Soviet military art includes three main components: strategy,
operational art, and tactics. Each of these components is composed of a
group of theories and practical applications to armed struggle at the related
Strategy is the highest level of the art of war. It is based on military
doctrine and depends on national economic capabilities and potential. Strategy
derives directly from national policy and is governed by that policy. It
includes the following:
----- - Preparation of the armed forces for war;
----- - Planning and conduct of war;
----- - Employing various services of the armed forces and their troop control.
Operational art is the level intermediate between strategy and tactics. It
links the two other levels. Operational art is concerned with wartime
employment of the operational formations (fronts and armies) organic to
various services of the armed forces in order to accomplish the missions
assigned to it by strategy.
Tactics is concerned with the combat employment of the following to
accomplish the missions assigned by operational art:
----- - Large units (divisions, army corps);
----- - Units (brigades, regiments);
----- - Subunits (battalions, companies, platoons, and sections);
----- - Their combat means and weapons.
II. SUBJECT AND CONTENTS OF OPERATIONAL ART
The subject of operational art contains the following:
----- - Analysis;
----- - Study;
----- - Classification;
----- - Proposing recommendations for the preparation and conduct of
----- - Combat actions by operational formations of the services of the armed
forces in a campaign in any TSMA.
Operations, as a category of the application of military science in the context
of operational art, is the sum of the two forms of combat, strikes and attacks
(udar--fires), by all means of
destruction, or only by conventional weapons. It also includes the forms of
combat actions by combat and combat support arms organic to operational
formations. Operations take place in a specified area, and are coordinated in
terms of objectives, time, and space. They are interrelated with each other,
and are to accomplish an assigned operational mission within a unified plan and
The principal content of operational art in modern times is the theory and
practice of operations/combat actions by the following:
----- - Operational formations (fronts, armies, groups of forces, and
naval, air force and air defense operational sized formations);
----- - Airborne assault forces conducted jointly or separately.
The form of the nature and method for conducting such operations/combat actions
will be different in future wars.
The content of operational art also includes the preparation and conduct of
marches, and the movement of operational formations over large distances. The
subjects of operational art are the following:
----- - The nature and characteristics of operations and the design of the
principles that ensure the achievement of the objectives of operations;
----- - The design of forms and methods for the employment of operational
formations (obedinenie) in order to accomplish
various missions, including working out the main principles and practical
recommendations for preparation and conduct of operations (combat actions) by
operational formations under various conditions;
----- - Determining the best forms, methods, and formations for the movements
of troops over large distances by marching, as well as by various other means
----- - Working out measures for all aspects of combat support
(obespechenia) of the troops in operations, as well as
the measures concerning the organization and conduct of troop control
Operational art has developed considerably in modern times. It comprises
general theoretical concepts and principles concerning the operations (combat
actions) of operational formations of each service of the armed forces. It also
includes some parts of theories specific to each service which define the
particular professional characteristics related to the employment of their
operational formations in war.
Operational art is closely connected with the other components of the art of
war, i.e., strategy and tactics. It is obvious that none of the three
main components of the art of war can deal thoroughly by itself with all issues
concerning the preparation and conduct of war, operations (combat actions) and
combat. This is because each component of the art describes specific principles
and provides practical recommendations for the preparation and conduct of
military actions at a specific level and supplements the other two
components. Therefore, the accomplishment of general and overall missions
facing the art of war is achieved through interaction and joint application of
all three components.
Among all components of the art of war, the leading role is played by
strategy. Therefore, the accomplishment of operational and tactical
missions is connected to, and governed by, the general strategic
objective. Moreover, the introduction of strategic rockets and other
strategic forces, the employment of which can help the achievement of great
strategic consequences in a short time, widely expands the role of strategy, in
the TSMAs and also in the achievement of the overall objective of the war.
This does not mean that the role and importance of other components of the art
of war are decreasing. In modern armies, operational and tactical
formations have their organic nuclear missile systems. This provides them with
more freedom of action in selecting the forms of combat actions and obliges
them to act with more initiative and self-sufficiency. Consequently, the
degree and extent of the dependence of strategic success on operational
achievements and the dependence of operational success on tactical gains, as
was seen in the past, have changed. Now the operational level of command
not only determines and specifies the mission of large units
(soyedinnie), but simultaneously can accomplish,
through the employment of its own assets, some operational missions, even
before the accomplishment of tactical missions.
Despite expansion of self-sufficiency of each of the components of the art of
war, there exists a close inter-relationship between them. This shows that the
course and outcome of war are not directly dependent only on the action of
strategic nuclear forces, but at the same time depend on the outcome of the
accomplishment of operational and tactical missions. Therefore, strategy
in its analysis and study of the laws of war and its working out of the forms
for the employment of the armed forces in war considers the status and
capability of operational art and tactics as the basis of studies and
Operational art, in its turn, closely considers the following in its studies,
calculations, and assessments:
----- - Status and capabilities of tactics;
----- - Military equipment organic to large units
(chasti), and subunits
Operational art is required to work for the following:
----- - Realization of strategic concepts;
----- - Organization of the combat action of operational formations
(obedinenie) of each service of the armed
----- - Supporting the execution of strategic concepts.
The direct execution of combat missions is handled by tactics, but at the same
time, the principal initiative in the organization of the combat actions of the
troops belongs to operational art.
The preparation and conduct of operations (combat actions) by operational
formations (obedinenia) of each service are organized
and realized within the framework of strategic operations in the TSMA.
III. THE MAIN FACTOR AFFECTING THE CONTENT AND DEVELOPMENT OF
General principles and direction (napravleniya) of
development of operational art are determined by a large number of factors. The
basic principles causing the development of operational art and generally
guiding the development of the art of war are the following:
----- - Leadership of the Communist Party and state guidance;
----- - Essence (principles) of military doctrine;
----- - Scientific and technological progress;
----- - State of technical equipment of forces;
----- - State of combat-readiness and troop training;
----- - Status and direction of development of the potential enemy's armed
forces and his theory of the art of war;
----- - Characteristics of the TSMAs;
----- - Experience of war, practice, organization, and structure of the armed
forces in peacetime.
The most important factor determining the content and development of
operational art are the following:
----- - Leadership of the Communist Party;
----- - Guidance of the state over the organization, armament, and equipment of
the armed forces;
----- - Development of military science;
----- - Constant attention to strengthening the defensive power of the nation.
The Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, in pursuance
of decisions made in Party sessions, determines the tasks and principles of the
structure and preparation of the armed forces, which constitute the basis for
the development of the art of war in general, and for operational art in
particular. The prime consideration in the structure of the armed forces
is the fact that it is governed by Party leadership.
One of the factors determining the content and direction of the development of
operational art is the military doctrine of the state. Based on the
instructions of the Party and state and the recommendations of military
science, doctrine specifies the reliable means, forms, and methods of
safeguarding the homeland against enemy invasion. Doctrine assesses the
total characteristics of future wars, the missions faced by the armed forces
and state in the time of war, and also the forms for conducting these
missions. Based on the essence of military doctrine, operational art
relies on the assumption that a future war initiated by imperialists will be a
general war between the capitalist and socialist systems and will be a decisive
confrontation between the systems.
Local wars, or wars between several capitalist and socialist nations may
develop into a general war. Depending on the characteristics and form of its
execution, the war may be a general nuclear war, or it may begin with
conventional means and develop later into a nuclear war. Local wars may
begin and end without the use of nuclear weapons, or war between a number of
capitalist and socialist countries may begin with conventional weapons and
later develop into a nuclear confrontation. The imperialist countries
prepare for a war beginning with a surprise attack against the USSR and
Therefore, the most important task of operational art is to provide theoretical
and practical recommendations and guidelines concerning preparation and conduct
of operations by operational formations under different circumstances.
Preparations must be made for the initiation and conduct of war with or without
the employment of nuclear weapons, and also to deal with a possible surprise
enemy invasion. The methods for foiling enemy surprise invasions and
repelling attacks are the launching of devastating blows against the aggressor,
followed by decisive attacks against the enemy to achieve total destruction in
a short time.
The content and development of operational art are broadly connected with
scientific and technological achievements and progress. They are also connected
the standards of the technical and combat equipment of the troops. The
influence of this science and technology on the characteristics and methods of
conducting combat actions are realized primarily through the nature of weapons
and combat equipment. The history of warfare testifies implicitly to the
influence of these factors.
Economic conditions, as well as scientific and technological progress,
constitute a major factor in the revolution in military affairs. The
Soviet Communist Party and government, utilizing economic, scientific, and
technological achievements, constantly seek to promote the combat capabilities
of the armed forces by providing them with the newest and best versions of
weapons and equipment, continuously produced and modified, such as artillery
pieces, antitank weapons, radars, etc.
The progressive nature and development of weapons and combat equipment has
caused intensive competition and a constant race between offensive and
defensive means. The introduction of nuclear weapons greatly increased
the capabilities of offensive means, but simultaneously, the capabilities of
defensive means have also kept pace with such developments, and have been
In modern armies, along with the advances made in the power of strategic
offensive means, rapid developments are being made in operational and tactical
nuclear weapons as well. More powerful and improved nuclear weapons and
delivery means have been developed. Concurrent with the development of nuclear
delivery means, quantitative and qualitative improvements of conventional
weapons have also continued. Significant attention has been paid to the
modification and modernization of such weapons in all modern armies. The
variety of conventional weapons continues to increase, along with the
complexity of their construction. Modern tanks, aircraft, and ships are
becoming more complicated and represent the most complex technological
achievements. Such weapons are equipped with a wide range of advanced
instrumentation and other equipment. The destructive capability of
weapons, as well as their firing range, accuracy, and effectiveness of fire are
rapidly increasing, and, consequently, the firing and striking power of the
ground forces, air forces, and navy are constantly improving. The utilization
of newly developed conventional weapons enhances the dynamic development of
combat actions and in some cases, provides the capability to give the operation
a decisive character while avoiding the necessity for the employment of nuclear
Concurrent development and improvement of nuclear and conventional weapons not
only influences the nature and characteristics of operations, but at the same
time, changes the composition, structures, and organization of operational
formations. It also requires reconsideration and adjustment of many theoretical
and practical principles and methods of operational art, as well as the
organization of issues concerning the preparation and conduct of operations and
the employment of new weapons. The need to reorganize operational and
combat- readiness, training, and the psychological preparation of the armed
forces personnel tends to arise and requires the troops to overcome the power
of a strong enemy under difficult conditions, with or without the use of
nuclear weapons. Commanders and staffs need to learn troop control methods
under the most complicated and difficult conditions.
The nature of operations and the theories of operational art are influenced
particularly by the employment of electronic warfare means and laser weapons
systems with enormous destructive power that have appeared in recent years or
are under development. The theory of operational art is also influenced
by the state of combat and operational-readiness, as well as the political and
psychological status of the troops.
Operational art relies on the fact that constant high combat-readiness of
troops ensures foiling any enemy invasion and guarantees the successful
accomplishment of operations (combat actions) at the outbreak of war.
The most important element in combat-readiness of troops is their combat
effectiveness. This is determined by the following:
----- - Level of strength of the subunits, units, and large units;
----- - State of their combat-readiness;
----- - Standard of the personnel's morale;
----- - Availability of stores and supplies.
A significant role in promoting the state of combat-readiness of the troops is
played by the status of morale and the psychological-readiness of the
personnel. The higher the morale of personnel and the deeper the devotion of
the rank and file to their duty, the more the combat-readiness of units and
large units is increased and enhanced.
In determining the proper content and course of development of operational art
the nature and developmental tendencies of a potential enemy's theory of the
art of war must be taken into consideration. Along with its strong and weak
points, the enemy's theories on the conduct of combat actions are of particular
significance. These facts help Soviet theoreticians to work out the most
effective methods of repelling enemy aggression and ensuring destruction of
enemy forces in the course of military actions.
Conditions of military geography in the TSMA should be taken into consideration
where combat operations are to be conducted.
Experiences of past and contemporary wars and the actual practice of
organization and preparation of the armed forces in peacetime are also taken
into account in this process. Forgetting these experiences can put us in
a precarious and risky position and may jeopardize the process of the
development of the operational art. Experiences of past wars should be
utilized, and the achievements gained in the development of weapons and combat
equipment should be contemplated in the process of reorganization of the troops
under new conditions. Thus, proper determination of the content and
development of Soviet operational art is possible only on the basis of
Marxist-Leninist methodology in deep and comprehensive analysis and assessment
of a wide range of factors.
All aforementioned factors, as a whole, influence the development of
operational art. Through the direct influence of such factors, the
prominent features of operational art, in modern times, are illustrated and
defined as follows:
----- - First, the theory of operational art, as a whole, is entirely and
implicitly distinguished and defined on the basis of Marxist-Leninist teachings
and by the laws and principles concerning the preparation and conduct of
----- - Second, modern operational art is complex, with many aspects. In
operations conducted by operational scale formations the process concerning
their preparation and execution is conducted by operational art. Since
different arms and services organic to different branches of the armed forces
are participating in the conduct of operations, operational art assumes a
complex nature with many aspects. Planning of an operation must cover all
aspects, be worked out in detail, and take into consideration coordinated
actions of all means and forces participating in the operation;
----- - Third, in operational art the need and capability of utilizing all
types of military actions should be taken into account. The requirements of
each form should be met in theory and practice;
----- - Considering the expanded capabilities of modern operational formations,
as well as the significance of economizing time and seizing and retaining the
initiative, the focus of operational art is on working out offensive theories
and their practical implementation. But, at the same time, the other forms of
combat action are not ignored. Such characteristics of operational art emerge
mainly from the dynamism of the development of military affairs along with
various forms and methods concerning the conduct of operations.
----- - Fourth, in modern operational art, the role of collective initiative is
increased. The extraordinary dynamic nature of contemporary combat
action, as well as the need to make quick decisions about the effective
employment of different types of weapons in operations (combat actions), and
the need to analyze a broad flow of information during combat, requires that a
large number of officers and generals be employed as staff officers in the
planning and conduct of combat actions. The commander needs their
contribution in the decision-making process to provide him with timely
information, calculations, and suggestions. This obviously shows the
importance and significance of collective actions and concepts. But
still, the basic principle of troop control is always the observance of unified
command and leadership;
The aforementioned characteristics, generally pertinent to operational art, are
further supplemented by other specific characteristics pertinent to different
services of the armed forces in relation to their role, missions, organic
assets, and methods of employment in the operation.
IV. GENERAL PRINCIPLES AND CONSIDERATIONS IN THE THEORY OF
The general topics and issues of the theory of Soviet operational art are
derived from the laws of armed struggle, and, in fact, they define the
principles and methods of the preparation and conduct of operations (combat
actions). They are important to the operational formations of different
arms of the services, despite their different and separate professional nature
and distinctions. In order to conceive thoroughly the nature of the
general principles and considerations in the theory of operational art, it is
necessary to review briefly the types of operational formations and their
Operational formations include the following:
----- - Fronts;
----- - Military district commands;
----- - Air and air defense district commands;
----- - Naval fleets;
----- - Combined arms armies;
----- - Tank armies;
----- - PVO forces;
----- - Air forces;
----- - Independent army corps operating on independent axes;
----- - Others.
Each one of these formations has specific missions, organizations and
assets. Operational formations do not have permanent organizations.
Their organization and structure are determined in accordance with the nature
of the theater military of operations, the number and significance of the
missions to be accomplished, the conditions of the operational situation, and
the nature of their coordination with other operational formations.
Strategic Rocket Forces Operational Formations
Strategic rocket forces operational formations are tasked to accomplish the
----- - Inflict losses and destruction on enemy main groupings of strategic,
operational, and tactical nuclear forces;
----- - Destroy enemy aircraft units, ground forces, air defense forces, naval
forces and the most important targets in the theater of operations;
----- - Destroy enemy military economic bases;
----- - Interrupt the enemy's societal life.
Operational formations organic to the strategic rocket forces accomplish their
missions by launching nuclear strikes against the enemy in the framework of the
plans of the supreme commander. Such formations foil enemy efforts or
reduce enemy capabilities to launch strikes and attacks on friendly armed
forces and important targets in the country. They provide favorable conditions
for the conduct of operations by other operational formations organic to
different services of the armed forces. Nuclear strikes are launched by the
bulk of the rocket forces or by a number of their operational formations
(obidinenie), and large units
(soidenenie) on vital areas and targets inside the
territory of enemy allied countries. They may consist of a number [series] of
nuclear strikes. However, the initial strike, which is prepared in
advance, has significant importance to the successful conduct of future
Ground Forces Operational Formations
Ground forces operational formations, along with their attached troops and the
large units of other branches of the armed forces, are tasked to accomplish the
----- - Destroy the enemy in the TSMA;
----- - Seize enemy territory;
----- - Repel enemy attacks;
----- - Hold friendly territories.
Such formations are capable of independently destroying large enemy units of
forces with or without the employment of nuclear weapons.
PVO Operational Formations
The missions of PVO operational formations are the following:
----- - Defending against enemy aircraft, rockets, spacecraft;
----- - Covering vital targets and units of friendly armed forces across the
country against enemy aircraft, rockets, and military spacecraft.
Since missiles are the principal delivery means of enemy strategic nuclear
forces, the most important task of the air defense forces is antimissile
defense capable of successfully and effectively defeating enemy nuclear missile
attacks. Another important task facing PVO forces, in modern times, will be
combating enemy military space-based weapons and spacecraft. The air
defense forces accomplish their missions through combat actions conducted
within the framework of a unified plan, either independently or jointly with
other services of the armed forces, but primarily with the ground forces.
The operations of PVO forces become significantly important in case of a
nuclear war. In that case, the air defense forces, together with the
strategic missile forces, play a vital role in foiling an enemy nuclear attack.
Air Forces Operational Formations
The missions of air forces operational formations are the following:
----- - Destroy enemy missiles and air force units;
----- - Establish air superiority;
----- - Destroy the enemy's economy and communications networks;
----- - Conduct joint actions with the ground forces and the navy;
----- - Conduct air reconnaissance;
----- - Transport airborne troops;
----- - Secure airmobile operations in support of troop movements;
----- - Transport supplies and stores by air.
Air forces operational formations conduct combat actions by carrying out
long-range air force operations and combat actions by front air forces.
In air operations to destroy enemy air forces units in the initial phase of
war, in addition to long-range aircraft, fronts' air forces, and naval
aircraft are called upon as well.
Naval Forces Operational Formations
The missions of naval forces operational formations are the following:
----- - Destroy enemy naval forces;
----- - Destroy primarily enemy aircraft carrier task forces;
----- - Destroy enemy submarines armed with missiles;
----- - Foil or destroy enemy naval movements and transportation;
----- - Destroy enemy coastal targets.
Naval operational formations also safeguard naval supply routes against enemy
naval attacks and support the ground forces during their operations on naval
The basis of the naval forces are nuclear missile submarines, which are capable
of launching nuclear missile attacks against specified targets in enemy
territory in order to:
----- - Destroy his military industrial potential;
----- - Interrupt his governmental and military troop control system;
----- - Inflict damage on other vital targets.
Naval forces operational formations accomplish their missions by conducting
naval operations which, in terms of their aims and objectives, are classified
----- - Operations to destroy enemy naval forces;
----- - Operations to destroy vital targets inside enemy territory;
----- - Operations to foil enemy naval movements;
----- - Operations to secure and defend friendly naval routes;
----- - Operations to achieve all or a number of the above mentioned aims
concurrently might also be conducted.
Operational formations of each service of the armed forces accomplish specific
missions through different forms of combat actions in a modern war.
However, there are a number of general principles of operational art that
govern all. These principles are discussed below.
Decisive Objective, Broad Dimension, and Complicated Nature of the
These characteristics are incorporated into operational art because of broad
and profound achievements in modern military weaponry that possesses enormous
destructive power and striking force. Other important factors influencing
this process are the following:
----- - Capability to destroy the enemy by mass-employment of nuclear weapons
or merely conventional means;
----- - Expand and increase mobility in troop movements;
----- - Considerable effectiveness of troop control;
----- - Higher morale and training standards of armed forces personnel.
The decisiveness of objectives and increased dimensions of the operations
(combat actions), of the operational formations of different services of the
armed forces are caused by the use of strategic nuclear forces and the
complications of the situation due to the enormous potential capabilities of
enemy nuclear weapons. A most difficult situation will develop if the
enemy attacks when operational formations are suffering heavily from enemy
During conventional operations (combat actions), the most complicated situation
will be faced when friendly forces are forced to repel enemy surprise attacks,
and particularly in the course of fierce combat actions to repel an enemy
initial attack. In such a situation, it is required that, on some axes, a
temporary defensive posture be assumed to repel the attack of superior enemy
forces, while attempts are made to bring forward second-echelon forces and
reserves, eventually establishing superiority in troops and means.
One of the general principles of operational art in modern times is that the
operations of operational formations of different services of the armed forces
are conducted within a strategic framework in the TSMA. Each one of the
operational formations will execute its missions in close consideration of the
missions of the other formations while closely coordinating with each other.
The meaning and nature of coordination is harmonizing the method of action of
----- - Operational formations (fronts, armies);
----- - Large units (divisions);
----- - Units (brigades, regiments);
----- - Sub-units (battalions and below);
----- - Different services of the armed forces;
----- - Various arms of services.
Objective, time, and space are considered in order to accomplish assigned
missions and to achieve the aim of the operation (combat). Depending on the
objectives, actions, and size of cooperating groupings of forces, the
coordination can be termed strategic, operational, or tactical.
Strategic coordination is concerted action by operational formations of
different services of the armed forces to achieve strategic objectives. Such a
level of coordination is organized by the supreme high command within the
framework of a unified plan and concept.
Operational coordination is concerted action by operational formations to
accomplish assigned missions in operations conducted by formations on one or
more operational axes. This level of coordination is usually organized on
the basis of instructions of the armed forces general staff and the commanders
of operational formations.
Tactical coordination is concerted action by tactical units to accomplish
assigned missions. This level of coordination is organized by the following:
----- - Commanders of operational formations (fronts, armies);
----- - Commander of large units (divisions);
----- - Units (brigades, regiments) among combined arms and supporting arms
divisions, brigades, and regiments.
The purpose is to conduct concerted actions in combat.
The most important point in operational and tactical coordination is the
coordination of the use of nuclear and conventional means of destruction with
the action of the troops in support of the most effective employment of all
forces and assets. Each commander organizes the coordination among his
subordinates to ensure the most effective use of available troops and means.
One of the general principles of operational art is meeting the requirements of
constant and high combat-readiness of the troops. This facilitates timely
accomplishment of combat missions and ensures surprise action by the troops.
The requirements of constant combat-readiness can be met through the general
structure and organization, as well as through the preparation of armed forces.
Constant combat-readiness of the troops requires the following;
----- - Initial nuclear strikes be launched against the enemy;
----- - Surprise action of the friendly forces be ensured;
----- - Enemy surprise attacks be foiled and prevented;
----- - Active combat operation be developed rapidly from the outset of the
war, to seize the initiative.
The following levels of combat-readiness are defined in the armed forces:
----- - Routine combat-readiness;
----- - Higher state of combat-readiness;
----- - Full combat-readiness.
A state in which all armed forces effectively conduct their planned, routine
operations, while large units (divisions), units (regiments) and sub-units
(battalions and below) at full strength are ready to be employed for conducting
combat actions, and all other large units, units, and supporting [service]
echelons with reduced strength organization are ready to be mobilized and
transformed into full combat-readiness.
This is the state from which the troops can pass to the state of full
combat-readiness in the shortest possible time. In this case, all large
units are concentrated in their permanent military garrisons and take measures
to upgrade their combat and mobilization-readiness.
This is the highest state of combat-readiness to accomplish rapidly combat
missions. In case of parity between the opposing forces, and even when
the enemy forces are superior to the friendly troops, full combat-readiness
facilitates surprise action against the enemy. This causes the following:
----- - Heavy enemy losses in a short time;
----- - Rapid changes in the relative balance of forces;
----- - Seizure of initiative;
----- - Provides favorable conditions in which decisive consequences in the
operation may be achieved.
Therefore, the friendly forces should constantly be alert, act with initiative,
determination, decisiveness and quickness.
Mass employment of troops and means to accomplish the main missions
on the decisive axes
This is one of the important principles of operational art and it has undergone
broad changes in form in comparison with past wars. In modern conditions,
due to the risk of heavy casualties likely to be suffered with the use of
nuclear weapons, concentration of masses of troops in narrow zones is not
allowed and is not acceptable. Nowadays the concentration of force is achieved
primarily through the following:
----- - Launching missiles and air strikes;
----- - Mass-employment of nuclear weapons against the enemy, to change rapidly
the relative balance of forces in our own favor;
----- - Conducting rapid troop movements.
In operations conducted without the employment of nuclear weapons, establishing
superiority of forces against the enemy on decisive axes, requires strong
groupings of forces be concentrated for a limited period of time and, after
breaking through the enemy defenses or following the accomplishment of specific
missions, dispersed quickly.
Wide maneuver by forces and assets is another important principle of
operational art that has acquired more significance now than in WWII.
Comprehensive Support of Operations (Combat Actions)
One of the important conditions to ensure success in the operations of the
operational formations of different services of the armed forces is detailed,
thorough support of their operations in order to provide favorable conditions
for the troops to act and to decrease the effectiveness of enemy nuclear and
conventional weapons attacks, as well as enemy forces' combat actions, and also
to destroy enemy troop control.
The main types of measures in support of all operational formations are the
----- - Reconnaissance
----- - Protection of the troops and rear services' installations against
attacks by enemy mass-destruction weapons;
----- - Operational concealment (maskirovka);
----- - Radio-electronic combat;
----- - Engineer, chemical, hydrometeorologic, topogeodesic, and logistic
Another important principle of operational art is effective, reliable, and
active troop control. The experience of past wars clearly indicates that
success in operations depends on the following:
----- - Availability of weapons;
----- - Method of employment of weapons;
- Status, form, and method of troop control.
V. FUNDAMENTALS OF OPERATIONS BY GROUND FORCES OPERATIONAL
The ground forces constitute an important component of the armed forces
and play a specific role in operations conducted with or without nuclear
weapons employment. The development of strategic means of war has not
decreased the significance of the ground forces in achieving victory; instead
their importance has acquired more significance.
Future local wars, as well as general nuclear wars, will be fast paced, longer,
and more difficult. In such wars, final victory can be achieved only
through the destruction of enemy armed forces and the seizure of his territory,
which would be impossible without the employment of ground forces.
Forms of Operations, Their Objectives, and Dimensions
The ground forces operational formations operating on independent axes include
----- - Combined arms fronts;
----- - Combined arms armies;
----- - Tank armies;
----- - Army corps.
Their structures and organizations are not permanent or standard but depend on
their objectives, the nature of their assigned missions, and the nature of the
TSMA where the operations are to be conducted.
The front is the highest operational formation which may be comprised of
the following elements:
----- - Three to four combined arms and tank armies;
----- - Air army;
----- - Army corps;
----- - Infantry and tank divisions, and sometimes airborne divisions;
----- - Air assault large units;
----- - Rocket, artillery, surface-to-air missile units, and large units;
----- - Engineer, chemical, other combat supporting units, and large units.
In some situations operational formations and large units of other services of
the armed forces may be put under the operational control of the front.
Combined Arms Army
This includes the following large units and units:
----- - Rocket brigade;
----- - Four to six motorized rifle and tank divisions;
----- - Units and large units of surface-to-air missiles and antiaircraft
----- - Army air forces;
------ Combat support arms large units, units and subunits;
----- - In some cases, an artillery corp.
The tank army is usually composed of the following:
----- - Tank divisions;
----- - Motorized rifle divisions (sometimes);
----- - Other combat and combat support arms units;
----- - Large units.
During the conduct of operations, the front, army, and army corps are
usually reinforced by additional units and large units attached to them by
The availability of the following ensures their capability to accomplish any
type of mission during the conduct of operations in a continental TSMA.
----- - Nuclear missile troops;
----- - Various combat and combat support units;
----- - Large units in the organization of the front and army;
----- - An air army in the structure of the front.
The operations conducted by operational formations of the ground forces are
classified in terms of objective, method of execution, and scale.
In terms of objective and form of execution, operations may be offensive or
defensive. On the basis of studies made of the capabilities of different
forms of operations and their likely consequences and advantages, operational
art establishes principles which recommend that only by the following can the
objective of strategic operations in the TSMA and the overall objective of the
war be achieved:
----- - Decisive attack;
----- - Utilizing all the weapons and combat capabilities of the troops;
----- - Complete destruction of the enemy.
However, on individual axes, at specific stages of strategic operations, when
the circumstances are unfavorable for conducting offensive operations, not only
the armies but even the fronts can be forced to take up the defense and
conduct defensive operations. Therefore, while the offensive operation is
the basic form of combat action in operational art, the defensive operation is
taught as a temporary and forced type of combat action.
When operating on maritime axes, the front and army, in cooperation with
large units and operational formations of other services of the armed forces,
can conduct seaborne assault operations or establish a coastal defense.
The airborne forces conduct airborne assault operations in which motorized
infantry troops can also participate.
In terms of scale and dimension, the operation is divided into front and
army operations. The front operations integrate parts of the
strategic operation in the TSMA, while army operations constitute the elements
of the front operation.
The front offensive operation is conducted in one strategic axis or on a
number of operational axes. Its objectives can be the following:
----- - Destruction of opposing enemy groupings, including nuclear weapons and
deep (strategic) reserves;
----- - Foiling the mobilization and deployment of enemy armed forces in the
TSMA across the offensive zone of the front;
----- - Seizing important enemy economic and political areas;
----- - Eliminating nations allied with the enemy from the war.
In any specific situation, the objectives of the operation and the missions of
the front are determined and specified by the commander in chief
(supreme high commander) within the framework of the concept of the strategic
operation and in accordance with the situation.
The scale front operations can be different depending on the following:
----- - Aim of the operation;
----- - Availability of forces and means;
----- - Geographical conditions of the TSMA;
----- - Other factors.
The scale of the operation is distinguished by the following:
----- - Depth of the operation;
----- - Width of the attack zone;
----- - Average rate of advance;
----- - Duration of the operation.
In a TSMA where sufficient lines of communications are established and the
terrain is favorable for combat actions, the normal depth of the front
offensive operation can be 600-800 kms., width of attack zone 300-400 kms., the
average rate of advance 40-60 kms. per day, and the duration of the operation
l2-l5 days. In other theaters, particularly in mountainous TSMAs the
dimensions of the operation will be wider.
Offensive operations of combined arms and tank armies are part of the
front operation and are conducted in one of the operational axes.
Normally the army conducts and accomplishes its operations in coordination with
----- - Other armies;
----- - SSM troops;
----- - Front air defense troops;
----- - Airborne assault troops;
----- - Naval forces on naval axes.
A combined arms army can conduct independent offensive operations, separate
from the front operation, when acting under special circumstances and on
separate axes. The depth of a combined arms army's operations in normal
conditions can be 250-350 kms. or more, while the width of its attack zone can
be 60-80 or even l00 kms., and in mountainous terrain it may be greater.
A defensive operation is regarded as a temporary, forced type of combat action,
particularly in operations conducted with the employment of nuclear
weapons. Defense will normally be conducted in support of a successful
attack on the main axes. However, when nuclear weapons are not employed,
the troops may deliberately take up the defense to weaken superior enemy
forces, to gain time for the deployment of offensive units, preparing to, and
passing over to the offensive operation.
A front defensive operation may be conducted at the beginning of a
strategic operation, in case of an enemy invasion of our country, or in the
course of a strategic operation in which the enemy manages to establish
superiority in forces and means on one of the axes and seize the
initiative. Army defensive operations may become necessary in different
stages of a front offensive operation, or it might be an integrated part
of a front's offensive operation.
Aims and Objectives of Defensive Operations
Missions are assigned to the front by the supreme high command and to
the army by the Front commander within the framework of the general concept of
strategic operations in a TSMA. They are also assigned on the basis of the
concept of front operations. Missions are designed to achieve
broad objectives in close consideration of the situation in the areas of action
of operational formations.
The use of nuclear and chemical weapons in defensive operations, as well as the
increased capabilities of the troops in firepower and manuever, require that
the defense be conducted decisively and actively, so that assigned missions are
accomplished in a much shorter time than in the past. By effective
employment of modern weapons and through better utilization of terrain and
engineer obstacles, heavier losses can be inflicted on the enemy more quickly.
The aim and missions of defensive operations are the following:
----- - Inflicting decisive casualties and losses on the enemy main grouping of
----- - Foiling its attack;
----- - Holding vital areas and approaches;
----- - Gaining time for the organization of the counterattack.
Defensive operations may also become necessary to ensure economy of force and
facilitate the concentration of forces on axes where the offensive operation is
to be undertaken. Defensive operations are also conducted to cover the flanks
of the main striking groupings conducting offensive operations in the TSMA.
The combined arms army is assigned a defensive zone on the main axes, l00-l50
kms. wide and sometimes wider. The army corps defends on a front 70 or
more kms. wide. When the front takes up the defense, the width of
its defensive zone may reach 500 kms. or more. In TSMAs with special
conditions, the operational formations are capable of defending wider
The defense should be strong and active. Moreover, it should be
established in depth with different patterns--not mono-type. The troops
and means should be dispersed in the defensive area, and the fire plan,
particularly the antitank fire system and air defense, should be organized in
detail. In preparing defensive positions and defensive strongholds,
extensive use of obstacles should be made and strong reserves (second-echelon
troops) should be deployed in depth.
The depth of the army's defensive disposition may reach l00-l50 kms. and that
of the front, 250-300 kms.
The operational formations will have a limited number of nuclear weapons in
defense, and they will often be forced to attempt to repel the enemy attack by
conventional weapons and means. Sometimes, despite the limited
availability of nuclear weapons, the operational formations, counting on
nuclear delivery means of higher echelons employed in support of their
operations, can act with greater effectiveness to foil the enemy attack. Such a
mission can be accomplished nowadays at any stage of the enemy attack.
In the theory of operational art, defensive action on maritime axes is studied
and considered as coastal and inland defense, or merely coastal defensive
operations conducted by front and army (army corps). In some
cases, the task of defending maritime axes is assigned to naval forces
themselves, with naval aircraft and naval infantry.
Seaborne Assault Operations
Seaborne assault operations are conducted to seize the following:
----- - Islands;
----- - Large peninsulas;
----- - Straits;
----- - Vital coastal areas;
----- - Military and naval bases.
Occupation of these areas provides friendly forces with important bases and
favorable conditions for better and effective utilization of naval forces, as
well as for the destruction of enemy groupings of naval forces. Such
operations are conducted jointly by ground and naval forces supported by
strategic rocket troops, air forces, and PVO troops.
Seaborne assault operations are normally organized and conducted under the
control of the front commander. In this particular case, the
commander of the naval fleet acts as the assistant commander of the
front for the affairs of naval units. Sometimes, seaborne assault
operations can also be conducted under the control of the naval commander.
Airborne Assault Operations
Airborne assault operations are normally organized and conducted on the basis
of the supreme high commander's instructions, to exploit the consequences of
nuclear strikes of the strategic rocket forces and to accomplish operational
and strategic missions in the rear of the enemy. In some cases, airborne
assault operations may be conducted within the framework of the front
offensive operation. The missions of airborne assault operations are the
----- - Seizing of vital objectives and areas in the enemy's rear;
----- - Destruction of enemy nuclear weapons and command posts;
----- - Assisting friendly forces attacking from the front in destroying
enemy main groupings of forces and to facilitate a rapid advance into the depth
of his territory.
The composition of troops and means assigned to conduct airborne assault
operations depends on the objectives of the operation and the missions to be
accomplished. The basis of the group conducting airborne assault
operations are the following:
----- - Airborne large units and units;
----- - Motorized rifle units (brigades, regiments);
----- - Large units (divisions), specifically trained and prepared for the
The distance of drop/landing of an airborne assault force may reach 500-600 km
from the front lines. But if the airborne assault operation is conducted
in the interest of front objectives, the distance of drop/landing of the
airborne assault force may be l50-300 km. The airborne force and its combat
actions are supported by those front elements, in whose areas the
airborne assault force is flown or in which it is employed on ground.
Airborne units and large units landings in the rear of the enemy come under
front control after linking up or constitute the supreme high command's
Operational art, considering the conditions of different TSMAs, provides
theoretical principles and practical recommendations concerning the employment
of operational formations in mountains, deserts, northern areas (extreme cold),
and also in operations to seize and hold large built-up areas and cities,
meeting engagements, and pursuit of a retreating enemy.
Operational art also provides guidelines for the preparation and conduct of
combat actions in special conditions, the most significant of which are the
----- - Conduct of the attack on independent axes widely apart from each other;
----- - Determining wider areas of action for operational formations and large
----- - Establishment of very deep dispositions by the troops.
Such guidelines cover the following:
----- - Methods of employing nuclear weapons;
----- - Use of combat arms and air forces;
----- - Methods and forms of combat actions;
----- - Nature and characteristics of troop control;
----- - Support of combat actions.
VI. MAIN CHARACTERISTICS AND PRINCIPLES OF PREPARATION AND CONDUCT
OF OPERATIONS BY FRONT AND ARMIES
The main characteristic of an operation is the term used to illustrate the
nature and characteristics of various operations reflecting the following:
----- - Their nature,
----- - Characteristics;
----- - Method of their preparation and conduct.
The principles are the general guidelines envisaging the following:
----- - Fundamentals of operations;
----- - Preparatory measures;
----- - Methods and forms of conducting the operations;
----- - Organization of supporting measures;
----- - Troop control.
The main characteristics and the principles of preparation and conduct of
operations are not fixed rules. They change continually with developments
in the following:
----- - Weapons and military equipment;
----- - Structure and organization of troops;
----- - Adjustments in military doctrine;
----- - Progress of the theory of the art of war;
----- - Preparation and training of troops.
The introduction of new and more effective weapons, primarily nuclear weapons
and missiles, along with their inclusion in military organizations, the full
motorization and mechanization of ground forces, and the development of their
structure, has caused changes in the characteristics of operations and in the
principles of their preparation and conduct.
The main characteristics and principles of modern operations conducted by
ground forces operational formations are the following:
----- - Decisiveness of objectives and large-scale dimensions of the
----- - Achievements of the operational objectives through joint coordinated
action of different combat arms, front air forces in close coordination
with the operational formations, and large units of other services of the armed
----- - Unified type of preparation of modern operations to accomplish assigned
missions in different likely conditions of the outbreak of future wars with or
without the employment of nuclear weapons;
----- - Surprise action and intensive struggle to seize the initiative. Conduct
of combat action across a broken front line, simultaneously on separate axes
and in different depths;
----- - Mass-employment of troops and means on decisive axes;
----- - Wide maneuvers and accomplishment of combat missions by different
----- - Rapid and significant changes in the situation;
----- - Large expenditure of stores and supplies in the operation;
----- - Considerable difficulties in the areas of support measures and troop
The objective and scale of modern operations, compared with those conducted in
WWII, have developed and increased rapidly and profoundly. For example, the
depth of the front's offensive operation reached 250-300 kms. and on
some individual axes only up to 500 kms. in the closing phase of WWII, while
the depth of army offensive operations reached 200 kms. In modern
conditions, as mentioned above, the depth of a front offensive operation
reaches 600-800 kms. and more. That of an army offensive operation reaches up
to 350 kms. and more. Defensive operations are also conducted with
decisive aims. The reason behind these developments are the following:
----- - Decisiveness of the political objective of war and its requirements;
----- - Mass-employment of nuclear weapons and other mass-destructive means;
----- - Extensive motorization and mechanization of the troops and an increased
number of combat vehicles;
----- - Great increases in the combat capability of troops and in the
effectiveness of combat support means;
----- - Upgrading of the morale of Soviet armed forces personnel.
In operations conducted by operational formations of ground forces, a wide
range of combat and combat support arms, as well as the troops and means of
other services of the armed forces take part. This represents an enormous
number and variety of weapons and combat equipment. Each of these arms
and means accomplishes specific and particular combat missions. The
following are called to take part in operations:
----- - Combat and combat support arms of the ground forces;
----- - Front aircraft;
----- - Long-range air forces large units;
----- - Naval elements;
----- - PVO troops.
Success in accomplishment of operational missions is achieved only by joint
action of all combat arms and Front aircraft in close cooperation with the
operational formations and large units of other services of the armed forces
operating on the same axis. Therefore, operational art concentrates on,
studies, and provides the rules concerning the methods and forms of
coordination (interaction) among the troops and means participating.
Since the likely conditions and circumstances under which future wars are to
break out might be very different, it is vital that operations should be
prepared in advance in such a way that they can be conducted with or without
the employment of nuclear weapons under any initial circumstances, including
situations in which the enemy launches a surprise invasion.
The main characteristic of modern operations is the fact that combat actions
are conducted across a broken front line, on widely separate axes, and
simultaneously to different depths of enemy territory. This does not apply only
to operations conducted with the employment of nuclear weapons, but applies
also to operations conducted with only conventional weapons in all modern
circumstances. Combat actions are carried out in widely separated areas due to
the constant risk that the enemy might employ mass-destruction weapons. We
should also be familiar with and observe the old rule, "The brave man
conquers the cities." Therefore, we should note that a commander who
attempts bold maneuvers to smash enemy flanks, to envelop him, and destroy his
forces piecemeal, can achieve victory.
In modern operations, surprise and efforts to seize the initiative in action
have decisive significance. Surprise action may enable friendly forces to
inflict heavy casualties on equal or even superior enemy forces in a short time
and rapidly to change the relative balance of troops and means to their favor.
It also enables them to destroy the enemy's will to resist and to seize and
retain the initiative.
Surprise and seizure of the initiative are achieved through the following
----- - Secrecy (Keeping own aims, intentions, and actions secret from the
----- - Understanding the aims, intentions, and nature of likely enemy actions;
----- - Conducting quick, concealed maneuvers;
----- - Striking at the enemy, particularly with nuclear and other powerful
weapons in areas not expected by the enemy;
----- - Effective application of operational concealment;
----- - Strict observance of signal discipline and the rules of secret troop
----- - Employment of new weapons and methods of combat action not expected by
----- - Outmaneuvering the enemy in use of troops and means.
The principle of mass employment of men and material to accomplish vital
missions on the decisive axis has kept its significance in modern war. This
principle is obviously not new. It was important in past wars, however, it is
applicable also in modern times, but with a different pattern. Nowadays, the
conditions and practical methods of mass-employment of troops and means on
decisive axes are profoundly different from past wars.
In operations conducted in a nuclear war significant importance is given to
mass-employment of nuclear weapons and other mass-destruction means on vital
axes in order to inflict heavy casualties and damage on the enemy main
groupings of forces and other vital targets. Under such circumstances, the mass
and concentrated employment of conventional weapons to a large extent is not
required, as in the past. But in operations conducted without the use of
nuclear weapons, it will be required in order to establish decisive superiority
over the enemy. In the latter case, rapid concentration of striking units at
the decisive place and quick dispersion after the accomplishment of the mission
are of significant.
Modern operations are characterized by high speed movement in action and the
different forms of the accomplishment of operational missions. High
maneuverability in action is achieved through the following:
----- - Quick preparation;
----- - Launching of surprise mass-nuclear and fire strikes on the enemy on
each axis and in depth;
----- - Rapid and frequent use of envelopments;
----- - Turning movements to outflank enemy units;
----- - Exploitation and rapid changes of the axes of attack in the depth of
the enemy position area.
Another characteristic of modern operations is frequent and rapid changes in
the situation during the course of the operation. Troops should constantly be
prepared to deal with tasks emerging from unfavorable or unforseen conditions
Depending on the situation and nature of the missions in operations, the troops
can apply different and various forms of combat actions and accomplish their
missions through the use of different methods.
In modern operations the troops may conduct the following variations of combat
actions in the course of the operation:
----- - Tactical and operational meeting engagements;
----- - Breakthrough of the enemy defense;
----- - Passage through wide radioactive contaminated areas and heavy
----- - River crossings;
----- - Pursuit of the retreating enemy.
In the meantime, large units (divisions), units (brigades, regiments) and
subunits may conduct airborne or seaborne assault operations. Some operational
formations (fronts, armies) and large units (divisions) may assume the
defensive simultaneously and sometimes they might have to maneuver to withdraw
One of the characteristics of modern operations is the increased difficulty and
complication of combat support measures and meeting new requirements for troop
control. The following combat support measures have acquired more significance:
----- - Reconnaissance (intelligence), operational concealment;
----- - Engineer and chemical support.
New types of combat support measures such as the following have been
----- - Protection against mass-destructive means;
----- - Radio-electronic combat;
----- - Hydrometeorological support;
----- - Topogeodesic support;
----- - Others.
The conduct of complicated and exhaustive combat actions and maneuvers in great
depth with the participation of an enormous number of different combat, combat
support, and specialized vehicles and equipment, the expenditure of a huge
amount of supplies and stores is inevitable. In modern operations, heavy
personnel casualties and losses in weapons and other combat equipment are
inevitable. Therefore, the success in operations will depend more and more on
wide, effective, and calculated organization of material, technical, and
In operational art, significant and decisive importance is given to troop
control in an operation. Troop control is the process of constant and steady
guidance and leadership of the commander and staff of operational formations
(fronts, armies) over actions of subordinate troops to direct their
efforts for the accomplishment of assigned missions and the achievement of the
aim of the operation. The specific contents of troop control tasks will be
determined in each operation in accordance with the conditions and
characteristics of the situation.
Compared with past wars, troop control in modern operations has become
complicated and the number of tasks to be accomplished have increased.
The development of broad mobility and maneuverability in combat action, as well
as frequent and rapid changes in the situation, require that troop control
elements promptly react at any given moment.
Time has become a decisive factor in the process of troop control. It must be
noted that the process of troop control and the process of weapons control and
means are to operate under conditions of active employment of radio-electronic
jamming and the use of listening means by the enemy. It should not be forgotten
that the enemy will attempt to destroy our command posts and our troop control
For the purpose of troop control during preparation and in the course of the
operation, a continuously operating command post system is established.
At the front and army level the following command posts are set up:
----- - Main command posts;
----- - Forward command posts;
----- - Rear command posts.
In defensive operations, reserve command posts can be established instead of a
forward command post. In some situations, for the purpose of troop
control of elements operating on separate axes that cannot be controlled from
the main or reserve command posts, auxiliary command posts are set up.
In modern conditions, the following points acquire significant importance:
----- - Availability of such effective signal communications means which may
enable the command to maintain continuous and reliable communications with his
----- - Activity and mobility of command posts;
----- - Timely and organized manning of command posts by personnel prior to the
outbreak of war and systematic relocation of command posts during the