In April 1997, the U.S. Army War College held its Eighth Annual
Strategy Conference, the topic of which was "Russia's Future as
a World Power." Most of the speakers discussed various aspects
of the many crises besetting Russia, and there were differing
views on whether Russia would be able to surmount those crises
and make the transition to a politically stable democracy and
a market economy.
Dr. Alexei G. Arbatov, the Deputy Chair of the Defense Committee
of the Duma, delivered the banquet address and provided the Strategic
Studies Institute with the following monograph. In his remarks,
Dr. Arbatov stated that political and economic reform had largely
failed, and that we could reasonably fear further turmoil in the
Russian economy and accompanying political and military structures.
The very fact that a freely elected member of the Duma, representing
one of four primary political parties, was speaking to an assembly
at the U.S. Army War College indicates the distance Russia already
has traveled in this decade. Nonetheless, Dr. Arbatov's remarks
made clear how difficult Russia's near-term future will be.
In the following monograph, Dr. Arbatov provides a very candid
appraisal of Russia's current military capabilities. But more
importantly, he also outlines a vision for the future of the Russian
military. His vision is set within a well-reasoned strategic context
and takes into consideration a domestic economic and political
environment that includes a free market economy and the further
development of constitutional democracy.
The United States and Russia are working to devise a new relationship.
The security dimensions of that relationship are integral to its
ultimate shape. For that reason, Dr. Arbatov's observations have
important implications for us all.
RICHARD H. WITHERSPOON, Colonel, U.S. Army Director, Strategic
The very title of this monograph is quite ambiguous. On the one
hand, only 3 years are left until the 21st century. This is too
short a time to forecast or propose any serious change in a huge
and complicated organization like the armed forces of a great
power. On the other hand, each century lasts 100 years, and without
a crystal ball it is impossible to predict the evolution of armed
forces over such a long period, least of all at a time of dynamic
and revolutionary shifts in the world's technologies, economics,
the geopolitical scene, and the relative military balance between
Hence, in addressing the prospects for Russia's armed forces,
it seems realistic to discuss the future some 10-15 years ahead,
to 2010. This is an appropriate timeframe for the fulfillment
of large cycles of economic and military development in Russia
and in other major states. It allows consideration of the possible
realignment of principal international coalitions, and it provides
time to implement major weapons programs. Accordingly, with a
timeframe of 10-15 years, future trends are sufficiently imbedded
in present reality to be discussed without entering the world
of science fiction. Present policy choices may tangibly affect
developments in 10-15 years. Besides, as presently being considered,
the Russian military reform initiative is planned to proceed through
its first two stages through the year 2005. What happens in that
process will define how the Russian military proceeds from 2005
through 2010, the third stage of the reform initiative.
Within this temporal framework, the following monograph discusses
Russia's military alternatives appropriate to its new security
requirements, projected economic conditions, technological capabilities,
and possible changes in the international situation which might
affect Russia and its relationship with other major powers. Even
at that, many issues relevant to the subject, like industrial
and financial projections, problems of defense conversion, possible
advances in military technology, demographic considerations, the
draft and mobilization, have to be left out or discussed only
superficially. All of these issues are part of the comprehensive
notion of military reform; something larger than the narrow notion
of reforming the armed forces. In this monograph, based strictly
on unclassified sources, the latter topic will be the subject
Russia's New Security Environment
At least through the next 10-15 years, Russia's external security
concerns, interests, and requirements will be determined by the
monumental changes in the inter- national situation since 1989.
In all their variety, the frame of reference for Moscow's security
policy is comprised of three main realities or axes.
The first reality is that the Soviet empire has disintegrated.
Russia has lost its near and far allies and its fourteen subjects
of the old Soviet Union. Even the Russian nucleus has started
to split as evidenced in the recent bloody fighting in Chechnya.
The Russian Federation comprises about 60 percent of the population
and economy of the old USSR, and occupies 76 percent of its territory.
Its present frontiers are, for long stretches, purely symbolic.
Russian national values, ideology, and security perceptions have
been deeply split by disputes between many different and sometimes
diametrically opposed political groups.
Not only the geopolitical parameters of Russia have been reduced,
but the nation finds itself in an entirely new international environment.
In the past, the geopolitical space controlled by Moscow directly
bordered on the territories controlled or protected by China and
the United States. Political and military juxtaposition along
those frontiers was sometimes dangerous, but usually quite stable,
clear and predictable. Now, to Russia's west and to the south
there are former Soviet republics within which there is a high
degree political, economic, and social instability. Many are open
to outside influences like radical Islamic fundamentalism. Some
exist in a state of internal tension and even open armed conflict
with various seces- sionist factions. Some have bitter controversies
among themselves and with Russia.
The second reality is that the Russian Federation is passing
through a deep and protracted economic and social crisis, the
end of which is far from sight. An unprecedented decline in production,
a financial crisis, the growth of foreign debt, and the heavy
loss of gold reserves have made Russia depend on the Big Seven
financial powers, the International Monetary Fund, and the World
Bank. At the same time, Russia remains a great power. Its immense
natural and human resources, huge and established industrial base,
its military assets, and the historical legacy of great power
status attained during the Soviet era--all assure its status at
a much higher level than its present economic position would warrant.
Russia remains one of the world's leading military powers. Russian
forces have been reduced as part of the partition of the armed
forces among the republics of the former Soviet Union. Certainly
there have been reductions in the numbers of troops and weapons
due to unilateral cutbacks and in accordance with treaties signed
between Russia, the United States, and NATO; i.e., INF-SRF, CFE,
and START I. But Russia is still formidable in its military might.
It is second only to the United States in nuclear weapons, and
Russia remains the strongest power in Europe and Asia in terms
of its conventional ground, air, and naval forces.
At present, the number of troops on active duty number about
1.7 million. By the end of 1997, this number will have been reduced
to 1.5 million military (and 800,000 civilians). This makes the
Russian armed forces comparable in size to that of the United
States and several times larger than even the biggest of the European
It goes without saying that the military balance in Europe has
changed dramatically during the last few years. But even at that,
Russia will have 1.5-2 times as many tanks and 4-5 times as many
combat aircraft as Germany or as the United States has stationed
in Europe. Furthermore, beyond the Urals, Russia has up to 5,000
tanks and more than 2,000 combat aircraft. Russian strategic nuclear
forces presently consist of about 6,000 warheads. By the year
2006, depending upon whether or not the START II treaty is ratified
and implemented, that number will be somewhere between 2,000 and
4,000. Even at 2,000 warheads, Russia's strategic nuclear forces
will be 2-3 times larger than those of Britain, France, and China
combined, even if their planned modernization programs are fully
The third reality is the character of the changes in the world
at large. The bipolarity of the Cold War most probably is being
replaced not by American hegemony but by genuine multipolarity.
The time of global superpowers, in itself a historical rarity,
has come to an end. The primary players, apart from the United
States, will now be Western Europe, China, Japan, a number of
strong subregional states, and associations of states. Russia,
if it manages to halt its internal disintegration and correctly
defines its place in the new system of international relationships,
will remain in the ranks of the world players.
It is at least conceivable that in 10-15 years new alliances
could lead to a new world bipolarity. For instance, the United
States and China and the Pacific rim might supersede Europe as
the primary zone of confrontation. In that case, Europe and Russia
might be moved to the periphery of world politics.
However, this does not seem very likely. It is more probable
that a truly multipolar world will remain for a long time. This
period of multilateral diplomacy, a complicated pattern of conflicts,
and overlapping interests of states will continue. In the midst
of this international environment, coalitions will shift in some
regions of the world while multilateral and supra-governmental
institutions emerge in others.
Beyond the "near abroad," Russia will be facing a number of states
or alliances with considerable armed forces. In the West, NATO
will probably enlarge and, with the acceptance of new member states,
bring its armed forces closer to the border of Russia. In addition
to possessing a 3:1 or 4:1 superiority in conventional weapons,
NATO will have a clear-cut nuclear superiority over Russia in
both tactical and strategic nuclear forces.
At the southern rim, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan
may present a security problem for Russia individually or in some
combination. Most probably this threat would be indirect-- manifesting
itself through their support of regimes, movements, or policies
in the Transcaucasus and in Central Asia which are directed against
Russia or its allies. Another possibility is that these states
will support secessionist activities against the federal government
of Russia, as was the case in Chechnya.
Russia, however, will be able to retain a clear-cut conventional
military superiority over all these potential opponents. If this
superiority is not effective in achieving Russian goals, that
would signify wrong policy goals or misapplication of military
power. As for Turkey, if it acts independently of NATO, it will
not represent much of a challenge for Russia, especially if Moscow
allies itself with other states in the region, like Armenia, and
relies on them to provide the bulk of the ground forces. If, on
the other hand, Turkey is supported by NATO, then the conflict
might escalate to challenge Russia's military power on a global
In the Far East, two powers, Japan and China, theoretically
could present a threat to Russia. However, Japan's offensive conventional
capabilities against Russia will be quite limited for at least
the next decade. Any unilateral attempt by Japan to take the Kurile
Islands or Sakhalin Island by force is inconceivable, and it is
highly unlikely that Washington would agree to support Japan in
such an endeavor.
China is a special case. Its geostrategic location, long history
of territorial disputes with Russia, and its current military
build-up might encourage Beijing to adopt expansionist policies
toward Siberia and the Russian Far East or against Kazakhstan
and Moscow's other central Asian allies. In 10-15 years, China
may achieve conven- tional offensive superiority along the border
of the Transbaikal and maritime provinces. Chinese forces would
have the shorter lines of communications, making it difficult
for Russian forces to interdict them. In contrast, Russian forces
would have to travel from their European bases and would be susceptible
to Chinese interdiction. On the other hand, Russia will retain
its tactical and strategic nuclear advantage. Moscow's credible
nuclear deterrent will ensure escalation dominance over China
well into the 21st century. Furthermore, China's conventional
arms build-up depends on massive importation of weapons and military
technology from Russia. Moscow, therefore, has effective means
of restraining, or at least constraining, the emergence of this
Current Paradoxes in Russian Defense Posture
The first and fundamental deficiency in the current military
policy and reform program is a great relaxation in civilian control
of the military. This has left the armed forces virtually on their
own during these times of profound change within the armed forces
and in their political, ideological, strategic, economic, and
demographic environments. The current disorganized condition of
the administrative structures in the Russian government and the
growing autonomy of bureaucracies have combined to have a tremendous
negative effect on the defense establishment. This is an especially
dangerous development when taken against the background of a society
and state in transition from a centralized to a free market economy
and from a communist to a democratic political system.
Moreover, this lack of political control has produced tremendous
confusion and mismanagement, and has complicated our much needed
military reform efforts. It has created enormous additional hardships
for the Russian military by hampering the orderly reduction and
redeployment of forces, convulsing the process of defense conversion,
fostering chaos in the military personnel system, and adversely
affecting housing for most of its officers.
In the absence of a consistent security policy or budgetary
guidance from above, military reform has been implemented by adapting
traditional military institutions, concepts, and functions to
the conditions presented by severe budgetary limitations. The
armed services and the departments of the Russian General Staff
have been trying to preserve as much of their strategic doctrines,
personnel levels, deployment patterns, arsenals, and missions
as possible, but this has come at the expense of readiness, training,
maintenance, and modernization. Their ability to perform the novel
tasks warranted by the new security environment is scant, at best.
Institutionally, the Russian armed forces are very much like
those of other nations in their tendency to retain as much as
possible of their traditional strategic roles and operational
missions while giving lip service to the realities of the post-Cold
War environment. Therefore, institutional interests in self-preservation
determine policy formulation for force structure and deployment,
with the primary constraint being budgetary limitations. This
drives the threat assessment. Things should, of course, be the
other way around with threat assessments driving budgetary requirements,
force structures and levels, and deployment. To some extent all
large institutions, civilian as well as military, are subject
to this kind of institutional behavior. But in Russia, it has
become elevated to the highest degree due to the general domestic
disarray which is taking place against the background of an unprecedented
uncertainty in the external security environment.
In recent years, the shallow declarations by Russia's top political
leaders that Russia has no foreign enemies or opponents (something
that was included in the 1993 version of Russian military doctrine)
has put the military in a quandary. Is the Russian military not
supposed to prepare for any war? If so, then that would bring
into question their very reason for being. Or is the Russian military
to prepare for and plan for war with all those states located
around Russia or those nations with forces that can directly threaten
It follows from the new military doctrine and numerous statements
made by top military commanders, including the present Minister
of Defense, that planning contingencies are numerous and complex.
They include being prepared for wars in the west, south, and east;
large-scale and theater- wide operations as well as limited and
local operations, or some combination of these which would make
for war on a global scale. Russian forces must be prepared to
fight alongside probable allies or to fight alone. Our armed forces
allegedly must be capable of deterring a potential foe as powerful
and sophisticated as the NATO Alliance, or as primitive as Muslim
fundamentalist guerrillas, by being ready to fight effectively
against either or both, if need be. It follows that Russian forces
have to be ready to counter any hostile invasion of Russian territory,
and capable of mounting military interventions in the "near abroad"
and beyond when needed.
The inability of the top political and military leaders to make
difficult choices from a number of competing priorities has led
to spreading limited resources much too thinly, and thereby undermining
our overall defense capabilities. But making difficult choices
entails risks which bureaucrats are unwilling to take. Such decisions
must be imposed by a determined political leadership operating
from outside the defense establishment.
The second paradox is that despite all its declarations that
the United States, NATO, and other Western powers no longer constitute
a threat to Russia, our military requirements, at least 50-60
percent of them, still revolve around contingency planning for
a major war with the United States and NATO in the West and with
the United States and Japan in the East. I can only assume that
Western contingency planners regard Russia in much the same way.
In any event, our military planners, profes-sionally if not emotionally,
miss the "Blue Threat" every bit as much as American military
planners must miss the "Red Threat."
After all, it is easy to reason that if the other party may not
be an opponent today, it may become one again in the future. And
since "they" possess huge military capabilities, it is only prudent
to hedge against the worst case scenario. In our case, that worst
case scenario is seen as a hostile NATO bolstered with the added
forces of some of our former Warsaw Pact allies. The sacramental
rule of the Cold War was that military capabilities are to be
taken into account, not political intentions. Capabilities, after
all, take many years to shift while political intentions can change
overnight. I am confident that U.S. defense planners share this
strategic concept with their Russian counterparts, although they
are less outspoken about it.
Therefore, for all the dramatic changes that have taken place
politically over the last decade, very little has changed in the
fundamental way either Russia or the United States approaches
contingency planning. The factors that seriously affect Russian
planning are the financial situation, which is in a crisis, the
disbanding of the Warsaw Pact, the disinte- gration of the Soviet
Union, and the withdrawal of Russian forces from Central Europe
to within 250-300 miles of the Kremlin. Indeed, it has been a
long time since the Moscow Military District was our front-line
area of defense.
The third paradox is the dichotomy afflicting Russia's defensive
posture. On the one hand, due to the present and foreseeable balance
of forces, Russia cannot hope to mount a serious challenge to
Western military power. The possibility that NATO may unite with
some of Moscow's former Warsaw Pact allies or some of the former
republics of the Soviet Union only means, from our perspective,
that the Russian urban, administrative, and industrial heart-
land will be within the combat radius of even tactical aircraft.
As recently as 1988, the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact allies
held a quantitative edge over NATO of about 3- 1 in main weapons
of conventional ground and air forces. But as a consequence of
the collapse of the Warsaw Pact, the disintegration of the Soviet
Union, and as a result of reductions in compliance with the CFE
Treaty, today Russia is quantitatively inferior to NATO forces
by a ratio of from 1-2 to 1-3. With NATO first phase enlargement,
this ratio will change to a 1-4 imbalance. And, if some of the
former Soviet republics join NATO, the odds will increase to 1-5
or beyond. Given the ability of NATO and the West to mobilize
superior economic and technological resources, the discrepancy
is even more alarming from a Russian perspective. Chillingly,
in the case of revived hostilities, only nuclear weapons can be
relied upon to negate this gaping imbalance.
Planning for a war with the West makes Russian defense requirements
virtually open-ended. Whatever the share of limited resources
allocated to such a profound contingency, the armed forces cannot
come close to attaining even minimally sufficient defense capabilities.
On the other hand, there is no conceivable contingency involving
Russia's armed forces in the near abroad that could justify sustaining
present conventional force levels. In time, China might provide
the exception by threatening the Russian Far East, Kazakhstan,
Kyrgyzstan, or Tajikistan, but that is not now the case. Whether
China develops as a threat, however, very much depends on Russia's
current military reform and its ongoing arms and technology transfers
to Beijing. It also depends on Moscow's future relationship with
the buffer states named above and the course of future relations
There is a fourth paradox. Over the next 5 years, the present
policy, driven as it is by bureaucratic inertia and the lack of
any political guidance, will keep Russia's armed forces numerically
quite large even as they continue to deteriorate qualitatively.
Fortunately, no major external threat looms. But eventually the
old capital invested in the Soviet Army will be spent out of the
current Russian Army. There is, therefore, the possibility that
by the time a definitive threat manifests itself, Russia will
have to face that threat with small and completely inadequate
forces equipped with obsolete weapons.
The fact is that present expenditures for maintenance of its
large armed forces depletes those ever diminishing resources available
for training and housing and for research, development, and procurement.
With the Gross National Product (GNP) about 15 percent of that
of the United States, Russia supports a military establishment
of approximately the same size to include 2.5 million men and
women in uniform and civilian employees, and about 1.2 million
others serving in border guard, internal troop, and railway guard
From the first-class superpower armed forces of the Soviet Union,
one equal to that of the United States in conventional and nuclear
forces, and superior in some aspects, Russia is drifting toward
the kind of armed forces China had in the early 1970s. In 10-15
years, the Russian military may look like the People's Liberation
Army of old; large, technologically backward, and supported by
a few hundred vulnerable nuclear weapons linked to an inadequate
C 3 I system. These forces would be lacking in mobility and,
quite possibly, poorly trained. By comparison to the West, the
scientific community would be meager, and the once robust Russian
military industrial complex will have deteriorated. Russia's armed
forces would not be capable of defending the nation from external
threats. They may, indeed, become a major threat to Russia's own
internal security and stability. And that is a very frightening
Russia's Future Defense Requirements
Russia, quite obviously, needs a different military reform program
if it is to provide for its security to 2010. Without going into
much detail, it is clear that radical reductions in force, redeployments,
and restructuring are needed in view of the current and probable
future international security environment, projected contingencies,
and the nation's economic challenges.
The European portion of the former Soviet Union, including Russia,
where traditionally the largest concentrations of forces have
been deployed, has to become our primary area for stationing reserves
and storing supplies. This goes against the expediency of available
infrastructure and traditional strategic priorities, but it fits
within the parameters of the new strategic and political realities.
It is, in fact, up to Russia's political leaders to explicitly
order the military not to plan for any large-scale conventional
war with the United States, NATO, or Japan. The only exception
should be to assure enough of a second strike nuclear capability,
limited only by START treaties, to provide for deterrence. If
NATO extends to the East, without finding accommodation with Russia's
interests, a few "trip- wire" ground forces consisting of heavy
divisions approximate to areas of potential tensions, as well
as a limited, survivable, and flexible tactical nuclear force
of 100-200 warheads, should be sufficient to deter any aggression
from that direction.
Moreover, Russia does not need the 6,400 tanks and 2,450 aircraft
apportioned to it under CFE nor does Ukraine need the 4,000 tanks
and 1,000 aircraft apportioned to it. Neither faces an external
threat from Europe, and they should not create the perception
of a threat to one another. Russia could easily reduce its forces
in this region to 500-800 aircraft and 1,000-2,000 tanks. The
other former republics of the Soviet Union need to maintain even
less robust forces.
NATO, for its part, should implement further cuts in armed forces
in Europe; and the United States, whose superiority in tactical
aircraft is of the greatest concern to the Russian military, should
reduce aircraft inventories. Furthermore, it would be in everyone's
best interest if the nations of the former Warsaw Pact would refrain
from aligning themselves with NATO. The best hope for future peace
in Eastern and Central Europe is for those nations to develop
nonoffensive military capabilities, to pursue nonalignment, and
to be open to good relations with Russia.
The primary new stationing areas for the Russian armed forces
should be the North Caucasus, South Urals, and the Far East. This
would correspond to the contingencies Russia has for Turkey, Afghanistan,
Pakistan, and China, and for countering the danger posed by the
expansion of Islamic fundamentalism into the Muslim populations
in its southern Volga regions. The defense of Russian territory
and the ability to assist its allies among the former republics
of the Soviet Union require neither massive nor permanent deployments
of Russian forces abroad or in the Far East. Forward deployed
screening forces and a developed logistical infrastructure to
include pre-positioned supplies to accommodate rapidly deployed
reinforcing units would suffice.
The bulk of Russia's forces, structured for rapid deploy-ment
in a national emergency, would be permanently based in the Moscow,
Urals, and Volga military districts, as presently planned. These
forces should be fewer in number than currently envisioned and
configured differently, but provided with better airlift and close
air support assets. Instead of the 11 planned heavy and light
divisions, this force could consist of no more than 1-2 heavy
divisions and 2-3 light division equivalents. In addition, 2-3
division equivalents would be sufficient to provide a "trip-wire"
near the western frontiers while 4-5 divisions might be stationed
in the North Caucasus and the Transcaucasus. There needs to be
at least one division in Central Asia, as well.
Due to the long lines of communications and their vulnerability,
a somewhat larger group of forces eventually will need to be permanently
deployed in the Transbaikal area and in the Far East. These will
not number nearly as many as the 600 thousand troops deployed
there in the 1970s and 1980s. Rather, some 5-7 heavy division
equivalents would be sufficient, and would fit under the ceiling
on deployments within a 100 kilometer border belt currently being
negotiated between Moscow and Beijing.
To use the American way of formulating defense requirements,
Russian conventional forces would be able to fight one major war
and two half wars. This means that they may be called on to implement
large-scale, theater-wide operations comparable to Operation Desert
Shield/Storm in one region, such as the Transcaucasus, Central
Asia, or the Far East, for which mobile forces would provide for
rapid reinforcement from their bases in the Urals or in European
Russia. These forces, including frontal aviation, would be assigned
the mission of reinforcing Russian forces stationed at the Central
Asia, Transbaikal, or Far East strategic regions. Simultaneously,
they also would be able to help Russia's allied republics, primarily
Armenia and Kazakhstan, to repel any aggression from across their
borders. The same mobile forces also would be able to conduct
two small-scale local military actions simulta- neously wherever
needed in or around Russia or as part of a multilateral U.N. peace-enforcement
or peace-keeping operation.
In terms of numbers, Russian armed forces should number about
1-1.2 million active duty personnel by 1998. By 2001, a force
of 800-900 thousand would seem to be a realistic and sound goal.
By this date, Russia should have moved to an all volunteer force.
This is actually possible since at present the uniformed personnel
in the Russian armed forces are about 60-70 percent professional
and 40-30 percent conscripted. This is due in part to a huge shortage
of manpower and to the fact that most units are, indeed, undermanned.
With the same expenditures on personnel as in 1997, Russia could
maintain a force of 800 thousand fully-equipped and combat ready
forces consisting only of professionals. The primary difficulty
is how to get from where we are to where we ought to be, given
current economic, social, and political challenges. This is the
most difficult issue facing our military reform initiative.
The objective is to accelerate our reduction in forces to acquire
a much smaller but better force over the next 5-10 years. We need
to downsize to save resources while improving long neglected areas
of support, maintenance, mobility, and housing. Russia also has
to preserve the core of its existing military industrial complex
so that the nation can be assured of the capability for meeting
unpredictable and unforeseen challenges that may arise after the
Releasing career officers to preserve the traditional force
structure of remaining units is, for the initial 3-4 years, more
expensive than keeping them in service. Keeping most of the officers
on board while sharply reducing the number of enlisted men in
the armed forces, and slashing the number of conscripts, is a
cost-cutting alternative, but it really doesn't save that much
over a 3-4 year period. Furthermore, Russia would not be served
well by armed forces top heavy in senior officers but lacking
in junior officers, NCOs, and enlisted personnel.
Such a major transformation requires a massive program to retrain
officers for new positions in the military. This is easier than
teaching them to become civilian employees, and, besides, we have
a vast military education system already in place. This element
of our military reform initiative will necessitate reshuffling
human and material assets between the armed services, disbanding
many units, and cutting the staffs of our central bureaucracy,
as well as forming a relatively small number of highly professional,
all-volunteer units as the core of a new Russian army. Meanwhile,
Russia must preserve large stockpiles of weapons and equipment
in secure storage to supply the newly organized units. Resources
have to be provided to increase pay, allow for better housing,
assure maintenance, and enhance training.
For the intermediate stage, in order to effect savings in personnel
costs, Russia probably should have numerous cadre units and a
small number of fully-complemented units. In the next stage, the
ratio between cadre units and fully-complemented units would be
slowly reversed. During this time, the savings could be applied
to maintenance and to better training, weapons procurement, and
research and development. This approach would, obviously, run
counter to institutional interests and traditions. Only a determined
and strong civilian leadership will be able to meet the monumental
challenges of this new era.
Eventually, of the 800 thousand-soldier army, some 200 thousand
could be allocated to strategic forces and C 3 I; 150 thousand
soldiers would be committed to the Air/Air Defense forces, 150
thousand to the Navy, and 300 thousand to the Ground and Rapid
Deployment Forces (RDF); plus another 100 thousand to central
and local staffs, various administrative organizations, and the
military education system.
In the new Russian Army, the Russian Air Force, after merging
with the air forces of Air Defense, should acquire a much more
prominent role in providing air defense in the European Russia
and the Far East, as well as ground support and long-range interdiction
for contingencies in the Caucasus, Central Asia, and the Far East.
The new Russian Army will also depend on air assets for strategic
and tactical mobility for the RDF. All this can be done with 1,000
to 1,500 combat and transport aircraft.
The role of the ground forces should be confined to preserving
some forward positions with a screening force, rapid deployment,
and reinforcement for large-scale, intensive, but relatively short
duration commitments like Operation Desert Storm, or longer small-scale
operations either in areas of specific interest or under U.N.
authorization around the world. All in all, 15-17 heavy and 2-3
light division equivalents would be enough for these missions.
In case of the emergence of a "greater than expected threat,"
reserves of former contract soldiers, personnel from other organizations
like the Border Guards, and equipment and weapons from pre-positioned
and prepared stocks could be matched to core cadre units which,
in peacetime, are manned mostly by officers. These might be used
to expand the Army by 100 percent over a few months time.
The Navy's mission should be basically defensive. The Northern
Fleet should have the fleet ballistic missile submarine (SSBN)
protection mission. The Pacific fleet will have the mission of
protecting sea lines of communications and, with the Black Sea
Fleet, will conduct relief operations and work in multinational
operations under U.N. auspices. Even so, the Black Sea Fleet should
be sharply reduced, and the Baltic Fleet may be virtually disbanded
and turned into a shore patrol force. A total of 70-80 large combat
ships, 40-50 attack submarines, and 200-300 shore-based naval
aircraft would be adequate for those missions.
Finally, Russian Strategic Forces, after the merging of land,
sea, and air components, early warning and space systems under
the Strategic Rocket Forces' operational command, should be designed
to have a second-strike retaliatory capability sufficient for
selective countervalue targeting against all relevant industrial
targets or limited counterforce capabilities against the strategic
forces of a third nuclear state. The command and control system
must be improved and made more survivable and reliable as a matter
of first priority, given the deep reductions in force levels and
their alert status. Strategic Rocket Forces must have the capability
to retarget quickly so that they can be viable against any existing
Existing military industrial mobilization assets are also "dead
capital" in that they consume huge amounts of resources such as
energy for heating and light and people for security. They need
to be radically trimmed and turned over to the private sector.
Our new doctrine and strategy should revolve around being ready
to fight with weapons and equipment in service or in storage.
The new Russian Army will be, very much, a "come to war as you
are" kind of force. This should suffice for any localized or regional
conflict. Should Russia become engaged in any other kind of war,
it is quite likely that its industries would be attacked by conventional
precision-guided weapons, therefore making it difficult to build
up the arsenal after the war began. The only mobilization assets
worth retaining are those for production of ammunition, fuel and
spare parts, as well as those that support the repair and maintenance
In conclusion, it should be emphasized that Russia's defense
requirements to 2010 envision an army that is very different from
that of any present military power. Although Russia's resources,
allocated to defense, are presently comparable to those of Germany
or France, its present and projected geostrategic situation, as
well as the existing armed forces and defense industrial infrastructure
hardly permit any reduction of forces down to the level of those
nations. Besides, the costs of reduction and conversion on that
scale would be prohibitive.
Rather, the new Russian Army needs to be unique and innovative.
It should be capable of taking its place among the armed forces
of the nuclear superpowers in terms of its strategic forces and
their capabilities, and doing so preferably within the framework
of the START treaties. Its conventional forces will be far smaller
than in the past but still somewhat larger than those of the most
powerful European armies, while being structurally different.
It will be uniquely Russia's Army, a force capable of defending
the nation against plausible threats while fitting into Russia's
new market economy and democratic political system.
See the original at http://carlisle-www.army.mil/usassi/ssipubs/pubs97/rusmil21/rusmil21.htm