Category Archives: Military Doctrine

Aerospace Defense in Disarray

Retired Army General Kornukov

While Russian air and aerospace defenders were meeting in Tver last week, former Air Forces (VVS) CINC, Army General Anatoliy Kornukov gave Interfaks his opinions in a Moscow news conference.  

Kornukov is a member of a group calling themselves the ‘Extradepartmental Expert Council on the Problems of RF Aerospace Defense.’  He also advises the General Director of Almaz-Antey. 

He called aerospace threats the greatest danger for Russia’s security.  He said: 

“An attack from space decides everything now, strikes from space can be delivered to any point on Earth.” 

Kornukov thinks Russia’s aerospace defense (VKO or ВКО) concept’s been thought over long enough, and: 

“Unfortunately, there are still few practical decisions and concrete results.  New air defense systems are being developed very slowly.” 

“We, unfortunately, created a time lag of 20-30 years behind our possible enemy.” 

The ex-CINC says, although the VKO concept was approved in 2006, little has changed: 

“Years pass, but everything stays the same.  And to say that we’re ready for something now would be an exaggeration.  We can now resist an air attack from the standpoint of remaining S-300 systems.  As well as with those residual Su-27 and MiG-29 aircraft, the majority of which lack engines and spare parts.  The picture is simply terrible.” 

He also noted that new systems are progressing slowly, and are entering the armed forces’ inventory even more slowly.  He believes the Operational-Strategic Command of Aerospace Defense (OSK VKO or ОСК ВКО–the old Moscow Air and Air Defense District) can only destroy 1 in 5 targets: 

“If the reliability earlier was 96 or 98 percent, then now the effectiveness [of systems in the inventory] is in the range of 15-20 percent.  What’s meant is how many aircraft of 100 could get through without being countered.  Now about 80.” 

Kornukov recommends establishing VKO under the VVS, and under PVO specifically.  For example, he’d like the Moscow-based OSK VKO to control its own missile-space defense (RKO or РКО) formations and units.  He says: 

“Once all missile-space defense was in one set of hands–the PVO CINC.  He answered for PVO and for RKO.  Now the thinking is inexplicable:  each is dying by itself.  There’s not a person defined as responsible even for air defense.” 

“I think the correct decision would be for everything  to be located in one set of hands, and one person answering for the condition, training, employment [of PVO means]. 

He reminded the audience that, once the province of PVO, control of anti-missile defense went first to the RVSN, and now resides with the Space Troops.  Olga Bozhyeva reported that Kornukov wants RKO, specifically the 3rd Missile Attack Warning System Army to come to the Air Forces, and the latter should change its name to reflect its aerospace orientation.  He doesn’t like the idea of creating a new armed service called aerospace troops that would control PVO.  

Asked about Russia’s ability to defend against potential missile attacks from North Korea or Iran, Kornukov called the country’s capability to counter these threats ‘limited.’  He said, although the S-400 can cope with air-breathing threats, Moscow has no means for countering ‘operational’ (i.e. intermediate-range) missiles. 

Other members of the ‘Extradepartmental Expert Council’ had their say as well.  Former chief of PVO’s equipment ordering directorate General-Major Kolganov said: 

“. . . the VKO concept developed several years ago is not supported today organizationally or financially.  There is no targeted program for its realization.” 

Former Armaments Chief General-Colonel Anatoliy Sitnov says: 

“. . . in Russia they remembered about VKO only after the U.S. began to test the X-37 orbital glider.   . . . everyone’s occupied with a general assimilation of budget resources, and not at all with the development of new strategic technologies for modern space systems, reconnaissance, [and] missile attack warning satellites . . . .  This can’t come from a private businessman.  He comes to grab some budget money and sell what’s been made for scrap.” 

“We lost 300 super-technologies, primarily in aviation and air defense.  In particular, in the production of supergraphite, which is used in nose cones for missiles . . . .” 

Sitnov also criticizes poor organization for VKO: 

“There is no one to be in command, no one to command and control forces and means, no one to commission new air defense systems.” 

“It is time to move from words to deeds, to take purposeful directions and targeted programs for developing new aerospace defense systems.” 

“But we are waiting for someone to come and help us.  No one will.” 

Kornukov is an old PVO guy–albeit an Air Defense Aviation pilot; he was the first CINC of the VVS after it subsumed PVO.  Maybe he, and the others, are just shilling for Almaz-Antey to get even more from the State Defense Order.  Or perhaps their assessments are sincere.

Military Security and Military Policy

These are the next areas of the old and new military doctrines that require comparison.  The old is written in terms of military security, and the new–military policy.  Six of one, a half dozen of the other.  The new doctrine defines military policy as what the state does to ensure the country’s military security.

The old doctrine starts with a long section basically dedicated to a description of how Russia relies on diplomacy, international organizations, and international law to neutralize threats and safeguard its security.  It mentions its joint defense policy with Belarus, the CIS, the CSTO, strategic nuclear arms control agreements with the U.S., confidence-building measure, and nonproliferation.

Then the old doctrine proceeds to military means of ensuring Russia’s security, first and foremost, nuclear means, stating that “the Russian Federation proceeds on the basis of the need to have a nuclear potential capable of guaranteeing a set level of damage to any aggressor (state or coalition of states) under any circumstances.”

“The Russian Federation reserves the right to use nuclear weapons in response to the use of nuclear and other types of weapons of mass destruction against it and (or) its allies, as well as in response to large-scale aggression utilizing conventional weapons in situations critical to the national security of the Russian Federation.”

The new doctrine’s military policy section also says the RF’s policy is to  deter and prevent conflicts and safeguard the country’s security.  No surprise.  It does this by maintaining its armed forces in a state of permanent readiness to protect the country and its allies, in accordance with international law and treaties of course.  The new doctrine is generally more concise in most of its points.

Both doctrines now list main principles for safeguarding security (old) or main tasks for deterring and preventing military conflicts (new).  The old list is actually shorter and more general:

  1. Firm leadership and civilian control over the state’s military organization.
  2. Effective forecasting, identification, and classification of military threats.
  3. Sufficient military forces, means, and resources, and their rational utilization.
  4. Correspondence between readiness, training, and support for the state’s military organization and military security requirements.
  5. Refusal to harm international security and the national security of other countries.

The new doctrine’s longer list captures some of what was in the old and it includes:

  1. Predict the global and regional military-political situation using modern technical systems and information technologies.
  2. Neutralize possible dangers and threats using political, diplomatic, and other nonmilitary means.
  3. Maintain strategic stability and the nuclear deterrence potential at an adequate level.
  4. Maintain the armed forces and other troops at the prescribed level of readiness for combat employment.
  5. Strengthen the collective security system, including the CSTO, CIS, OSCE, and SCO, and to develop relations with the EU and NATO.
  6. Expand the circle of partner states and develop cooperation with them to strengthen international security.
  7. Comply with international treaties for the limitation and reduction of strategic offensive arms.
  8. Conclude and implement arms control agreements and measures to strengthen mutual trust.
  9. Create mechanisms for the regulation of bilateral and multilateral  cooperation in the sphere of missile defense.
  10. Conclude an international treaty prohibiting the deployment of any types of weapons in outer space.
  11. Participate in international peacekeeping activity.
  12. Participate in combating international terrorism.

Then both doctrines move into their use of the armed forces provisions and tasks, in peacetime and wartime.  It’s useful here to start with the new doctrine, since here’s where its nuclear use provisions appear.

The new doctrine says the Russian Federation can use the armed forces to repulse aggression against it or its allies, or in accordance with a U.N. Security Council or other collective security structure decision, or to protect its citizens beyond the borders of the RF in accordance with the norms of international law.

The new doctrine says the “Russian Federation reserves the right to utilize nuclear weapons in response to the utilization of nuclear and other types of weapons of mass destruction against it or its allies, and also in the event of aggression against the Russian Federation involving the use of conventional weapons when the very existence of the state is under threat.” And the decision to utilize nuclear weapons is made by the Russian Federation president.

The new doctrine notes that the RF assigns troop contingents to CSTO peacekeeping forces to participate in peacekeeping operations in accordance with CSTO Collective Security Council decisions.  And to the CSTO Collective Rapid Response forces to resolve tasks determined by the CSTO Collective Security Council.

The new doctrine’s list of the military’s peacetime and wartime tasks:

  1. Defend the RF’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
  2. Ensure strategic deterrence.
  3. Maintain combat and mobilizational readiness, and training of the strategic nuclear forces, forces and resources that support their functioning, and command and control systems at a level to guarantee infliction of the required damage on an aggressor whatever the conditions of the situation.
  4. Provide timely warning to the supreme commander in chief of the RF armed forces of an air or space attack, and notify state and military leadership about military dangers and military threats.
  5. Maintain the capability of the armed forces for timely deployment on strategic axes, and maintain their readiness for combat use.
  6. Ensure the air defense of the RF’s most important facilities and readiness to rebuff air and space attacks.
  7. Deploy and maintain orbital groupings of space devices supporting the RF armed forces activities.
  8. Protect state and military facilities, lines of communication, and special cargoes.
  9. Maintain infrastructure, and prepare lines of communication for defense purposes, including special-purpose facilities and highways of defense significance.
  10. Protect RF citizens outside the RF from armed attack.
  11. Participate in operations to maintain or restore international peace or suppress aggression on the basis of decisions of the U.N. Security Council or other bodies.
  12. Combat piracy and ensure the safety of shipping.
  13. Ensure the security of the RF economic activities on the high seas.
  14. Combat terrorism.
  15. Prepare for territorial defense and civil defense.
  16. Participate in protection of public order and safeguarding public security.
  17. Participate in eliminating emergency situations and restoring special-purpose facilities.
  18. Participate in securing a state of emergency.
  19. In a period of direct threat of aggression, implement measures to increase combat and mobilization readiness, with a view to carrying out mobilizational and strategic deployment.
  20. Maintain nuclear deterrence potential at the established degree of readiness.
  21. Participate in maintaining a martial law regime.
  22. Fulfill RF international commitments with regard to collective defense and preventing an armed attack on another state that has made a request to the RF.
  23. In wartime, repulse aggression against the RF and its allies, inflict defeat on aggressor forces on terms that meet RF interests.

The old doctrine’s list of peacetime and wartime tasks isn’t as specific as the new:

  1. Form and implement a single state policy to safeguard military security.
  2. Maintain domestic political stability and protect the constitutional system and the RF’s territorial integrity.
  3. Strengthen friendly (allied) relations with other states.
  4. Improve the RF’s defense system.
  5. Support and improve the armed forces and other troops, military formations, and organs, and maintain their readiness.
  6. Prepare measures to transfer the armed forces to a wartime footing (including mobilization deployment).
  7. Improve the economic, technological, and defense industry base, and enhance the mobilization readiness of the economy.
  8. Protect RF facilities and installations on the high seas, in space, and on the territory of foreign states, including activities in the adjacent maritime zone and distant ocean regions.
  9. Protect and defend the RF state border, airspace, underwater environment, and EEZ and continental shelf, and their natural resources.
  10. Support RF political acts by implementing measures of a military nature and by means of a naval presence.
  11. Prepare territorial and civil defense.
  12. Develop necessary military infrastructure.
  13. Safeguard the security of RF citizens and protect them from military threats.
  14. Develop a conscious attitude among the population toward safeguarding the country’s military security.
  15. Monitor mutual fulfillment of arms limitation treaties and CBMs.
  16. Ensure readiness to participate in peacekeeping activities.
  17. In a period of threat and on the commencement of a war, strategic deployment of the armed forces and bringing them into readiness to perform their missions.
  18. Coordinate federal and local efforts to repulse aggression.
  19. Organize and implement armed, political, diplomatic, information, economic, and other forms of struggle.
  20. Adopt and implement decisions on military operations.
  21. Switch the country’s economy and sectors of it onto a war footing.
  22. Organize territorial and civil defense measures.
  23. Aid RF allies to realize their potential for achieving joint objectives. 
  24. Prevent other states from joining the war on the side of the aggressor.
  25. Use the U.N. and other international organizations to prevent aggression, or force the aggressor to end the war at an early stage.

One can also delve further into the old doctrine on the use of the armed forces in its Military-Strategic Principles section on wars and armed conflicts.  It describes in detail the use and tasks of the armed forces in different types of war and conflict.

Perhaps, however, it’s better to move to the last couple sections of the doctrine–the state’s military organization and the military economy.

New Doctrine on Military Conflicts

The 2000 military doctrine had a very long section covering Russia’s views on both wars and military conflicts.  It spent considerable time on local, regional, and large-scale wars.  Most of the stuff was standard fare.  Conflicts could escalate to local, regional, or large-scale wars, strategic initiative in the beginning period of war is crucial, etc.  The section did mention noncontact and information war.

The new military doctrine, by contrast, is very concise in this regard, confining remarks to military conflict only, with this capacious term covering everything from the smallest armed conflict to large-scale war.

The 2010 doctrine describes 7 Characteristic Features of Modern Military Conflicts:

  1. Coordinated employment of military and nonmilitary forces and means.
  2. Mass employment of weapons systems and military equipment based on new physical principles and comparable in effect to nuclear weapons.
  3. Increased scale of employment of aero-space troops (forces) and means.
  4. Increased role of information warfare.
  5. Decreased time of preparation for conducting combat actions.
  6. Increased command and control efficiency through global automated command and control networks for troops (forces) and weapons systems.
  7. Permanently operating zones of military action on the territory of opposing sides.

Then we get to 4 Specifics of Modern Military Conflicts:

  1. Unpredictability in their occurrence.
  2. Wide range of military-political, economic, strategic, and other aims.
  3. Increased role of modern highly effective weapons systems, but also the reallocation of the role of various spheres of armed struggle.
  4. Timely conduct of information warfare measures to achieve political aims without military force, or to gain a favorable international reaction if force is used.

The new doctrine’s section finishes with three propositions.

Military conflicts will feature rapid flow, selectivity and large target destruction, quick maneuver of troops (forces) and fires, use of different mobile troop (force) groupings.  Holding the strategic initiative, preserving reliable state and military command and control, securing ground, naval, and aero-space supremacy will be decisive factors in achieving established aims.

The growing significance of highly accurate, electromagnetic, laser, infrasound weapons, information management systems, UAVs and autonomous underwater vehicles, guided robot armaments and military equipment will characterize military actions.

Finally, nuclear weapons will remain important in preventing nuclear and conventional military conflicts (regional wars, large-scale wars).  If a conventional conflict puts the state’s existence under threat, the possession of nuclear weapons could lead to escalation of the conflict into a nuclear one.

Old and New Doctrines on Dangers and Threats

So what’s the net result in the change from the old to the new military doctrine when it comes to military dangers and military threats?

Ten years later, the new describes a world that’s more multipolar, with emerging powers, and an international security system that’s less effective than a decade ago, from Russia’s official viewpoint.

The new doctrine is a bit more nuanced, including as it does both dangers and threats, not just threats like the old.

Some themes persist from old to new:  foreign military forces surround Russia and present a danger if not a threat; areas of conflict surround Russia and have the same effect; the disruption of Russia’s national C2 systems is a threat; and there is worry, although somewhat less than in 2000, about illegal armed formations of radicals, extremists, and separatists.

Some themes surprisingly dropped away as threats:  large-scale organized crime, contraband or illegal weapons trading operations; foreign information operations; and discrimination against Russians abroad.

The most important new themes, not surprisingly given the events of the last 10 years, as military dangers could be NATO not just expanding but globalizing and the development and deployment of strategic missile defenses and strategic nonnuclear precision weapons.

New Doctrine on Dangers and Threats

At last, the long awaited new military doctrine.  It’ll take a bit to digest it.

The new doctrine doesn’t hem and haw in an introductory section the way the old one did.  It just jumps right in to General Propositions–what the doctrine is and what it’s based on.  Unlike its predecessor, it gives 11 key definitions of terms ranging from military security to military planning.

It defines military danger as a condition of interstate or internal state relations characterized  by an accumulation of factors, capable under certain conditions of leading to the rise of a military threat.

It defines military threat as a condition of interstate or internal state relations characterized by the real possibility of the rise of a military conflict between opposing sides with a high degree of readiness of some state (group of states), of separatist (terrorist) organization for the employment of military force (armed violence).

Section II. covers Military Dangers and Military Threats.  The new doctrine sees a world somewhat changed.  Gone is the unipolar world of a lone superpower and it now describes a world of reduced economic, political, and military influence of single states (or groups of states) and alliances and the corresponding growth of influence of other states, aspiring to all-around domination [are we talking China here?!], of multipolarity, and of globalization.

Unresolved regional conflicts near the Russian Federation remain a problem and the existing architecture (system) of international security doesn’t provide equal security to all states.  This is much gloomier on the U.N. than the old doctrine.

Now, the list of 11 Fundamental External Military Dangers…(the old doctrine addressed only threats, not dangers):

  1. NATO’s globalization and expansion to the RF’s borders.
  2. Destabilization of states and regions and the undermining of strategic stability.
  3. Deploying or building up foreign military forces on territories or in waters adjacent to the RF.
  4. Development and deployment of strategic missile defense systems which undermine strategic stability and upset the missile-nuclear correlation of forces, space militarization, and deployment of strategic nonnuclear precision weapons.
  5. Territorial claims on the RF and interference in its internal affairs.
  6. Proliferation.
  7. Violations of international arms limitation or reduction treaties.
  8. Use of force on the territories of states adjacent to the RF or its allies.
  9. Presence or rise (escalation) of military conflicts on the territories of states adjacent to the RF or its allies.
  10. The spread of international terrorism.
  11. The rise of interethnic or interconfessional tensions, the presence of international armed radical groups near RF borders, territorial disputes, and the growth of armed separatist (religious) extremists in regions of the world.

Then there are just three Fundamental Internal Military Dangers:

  1. Forceful attempts to change the RF constitutional order.
  2. Undermining the RF’s sovereignty, violation of its unity and territorial integrity.
  3. Disruption of the functioning of the RF organs of state authority, important state, military facilities and information infrastructure.

These were a little different in 2000.  The RF’s unity and territorial integrity were explicitly threatened by extremist nationalist, religious, separatist, and terrorist movements.  There were three additional ones as well–the establishment of illegal armed formations (a la Chechnya), illegal arms trade on RF territory that abets sabotage and terrorism, and large-scale organized criminal, terrorist, and contraband activities.

The new doctrine lists 5 Fundamental Military Threats:

  1. Sharp aggravation of the military-political situation (international situation) and creation of the conditions for using military force.
  2. Impeding the work of the system of RF state and military command and control, disturbing the functioning of its strategic nuclear forces, missile attack warning system, space monitoring, nuclear weapons storage facilities, nuclear power, chemical industry, and other potentially dangerous facilities.
  3. The establishment and training of illegal armed formations, their activity on RF territory or that of its allies.
  4. Provocative demonstration of military force in the course of exercises on territories adjacent to the RF or its allies.
  5. Activities of armed forces of other states to mobilize partially or fully, transfer state and military command and control to wartime conditions.

The old doctrine didn’t deal with dangers, giving just 11 Fundamental External Threats (in very abbreviated form):

  1. Territorial claims on the RF, interference in its internal affairs.
  2. Armed conflict near the RF.
  3. Building up troops near the RF or its allies.
  4. Expansion of military blocs.
  5. Presence of foreign troops adjacent to RF territory.
  6. Creation of military formations near RF territory with the aim of using them on RF territory.
  7. Attacks on RF facilities abroad.
  8. Attacks on RF government or military systems, strategic forces, missile early warning, missile defense, space monitoring, or nuclear storage.
  9. Hostile information operations.
  10. Violations of the rights or RF citizens abroad.
  11. International terrorism.

Medvedev Announces New Military Doctrine Approved

Medvedev and Security Council

Medvedev also told the Security Council he’s approved the “Fundamentals of State Policy in Nuclear Deterrence to 2020.”  But only the Military Doctrine’s been posted on