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Col. G. Lukava, Candidate of Philosophical Science, Docent

For any scientific theory the category problem is a primary one. Categories are the basic and most general concepts of sciences. A concept is one of the forms for depicting the world in thought and by which the essence of phenomena and processes is learned and their main aspects and features are synthesized. Without the careful elaboration of a system of categories and laws for one or another theory (science) it is purposeless to speak of its construction. It is impossible to erect a building without having the necessary building materials.

The practical significance of the designated problem becomes more apparent against the background of specific problems being solved. Among them is the creation of a military encyclopedia and the improvement of the military regulations. The USSR Minister of Defense Mar u A. A. Grechko, in a report at the Fifth Armed Forces Conference of Party Organization Secretaries, stressed that military scientific thought should create and broaden the theoretical basis for the prompt clarification and renewal of the regulations and manuals.1 The categories of the theory of the art of warfare are part of the theoretical bases for the regulations.

As a point of departure for discussing the question we will examine certain aspects of the essence, content and functions of the categories of the theory of the art of warfare and their classification.2

The categories of the theory of the art of warfare are the basic concepts reflecting the most general and essential features, aspects, connections and relations (including laws) for the preparation and conduct of military operations.3 They disclose the specific features of the subject of the art of warfare as a theoretical area of knowledge, its features, laws and principles. It is essential to consider that not every concept operates as a category. Thus, among the concepts one can include "strongpoint," "outpost," "reconnaissance patrol," "main artery," "tank," "aircraft," and in the categories there are"military operation," "strike," "maneuver," "offensive," "defense," "strategic operation in the theater of military operations," and "strategic weapons." A category can also include any concept which reflects the most important aspects, connections and relationships of the combat activities of the troops and which influences the carrying out of the missions of all the armed forces. At the same time, the categories of the art of warfare are not only the most general concepts which have bearing on the combat activities of the armed forces a whole, but also fundamental ones which reveal the activities of the individual branches of armed forces.

The categories of the theory of the art of warfare are subjective in form, since they exist only in human awareness, and are objective in content, for they have the processes of combat as their original. They reflect: the common and inherent feature in the waging of any armed combat; the particular, class feature determined by its sociopolitical aspects; the individual, which derives from the specific features of conducting combat operations under different specific conditions of a social and geographic environment.

The formations of the categories of the theory of the art of warfare is a complex and many- sided process related to extensive practice and theoretical activity. Here practice comprises the starting point, the basis, and the goal of their formation.

In studying categories we become aware of the real nature of warfare.4 This expresses their ontological significance. At the same time categories are degrees of cognition and a method of concentrating knowledge about military operations. This is their ?osiological significance.

The process of military thinking in the sphere of the examined subject area is carried out primarily with the aid of the categories of the art of warfare. They lie at the basis of the theoretical analysis and generalization of the processes involved in conducting combat operations. This is their logical significance.

Since in the resolution of theoretical and practical questions of the art of warfare its categories are guiding features, the categories are also of methodological significance.

The art of warfare as a theoretical area represents a system of categories (along with laws, principles and other elements in the logical structure of the given area of knowledge). This logical system is a reflection of a universal unity and relationship, an interdependency of different aspects of armed combat, and is conditioned by the very reality and peculiarity of our thinking. Each of the categories of the art of warfare reflects a certain general law of armed combat, and all of them together in the words of V. I. Lenin, encompass conditionally or approximately a universal pattern (Complete Collected Works, Vol. 29, p. 164), and in our cases, a pattern inherent to armed combat. Categories change one into another under certain conditions (this will be taken up below). This fluid relationship of general concepts operates as a generalized expression of the relationship of the contradictory aspects of warfare.

The system of categories operates as one of the forms of classification. And any scientific classification presupposes the detection in processes of the essential relationships used as the basis for dividing these processes into sorts, types, and so forth. A study of the typology of categories and its conscious application discipline the mind and improve the thinking apparatus. All of this helps to raise the logical level of thought and the activeness of awareness. In the system of the categories of the theory of the art of warfare are placed the logic of the approach to ascertaining the main link in a chain of events, the method for seeking out the truth, and the ways for combining flexibility and definiteness in the process of analyzing the involved processes related to the preparations for and conduct of combat operations. This system brings out the contours of the dialection of the interrelationship between the objective and the subjective in a battle, operation, and in a war.

Thus, the classification of the categories of the theory of the art of warfare is a method for systematizing its theoretical information, and this makes it easier for the military personnel to orient themselves in the process of understanding and transforming the combat (operational) situation.

The classification of categories can be approached from various aspects and bases. Depending upon the purpose of the research and the position of the researcher, different variations of systematization are possible.

The categories of the theory of the art of warfare differ in terms of the time of their occurrence. Hence, the ancient sources devoted to the art of warfare are of definite significance. Thus, even Xenophon used the terms "tactics" and "strategy,"5 and for the first time introduced these categories into scientific parlance. He also analyzed the essence of such a category as a "battle formation."6 However, the works of those times which have come dow to us do not provide the possibility for judging the process of the evolution of categories. At present this can be done only logically, by comparing categories in terms of the degree of their complexity.

A study of the development of military science and practice in our country provides significant material for understanding the sequence in the origin of the basic concepts of the art of warfare. Thus, the category of an "operation in depth" appeared in scientific usage before World War II on the basis of foresight. It reflected the continuously growing role of such new weapons as aviation, tanks, airborne assault landings, superlongrange artillery, as well as the demands for overcoming the stalemate of position warfare which arose during the years of World War I. The content of an "operation in depth' consisted of the fact that the tasks of an offensive were resolved by the method of crushing attacks over the entire depth of the operational formation of the enemy troops for the purpose of their complete defeat.

Beginning with the counteroffensive at Stalingrad in November 1942, in all the major offensive operations the Soviet troops not only successfully pierced the main defensive zone, but also penetrated deeply into the enemy's operational depth as a result of which the entire system of enemy defenses, lines of communications and command was disrupted. The enemy retreated several tens and even hundreds of kilometers.

A new category engendered by the combat operations during the years of the Great Patriotic War was the "strategic operation of a group of fronts." After the Moscow counteroffensive, carried out with the participation of three fronts, a strategic operation as an operation of a group of fronts became a steady practice in the offensive operations of the Soviet troops.

For understanding the dialection of the origin of fundamental concepts, it is essential to examine the differentiation of categories in military science. This process began at the end of the 17th century. Thus, specialists established a difference between the categories of "engagement" and "battle," "campaign" and "operation," "base" and "line of communication," "formation" and "battle formation," "ranks" and "files," and "line" and "column."7

In studying the sequence of the occurrence of categories in connection with the development of the practice of preparing for and conducting combat operations, we note a movement of cognition from lower stages to higher, and we reveal history and theory as well as the method of cognition and the logic of the art of warfare. As is known, the logical method is an analogue of the historical, but is free of particulars and details. F. Engals wrote: "The course of thought should start with what history begins, and its further movement will be nothing more than a reflection of the historical process in an abstract and theoretically sequential form; the reflection is corrected, but corrected in accord with laws which are produced by the actual historical process itself, and each movement can be viewed at that point of its classic form" (K. Marx and F. Engals, Works, Vol. 13, p. 497).

The categories of the theory of the art of warfare differ in terms of their content and significance, and this is determined by the character of the reflected original.

During the various stages of the development of military affairs, the role of one or another category has varied. For example, in the times of Suvorov and Napoleon the role of initiative (strategic or tactical) rose sharply in the course and outcome of combat operations. The struggle to capture and hold the initiative in a war with the use of nuclear weapons has assumed immeasurably greater significance than in the past. Under present conditions the maintaining of constant combat readiness of the troops is a major and more complex problem. In this regard there has been a great rise in the significance of such categories as "battle formation," "operational formation," and "strategic grouping" used in the logical elaboration of an "average" variation for the formation of troops ensuring the conduct of combat operations by subunits and units both with the use of nuclear weapons as well as with conventional weapons. The role of such a category of the art of warfare as "coordination of the forces and means" (particularly on the strategic level) is also increasing.

The categories of the art of warfare also differ in terms of the degree of generalizing the phenomena of a battle and an operation. Some of them are broader, while others are narrower in terms of their scope. For example, inherent to the categories of "victory," "defeat," "initiative," "offensive," and "defense" is a high degree of generalizing the process of warfare.

Let us take the concept "victory." Its essence and the degree of its common character have been clearly revealed in a number of Lenin's works. In the work "Everything Into the Struggle Against Denikin!" V. I. Lenin stressed: "All the forces of the workers and peasants, all the forces of the Soviet republic should be focused on repelling the Denikin advance and on vanquishing him without stopping the victorious offensive (here and below, emphasis is ours. G. L.) of the Red Army into the Urals and Siberia. This is the main mission of the moment" (Complete Collected Works, Vol. 39, p. 45). In the article "The Example of the Petrograd Workers," Lenin wrote: "Our offensive against the main source of the enemy's strength is constantly continuing. The victories won recently, such as the capturing of 20 guns in Bogucharskiy Rayon and the capturing of the village of Veshenskaya, show the successful advance of our forces toward the center of the Cossacks, who alone have given and are giving Denikin the opportunity to create a serious force. Denikin will be crushed just as Kolchak was crushed. They do not intimidate us, and we will advance our cause to the victorious end" (ibid., p. 206).

There is a profound thought in these words. In them one can trace the logic of the approach to one of the categories of the art of warfare, the distinguishing features of strategic thinking, and the methodology of strategic leadership which is aimed at mobilizing all the forces of the country in the cause of the victorious waging of an armed struggle and, ultimately, to the successful realization of the political goal of the war.

The category of "combat operations" occupies a special position as it is the initial one in terms of many others. In essence, the categories of the art of warfare ("offensive," "defense," "the concentration of forces," "the dispersion of forces," "fire," "maneuver," and so forth) view the content and form of combat operations from different aspects.

The categories of the art of warfare can also be classified in accord with the direction of the forms, methods, and means of combat: offensive ("offense," "front offensive operation," "attack," "breakthrough," "outflanking," "encirclement," "assaults along converging axes," "strategic weapons," "means for increasing cross-country capability," and so forth) or defensive ("defense," "front defensive operation," "counterblow," "counterattack," "air defense," "chemical defense facilities," and so forth).

Furthermore, the categories are grouped depending upon the scale of the expected actions of the troops. These are the categories of strategy, operational art, and tactics. Strategy includes, for example, such basic concepts as "strategic offensive," "strategic nuclear strikes," "strategic operation in a continental theater of war," and so forth. Operational art uses the categories of "operation," "army offensive operation," "

army defensive operation," "operational formation," "operational breakthrough its development," and "committing support echelons to an engagement," while tactics includes such general concepts as: "combat," "fire," "tactical maneuver," and "tactical initiative."

The categories of the theory of the art of warfare can also be distinguished in terms of the character of their interrelationship. In following such an approach these general concepts can be divided into two basic varieties. In the first, the categories which reflect the fundamental properties of combat operations such as "combat" and "operation." These are unrelated, individual categories. In the second, there are the categories which reflect not only the properties but also the interrelationships and correlations of armed combat. These include paired or correlative, interrelated categories. For example, "Front" and "rear," "offensive" and "defensive," "attack" and "counterattack," "fire" and "movement," and "concentration" and "dispersion." In the paired categories there is reflected particularly clearly the objective dialectics of the unity and struggle of the different sides, the properties, the transitions of the phenomena of a battle, an operation, and of warfare as a whooe.

The elements of the paired categories are rightly viewed ain that sequence in which they reflect the development of the opposites in the actual process of combat operations. Thought moves from the essences of the first order to the essences of the second order, and so forth. Here it is discovered that the sequence of examining the contradictions inherent to combat operations coincides with the sequence of analyzing the paired categories of the theory of the art of warfare (for example the contradictions between an offensive and defensive, between concentration and dispersion, the attenuation of the force of an assault and the increase of the force of an assault, fire and movement, and so forth).

The classification of categories must be approached from the standpoint of the duration of their existence. They have a historical character. Their essence changes and they have their own movement in time. Such an approach is an obligatory demand for materialistic dialectics. "The recognition of any fixed element or a "fixed essence of things," and so forth, is not materialism, but is rather metaphysical, that is, antidialectical materialism" (V. I. Lenin, Complete Collected Works, Vol. 18, p. 275-276).

For example, the categories of "line tactics" and "cavalry attack" have become a thing of the past. For scientific theory it is essential to consider the development trends of its concepts and all the elements of its logical structure.

The processes related to combat operations are characterized not only by variability, but also by relative stability. This is logically reflected in the development of the categories of the theory of the art of warfare.

One group of categories has a very stable character. It was introduced into scientific usage comparatively recently, and evidently will exist until such a phenomenon as warfare disappears. Such categories include "combat operations," "offensive," "defense," "concentration of forces and means," "maneuver," and "assault." These are cardinal concepts in the theory of the art of warfare. They operate as a reflection of the most essential relationships and ties inherent to the preparations for and the conduct of combat operations. Another group is a system of basic concepts which originated in the modern stage of the development of the art of warfare.

A particular feature of the categories which possess long- standing stability is the fact that they cannot be replaced by others, by new ones. The dialectics of military operations and a deepening of knowledge have brought about only their clarification and the adding of new content. Let us illustrate this by using the example of the category "offensive."

Offensive is a basic type of combat operations. Its content comprises the inflicting of strikes using various types of weapons, while the goal is the complete defeat of the enemy. The thesis of Engals that "...an offensive is movement forward and its culmination is the striking of steel against steel" (K. Marx and F. Engals, Works, Vol. 14, p. 217) plays an important methodological role for understanding the content of the category "offensive."

In our times the category "offensive" has logically acquired a number of new phenomena. The main method of conducting modern offensive operations will be the inflicting of nuclear strikes against the enemy and a rapid offensive of the troops for his final defeat. In the course of an offensive the most diverse forms of maneuvers will be widely used, including: strikes along converging axes, deep encirclements, envelopments, and others.

Defense is the opposite type of combat operations. It comes down to repelling the enemy strikes, but it also contains an offensive aspect, that is, the counterstrike and the counterattack.

In connection with progress in weaponry, the content of defense has also acquired new aspects. The employment of nuclear weapons in a defensive operation and a battle has increased the stability of the defense and has made it possible for the defenders to cause mass losses in the offensive grouping even before the start of the offensive. A better opportunity has arisen for halting the offensive or for significantly weakening the assault of the offensive forces and defeating them in the course of defensive actions.

The change in the content of the categories of the theory of the art of warfare can also be traced in the general concept of "combat capability." Thus, at present the problem of restoring the combat capability of the troops after enemy nuclear strikes has acquired particular significance.

The dialectics of the content of the initial concepts can be graphically traced in the category of "combat readiness." As is known, the speed in bringing troops to a state of combat readiness had always been one of the central problems for the commanders. However, it has never been so acute as now, when there is a possibility of defeating the enemy using strategic missiles and aviation (no matter where the enemy might be) without carrying out major preparatory measures and the regrouping of forces.

A trend can be seen toward further reducing the time on direct preparation for the start of combat operations. A qualitatively new situation has arisen--the armed forces of the sides can start combat operations (the launching of missiles) almost instantaneously.

The so-called "seasonal" approach to the combat readiness of the troops has also become a thing of history. War at present in principle can occur at any time of the year. The units and combined units should be constantly ready to carry out missions on each "calendar" day.

One of the distinguishing features of modern combat readiness is its diversity. This is expressed, for example, in the fact that within each branch of armed forces it has its particular features. Thus, the combat readiness of the Strategic Rocket Forces and the National Air Defense Troops is embodied primarily in the 24-hour duty tour. The influence of military science on the combat readiness of the troops has also risen. Military science has the task of disclosing the patterns an the prospects for the further development of military affairs, the laws and particular features of conducting a modern war, and of revealing and establishing the principles of the art of warfare.

A further improvement in the combat readiness of our troops is occurring in accord with the requirements of military science and the principles of the art of warfare. The principles of the art of warfare, being a reflection of the laws of armed combat, make it essential to maintain such a state of the Soviet Armed Forces which would ensure their repelling a surprise attack by an aggressor and the thwarting of his aims, the seizing of the strategic initiative from the very start of combat operations, the massing and concentration of forces and means in the process of armed combat on the decisive axes, a stable position in the secondary theaters of war, clear coordination among all the combat arms and branches of the armed forces, mobility, and so forth. In turn, the process of constantly maintaining the combat readiness of the troops has begun to have a substantial effect upon the development of military science itself and its categories.

All of this necessitates the carrying out of theoretical work devoted to combat readiness and the extensive and profound disclosure of the essence and structure of this concept and its correlation with such categories s "defense capability of the country," "military readiness of the country," "combat readiness of the Army and Navy," "the art of warfare," "strategy," "strategic grouping," "operational formation" and "battle formation."

As a result of the scientific and technical revolution new categories in the theory of the art of warfare have come into existence: "nuclear missile strike," "strategic operation in a continental theater of war," and so forth. Their particular feature is that logically they are not directly determined by the generalizing of previous combat practices. They arose on the basis of foresight, and on the basis of constructing models of possible modern warfare. Certainly, any new category in the theory of the art of warfare contains all the preceding ones in a "condensed" form, and this can be traced, for example, in analyzing the category "strategic operation in a theater of war." This general concept has inherited such an important aspect of the category of "operation in depth" as the simultaneous development of combat operations to a great depth. There is the natural fact that the process of the occurrence of categories in strategy, operational art, and tactics is continuing even at present, and more intensely than previously.

The solution to the problem raised in the article is originally related to the struggle against relativism, harebrained ideas and dogmatism. Thus, relativism disregards the relative stability of the conceptual apparatus of the theory of the art of warfare, ignores the general patterns of warfare, and casts doubts on the possibility of predicting the character of combat operations. Dogmatism absolutizes the aspect of stability in the system of categories and for this reason it is unable to see the new in the forms and methods of combat operations.

Categories lie at the basis of the logical formation of the laws of a scientific theory--its nucleus. Laws are determined and formulated precisely by these logical constructs and by disclosing their correlations. Thus, the categories "offensive" and "defense" in and of themselves or taken separately do not express a law. But as soon as we analyze the interrelationships between these categories then we establish a law the essence of which is in the dependency of the course and outcome of combat operations upon the use of an offensive in them as the basic and decisive type of combat operations used in a rational combination with defense. The categories of the theory of the art of warfare concretize and enrich our understanding of the content and action of its laws and they help to disclose the "mechanism" of their actions, that is, a definite order, sequence, trends, and most essential features in the objective logic of an armed struggle.

Each category in the theory of the art of warfare expresses above all a concrete instance for the manifesting of the law of this theory, that is, the law of the dependency of the course and outcome of an armed struggle upon the balance of forces and means of the opposing sides. This very fundamental concept of "the law of the theory of the art of warfare" is a category of military thought (the theory of the art of warfare).

The categories of the theory of the art of warfare are mental constructs and in the process of their logical interaction function also the principles of the art of warfare. The analysis of such principles as surprise, the seizing and holding of the strategic (operational or tactical) initiative by the troops, the concentration of forces and means, the increase in the force of strikes in operations, and the continuous maintaining of combat readiness of the troops shows that they are all constructed on the interrelationship of the fundamental concepts in the theory of strategy, operational art and tactics.

The categories of the theory of the art of warfare also operate as the building material for formulating the basic provisions in the standard and legal enactments of control related to organizing and conducting combat operations (the regulations, manuals, instructions, and other enactments which legally reinforce the key provisions of the theory of strategy, operational art and tactics). These provisions become unconditionally compulsory and acquire the force of law for military personnel. This results in unity of thought and action in the military personnel. A most important feature of the standard and legal enactments of control is the simplification, the "compacting," and the "condensing" of theoretical information. Their terseness insures the transmittal of the largest amount of the content of theoretical directives in a short period of time.

Various concepts10 came into being on the basis of categories. For example, during the years of the Great Patriotic War the theory of an artillery offensive and the theory of an air offensive were worked out on the basis of the categories "artillery offensive" and "air offensive."

Logical and methodological analysis of the categories of the theory of the art of warfare helps to create an ordered theory of strategy, operational art and tactics, and to understand more thoroughly the character of the laws and principles of the theory of the art of warfare, the theoretical bases of the regulations, manuals, and other legal and regulatory enactments of control related to the organization and conduct of combat operations. Such an analysis helps to combat subjectivism, harebrained ideas, a nihilistic attitude toward military history, and any attempts to view the art of warfare as an area of chance or of volitional decisions.

A study of categories in the theory of the art of warfare broadens the analytical horizons of military personnel and helps them to develop profound operational-tactical and strategic thinking.


  1. Krasnaya Zvezda, 28 March 1973.
  2. But first we should not the following. It is sometimes asked how one should understand the fact that there is a dictionary of military terms, and we are discussing categories. Doesn't this just confuse things? Here it is essential to bear in mind the relationship of the logical and the laxical. A category is a form of thought which is materialized, like others, in a language which is natural or artificial. Terms (from the Latin terminus-- term, end or limit) exist for expressing concepts and categories. These are words or phrases which are a precise designation of objects, phenomena, properties, relations, processes in a certain special area of production, technology, sciences, art, social life, and so forth. A term not only records a category, but also clarifies it and separates it from related ones. The nature of terms from various areas of social development is examined in terminology which is a special section of vocabulary. Terms are formed usually from already existing laxical elements according to the grammatical laws of a given language (see Bol'shaya Sovetskaya Entsiklopediya (Great Soviet Encyclopedia), Vol. 42, Izd-vo Bol'shaya Sovetskaya Entsiklopediya, 1956, p. 303-304).
  3. The categories of the theory of the art of warfare, like the categories of other concrete theories and sciences, differ from the philosophical, maximally broad concepts of dialectical materialism. While the former reflect certain comparatively narrow aspects of the objective world, the latter establish the most general properties, correlation, and relationships of reality inherent to all its processes and phenomena. The categories of materialistic dialectics are basic for all the concrete sciences. No sciences can get along without philosophical categories. These are categories in the universal method of the cognition and examination of the objective world.
  4. Having originated on the basis of the experience of preparing for and conducting military operations, in the process of cognition the categories of the art of warfare maintain a relative independence, and in the course of assimilating new phenomena, operate as prepared and priori forms of the art of warfare.
  5. Xenophon, Sokraticheskiye sochineniya (Socratic Works), Gosizdat, 1935, p. 94
  6. Xenophon, Grecheskaya istoriya (Greek History), Sotsekgis, 1935, p. 78.
  7. See Ye. A. Rasin, Istoriya voyennogo iskusstva (The History of the Art of Warfare), Vol. 3, Voyenisdat, 1961, p. 573.
  8. See Sbornik boyevykh donkumentov Velioy Oteschestvennoy voyny (Collection of Combat Documents of the Great Patriotic War), No. 5, Moscow, 1947, p. 6.
  9. Sbornik voyenno-istoricheskikh materialov Velikoy Otechestvennoy voyay (Collection of Military History Materials of the Great Patriotic War), No. 10-11, Voyenizdat, 1953, p. 48-52.
  10. A concept (from the Latin conceptic-understanding, system) is a definite method for interpreting a certain subject; a basic viewpoint concerning a subject; a leading idea for its systematic elucidation. The term "concept" is also used for designating the fundamental intention, the construction principle in scientific, artistic and other types of human activities (see Filosofskaya entsiklopediya (Philosophical Encyclopedia), Vol. 3, Izd-vo Sovetskaya Entsiklopediya, 1964, p. 58). In the given instance we have in mind the first meaning of this concept.