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Ali Jalali

Dastagir Wardak

Albert McJoynt

Kimberly Franklin

Ruth Sloan

John Sloan

June 1990

Springfield VA.





The main purpose for this handbook is to acquaint United States military personnel with Soviet principles for organizing and conducting battles and operations at the division, army, and front levels and the staff procedures used in this process. The handbook will also serve as an intelligence reference book on the form and content of major Soviet combat documents and on the content of information, norms, and calculations used by Soviet headquarters officers. The handbook may serve as a guide for individuals preparing to take the role of Soviet command and staff in war games and field exercises and for simulation designers building Soviet decision processes into computer simulations.


Since the handbook is intended primarily to acquaint military personnel with Soviet headquarters activities in organizing and executing combat, it does not include information on administration, military justice, counter intelligence, political affairs, peacetime garrison and training activities or much detail on logistics. The material is organized as follows:

Chapter One contains Soviet general concepts about combat, the battlefield, and how to organize to fight. This information is generally applicable to decision making and planning at all three levels discussed in subsequent chapters.

Chapter Two contains information about Soviet decision making and planning at division level and regimental levels. The duties of division and regiment commander and staff are listed and the procedures used to organize, plan, and conduct combat at tactical level are described.

Chapter Three contains information about Soviet decision making and planning at army level. The duties of army commander and staff are listed and the procedures used at the army level to organize, plan, and conduct combat are described.

Chapter Four contains information about Soviet decision making and planning at front level. The duties of the front commander and staff are given, along with the procedures used at operational level to organize and control combat.

Chapter Five contains examples of Soviet norms, nomograms, formulas, tables, and other related information used as part of calculations in support of decision making and planning.

Chapter Six contains samples of the documents prepared and used at all three levels of command.

In the future we hope to develop the computer programs required to enable officers to emulate Soviet planning methods in a less time consuming manner.

This material is based on information acquired by the principal authors during their many years of study at Soviet military academies and daily work with Soviet officers. They have compared their understanding of Soviet staff procedures with information contained in more recent Soviet military literature and with documents describing Soviet procedures dating back to World War Two. While the nature of the battlefield is constantly changing in response to revolutionary developments in technology, the essential continuity of Soviet staff methods for employing this technology to accomplish combat missions is quite striking. Due to time and fiscal constraints, the content of this handbook has been limited to offensive combat. Even with that limitation it has not been possible to include in one book the vast amount of material available on Soviet planning methods, but only the most important basic information. The authors hope that at a future date the increasing interest in how the Soviet army will conduct defensive combat will enable them to have the opportunity to prepare a similar handbook covering the defense.


The handbook is prepared primarily for personnel with little or no knowledge of the Russian language. Therefore detailed explanations of Russian terminology and frequent transliterations are avoided. Nevertheless, to enable the reader to develop a facility for "thinking Red", the authors have attempted to preserve as much of the Soviet style to their descriptions of Soviet methods as possible. In those cases where no direct U. S. Army equivalent term exists or where American terms are inadequate to express the nuances of Soviet concepts we have provided a fuller description or discussion. For instance, there is a full discussion of the various Soviet terms all subsumed in the English "assembly area", since Soviet terms convey explicit meanings which otherwise might be lost. We use the Soviet term for "unit" to mean a regiment or separate battalion, the term "large-unit" to mean a division, and "formation" to mean a corps, army, or front. A "grouping" refers to a deployment of forces in a configuration for combat, regardless of size. We have used Soviet map symbols in all illustrations and sample planning maps. The use of a very rich set of symbology is a central part of the Soviet ability for "graphical thinking". It would not bne possible to convey the full meaning of such Soviet maps without using their symbols. Readers should consult the glossary of map symbols included in this handbook as a reference or the large books provided by the Defense Intelligence Agency and others. Ultimately it is just as important that those who seek to "think Red" for war gaming learn to use Soviet maps as it is that they use Soviet decision making processes or write Soviet style operations orders.


This handbook was written under contract to R&D Associates, who in turn support the U. S. Army Battlefield Command Training Program at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas. We wish to thank Mr. William Connor and Mr. Ron Marlow for their practical and moral support in seeing this project through to publication. Thanks also is due to them and many other members of R&D Associates and the officers of the BCTP OPFOR team for commenting on drafts of this book. We also thank Dr. Graham Turbiville and Lt. Colonel Lester Grau of the Soviet Army Studies Office for their contributions and support.

The content is in part a compilation of previously prepared material presented in a series of lectures for the U. S. Army Intelligence Threat Analysis Center and lectures given by the authors at the National Defense University and elsewhere. This has been supplemented by considerable newly written descriptions and documents. The focus is on practical aspects of command and staff work. A number of sections treating theoretical aspects of operational planning have been extracted and/or adapted from the Materials from the Voroshilov Academy, which is a set of volumes currently being published by the National Defense University Press. These volumes are a direct translation of one of the authors's transcription of Soviet General Academy Lecture texts and textbooks. Only the minimum theory thought to be essential for the reader is included here and readers are urged to read the complete Materials... as it is published. Additional material on calculations of various kinds has been taken from individual articles appearing in the Soviet military press, especially the journal Voyennaya Mysl' - Military Thought. Most of the examples of tactical calculations were taken from the Soviet book Tactical Calculations by Vayner. This book is available in translation from JPRS and formed the basis of the sections on calculations in the British publication Sustainability of the Soviet Army in Battle. We have provided operational examples for the same calculations.