radioactive agents in the areas,
reconnoiter groups of advance and areas of several hundred sq km. Army has
several chemical units. One is chemical and radiation company, which is a
company consisting of 5 platoons. At the army level they do other things, also.
At the front, they have reconnaissance regiments: a regiment of tactical
reconnaissance, a regiment of operational reconnaissance, a squadron of drone
aircraft, regiments of radio and radio tech reconnaissance, helicopter
electronic squadron. At the front there are several battalions of
radioelectronic warfare, each of which has a company attached to it for F type
and A type reconnaissance. They have a SPETZNAZ battalion, which is very exotic
and is used for exotic missions: not only reconnaissance, but destruction of
nuclear delivery means, destruction of the communication system. They can be
dropped up to 800 km deep in enemy rear areas. Then you have the main
intelligence directorate of the general staff (GRU), they have their agents
throughout the enemy area. The army level the SPETZNAZ have the additional
missions of destruction of nuclear delivery means and raiding of enemy higher
headquarters. The division level is purely deep reconnaissance, only sometimes
it conducts raids in order to get documents. They are not like exotic
Responding to unexpected situations
When thinking about how the system is employed and how it might be used by
commanders when they are in situations when unexpected things are beginning to
happen, the question is how do they respond in using this system?
The aim of the recon is spelled out by the commander. In the academies, there
is always a problem for the students to learn about describing the aim. The aim
is not missions or tasks. It is normally to assist in accomplishing the
operational mission with minimum changes in the plan. The aim is a very general
pronouncement. It is a broadly worded description of the operational goal for
which the reconnaissance is undertaken.The reconnaissance officers take pride
in telling that as the aim of reconnaissance. This is something they invented
in the 1970s. Before that, it never was mentioned. The aim of reconnaissance is
mission related. Whatever you do should help you to accomplish your mission.
You should not use your means just because they can do something. You use your
means because it is necessity. In WWII they were using anti-aircraft guns
against tanks. In one instance an officer found some anti-aircraft guns in a
unit not under his direct command. The area was being overrun with enemy tanks.
He approached the anti-aircraft unit commander and said you know what is
happening? They said, yes, 2 aircraft are passing over and I'm waiting for
others. He said forget about that and see what is coming on the ground. They
said, yes, we will take care of the aircraft. He said no, just hit those tanks,
but the unit commander refused. The commander then said "Either you get a
medal or I shoot you on the spot." The anti-aircraft commander replied,
"Of course I want a medal." The commander said, well then shoot the
Although the aim of the recon is determined by the commander, the chief of
staff gives tasks to the chief of reconnaissance, based on the commander's aim.
Then the main area of involvement of the reconnaissance department is planning
the reconnaissance and coordinating the means. It also must turn the
information into suggestions or assessments of the situation. This assessment
is different from the information. It makes the first paragraph of the
operational directive and order at the tactical level, and the first paragraph
of the operational plan. The plan of reconnaissance is worked out by the
reconnaissance team. The plan shows the tasks in the first column. Then there
is a column showing the assets. For each tasks they give missions for each
element and the time it is to be accomplished. From the plan, the recon section
writes instructions to the different elements. The plan is continuously updated
and adjusted to the situation. The information received is processed, analyzed,
and reported to the commander. Also to the adjacents, to the higher echelons.
Reconnaissance for forecasting
When the commander at each level from regiment to division to army to
front feels that unexpected things are happening . At each level, what
reconnaissance type activities can he direct to help him with forecasting?
The system requires the use of all available reconnaissance means. Therefore,
each level of command is responsible for reporting their situation to the
higher echelon. More than that, there are regular reconnaissance summaries
which are sent to the higher echelons in addition to the situation reports. In
situation reports you give information about the enemy, but that is more in the
form of an assessment. In the reconnaissance summary, which is normally from
the battalion upwards there is this assessment. The formal written
documentation starts normally at the regiment and higher. They relieve the
lower elements from much of the documentation. Therefore, these summaries
originate at the regiment level, as opposed to lower. There are not many
written documents at the battalion level.
The troops moving in the attack move in a box of reconnaissance. The companies
will have combat patrols, mounted in APC or if its on foot a section or a
squad. It is at a the distance of 5-6 km for the company and battalion level.
At the regiment level there are reconnaissance detachments going deeper, 10-15
km. At the division, its up to 25-30 km deep. As the Soviet unit moves anywhere
the reconnaissance is there. The troop reconnaissance units are based on all
available reconnaissance received. The company's movement is a source of
information for the regiment, battalion, and so on. Therefore, the area of
responsibility is not the same at different levels. The battalion conducting an
offensive will be concerned with the depth of enemy's defending battalion.
beyond that, the battalion will be involved as it moves forward, because it has
these combat patrols. For the regiment, 8-10 km, and for the division 40-50 km.
But this does not mean that they are not looking to areas beyond that.
3. How is the control of intelligence (reconnaissance) at front
level planned? Describe the structure and contents of the front
A. The front commander and staff have the following responsibilities for
organizing the command and control of reconnaissance operations.
1. The commander analyzes the requirements for information and determines the
reconnaissance needed. He defines and specifies the missions to be accomplished
and the objectives to be achieved. The front commander specifies the
a. The aim of reconnaissance
b. Basic tasks of reconnaissance
c. Reconnaissance troops and means to conduct reconnaissance and collect
information prior to the commencement of combat operations.
d. What reconnaissance information is collected and when it must be collected.
e. On which objectives, areas and directions the main efforts of reconnaissance
must be concentrated.
2. The commander listens to the reports of the chief of staff and chief of
reconnaissance concerning the organization of reconnaissance planning. He also
specifies the additional troops and means which he desires to employ to
accomplish reconnaissance tasks.
3. The front chief of staff is directly responsible for the organization
of reconnaissance. He interprets the commander's instructions and converts them
into specific tasks.
In his instructions the chief of staff gives the following:
a. Specify in detail the reconnaissance tasks assigned by the commander and
higher headquarters and the sequence of their execution as well as the
allocation of troops and means for the performance of each task.
b. Specify the measures for coordination among the different types and methods
of reconnaissance. c. Specify the time and method of collection of
d. Confirms and adjusts objectives and areas and axes where the main effort of
reconnaissance will be concentrated.
e. Specifies the troops and means to be employed for accomplishment of most
f. Specifies the main measures on readiness of reconnaissance forces
g. Specifies the deadline for preparation of the reconnaissance plan and the
combat instructions on reconnaissance and when it must be forwarded to him for
his approval and endorsement.
h. Specify the reconnaissance reserve of troops and means.
4. Based on the instructions of the front commander and chief of staff,
the chief of reconnaissance begins to organize the reconnaissance for the
operation. The measures and actions taken by the front's chief of
reconnaissance include the following:
a. Issuing the reconnaissance combat mission to various reconnaissance troops
and the establishing the time for completing each mission as well as the time
and method for reporting reconnaissance information.
b. Establishing the measures for coordination (interaction) among the various
reconnaissance activities and units conducting them.
c. Issuing instructions to the reconnaissance troops concerning the method of
their movement to their deployment areas.
d. Instructing the front's reconnaissance staff on preparing the
e. Controlling the attainment of assigned missions.
5. The essence of reconnaissance planning is the rational and best allocation
of the various specific troops and means, on the basis of their capabilities,
to the individual missions and objectives. Depending on the situation the
reconnaissance plan is prepared in a written form with a map annex or it is
worked out on a map with written instructions. The reconnaissance plan should
reflect the following points:
a. The aim and specific tasks of reconnaissance with the reconnaissance sectors
b. The troops and means allocated for reconnaissance and their distribution in
terms of missions and objectives (targets).
c. The timing of the accomplishment of the assigned missions and the time to
acquire the required information from higher headquarters and other
d. The reserve of reconnaissance troops and means.
e. Organization of command and control of reconnaissance troops and means and
the method of sending reconnaissance reports.
f. The plan also may include other guidelines, instructions and information on
preparation and conduct of the reconnaissance.
6. Since the frontal headquarters is the principal organizer of air
reconnaissance the frontal plan of reconnaissance would include the
following points on aerial reconnaissance: the missions and limits (areas) of
aerial reconnaissance, the number of allocated sorties for the accomplishment
of each mission, the most important reconnaissance targets, the method and time
of sending aerial reconnaissance reports.
7. The map annex, attached to the reconnaissance plan, normally reflects the
a. Boundaries of the front and of armies
b. The targets and axes of reconnaissance and the areas where special attention
of the reconnaissance is to be concentrated.
c. The units, subunits and groups (detachments) of special reconnaissance
troops and the sources of espionage reconnaissance.
d. The main directions of aerial reconnaissance to cover the areas of
deployment of the airfields where the reconnaissance aviation forces are based.
The scale and dimension of plane and oblique aerial photography of these
f. The main and alternate areas of the deployment of frontal
reconnaissance troops and means and the method of their movement and relocation
in the course of the operation.
g. The line up to which all types of arms and services may conduct
reconnaissance prior to the initiation of the operation.
8. The written instructions attached to the map type reconnaissance plan would
briefly reflect the following points:
a. The aim and main tasks of the reconnaissance and the time of their
b. Calculation of the troops and means in terms of missions, the days of
operation and the axes of action, along with other information which can not be
shown on the map.
c. Instructions on material (logistic) support.
d. Instructions on coordination (interaction)
e. Instructions on communications.
9. The sequence of preparing the reconnaissance plan can be as follows:
a. Marking available and current information about the enemy on the map and
drawing the boundary lines of armies and the front.
b. Marking the areas and directions (axes) of particular attention
c. Specifying and singling out that reconnaissance information which requires
confirmation, updating and recontrol.
d. Calculating the capabilities of reconnaissance troops and means and their
distribution in terms of targets and directions (axes)
e. Specifying the areas and the lines of deployment and operation of
reconnaissance organs (elements) and specification of their missions.
f. Establishing the method for re-reconnoitering and double- checking of the
targets of the initial nuclear strike.
g. Assessing the enemy's likely actions, the grouping of his troops and means
prior to the initiation of combat actions and during the course of the combat
h. Determining the specific reconnaissance mission prior to the operation and
in the course of the conduct of the operation.
i. Specifying the time of acquisition of reconnaissance information for the
initial nuclear strike, initiation of the attack by friendly forces, commitment
of the second echelon forces into combat, assault river crossing, fighting the
enemy's advancing reserves, etc.
j. Specifying measures on reinforcement and activation of the reconnaissance
for the upcoming war and for the phase of the initiation of military
10. In preparing the reconnaissance plan the following officers of different
departments would also take part: the chief of reconnaissance department of the
air army, chief of artillery reconnaissance, the reconnaissance officers of
other arms and services who are responsible for organization and conduct of
reconnaissance in their respective departments.
11. The reconnaissance plan is basically a combat document which is signed by
the chief of frontal reconnaissance department and the front
chief of staff, and it is approved by the front commander.
12. In offensive operations the reconnaissance plan is worked out for the
entire period of the preparatory phase in which the operation is itself being
prepared as well as for the actual execution phase in which the immediate
mission and subsequent missions are accomplished..
13. Reconnaissance is conducted during the preparation phase in support of the
commander's requirements for decision-making as well as to provide the latest
information on the status of enemy forces. During this phase the reconnaissance
has the following characteristics:
a. In the preparatory phase the main efforts of reconnaissance are concentrated
on disclosing the time the enemy may begin combat operations and on the
assessment of the composition, numbers (identification) and intentions of the
b. The main efforts of reconnaissance are concentrated, in this phase, on the
planned axes for the front's main attack. In this phase the most
important reconnaissance missions should be executed by operational agent
(agenturnaya) reconnaissance, radio and radio technical (electronic-radar)
reconnaissance and also by air reconnaissance without violating international
14. The first echelon armies may be required to take up a deliberate defense at
the initial phase of the war. The organization and planning of reconnaissance
in support of army defensive operations depend on the conditions and methods
for assuming the defense. An army may also assume the defense after the
accomplishment of the offensive operation or to repel the enemy counterattack.
Therefore the organization and conduct of reconnaissance in defensive
operations will have the following characteristics:
a. All of the army's reconnaissance troops may have been infiltrated into the
depth (rear) of the enemy positions as a result of previous operations (special
reconnaissance and operational reconnaissance troops).
b. The reconnaissance troops may have suffered casualties in personnel and
equipment, and may require resupply before they can be employed to execute new
c. The depth of reconnaissance operations in a defensive situation are far less
than the depth of those conducted in offensive operations. Therefore, the main
efforts of all types of reconnaissance activities will be concentrated on
disclosing the enemy's main attack, the time the enemy will initiate the attack
and the likely (possible) concept of the enemy's combat operations.
d. The reconnaissance plan in support of an army defensive operation is
prepared and organized to cover reconnaissance operations during the entire
preparatory phase and for a further 5 to 6 days of defensive combat operations.
At the same time the execution of reconnaissance missions in support of
resuming the army offensive operation should be anticipated in the plan, since
the defense, as a type of combat operation, is only of a temporary nature and
should be followed by offensive operations at the first possible and feasible
4. Would the employment and use of an OMG present any unusual aspects
in the decision-making process? How is uncertainty treated when planning for
the use of OMG's? Which echelons are involved? Would unexpected changes in
combat require major changes in the planning for the use of OMGs?
Before describing the impact of the OMG on the decision- making process one
must consider the role and missions of the OMG. It is clear that the OMG at the
army and front levels is in one sense new but also in another old. It is
a redevelopment of the mobile groups used in WWII and a force similar to the
advanced detachment used at the division level, albeit on a larger scale. In
WWII the mobile group had the mission that today's OMG has. The first question
is why did the Soviets revive it? It could be that when they realized that war
probably would not necessarily be nuclear they needed an element at the
operational level to take the place of the nuclear rounds fired into the depth
of the enemy area. This element would have to move fast into the depth to
prevent the enemy reserve from moving forward to reach the tactical zone of
combat. It must be able to destroy enemy nuclear delivery means and to exploit
tactical success. Thus the OMG fills the role of nuclear weapons to the extent
that it concerns a quick development of the offensive into deep areas.
Role of OMG's
The OMG is an operational element with the mission of developing tactical
success into operational success. So it is not a tactical means itself nor is
its action tactical. It is not a second echelon because at the tactical level a
second echelon of a division has the mission of developing a tactical success
into a further tactical success and at the operational level a second echelon
of an army has the mission of developing one operational success into another
or the second echelon of a front has the mission to develop a larger
operational success into an operational/ strategic success.
As the Soviets teach at the Frunze and Voroshilov academies, the tactical
success of the first echelon division occurs on the first day of combat when it
successfully penetrates through the defender's tactical zone. In order to
exploit this tactical success the attacker must commit something early on the
next day. However the second echelon of the army is not planned for commitment
until the third day or later since it is an operational level force being used
as the means to exploit already achieved operational success by conducting
another operation. Therefore the OMG then is used to convert this initial
tactical success into an operational one.
For the OMG to be successful in achieving this purpose it should not be
committed until the tactical defense zone is actually penetrated, although in
WWII it was often necessary for the mobile group to complete the penetration.
These considerations mean that the army OMG ought to be committed as early as
possible on the second day. Since there is not enough space in the penetration
for two OMG's to deploy this means that the front OMG would have to wait
until later in the day or to the third day for commitment.
There are some differences between the army and front OMG's. The army is
at the mercy of the front in that many of its supporting assets come
from front. The army will have less internal assets to use to support an
OMG unless it receives support from front.
During the initial operation when the front is attacking it generally
will have two major axes and rarely three. On the second day there will be only
limited areas in which the first echelons will have made successful
penetrations. For the front an OMG would be the size of a corps or a
small army. If the penetration on the main axis is made by two armies with four
divisions in the first echelon it might eventually be 80 to 100 km wide, but
not initially. On the second day there would more likely be several smaller
penetrations near each other along the front's front line, but not yet
completely linked. At any rate the OMG must pass through this restricted gap.
It must pass in the gaps between the penetrating divisions, an exceedingly
difficult task. It is not likely that it will be possible to have army and
front OMG's in the same area.
To facilitate the passage of the OMG the first echelon divisions must occupy
and seize a favorable line by using their own advanced detachment toward the
end of the first day. This success could then support the commitment of the
OMG. The OMG will be moving in several deep columns and will be quite
vulnerable, unless there is a well established air supremacy.
Support and coordination
The task organization of frontal forces established in the front
operations plan is normally established with the support of the immediate
mission and subsequent mission in mind. This is itself a very complex
undertaking. For the first day all assets will be concentrated on support of
the first echelon divisions. When the second echelon of each unit is committed
this requires a regrouping and shift of many support roles. For the army this
occurs on the third day. When the OMG is committed on the second day it must
have its own support to secure its commitment, plus a general support by
centralized assets. This means there will be two regroupings in two days. For
each there are many required calculations.
The OMG will be moving forward and will pick up these supporting elements just
before it is committed. This means that just before the OMG arrives the
supporting units must stop their previous missions and get ready to switch and
in some cases join it. The artillery will have an especially complex set of
activities to perform. It will have to cease fire at just the right time.
Should the enemy launch a counterattack at the time the OMG is moving forward
toward the front line it will cause a major problem. The enemy counterattack
will strike the advancing units on the march and the OMG could get into a
meeting engagement before it reaches its planned line of commitment. In this
situation the commander would not move the OMG forward if there is the
possibility of its getting into such a meeting engagement at the line of
contact. The enemy counterattack against one army could be blocked by the
commitment of the OMG (but that does not use the OMG for the mission
appropriate to its design). Meanwhile the OMG of the other army could proceed
Since the OMG can only be committed where there is sufficient space it is
difficult to use one in mountains. There it is more likely that air assault
units would be employed or that elements of the OMG would be airlifted..
It is essential to coordinate the activities of the OMG with airborne and air
assault units. These will be used in two levels. At the tactical level there
will be air assault units used by the OMG itself when it sees an opportunity.
These will be of company or battalion size and will operate 10 to 15 km ahead
of the front line for the short time that they can before being supported.
At the operational level the army or front has planned to use a
"sturmovoi vozdushnaya desantnaya brigada" from the
front as an operational force in nuclear war.. This brigade was to be
dropped 40 - 50 kms or more in front to prevent the advance of enemy reserves
while the front troops were moving along the axis hit by nuclear
weapons. The brigade was to secure crossing sites, knock out administrative
centers, secure passages, seize ports or airfields, etc. As the front
troops moved it was to be 40 - 50 km or more in front of the front lines. Now
if the war is conventional such a brigade can be used with the OMG, but now
that it is 40 - 50 km in front of the OMG it will be 100 - 150 km in front of
the rest of the front line. This means it will require a greater and different
kind of air support. Moreover, if the OMG gets involved in heavy fighting the
air assault brigade might be lost.
All these considerations mean that the use of the OMG requires a very great
deal more effort in coordination and considerably complicates planning in
general. The unusual aspects for decision making include:
- increased planning of coordination in limited time period
- increased rapid shifting of artillery
- more complex operations for air assault and airborne units
- more complicated and difficult air army operations
- increased logistics and other support requirements
5. How does a commander at each echelon keep abreast of the situation
and become aware that sudden changes have occurred? What criteria does he use
to determine that a sudden change has occurred? What about other changes? How
long does it take a commander at each echelon to become aware that the
unexpected has occurred? How long does it take to react? What would he have to
do in order to react? What would the staff do in support of his actions?
A. In the course of combat changes occur and reports are given not according to
some standard pattern. Different things happen in different ways at the various
level of command, depending on the level.
As always the mission is the most important criterion. The commander has to do
something, his mission, at or by a specific time. In most cases new
developments which necessitate changes will occur or be perceived first at the
lower levels. If they are within the cognizance of the commander who recognizes
them he will generally make the necessary decision and report it to the higher
headquarters where their decision will be, for the most part, based on his
There is a periodic report, the situation report. However it is also rendered
whenever there is a change in the situation which warrants reporting. This
report has a standard format which includes a statement of what the commander's
current action is and what his recommendation for future action is. Thus
changes in the situation which create the need for changes from the initial
arrangements will generate a report. The lower commander will generally make
these changes and then report them. The higher commander then sees how these
changes in the one lower unit will affect other adjacent and supporting units
and will make necessary changes. Or at least the lower commander will include
the statement at the appropriate paragraph in his situation report about what
his recommendation for action at the current moment is.
The situation develops over time. Very sudden changes with the exception of use
of nuclear weapons are not usual at the tactical level. When a regiment makes a
decision it is for the next few hours of combat. The division takes this
information into consideration when making its decisions.
With the steady reporting by commanders and staff of their situation plus the
direct reporting of reconnaissance elements one can estimate that lower level
echelons such as division should not be more than 30 minutes behind the times
for the real situation. Higher headquarters such as army and front might
be up to 3 - 4 hours behind in their appreciation of what is happening at the
level of the first echelon battalions through the reporting in the command
channel, but they should also be no more than 30 minutes behind the real
situation for information reported through their own dedicated reconnaissance
If the higher headquarters does acquire information first on something that is
or will occur then the process of adjustment is reversed. This might happen
when a division deep reconnaissance elements or those of echelons above the
division locate a new enemy unit which is beyond the current range of
reconnaissance of the regiments.
A typical example of reporting of information might occur as follows: A combat
patrol of a regiment may detect movement of new enemy units forming columns at
a certain distance from the front. Evaluation of information may result in the
regimental commander assessing the situation to decide that the enemy is
preparing a counterattack. He will calculate the time and space factors to
determine the time at which the enemy may reach various deployment lines. If
the calculation shows he is still in good shape he will make the decisions
needed and report the situation. If the situation will not be good and the
regiment needs help he will send the report and include a request for
assistance. But if the division also learns the same information (as it usually
will from its own reconnaissance) it will already have made some decisions. The
decision cycle at division level is not simple. The more the force is a
combined arms force the more complex is the decision cycle.
In general a unit can deal with unexpected things that occur within the
framework of time and space set out in the plan. For a battalion this is 2 - 3
hours, for a regiment 4-5 hours and for a division a day. For an army it is 2-3
days and the front has a week.
In conventional combat the most significant enemy action which might create
problems for a division is the commitment of the defender's corps reserve. This
starts at a depth of 50 -60 km. The first reconnaissance which would notice
this movement is the deep reconnaissance units of front and army, not
the first echelon regiment which will be the first unit actually to confront
this reserve in battle. One of the most important missions of reconnaissance is
keeping the enemy reserve under constant surveillance. This is in the EEI at
several levels and will be accomplished by air recon, deep patrols, REW,
drones, agents and satellites. The Soviets believe that they will be able to
detect the movement of a NATO corps reserve within a matter of a few minutes,
except at night. The first reaction will be to call for air strikes on the
moving reserve columns.
The chief of staff issues orders in the name of the commander. Therefore in
cases when new orders are needed, he will most likely issue new instructions.
These new instructions will be in the context of the previous mission for the
lower unit and will conform with the missions of the higher headquarters. Often
the only changes needed are in the plan of coordination. If necessary the chief
of staff will send a staff officer to help the lower unit change its plan. But
if a very different course of action is needed then the staff will propose
their new ideas.
The front staff monitors the information flowing in many channels. The
front axis officers report regularly. At each level the phase of the
commitment of the second echelon of the next lower command is the time for the
higher headquarters to make decisions and issue new instructions.
6. What kind of directions does a commander receive from his next
senior commander? How does this differ from one echelon to the next? In other
words contrast the difference in the direction received by regiment from
division and that received by army from front.
A. The mission is conveyed by an operations order or combat instruction. During
combat, orders are conveyed by an instruction. There are two parts or kinds,
radio and written. The division and regiment use both forms but from battalion
down only radio or direct oral commands are issued. On the radio they give the
call signs and a short assessment of the enemy, the unit mission, the
reinforcements and measures for cooperation. In the written form they include
the assessment of the enemy, the mission, coordination measures and command and
Maps containing the unit plan are not sent. The lower echelon copies the maps
at the higher headquarters or gets and overlay. At important times or critical
tasks staff officers go to deliver the orders. They use code systems for
The type of orders and the details of their content differ for units of
different size. The larger combined arms and reenforced units have more
elaborate missions. In the directions it receives the army gets the aim of the
operation and the tasks to be performed. The division and regiment receive only
tasks to perform. Both levels and all others get the detail appropriate to the
system for the level at which they are operating.
Orders differ also depending on the kind of enemy confronting the force, not
only the size and type of enemy, but the nature of the expected activity makes
a difference. If the enemy is established on the terrain there is specific
information about his dispositions and his forces viewed as targets for
friendly forces and weapons. But if the enemy is coming to a meeting engagement
there are no targets. Orders must be more general. If the enemy occupies a
fortified defense zone then detailed instructions are given to every unit on
exactly what it must do. The coordination measures will be especially
The nature of the terrain also influences the content and nature of the orders.
Combat in mountains requires different organizational arrangements, command and
control procedures and coordination measures than does combat on a plain. In
the mountains more details and instructions about the terrain are needed.
As a general rule one takes into consideration the impact of time and space on
the nature of the combat mission. The smaller the scope in time and space the
less the number of episodes there will be for which planning must be made. The
wider the scope the more the episodes and hence exponentially the greater the
number of contingencies to be considered and planned for.
In actual fighting each unit has the capability to deal with the unexpected on
the scale of the fighting it is designed to perform. Its missions are geared to
the extent a unit can deal with the unexpected. A battalion in the attack has
the capability to fight on its own for two to three hours. After that it needs
more directions. It won't stop and wait, but the higher headquarters knows its
limitations and takes this into consideration. It knows it must assign the
battalion new missions after one to two hours into the first battle in order
for it to be preparing for the next one. For the regiment the battle generally
takes up to 8 hours, but it needs new missions after four to five hours because
its battalions will have accomplished their missions by then. The division
needs a new mission each day. The army needs a new one after two to three days.
The front needs a new direction or mission after a week. By then there
will be changes and new guidance. In the course of the accomplishment of the
immediate missions a unit generally receives the necessary changes to its
subsequent mission and also its new mission for the future.
Initial phase of war
The initial phase of war is a special time with a special situation which the
Soviets have studied and researched in great detail. At this time the situation
imposes special requirements on the planning process and in fact all aspects of
With respect to questions related to uncertainty, it must be noted that
uncertainty is especially acute during the period just prior to the initiation
of war. IN fact a great many issues are only clarified with the actual start of
the war.Thus prewar plans for the combat actions to take place during the
initial phase of war must take into account a multitude of possible
contingencies and varying situational conditions.
As in all cases the mission is the primary determining factor in all planning.
The component factors which are considered are the composition of the force,
all aspects of the enemy force, the terrain and the mission of the higher
headquarters. The unit's mission will be to destroy a certain specified enemy
grouping and seize a favorable line or area within a specified time. The
estimate of the enemy situation will include a determination of enemy strength,
density, location and intentions. It will suggest missions for subordinate
units in terms of where they must operate to accomplish the overall mission. So
the friendly missions are in large part based on the enemy situation. But
during the prewar period, even up to the eve of war, the enemy force is the
least well known or understood aspect of the situation.
The planning manual states that if the enemy does not have a specified group on
the ground (the area in which the battle will take place) then the commander
must assign missions on the basis of the terrain features with the assumption
that enemy forces will be arriving. In other words he must plan for meeting
engagements in locations largely dictated by the nature of the terrain. The
unit missions will be to destroy whatever enemy forces actually show up for the
If the enemy defense is shallow in its tactical depth and there is little
operational reserve of forces beyond a certain depth, then the commander should
not assign missions beyond the depth actually occupied by the enemy defense.
This could well mean units would be assigned only immediate missions with a
subsequent direction of advance and no subsequent missions. It could also mean
the force would attack in one echelon and a reserve without specified second
echelons. If the enemy has a large security zone the plan of attack would
include only one missions and the direction of advance until the details of the
actual enemy defense position become known.
During the initial phase of war in general the first action of the forces will
be to leave their permanent camps and garrisons and move to assembly areas.
These areas are actually dispersal areas to provide locations for mobilization
and organization more safely than the garrisons themselves. After this the
units then move to forward positions and then into the first phases of the
attack, or them may move directly from the assembly areas into the attack.
During the initial phase of war the front has to contend with many
contingencies. But the lower units, for instance the regiments, do not have
anything unusual to contend with. The regiment does not receive the kind of
instructions necessary for a front because whatever the large scale
contingencies are the regiment is going to conduct a simple episode of the kind
it has trained for. That is, it will conduct some kind of attack in accordance
with tactical drills and doctrines.
For the initial phase of war the front will receive directions from the
VKG or TVD. These directions will specify the following:
1. the composition and support elements now and for the future duration of the
operation. It will specify the elements at the start of the operation and what
will join the front and when during the campaign.
2. the combat readiness levels to be maintained, especially for the air, air
defense and nuclear component forces, when and where they should go to higher
states of readiness. What level of readiness is required during the period of
tension. Also specified is the method for bringing the troops from their
routine state to the higher and then to the full combat readiness posture. If
there is a period of tension and the process goes from routine to higher and
then to full then the process goes smoothly in accordance with established
procedures. If there is no period of tension and the requirement is to shift
from routine directly to full combat readiness then the procedure is more
difficult to accomplish. It is not an easy thing to do. For a formation as
large as a front one cannot shift everyone from routine to full
readiness all at once. Priorities and sequences must a established. The highest
priority goes to the nuclear, air defense and air forces, then to the first
echelon ground forces and the covering forces.
Thus there must be two categories of plans, those for the shift from routine to
higher to full and those for the direct shift from routine to full readiness.
Both plans will specify where each unit must go and when. They will allocate
some units to the mission of covering the border and securing the mobilization
of the rest of the force. These plans are in the unit safes and will be
implemented not by the commanders but by the duty officers upon receipt of the
appropriate signals. Obviously a movement to the starting areas, as opposed to
test exercise movements to dispersal areas, is practically an act of war and
requires orders issued from the general staff. It takes a special signal to
activate this movement. By the time the units are in the starting areas and
physically ready to begin combat operations they will have received their
completed plans and missions. These will involve changes from the prewar,
permanent war plans worked out in peacetime. The general staff, or in the case
of a theater which has a TVD headquarters, that entity, will give the initial
order to move according to the peacetime plan. The assembly area is a dispersal
area to protect the forces., but the starting area is a different matter. For
the first echelon divisions it is 20 to 40 km from the state border and for the
second echelon divisions it is 60 to 80 km from the border. Ahead of the first
echelon divisions there is a security or covering zone. The reconnaissance
elements are deployed one to five km from the border. Right behind them the
first echelon artillery units including the surface to surface rocket
battalions deploy. Obviously movement to these positions is not something to be
The initial mission of the covering forces and the first echelon will be to
repel an enemy invasion, should it succeed in launching one. The plans will
have to indicate which units will go where. First echelon divisions and
reserves will have to be located with consideration not only to the planned
axes for friendly attack but also for the likely axes of enemy attack, should
that come first. If the tension period is short the units moving to the border
may come into contact with the enemy coming to the offensive and the two sides
will be involved in a meeting engagement.
In the initial phase of war it is more difficult to specify the elements of the
mission in detail. The aim of the operation may be more general. The direction
of the main attack will be indicated up to the depth of the immediate mission
at least and perhaps all the way, but perhaps not. One cannot set rules for the
unforeseeable. The planning is more general the deeper into the operation one
goes. The actions of air and artillery can be spelled out in more detail than
those for combined arms units.
For the initial nuclear strike the mission for the front is assigned and
also coordinated with that for the strategic forces. This is done by the
general staff or high command. But the task for an army is given only in the
number of rounds and what targets to hit with what yields and burst heights..
Planning is at the front level. Thus the front receives from
higher headquarters missions not targets and it establishes the target lists
which it gives to the armies instead of missions. The front also
receives an allocation of weapons of various types, this is in the form of the
number of nuclear rocket units it is allocated, since the number of warheads
per launcher in the units is established. The target allocation is done by
front, but it has available information received from the reconnaissance
assets of higher headquarters as well as its own.
The strategic air operation is planned by higher headquarters. The front
air army participates in this air operation yet must be ready to fulfill
frontal missions as well. Therefore the front is given the
specifics of the air operation, Again, the front receives its orders in
terms of missions and makes up the specific target lists for the air army
The main basis for front planning is the concept of the strategic
missions, which is known to front. The elements in the concept are the
method of destruction and sequence of destruction of enemy forces desired by
higher headquarters. With respect to ground maneuver there are four basic
nuclear methods and three basic non nuclear methods shown in the diagrams from
the Voroshilov academy lectures. The other basis for front planning is
the given axis of the main effort. The front is also told what other
assets will be available such as strategic rocket forces and airborne etc.
The front receives an intelligence summary which provides information on
the enemy as well as a paragraph on the enemy in the operational directive from
higher headquarters. This paragraph contains an assessment of enemy by higher
headquarters to include the enemy strength, what the enemy intentions are and
the time frame of each expected episode or set of actions the enemy will
attempt. By the time the higher headquarters' assessment of the enemy is put
into the orders it is more concrete and detailed. The assessment of the enemy
explains further elements of the mission for friendly troops that follow
naturally from the enemy situation. The assessment paragraph of the operations
directive covers most of the important facts that do not change for a
reasonable time interval.
The next point in the directive is the front's immediate mission and
subsequent mission. The boundaries of the front are described out to the
furthers point of the given missions. frontal level boundaries are
described in general terms by specifying names of cities, mountain ranges,
coast lines, rivers, etc.
The section on cooperation and interaction at front level gives
principal guidance of the subject. At that level there will be interaction with
naval, strategic rocket, long range air, air defense and airborne forces. The
kind of interaction must be planned by the general staff. The general staff
will most likely be sending operational groups to oversee cooperation between
these elements. This is a continuous process and the responsibility of the
The front level command posts' locations will also be specified.
These are the essential elements of the operational directives received by the
front at the initial period of war. During the course of the initial
operation there will be some changes. There will be attachments and
detachments, new aims and missions and new details of cooperation.
Soviet communication systems are very redundant. The higher one goes in the
organization levels the more seldom communication between levels might occur
and also the less important it would be if it did occur. This is because at
higher levels the headquarters have plans which are more general and which
cover much longer time periods. A disruption of communications is more likely
at the lower levels such as regiment. A unit can continue without communication
with higher headquarters for so long as it can act without compromising the
mission of the higher headquarters. As long as it can keep its actions
complementary to the plan of the higher headquarters it can continue to operate
without additional specific orders. For instance, if the regiment can see what
it can do which will be helpful to the overall plan it can continue to do it
without orders. This is the importance of training commanders to think in terms
of the concept of the operation of the higher commander.
Among the good traits of the commander stressed in Soviet training are the
ability to be aware of the concept of the higher commander, the capability to
forecast and predict the course of future events and the ability to assess the
consequences of individual lower level actions on the overall plan.
The field regulations spell out the message that those who stay idle are to be
blamed, not those who act in good faith but perhaps without success. The Soviet
army has suffered for too long from the Russian propensity toward inactivity.
There is a old Soviet saying;
"If you know something, don't say it
If you say it, don't write it
If you write it, don't sign it
If you sign it, put 'by order of someone else'"
At the front level the role of the staff is important in clarifying the
details of missions. The front receives its missions in general terms.
The staff makes sure that the commander understands all the implications of the
overall concept of the higher commander. They indicate what he expects to
accomplish and what the role of the front will be in achieving this.
They spell out the details of what should be done in order for the front
to play that role. They specify how it should be done, by what means and in
what sequence. some parameters of the role are specified in the mission order
itself but have to be worked out in detail.
The staff in turn must work out the missions given to the subordinate
headquarters to insure that they all contribute toward achieving the common
results for the higher command. In combat it is always the case that many
individual actions must be coordinated to produce a unified act to achieve the
larger and higher goals..
At the army level interaction and coordination are expressed in terms of how
the operation of different elements are integrated into a concerted action of
the whole. If there is a break in the interaction the staff moves immediately
to restore it. At the army level some methods are the same as at front.
The army receives orders but again needs to make up the details for the
The first section of the army directive is the description of the composition
of the subordinate unit, the attachments and support being received during the
entire time period. Then there are the instructions on mobilization and
movement from garrison with more specific details than at front. An army
which has a border missions will have very detailed instructions.
Then comes the aim of the operation followed by the direction of main attack
and the missions for the first day which is a line to reach or seize. The
mission for the morning of the second day will be indicated and if an OMG is to
be committed then. If so then the army must reach a suitable line for such
commitment during the first day. The army order will also give details about
cooperation, most elaborate for the first day and less so for other days.
The army actions during the initial nuclear strike are important. The army
receives ad number of nuclear and conventional rocket warheads. It is given the
targets and yields to use and the methods for firing. The army sector will
include some firing from front assets about which the army is informed.
The next section gives the missions of adjacent units. Adjacent means any unit
operating in a way that influences the army but is not subordinate to it for
which coordination is required. The next section discusses the command post and
the chain of succession.
During the course of the operation the most important content is the direction
of the main attack, the mission, the activities of adjacent units, command and
control measures and interaction.
The format of the operation order and combat instruction is the same as for the
front. At army level it is called an operational directive and at the
tactical level it is called an operational order.
For the division the content of the order is somewhat different. The division
order does not need to discuss the composition of the unit since it is a TOE
unit. But it does list the attachments. It gives the direction of main attack
and the starting areas. The order gives the immediate mission, subsequent
mission and daily missions. It specifies the line to be reached by the advanced
detachments by the end of the day, especially if it is planned to commit an OMG
the next day. The advanced detachment might well be composed of the independent
tank battalion reinforced, or by the tank regiment. Or the line might be seized
by the advanced detachments of the forward regiments. The order designates the
penetration area if the enemy is in a fixed defense. It gives the number and
yield of nuclear rounds for the initial strike and lists the targets. It gives
general guidelines for the mission of the subsequent day. The division order
also gives details on coordination and command and control.
The order for a second echelon division is more general. It gives the starting
areas, which are 60 - 80 km to the rear, the direction of advance and the
sector for movement, which is 15 - 20 km wide. The division will have several
roads and will advance on two or three axes. It will have a depth of 10 - 15
kms when deployed on line. The order will give the line of commitment and what
units will be attached at the time of commitment and who will support. The
order gives the immediate mission and line of further advance.
The regimental orders are simpler. The order of a first echelon regiment gives
the reinforcements received by regiment, the starting area, the missions,
directions of advance, missions of adjacents, interaction measures and area of
penetration. For the second echelon the order is briefer. It has instructions
only for an immediate mission and the subsequent direction of advance. Since
the commitment of the second echelon is planned beforehand there are many
things which might happen before it is actually committed.
The lectures give some rules on deception.
1. centralized activity. Any action not coordinated centrally will disclose
rather than conceal the activity. Tight control is essential for deception.
2. At the tactical level deception is controlled at division level and at the
operational level the lowest control is front. The front may
receive an order that is itself part of the deception activity of higher
headquarters. Such an order will of course not be named as deception.
The deception plan is worked out by the operations department with the
assistance of the reconnaissance and engineer departments. Some of the methods
in use are concealment, light and sound techniques, fire deception, movement
deception, radar deception and communications deception.
Management of Deception
The principal office tasked with working out the deception plan is the
operations department of the general staff. Others contribute selected parts as
needed. AT the front level the plan is also prepared by the operations
department with assistance from the chief of staff of the air army, the chief
of the rocket troops and artillery, the chief of engineers, the chief of
chemical and the chief of radio electronic warfare. Fragmentary orders about
aspects of the plan are sent to various departments. At the general staff level
there are also many non-military agencies which must contribute to the plan and
its implementation. The plan is very complex. It requires that many things be
done in a specific sequence. The goal is to give a certain perception to the
enemy so everything hinges on proper timing. The plan will most likely be
implemented over a very long period of time. The first phase is to prepare the
audience then the second phase is to send the message. The process is much more
elaborate at the higher echelons. At the lower tactical level the process is
more simple and the deception may take only a few hours. it could involve only
the concealment of a unit is a location or concealment of its noise of
movement. For each action the concealment plan may be different. The tactical
deception plan must be integrated into the operational plan.
7. What degree of initiative is allowed at each echelon? What
discretion is allowed a commander at each echelon? Under what conditions during
battle does a commander make a decision and then inform his commander? What
decisions would he have to refer first to his superior? How would this differ
in cases when combat was going according to plan versus when unforseen events
A. The Soviet regulations state that the commander should act with initiative.
This means something different from the concept of initiative in the West. It
does not mean to do whatever the commander believes he should do but rather
what he might do to extend success in a way that does not controvert the
achievement of his own and the higher missions. He should use initiative when
he is without orders but only in this constructive way. The regulations say
that failure while using initiative will not be punished, but sitting idle will
Whenever the commander's decision is in contradiction of the assigned mission
he must obtain prior approval. When it is not he must in any case inform higher
headquarters about it.
Commanders are given different kinds of instructions now than they were in the
past. This is to give them more initiative to keep going and doing something to
accomplish the mission. Nevertheless they should not contradict the norms and
standard procedures. There are Soviet regulations that are the law and must be
followed. Some regulations are general and give commanders some latitude. The
main point is that initiative must be within the total system. Suggestions for
changes and requests for help in accomplishing missions are always allowed. The
system has a great influence on the individuals in it. The Soviet system is one
in which individuals cannot trust their neighbors, subordinates or superiors.
They do not feel secure and cannot express their views openly. Thus a
psychology of timidness is created for those not in positions of great power
The Soviets stress that initiative is more and more important in nuclear war
and war using more destructive means. Quick actions will be essential.
Commanders are encouraged to seek opportunities for initiative. But adventurism
The amount of initiative is determined by the capability of the unit, which is
related to its size and mission and the kind of enemy and terrain. How far the
unit is from higher headquarters is also a major factor.
In answering the question of how much initiative a unit might have the first
thing one needs to know is what are he limiting factors on that unit. Next one
should consider what are the incentives to make that commander act on his own.
First is the mission and the element involved. The mission may have one or
several elements. These are time, area, movement, etc. The limitations given to
the unit are spelled out in detail in the mission statement. For more
independent missions these are given in more general terms.
The second point is the time to accomplish the task. If the changes
contemplated by the commander would change the time that the mission will be
accomplished then he should not make them.
The third point is the support constraints. If the change will create problems
for various supporting elements such as logistics then he should not make them.
Fourth point is to retain combat effectiveness. The commander is entrusted with
a unit and must keep it a cohesive fighting mechanism. He should not decide to
do something which will destroy the unit.
Incentives for changes in decisions
The incentives which might prompt the commander to make changes to the plan
including the following:
- weakness in the enemy position or enemy action or competence which ought to
be exploited promptly. The Soviet commander will strive to exploit enemy
- assistance for adjacent unit provided the change does not interfere with the
assigned missions.. If the change will further the actions also of an adjacent
unit then one should use initiative and make the decision. For instance a
change may be required to accomplish a link-up with an airborne unit.
- action will reduce expected loss of men or equipment. The commander must be
alert to make changes which might reduce losses. This might be to conduct a
flank attack on a newly open flank.
One thing stands out in Soviet views on initiative. This is that the commander
should do everything to accomplish the mission and whatever else is possible
In actual life the personality of the commander plays the most vital part. Not
all commanders are strong enough to use initiative. How bold he is, how tired,
how frustrated etc. all are important. In the end initiative is a psychological
factor influenced by to other similar factors such as morale, political status
and views. The Soviets believe they can prepare officers and men to perform
well in combat. They believe the soldier trained in the spirit of hatred of the
enemy will preserve. Even when not doing something active the use of hatred
will increase his aggressiveness.
The commander's initiative is also related to his personal influence. So the
higher the level of commander the more initiative he has. The front
commander if personally influential will have a much wider level of initiative.
The typical Soviet commander has the personality to use whatever influence and
hence initiative he has to the maximum.
The fact that the Soviet officer corps is becoming younger and younger and
better educated is helping to increase the level of initiative displayed. The
younger commanders will lack the experience of the older ones but be more
decisive in their actions. During the last ten years the number of young
commanders has increased greatly.
One thing the Soviets do advocate and allow is discretion in the use of assets.
The Soviet commander is expected to decide himself how to get the most out of
his assets and use the best methods he can devise. The combined arms commander
decided on the use of the combat support and services and logistics support
allocated to him. He also must specify the coordination measures to be
Conditions in battle related to initiative
As long as the changes the commander desires do not interfere with
accomplishment of the mission he need only report them. If they do involve a
change in the mission including the time for accomplishing it as well as the
content or the coordination arrangements or use of assigned areas then they
must be cleared by higher headquarters.
If something does happen that causes the commander to consider that he ought
not to or cannot continue then he must report immediately. If something
unexpected happens he must report it and continue his mission. If means that he
needs help he should ask for it. In the standard situation report the commander
is sending in there are the following sections:
- enemy situation
- what the commander's current decision is
- his recommendations and requests for assistance.
8. How does the process of making the estimate of the situation change
from lower to higher headquarters? Does the importance of different elements of
the situation change as one goes up the line? Does the larger time and space
scale at higher levels change the relative significance of the different
elements of the situation? How and which ones?
A. The process of making an estimate of the situation does change from one
echelon to another. Or to put it another way the process is different at the
lower tactical levels from the higher operational levels. But the idea or
concept of the estimate is the same. The assessment that goes into the estimate
is an evaluation of the factors that effect the conduct of combat at the given
level. Therefore the estimate is used as an aid to help the commander exploit
the positive points and deal with the negative points of the situation existing
at his level. The number of possible factors that one might take into
consideration in combat is endless. They cam be grouped into specific sets.
Each group has different effects as time changes. For instance the status and
characteristics of the reserve do not have much effect during the initial phase
of combat but do play a potentially decisive role later during the course of
the battle. For this reason the consideration of each factor must be made with
respect to its overall effect, its effect for the accomplishment of the
immediate mission and the subsequent mission.
The most common factors are the following:
1. the enemy
2. own forces
4. meterological and geodetic
5. economic and political
The estimate of the situation made by the battalion commander is done by him
personally without the help of a staff. The time and space parameters of
interest to him are very limited. The situation is simple. He can assess it
himself. Moreover he does not have much time to make the estimate. He can
understand the interrelationships between the various factors simultaneously as
he considers them in turn.
A higher level commander cannot make a thorough estimate alone. At the higher
level the staff provides a significant contribution and the more so the higher
the level. At operational levels the separate assessments made by the staff and
the chiefs of combat arms and services are very important. The front
commander listens to the evaluations made by his staff officers. He receives
significant suggestions bearing on his decision. For instance, the artillery
commander makes key suggestions on the allocation of the rocket troops and
All of this means the estimate process is much longer at the higher levels. The
battalion commander does things once and all together. At the higher level
parts of the estimate may need to be rechecked. There are many more possible
courses of action open to the commander at the higher level. There are many
more possible things that might happen due to enemy and other actions. The
front commander must take as many of these things into account as
possible. This requires the active participation of many staff personnel when
the planning is done in wartime.
During peacetime, in order to maintain the secrecy of the war plan only a few
people will work on it. Or some of those who do work on small parts of it will
not realize just what they are actually doing. The plan for a front is
worked out in the general staff with the front commander and a few
selected officers present. The plans for the armies are worked out at the
front headquarters, again with the army commander's participation. War
plans are not conveyed to the division level.
Since there is plenty of time before the war the commander and few individuals
can make the most detailed estimate and create a complete plan. During wartime
the situation is different and everyone participates.
At the higher levels the time and space parameters are much greater. This means
more changes may take place during the course of carrying out the plan of a
single operation. At the higher levels the economic and political factors
become much more important. The characteristics of the enemy commander are
At the TVD and general staff levels non-military factors become critical. These
include industrial questions, the large scale geographic conditions, ethnic and
political factors in the local population. At the higher level the effects of
whole groups of factors are considered in the aggregate. Details which are
considered individually at the lower levels are aggregated at higher level
The national level estimate is a strategic appraisal in which many things are
evaluated such as the allies on both sides, the neutral countries, the policies
and governmental systems of the two sides. The kind of cooperation shown in
coalitions is evaluated. The military industrial potential, mobilization
potential and ability, population, and similar factors are all included.
10. Is planning intended to insure that there actually can be no
unexpected changes in combat? Is it feasible to avoid unexpected changes at any
echelon? Can planning take into account that many contingencies? What is a
realistic degree of preplanning?
A. The Soviet concept for planning to meet possible contingencies does not
presume to rule out the possibility of unexpected occurrences, but merely
attempts to reduce the unexpected to an acceptable limit within which it will
be possible to overcome it by the allocation of reserves. According to Soviet
theory warfare and combat, like all human activity, is a process governed by
cause and effect relationships. Through the application of scientific
Marxist-Leninist dialectical theory the phenomena which comprise combat can be
examined and the underlying laws governing outcomes deduced. With the knowledge
of these laws in hand it is possible to design the weapons systems, organize
the forces, develop the methods and train the personnel necessary to prevail in
Lenin pointed out that the future is grounded in the development from the
present and the present is grounded in the past. To know the future one must
have a profound understand of the past.
A maxim of Soviet military science is that troops control is a science and that
it is the science of prediction. The basis of the prediction is the Marxist
Leninist methodology of understanding the real essence of the state of affairs.
The use of the science of prediction in the planning is first of all to set
bounds or outer limits to the possible in any given situation. That is, one can
first establish the maximum and minimum changes from the present which are
likely to occur. Then from this one can examine the qualitative changes which
might occur by studying first what can be quantified. When the quantity of
change is great enough it has a qualitative result. The expression that
"the whole is greater than the sum of its parts" applies. So the more
one understands the real state of things the better he can predict. The Soviet
idea is to eliminate as much as possible the "unforseen" and to
expect the unexpected. The more successful one is at this the easier it is to
stick to the original plan.
Since combat is a two-sided, dynamic process in which the opposing sides are
engaged in a series of action-reaction-action cycles it is possible to analyze
the sequence of possible events and determine the most likely and most
dangerous enemy actions. The Soviet plan of combat focuses on contingencies.
Out of the multitude of possible contingencies the Soviets have selected the
most significant episodes which normally occur during the course of an
The preeminent contingency in modern warfare is the possibility of nuclear war
versus non-nuclear war. The Soviet response to this contingency initially was
to presume that the war would be nuclear and plan virtually all activities
accordingly. From the mid 1960's on the possibility of conventional war was
considered. By the mid 1970's the course of theater war was considered to be
most likely conventional at least initially, but with the possibility of a
sudden shift to nuclear always present. The Soviet response to this has been to
equip, organize, configured and train the forces to fight on both conventional
and nuclear battlefields with the capability to shift rapidly from the one to
One possible contingency is that the opposing forces will move nearly
simultaneously toward each other and enter combat in a meeting engagement. The
various action sequences which might proceed from this are analyzed and
prepared for. The friendly forces are organized, equipped and trained to be
able to counter at least the most likely enemy actions which them might
encounter in this type of battle.
Another contingency is that the enemy will succeed in establishing a prepared
defensive position. The combat action produced by the effort to breakthrough
such a defense requires a different organization, methods, and training. Again
the enemy action sequences are studied in detail. In this case the critical
issue is what will the enemy do with his reserves. Soviet theory has identified
the various most likely and dangerous enemy responses. The enemy reserves may
be established at various levels from the battalion to the corps and army
group. `The Soviet attacking force must be organized in such a way as to have
sufficient fresh forces available to deal with each of these reserves. The
principal choice open to the defender is either to use the reserve to defend on
a prepared line or to commit it into a counterattack. If there is to be a
counterattack, it must conform to certain theoretical requirements in size,
time and space in order to be of significance from the attacker's point of
In the Soviet attack plan contingencies of this sort are provided for in the
first instance by the structure of the combat deployment of Soviet forces.
Beyond that they are considered and accounted for in the instructions prepared
for "interaction" or coordination. In the interaction plan the
unfolding process of the forthcoming engagement is developed step by step and
for each episode and phase the various things which might happen are discussed
and the appropriate responses indicated. Obviously, these interaction
instructions may be very elaborate, especially at the higher level
headquarters. Instructions for the first day of combat and for the immediate
mission are the most elaborate.
For the initial stage of war the planning done during peacetime must be more
elaborate still, because the possible contingencies are greatly increased. For
instance, it cannot be ruled out that the enemy might overtake the mobilization
of friendly forces and launch a surprise attack, thus catching the friendly
forces on the defensive instead of in a meeting engagement. Mobilization plans
must at least take this contingency into consideration. While the initial stage
of war is the most filled with uncertainty and difficult to plan for it is also
the stage for which there is the most time to plan. For this planning it is
possible to conduct detailed analysis supported by elaborate war games.
During the course of combat, at the tactical level change normally takes place
incrementally. Of course it is possible for the opposing side to achieve
surprise, but if the forces are organized and trained in accordance with the
correct theory and are committed with a favorable correlation of forces they
should be able to cope with the effects of such surprises. At that level a
great multitude of possible contingencies actually can be grouped together in
effect and a relatively limited number of predetermined responses developed and
practiced to overcome them.
In the last analysis it is impossible to state what a realistic degree of
preplanning might be. To paraphrase professor Parkinson, "Planning
continues to fill the time available for it." In general it may be seen
that the possibility for widely divergent and numerous contingencies
corresponds to longer time frames during which more elaborate planning is
possible. The most effective plan for coping with unexpected contingencies is
the one in which the leaders who will have to do the coping are trained to have
the proper psychological state of mind to be able to avoid panic, think
rationally and react decisively.
12. How would the introduction of computers as aids in decision making
affect the decision processes? What differences would there be at each level of
(A) Soviet officers serving as advisors and others often spoke about the
introduction of computers into decision making and planning and other aspects
of troop control. There were several important lectures about the use of
computers given at the Frunze Academy. On the basis of these two sources one
may develop a general understanding of the role computers will play in Soviet
troop control procedures.
Improvements through the use of computers
According to Soviet Frunze Academy lectures the introduction of computers has
provided the following improvements.
1. make calculations easier and quicker
2. increase accuracy of calculations (percentages for accuracy are established)
3. enable simultaneous conduct of planning procedures instead of sequential.
4. increase communications and speed up the communications system between
5. enable the commander to view, via direct link using computer controlled
television, selected different sectors of the front lines.
The volume of data collected by modern electronic reconnaissance practically
demands computers to process the data to create information. This is especially
so for the processing needed to relate individual data bits and diverse
information into a comprehensive, analytical picture. Computers are seen as
particularly necessary to prepare for the conduct of nuclear (mass destruction)
war. The critical period in combat is that when the enemy is preparing to use
nuclear weapons in a surprise strike. To do this he must shift from the routine
preparation posture to a direct preparation mode. The best source of
information on these preparations will be overhead including satellites. The
satellites can photograph on a path some 40 to 50 km wide. In order to preempt
this it is necessary to process the reconnaissance information acquired by
satellites with computers.
Echelons using computers
The division is the lowest echelon staff at which computers are likely to be
employed for use in general troop control procedures due to the extra time
involved in doing the more complex calculations even with computers. However
for specialized work computers might even be used in batteries. For instance,
the air defense battery certainly uses computers. The effect of computers in
troop control will be greater the higher the headquarters. Moreover, some new
and sophisticated weapons systems in the divisions may use computers.
Impact of use
The effect of computers will not be to change procedures but to improve them or
to use them in conjunction with other inventions which require them. Thus the
preparation of the "estimate of the situation" will remain the same
but it will be augmented by the use of computers..
Computers and the decision-making process
The computer can speed up the decision making process and make it more
effective and more elaborate based on the increase in the amount of data and
information being examined. It will speed up the "clarification of the
mission" phase by enabling the commander to obtain background data
immediately from a computer database. It will speed up the transmission of
reports he wants because with a computer one can send a whole diagram
immediately instead of individual data elements. In the "clarification of
the mission" phase the computer can obtain information from adjacent units
quickly. With the computer the commander can develop a more comprehensive
understanding of relationships between information elements.
In the "estimate of the situation" phase the computer may be used to
examine different contingencies and assess the implications and the likelihood
of various enemy actions. Computers enable one to do the correlation of forces
calculations on many different, specific situations and even combinations of
actions. With the organization of all units already in the computerized
database one can do density calculations quickly. One can use the computer to
calculate the fire capabilities of friendly and enemy forces and save great
amounts of time.
Saving time is always of great importance because the sooner one acts or reacts
the better. One can prevent an enemy counterattack. At the strategic and
operational levels saving a few hours means a lot. Without a computer one must
base planning on a curtailed version of the full information and cannot meet
the requirements for detail and speed of results simultaneously. With computers
one can reduce the level of uncertainty not only by the processing of more data
and analysis of more contingencies but also because of the time saved one is
able to react earlier. This earlier action will itself increase the certainty
of producing positive results.
The computer also takes some of the psychological stress off the staff officers
and makes individuals psychologically more comfortable and able to work to
their norms. However the lecturers emphasize that one must not get into the
position of believing that the computer can produce answers better than one can
alone. With a computer one can analyze not only information relating to the
present situation but also information on the past. With the computer one can
merge the two and produce information on trends that would escape the mind of
the staff officer. From analysis of trends one can predict future trends more
confidently. In the "planning phase" the computer really comes into
play with its ability to handle the enormous volume of calculations that must
be processed. With the computer more contingencies can be examined. Plans can
be developed and partially validated in a simultaneous way. Rather than working
through plans and implications sequentially several plans can be developed and
evaluated at the same time.
Computers, field reconnaissance television cameras, shared data bases among
and between levels
The Soviet lecturers, at the beginning of the series of lectures on
communications, were talking about the possible future use of computers at
division, army and front level in an integrated system. They mentioned
the plan for division commanders to be able to observe sections of the front
line battlefield via computer directed television cameras located at stations
at battalion level. The computer would give the headquarters the capability to
control this system and order cameras to any part of the battlefield.
They mentioned many links and nets of various kinds by which the division would
send and receive information and feed information into a common database
available to all other headquarters. This system would cut the number of radio
transmissions and enable the different levels of command to receive information
simultaneously. If something of concern to a particular level of command was
input to the database by some other equal or different level of command it
could be noted and followed up" as necessary.
Training and heuristic changes
It was clear from the lectures that one of the major activities needed and
undertaken by the Soviet military was the training of officers in the use of
the new computer oriented system. The officers were becoming experts and Soviet
officers in conversation were proud of their training program.
In the lectures the Soviets often used the formula or introductory statement
"according to the experience of past wars and field exercises". They
increasingly also began to use the formula "according to the experience of
past wars, field exercises and calculations of electronic machines."
Introduction and field use of computers
One of the earliest functional elements to receive and use computers was the
air defense system. This was discussed in lectures and was also apparent
in Soviet activities. The division air defense net is an integral part of the
army system and in some cases of a full frontal system. In this system,
information on the enemy aircraft is received by army since the army air
defense radar sensor system has longer range than that of lower headquarters
and covers a wider and deeper area. This enables the army to send warnings to
division and lower headquarters. Of course when information is obtained at
division warning posts it is also transmitted upward. A similar system can be
expected for chemical and nuclear warning.
Although not discussed in lectures or by Soviet officers one of the most
interesting uses of computers would be for the deception plan. Since it
is standard Soviet practice to use every asset for deception in some way one
can be sure computers will find their way into deception. The most obvious use
would be in the dissemination of false electronic emissions to the opponent.
Computers could be programed to give out these false information signals when
they detected that the Soviet computer network was being penetrated. Computers
could also be used in the planning of deception to help keep track of the
multitude of coordination elements needed in conducting a deception.
In the planning phase the use of computers for the multitude of calculations
needed for the support and logistics aspects of the plan should be
obvious. For instance, the computers will be programed with the patterns for
casualties, how many are expected of which types and when during the operation.
With this information the front will be able to organize the deployment
of the many different hospitals. Engineer work can be programed in a similar
manner. This will enable the Soviets, for instance, to switch from the use of
cumbersome tables to computer data when calculating the numbers of mines to
place in given areas.
Problems and issues related to the use of computers
The disadvantages of using computers include the extra training required of
officers. It is better to do many simple things without computers.
One problem with computers might come from the mutual interference of
electronic means. Electronic interference could cause a breakdown in the
system. Therefore the traditional methods of data and information development
and handling must be maintained as backup.
One of the cautions noted in lectures was that one must not get into the
position of believing that the computer can produce better answers than one can
with out a computer.
Further questions that arise from this discussion
- How were computers used at front, VKG and other levels?
- Were the same kinds of computers available at all levels?
_ Could all levels access all parts of the computer database?
- How much time was seen as saved at each level of command and in each part of
the decision process?
- How much better would the correlations of forces be if commanders had
computers available - that is were computers considered as force multipliers?
- Were nomograms etc always taken with troops even when they had computers
available? If so did the troops use both or only one, which one?
In summary then it is clear that the computers give the staff greater speed,
efficiency, accuracy and effectiveness and they cut the level of uncertainty.