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The following are my notes taken during the formal presentation delivered by General Slipchenko at the recent conference at NDU. The meeting was shortly after the conclusion of Desert Storm - Ist Iraq War -They have not been checked against the information contained in SASONET items 760, 777, and others and are therefore an independent version of what transpired. I am sure they suffer greatly from my extreme difficulty in hearing, but I had the benefit of hearing everything twice, once from Slipchenko and again from the excellent translation, so perhaps I got the gist of what was said. I have inclosed some doubtful points and my questions and comments in brackets. It was my impression throughout that he was delivering a classic Marxist analysis of the dynamics of military change straight out of the pages of Savkin and Ogarkov. In the question period I pointed out that Ogarkov had presented essentially this same analysis and Slipchenko agreed. He said that what is so startling to the Soviets is the rapidity in which their prediction of the future is now upon them.
John Sloan




General principles

Military doctrine is an historical phenomena. That is, it changes and develops in accordance to the changes in the technological means of struggle. {Obviously a straight Marxist precept.} The Soviet Union embarked on the development of a new military doctrine since 1987, but is not yet fully established. And now this doctrine also has to take account of the changes in the military-political situation in the world and Europe, that are still changing themselves. It must accord with the {post 1987} change in the strategic position of the USSR and the break-up of the Warsaw Pact. It must also relate to specific ongoing changes in military affairs.

Military doctrine can rapidly go out of date as a result of the rapid development in the means of war. The U.S. mass production of deep strike - high accuracy weapons is an example of this kind of rapid development. Military doctrine is influenced by the advent of new armaments based on new physical characteristics and the military exploitation of space. An analysis of the trends in current developments leads to the conclusion that in the very near future "air-space" warfare will be a reality.

The new types of strategic offensive weapons will enable the implementation of broad scale military actions from space with the use of robotic weapons. The adaption by the U.S. of new means of strategic offensive weaponry will enable broad air and space offensive actions. The application of micro-electronic technology enables the US to raise its offensive potential even with the 50% reduction in quantity of forces.

{Next point unclear - did he mean U.S. ability to stop Soviet?} - According to Soviet data the air defense potential in the year 2000 will enable the detection and stopping of 50% of ballistic missiles and the degradation of strategic nuclear forces.

The new principles in new military doctrine:
-- defensive nature
-- defensive in practice, not dogmatic sense;

The country does not plan to attack, but the armed forces are directed at preparing defense.

The political idea is to renounce war. This leads to the military action in the initial phase of war being strictly defensive operations. If the enemy has begun aggression then the USSR can use whatever forms of combat actions are best suited to the situations. {ie. counter-offensives}

At the organizational level, defensive doctrine is not the equivalent of defensive strategy. The numbers of forces, their quantity, is based on the principle of sufficiency, which means no larger than essential.

People don't understand the content of the phrase, "reasonable sufficiency". From the political point of view the principle is clear. It means a policy of not having offensive capability but a sufficiently large force to ward off all threats. Some people consider it from the economic point of view and believe it means the reduction of military expenditures, but this is doubtful in practice. The military point of view is that "reasonable sufficiency" must be based on a deep analysis and study of the possible character of war.


Nuclear weapons

Like it or not we are in a nuclear age. There is a debate over the possibility and likelihood of nuclear war - some say yes and some say no. But the very existence of nuclear weapons means that nuclear war can break out. Therefore everything else must consider nuclear war as a foundation or fundamental fact of life. The real interest must be in protecting against nuclear war. In this regard military doctrine rests on three principles:
-- parity of capabilities;
-- ability to answer any nuclear blow;
-- possibility to bring about damage to the enemy.

So the doctrine of "reasonable sufficiency" rests on these three principles. One needs sufficient forces to deliver a heavy strike under any circumstances. This is a complicated situation that demands careful study to determine just what "reasonable sufficiency" is. It is essential that competent military specialists agree on the facts and conclusions.

Up to the present the greatest potential war, underlying military analysis, was the possibility of a NATO - Warsaw Pact War. Even the new military doctrine as of 1987 proceeded from the idea of a possible European war. The basis of the doctrine was the adoption of the principle of reasonable sufficiency for the USSR. This was based on the policy of "no first strike" but the capability for warding off the enemy attack. Thus a reasonable sufficiency level was that level of military forces required for this warding off of the enemy strike.

{Question - does "warding off" have the usual Soviet connotation of preemptive strike on warning?}

Soviet military doctrine was based on the military political circumstances of the time. The armed forces of the two parties {ie WP and NATO} were located physically close together. It was considered that in case of war NATO would attempt to invade the WP territory with ground forces.

The military-political situation in Europe assumed that in Europe a sudden attack on the WP was the greatest danger. The WP armed forces would conduct defensive operations. The basic task was not to permit {ie to prevent} NATO to invade successfully. The doctrine considered defensive operations to be a series of frontal operations. This general scenario was the basis and foundation for calculations on the size, training level, and organization of the forces. It was a stereotype operation for planning purposes. It led to the assessment of the specific content of "reasonable sufficiency" as a result of quantitative calculations of the forces required to ward of the enemy attack.

On the other hand other specialists responded to the idea of an enemy first strike concentrated on a strong initial strike against the troops and on measures exactly to reduce WP ability to ward off the enemy blow. There was much discussion of this. The recent war in the Persian Gulf confirms the view that a surprise attack focused on the enemy key elements can indeed succeed in altering the overall balance. No longer can we say we have equal military- political groupings of forces. The situation that exists now is that the NATO grouping has preserved and supplemented itself with the addition of a united Germany, while the Warsaw Pact has broken up and does not exist. Now we have a correlation of forces with a shift to a Western advantage. The figures are:

1.5 to 1 in tanks; 1.3 to 1.5 to 1 in artillery; 1.3 to 1 in aircraft and AT helicopters; and naval forces have also not parity. {I am not sure I got these numbers associated with the right categories of weapons.} So the USSR has lost parity of forces in Europe. The USSr has withdrawn its forces to its own borders or is in the process of doing so. The strategic situation has changed radically; in essence immediate contact is no longer possible. Between the military forces there is 800-1000 km gap of countries whose relations to the USSR are difficult to predict. So the threat to the USSR in the case of future war has changed. No longer is the threat that of sudden invasion of ground forces.

Now the initial stage of war will be quite different. The initial stage may be conducted not as a series of front and army operations as before. Specialists say the military threat of NATO must first overcome the 1000 km gap and occupy East Europe. This is not possible to accomplish easily or quickly. The experience of the Near East War shows the nature of the attack has changed and with it the nature of war itself. Previously we were oriented on the area the enemy would have to use to accomplish a ground force invasion and his preparation to do this would itself be a sign of the immanence of war. But now there is no need for such preliminary preparations. The enemy can initiate war with exclusively air attacks and attacks with drone aircraft in the initial air war. The idea of an air war was first conceived and popularized by the Italian, Douhey< in the 1920's and then taken up by the English. The theory of air war was applied by the US in WW II, but did not produce positive results because the theory did not have a sufficient material base. The World War II potential of forces for air attack was not sufficient. However, now air forces are stronger, so the idea of an air war can be put into practice. The means of air operations have intensified. The recent air operation confirms this capability. Agreements are needed on limitations of nuclear forces and also sea and air based cruise missiles. Analysis shows that in future years, by 2000AD, the US will have sufficient means to conduct an air war that could destroy 1000 targets deep in the enemy rear territory. The use of cruise missiles in the Gulf was a foretaste of this.

The general nature of an air war will be a series of massive strikes of precise delivery weapons. In intervals between these massive strikes there could be precise strikes and group strikes against critical targets. {This is an exact replication of Soviet concepts for nuclear strikes.} In order to align air defenses we need all the means available including missiles, and to use electronics and radio electronic warfare. Also must use all space means of intelligence and communications to accomplish this goal.

The nature of war is changing. The ability to limit is problematical and we cannot stabilize the situation. This trend may make aggressors confident. In order not to force oneself into a bad situation one needs to stabilize the situation.

The problem of the prevention of war.

This must be on the agenda for the next round of talks.


Specific aspects of future war.

War will not require or even prefer the use of large groups of ground forces. Massive strikes will use drone weapons and reconnaissance strike systems to select and hit specific key targets. The entire country finds itself subject to precise strikes. War will indeed be without borders or front and rear. The current front is in effect a divide between areas subject to strike and those not so subject. In the future strikes can be made against state government and military targets and the opponent's means of strikes in order to concentrate {focus} power on the enemy critical nodes. This makes it possible not only to gain operational, but also strategic results rapidly. War might start and end by a powerful strike of weapons. however, we consider that defense is still possible.

In usual operations during the course of a war in the concluding stages one reached the classical concept of victory. In past wars it was possible to destroy the enemy and undermine his potential only by occupying his territory. In the future occupation may not be necessary. New "smart" armaments can deliver a blow to destroy the economic potential so devastating that actual invasion may not be required.


Lines of development of ground forces

This is a large question. The qualitative improvement is the way for development so that while the number of forces is reduced their capabilities are increased. The task of defense is to decrease the numbers of armed forces while improving their military capabilities. We consider that ground forces will be the fundamental component. Although numbers will be reduced we will preserve the ability for rapid development. The basis for development is the new armament and new technology. This will provide for reorganized corps and elevate their defensive potential and ability to conduct operations. In developing the ground forces we won't duplicate or imitate possible enemies.

The Soviet Union is a very large state with extensive boundaries. This establishes military requirements. We don't need to change the structural basis of the armed forces but to qualitatively improve them.


Composition of the armed forces

The question of a draft army versus a professional army system is being discussed. An army of conscripted service people has defects in its professional level and discipline and {? in international and national relations?} The strong point is in sufficient reserves and a general patriotic attitude instilled with the idea of national service plus courage and fortitude. The likely result will be a combination of both principles and both will be in parts of the army.

The importance of surprise is increasing. In the past the ground forces lacked the technology giving them the potential to conduct first strikes by surprise. Now we are in a transitional period in warfare in which air strikes are becoming more crucial. The possibility of surprise attack is real and actual now, to achieve both strategic and political goals.

In the recent war Iraq applied the concepts of past wars while the US practiced the concepts of future war. The past concepts would have resulted in a long and bloody war before eventual victory. In the initial stage the US achieved absolute air superiority and suppressed air defenses. Precise weaponry such as the Tomahawk showed the technological approach to war. The Soviet analysts are especially amazed at the number of air sorties sustained - 2000 to 3000 per day over such a long period. It shows a very high level of technical support as well as good pilots.

Iraq thought there would be a 3-5 day air war during which they would suffer sustainable losses and then a classical ground war. They thought in two dimensions, while the US concept of war is three dimensional.

The nature of the war in Afghanistan bears no relation to the kind of war in Iraq.

In order to influence war the technological means must be present in sufficient quantity - in space, radioelectronics, etc. - All these are developed in time to be deployed in sufficient quantity.

The Soviet analysts modeled warfare in accordance with the Pentagon war plan "Dropshot". They examined the outcome by modeling and decided that not only would the Soviet Union have suffered, but also the US would have eventually suffered from radiation effects 40 -60 times as massive as the Chernobal accident. There are now about 12 to 13 other nuclear countries.

The coming third generation nuclear weapons pose an ecological danger. They can destroy the ground based national infrastructure. The new stage weapons are dangerous in that they can actually be used in war. States having such weapons may become aggressive against their enemies. We need agreements against such new weapons.

In the Soviet Union the ground forces will resist changes and the military- industrial complex will resist reform and want to keep old production lines and their role in society.


Comment from JS:

All of this will be familiar to readers of Soviet military press. I did not hear anything I thought was new. In the question period I pointed out that Soiet writers have been giving this picture of future war since at least Ogarkov. Slipchenko agreed and said what is new is the US ability to put the "future" into practice NOW.

I suggested that the gap in the result in the recent war was much greater than the apparent gap in the quality of the technology available on each side and suggested that this was due to the cultural and social gap and inability of the Iraqi to employ the technology they had. He agreed. I remarked further that perhaps the Soviet general staff had identified a similar shortcoming in Soviet society years ago and were seeking to close it. This brought the reply that such evaluations were political and beyond the purvue of the speaker.

When he had the chance to ask questions Slipchenko posed two: How did the US manage to sustain such a high sortie rate in aircraft for so long? and What was the nature of US radio electronic warfare? These questions were met with a resounding silence in the hall.

John Sloan