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Primer on Sociopolitical and Military Developments in Russia

Out of prudent concern for our own national interests, Russia’s resurgence as a superpower with global aspirations deserves careful monitoring and analysis. Recognizing the potential for readers encountering a confusing surfeit of information on Russia—much of which is duplicative and in some cases duplicitous—the Army University Press has established this website to highlight selected published works that we regard as a good starting point for understanding current developments, trends, and events related to Russian society and security-related thinking. In some cases, we hope to illuminate alternative views largely unrepresented elsewhere. We do this in an effort to promote further research, analysis, and debate concerning how to best deal with the challenge of this rising superpower.

This compilation of works consists mainly of articles from Military Review, publications authored by the Combat Studies Institute, monographs from students at the Command and General Staff College, and selected works from other sources for which we have permission to reproduce.

The Army University Press invites readers to submit for publishing consideration articles to Military Review or longer works to the Combat Studies Institute on issues related to Russia. Guidelines for submission are on the Army University Press website at http://www.armyupress.army.mil/Publish-With-Us/.


 

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Ensuring the Political Loyalty of the Russian Soldier

Ensuring the Political Loyalty of the Russian Soldier

Maj. Ray C. Finch, U.S. Army, Retired

Russian leadership has worked to ensure the loyalty and devotion of those charged with defending the Russian state. To this end, Kremlin efforts include the reintroduction of the Main Military-Political Directorate into the Russian armed forces with the goal of ensuring “the traditional spiritual and moral values of Russian Society.”

Published in the Military Review July-August 2020 Edition, pg 52

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A Russian Military Framework for Understanding Influence in the Competition Period

A Russian Military Framework for Understanding Influence in the Competition Period

Tom Wilhelm

The director of the Foreign Military Studies Office suggests developments of the Russian military’s General Staff reveal a useful model for examining all levels of influence in the competition period, when conditions in the operational environment are below the threshold of armed conflict.

Published in the Military Review July-August 2020 Edition, pg 32

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Approximately six thousand Russian soldiers and military cadets, many dressed in Red Army World War II uniforms, march in a parade 7 November 2011 through Red Square in Moscow

Mobilizing History to Promote Patriotism and a New Past

Robert F. Baumann, PhD

A Russian expert discusses how history has shaped the identity and behavior of the Russian people. The emphasis on loyalty to Russia’s heritage and traditions influences everything from support for the existing regime to willingness to serve in the armed forces of the Russian Federation.

Published in the Military Review November-December 2019 Edition, pg 69

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A Russian military policeman patrolling 8 January 2019 in the vicinity of Manbij

The Development of Military Strategy under Contemporary Conditions. Tasks for Military Science

General of the Army Valery Gerasimov, Chief of the Russian General Staff

Translation and Foreword by Dr. Harold Orenstein and Lt. Col. Timothy Thomas, U.S. Army, Retired

A speech by the chief of the Russian General Staff provides great insight into the Russian geopolitical view of the world in general and the United States in particular, and future trends in the development of Russian military science and strategy.

Published on 5 November 2019, Military Review Online Exclusives.

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Popular political cartoon of “Uncle Sam” promulgated on many Russian social media sites. (Image used with permission by Vitaly Podvitski, http://www.podvitski.ru/index.php)

Young Army Movement

Winning the Hearts and Minds of Russian Youth

By Maj. Ray Finch,
U.S. Army, Retired

A Russian expert details one program initiated by Russian President Vladimir Putin to increase patriotism among Russian youth, and make service in the Russian military more attractive and respected.

Published in the Military Review September-October 2019 Edition, pg 112

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War with Russia? cover

Review Essay of Stephen F. Cohen’s

War with Russia?

From Putin & Ukraine to Trump & Russiagate

By Robert F. Baumann, PhD

The author critiques a book by Stephen F. Cohen that challenges conventional wisdom regarding Russian behavior

Published in the Military Review September-October 2019 Edition, pg 152

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Popular political cartoon of “Uncle Sam” promulgated on many Russian social media sites. (Image used with permission by Vitaly Podvitski, http://www.podvitski.ru/index.php)

How the Russian Media Portrays the U.S. Military

By Maj. Ray Finch,
U.S. Army, Retired

A Eurasian military analyst for the Foreign Military Studies Office at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, provides an in-depth analysis of how the Russian media is used by its government to negatively portray the U.S. military.

Published in the Military Review July-August 2019 Edition, pg 86.

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President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting on commissioning defense industry goods 19 December 2014

Russian Forecasts of Future War

By Lt. Col. Timothy L. Thomas,
U.S. Army, Retired

A Russian expert examines the writings of contemporary military analysts from that country to describe the Russian military’s approach to future war planning.

Published in the Military Review May-June 2019 Edition, pg 84.

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/Portals/7/nco-journal/images/2019/March/Russian/Feature.jpg

Russian Armed Forces

Enlisted Professionals

By Maj. Charles K. Bartles
Foreign Military Studies Office, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas

Russia is still overcoming growing pains in regards to its path for enlisted professional, and have had a few false starts, but appear to be generally satisfied with the path they are on. This could be useful to the U.S. and other militaries who train, advise, assist, and enable coalition operations. Given that the Soviets/Russians have trained many armies in the Middle East, Africa, Eastern Europe, and Central and South America, it is likely that these partner nations could better adapt the Russian system of enlisted professionalism rather than attempting to graft the US/Western NCO model to their armies.

Published on 11 March 2019, NCO Journal.

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Russian General Staff Chief Valery Gerasimov’s 2018 Presentation to the General Staff Academy: Thoughts on Future Military Conflict—March 2018

Russian General Staff Chief Valery Gerasimov’s 2018 Presentation to the General Staff Academy

Thoughts on Future Military Conflict—March 2018

By Valery Gerasimov
Translated by Dr. Harold Orenstein

The author translates a speech by Russian General of the Army Valery Gerasimov, "The Influence of the Contemporary Nature of Armed Struggle on the Focus of the Construction and Development of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. Priority Tasks of Military Science in Safeguarding the Country's Defense."

Published on 3 January 2019, Military Review Online Exclusives.

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Brazil-Russia Military-Technical Cooperation: A Fruit of the Post-Cold War World Order

Brazil-Russia Military-Technical Cooperation

A Fruit of the Post-Cold War World Order

By Imanuela Ionescu

The author examines the gradual emergence of the de facto strategic and technological alliance that now exists between Russia and Brazil and why it has occurred.

Published in the Military Review November-December 2018 Edition, p 66.

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The Russians of Latin America: Moscow’s Bid for Influence Over Russian-Speaking Communities in the Region

The Russians of Latin America

Moscow’s Bid for Influence Over Russian-Speaking Communities in the Region

By Brian Fonseca
Vladimir Rouvinski, PhD

The authors examine the evolution of Russian diaspora engagement in Latin America and the Caribbean, and assess its potential to support Russian domestic and foreign policy objectives.

Published in the Military Review November-December 2018 Edition, p 80.

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A Central Asian Perspective on Russian Soft Power: The View from Tashkent

A Central Asian Perspective on Russian Soft Power

The View from Tashkent

By Robert F. Baumann, PhD

A scholar with expertise in Russia, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia analyzes Russian soft power, specifically as it is employed in Uzbekistan.

Published in the Military Review July-August 2018 Edition>, p 48.

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The Return of the Bear? Russian Military Engagement in Latin America: The Case of Brazil

The Return of the Bear? Russian Military Engagement in Latin America: The Case of Brazil

Augusto César Dall’Agnol
Boris Perius Zabolotsky
Fabiano Mielniczuk, PhD

The authors analyze the history of interactions between Brazil and Russia, painting a clear picture of the nature of the relationship.

Published in the July 27, 2018 Military Review Online Exclusives

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Russia’s Forms and Methods of Military Operations: The Implementers of Concepts

Russia’s Forms and Methods of Military Operations

The Implementers of Concepts

By Lt. Col. Timothy Thomas, U.S. Army, Retired

An expert on Soviet/Russian studies defines and explains the Russian terms “forms” and “methods”; understanding how Russians use these terms can help Western analysts better understand how Russia intends to organize and employ its forces.

Published in the Military Review May-June 2018 Edition, p 48.

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Russian Diaspora as a Means of Russian Foreign Policy

Russian Diaspora as a Means of Russian Foreign Policy

By Öncel Sencerman

In a companion piece to the Huntington article, a Turkish PhD candidate describes how Russia is using its diaspora as an instrument of foreign policy in the former Soviet republics.

Published in the Military Review March-April 2018 Edition, p 40.

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Prospective Strategy for Baltic Defense The Russian Public and War Termination in the Baltic States

Prospective Strategy for Baltic Defense

The Russian Public and War Termination in the Baltic States

By Lukas Milevski, PhD

Discussion of the defense of the Baltic States against Russian aggression must also include consideration of what a successful end state would look like should a war be fought in the region, as well as how to take advantage of Russia’s self-identified weakness—its own public.

Published in the Military Review January-February 2018 Edition, p 58.

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Contemporary Warfare and Current Issues for the Defense of the Country

Contemporary Warfare and Current Issues for the Defense of the Country

General of the Army Valery Gerasimov, Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Federation Armed Forces
Translated by Dr. Harold Orenstein
Foreword by Timothy Thomas

Russia’s top military figure describes the state of warfare from a Russian perspective in a speech at a conference held at the Russian Academy of Military Sciences. Translated by Dr. Harold Orenstein with a foreword by Timothy Thomas, formerly of the Foreign Military Studies Office on Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

Published in the Military Review Nov-Dec 2017 Edition, p 22.

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Expanding Tolstoy and Shrinking Dostoyevsky

Expanding Tolstoy and Shrinking Dostoyevsky

How Russian Actions in the Information Space are Inverting Doctrinal Paradigms of Warfare

Maj. Scott J. Harr, U.S. Army

Recent Russian information operations have inverted commonly held U.S. paradigms of warfare. The author relates some major implications of those operations for U.S. joint forces in terms of policy, doctrine, and capabilities. (First place, Armed Forces Communications Electronics Association (AFCEA) Excellence in Joint Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence (JC4I)/Information Operations (IO) Writing Contest)

Published in the Military Review Sept-Oct 2017 Edition, p 39.

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Weaponizing Ridicule

Weaponizing Ridicule

By J. Michael Waller, PhD

The author provides numerous examples of how satire and ridicule are effective, inexpensive instruments of psychological warfare. He recommends that the U.S. government consider ridicule as a strategic weapon.

Published in the Military Review Sept-Oct 2017 Edition, p 49.

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The Evolving Nature of Russia’s Way of War

The Evolving Nature of Russia’s Way of War

By Lt. Col. Timothy Thomas, U.S. Army, Retired

This article discusses the three Russian military articles about which most Western military analysts specializing in Russia have focused their attention over the past four years. Unlike other analyses of those articles, this one offers a different perspective in that it compares them side by side, examining the text of the original versions and not merely the press reports about them.

Published in the Military Review July-August 2017 Edition, p 34.

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Cultural Perspectives, Geopolitics & Energy Security of Eurasia

Cultural Perspectives Geopolitics & Energy Security of Eurasia

Is the Next Global Conflict Imminent?

By Dr. Mahir J. Ibrahimov; Mr. Gustav A. Otto; COL Lee G. Gentile, Jr.

232 Pages

Published: 2017

Marking the anniversary of the Ukraine Revolution of 2014, the Army University Press is pleased to announce the publishing of "Cultural Perspectives, Geopolitics & Energy Security of Eurasia: Is the Next Global Conflict Imminent?" This anthology was written under the auspice of CREL Management Office (CRELMO), and provides insight and observations on the importance of the Eurasia region, including Russia and other countries of the former USSR. The articles that make up this work provide a detailed description of regional realities, including a contextual discussion of the current Ukraine situation, viewed through the prism of Russia’s traditional military-strategic culture. As with all countries in the Eurasian region, Russia’s traditional strategic interests play a critical role in the geopolitical and socio-cultural situation in that region. The observations and insights in this volume are important for Army professionals who lead Soldiers in a variety of missions across the globe. The anthology goes beyond the obvious military strategic nexus and seeks to identify new spaces for consideration by planners and policymakers alike. (From introduction by MG John S. Kem, Provost, Army University.) This and all other Army University Press publications can be accessed here.

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The Evolving Nature of Russia’s Way of War

Comments by Russian President Vladimir Putin to the UN General Assembly

By President Vladimir Putin

This is the official transcript of a speech given by Russian President Vladimir Putin 28 September 2015 to the UN General Assembly as released by the office of the Russian president.

Published in the January/February 2016 Edition of Military Review, p 16.

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Getting Gerasimov Right

Getting Gerasimov Right

By Charles K. Bartles

This is the official transcript of a speech given by Russian President Vladimir Putin 28 September 2015 to the UN General Assembly as released by the office of the Russian president.

Published in the Military Review January/February 2016 Edition p 30.

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How Do We Deal with Russia?

How Do We Deal with Russia?

The Status Quo and a Strategically Pragmatic Approach Forward

By Lt. Col. Klaudius Robinson

The purpose of this opinion piece is to spur discussion and offer recommendations on what strategic stance the United States should take towards the Russian Federation. Initially, I will present some facts to frame the status quo and offer those not familiar with Russia, Europe, or Eurasia some background on which to base the discussion.

Published as a Military Review online exclusive article, June 10, 2016.

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Old Generation Warfare The Evolution—Not Revolution—of the Russian Way of Warfare

Old Generation Warfare The Evolution—Not Revolution—of the Russian Way of Warfare

The Evolution—Not Revolution—of the Russian Way of Warfare

By Maj. Nick Sinclair, U.S. Army

The post-Cold War honeymoon with Russia is over. Russia’s seizure of the Crimea and the subsequent conflict to annex the Donbas imperils the legitimacy of the NATO alliance. U.S. allies on NATO’s eastern flank foresee the same aggression occurring in their countries and, having endured Moscow’s suzerainty for over a half century, these nations prefer freedom to vassalage.

Published in the Military Review May-June 2016 Edition, p 8.

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The Value of Science Is in the Foresight New Challenges Demand Rethinking the Forms and Methods of Carrying out Combat Operations

The Value of Science Is in the Foresight

New Challenges Demand Rethinking the Forms and Methods of Carrying out Combat Operations

General of the Army Valery Gerasimov, Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Federation Armed Forces

The chief of the General Staff of the Russian Federation Armed Forces provides a Russian perspective on the future of war.

Published in the Military Review January-February 2016 Edition, p 23.

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Defining a New Security Architecture for Europe that Brings Russia in from the Cold

Defining a New Security Architecture for Europe that Brings Russia in from the Cold

By John Mearsheimer, PhD

In an article adapted from a speech, a political scientist discusses what he considers failings in U.S. and NATO policy regarding Europe and Russia since 2008. He describes a policy change that he believes could end the crisis in Ukraine although the U.S. turn toward Asia and the uncertain future of NATO would likely prevent its implementation.

Published in the Military Review May-June 2016 Edition, p 27.

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Is a Greater Russia Really So Bad?

Is a Greater Russia Really So Bad?

By George Michael, Ph.D.

The Russian military’s foray into the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea in late February 2014 set in motion a chain of events that some observers fear threatens to dismantle the post-Cold War order presumed to be based on global integration and the rule of international law.

Published in the Military Review January-February 2015 Edition, p 99.

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The 2008 Russian Cyber Campaign Against Georgia

The 2008 Russian Cyber Campaign Against Georgia

By Captain Paulo Shakarian, Ph.D., U.S. Army

Priority information requirements and cyber reconnaissance and surveillance planning should be adjusted to account for a cyber-capable enemy.

Published in the Military Review November-December 2011 Edition, p 63.

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The Militarization of Gazprom

The Militarization of Gazprom

Lieutenant Commander Cindy Hurst, U.S. Navy Reserve

In July 2007, Russia’s Duma passed a bill that would allow energy companies Gazprom (Russia’s state-owned natural gas monopoly) and Transneft (which controls Russia’s oil pipeline infrastructure) the right to create private, internal armies. The new bill raised concern internationally and within the Kremlin that such a move would give these companies too much power

Published in the Sep-Oct 2010 Edition of Military Review, p 59.

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Russia's Military Performance in Georgia

Russia's Military Performance in Georgia

By Tor Bukkvoll, Ph.D.

Russian operations in Georgia demonstrated that a large force of organized, trained, and equipped troops could defeat a small force partially equipped by the U.S.

Published in the Military Review November-December 2009 Edition, p 57.

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Current U.S. Policy of Provoking Russia is Fundamentally Flawed

Current U.S. Policy of Provoking Russia is Fundamentally Flawed

By Major John M. Qualls, U.S. Army

Our current policy concerning Russia is flawed and must be reevaluated. We, the United States, seem bent on a collision course with Russia, a course that should be avoided at all costs lest an accidental exchange of fire between our two nations’ military forces lead to the use of nuclear weapons.

Published in the Military Review January-February 2009 Edition, p 114.

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Russian Edition August 1982

Russian Edition August 1982

By Various Authors

The Army today faces a new era of strategic realities. In the 1950s and 1960s, the United States not only carried most of the military responsiliilities of the Western world, but it also possessed the lion's share of the economic power. Its strategic military superiority was unquestioned, and its lead in economic development and technology was awing By the 1970s, four changees had occurred that created a new strategic context for the post-World War II international onler.

Published in the Nilitary Review August 1982 Russian Edition.

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Soviet Propaganda Apparatus

Soviet Propaganda Apparatus

By John C. Clews

This article was digested from the original, published in the NATO LETTER (France) November 1964. Mr. Clews is a member of the Soviet A fairs Seminars at the London School of Economics and Saint Anthony’s College, Oxford, and of the Royal Institute of International Affairs.

Published in the Military Review July 1965 Edition, p 84.

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RUSSIAN PRINCIPLES FOR THE EMPLOHIBNT OF TANKS AND MOTORIZED UNITS ANO THE DEFENSE AGAINST THESE UNITS (Part I) Quartly REVIEW OF MILITARY LITERATURE vol. XIX March 1939 No. 72

RUSSIAN PRINCIPLES FOR THE EMPLOYMENT OF TANKS AND MOTORIZED UNITS ANO THE DEFENSE AGAINST THESE UNITS (Part I)

Quartly REVIEW OF MILITARY LITERATURE vol. XIX March 1939 No. 72

By Captain H. N. Hartness, Infantry

Infantry in close cooperation with artillery and tanks decides the issue of combat, by decisive, aggressive conduct in the attack and by maintaining its position in the defense.

Published in the Review of Military Literature March 1939.

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THE RUSSO-POLISH WAR 1919·1920. NONCRITICAL AND CRITICAL VIEWS - REVIEW OF MILITARY LITERATURE vol. XIV March 1934 No. 52

THE RUSSO-POLISH WAR 1919·1920. NONCRITICAL AND CRITICAL VIEWS

REVIEW OF MILITARY LITERATURE vol. XIV March 1934 No. 52

Abstracted by Captain F. During

Very little has been written about the Russo-Polish War of 1919-1920, which is to be regretted, as the war is of especial interest because it was fought immediately after the World War in which highly trained armies faced each other; while in the Russo-Polish War, on the other hand, we find poorly trained, poorly armed and equipped troops, led by inefficient leaders. This war resembles to some degree the American Civil War.

Published in the Review of Military Literature March 1934.

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THE RUSSO-POLISH WAR 1919·1920. NONCRITICAL AND CRITICAL VIEWS (Part II) - REVIEW OF MILITARY LITERATURE vol. XIV March 1934 No. 55

THE RUSSO-POLISH WAR 1919·1920. NONCRITICAL AND CRITICAL VIEWS (Part II)

REVIEW OF MILITARY LITERATURE vol. XIV March 1934 No. 55

Abstracted by Captain F. During

Abstracted from Militarwissensebaftliche Milteilungen, May, 1934. "Der russisch·polnische Krieg 1919-1920. Unkritisehe und kritische Betrachtugen" by Colonel Alfred von Wittich. "See No. RML No. 52, page 43, for first installment of this series.

Published in the Review of Military Literature December 1934.

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Soviet light tank BT-2 with gun turret and Polikarpov R-5

Russian Ideas on the Use of Modern Tanks

Abstracted by Major R.C. Smith

Abstracted from Idees russes sur f'emploi des chars modernes, by Lieut.-Colonel Mendras. Revue d'Infanterie, December 1932.

Published in the Review of Military Literature March 1933.

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Additional Resources

Russian Combat Capabilities for 2020: Three Developments to Tracks

Thinking Like a Russian Officer

Wilhelm 2020 v2

For hundreds of years rarely in Russian history has a generation passed without experiencing a calamity that tears the family apart; that uproots the foundation of career, property and/or savings. In most cultures “Fate” or “God’s will” is the explanation of last resort for life’s inexplicable tragedies. But in Russia Fate is also the all-powerful fist of history that periodically crushes everything in its path. War, civil war, famine, economic collapse – these are the historic forces that come at least once in a generation to destroy lives and remind the average Russian that all of their efforts to build security and prosperity are nothing in the face of History. Catastrophic change is inevitable – sooner or later it will come and impose itself upon us. It is folly to think one can avoid it. Darrell Stanaford

Published by Foreign Military Studies Office 2020.

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Russian Combat Capabilities for 2020: Three Developments to Tracks

Russian Combat Capabilities for 2020:

Three Developments to Track

By Timothy L. Thomas

As Russia’s military continues to modernize, there are several important concepts to track that have either developed (as in Syria) or are home grown and under serious consideration. These developments appear to support the development of a new theory of warfare in Russia that, according to Shoygu and Gerasimov, relies on a combination of classical and asymmetric concepts.

Published by The MITRE Corporation, December 2019.

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Russian Military Thought: Concepts and Elements

Russian Military Thought:

Concepts and Elements

By Timothy L. Thomas

The report is of interest for its focus on purely Russian military thought. It attempts to avoid mirrorimaging Western concepts (hybrid, grey zone, etc.) onto Russian military thinking.

Published by The MITRE Corporation, August 2019.

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Recommendations for Intelligence Staffs Concerning Russian New Generation Warfare

Recommendations for Intelligence Staffs Concerning Russian New Generation Warfare

By Major Charles K. Bartles

Russia is an important power with modernized Armed Forces and nuclear arsenal. Intelligence professionals should avoid mirror-imaging Russian thinking, warfighting, and desired end states. Given the significance of Russia, intelligence professionals need to understand how a resurgent Russia is asserting itself through Russian New Generation

Published by the Military Intelligence, Foreign Military Studies Office, October - December 2017.

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Thinking Like a Russian Officer: Basic Factors And Contemporary Thinking On The Nature of War

Thinking Like a Russian Officer:

Basic Factors And Contemporary Thinking On The Nature of War

By Timothy Thomas

This monograph consists of two parts. The first part examines the basic structure of Russian military thought as it has evolved over time. The second part examines four different sources contributing to current Russian military thinking: the official voices of the defense ministry; two sets of theorists who have dominated thinking regarding the nature of war in popular Russian military publications, and contributions by other individuals and groups concerned with military theory and practice.

Published by the Foreign Military Studies Office, April 2016.

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The Russian Way of War - Force Structure, Tactics, and Modernization of the Russian Ground Forces

The Russian Way of War

Force Structure, Tactics, and Modernization of the Russian Ground Forces

By Dr. Lester W. Grau
Charles K. Bartles

In 1984, Lieutenant General William Richardson, the commander of the U.S. Army's Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC), authorized the creation of an office modeled after the British Army's Soviet Studies Research Center (SSRC) an order to provide unclassified material from primarily Russian sources for U.S. Army training and education. The Soviet Army Studies Office (SASO) opened at Fort Leavenworth in 1986 and was staffed with civilian academics and U.S. Army foreign area officers who were proficient in Russian, understood Russian and Soviet histories and military institutions, and had traveled, studied or lived in the Soviet Union.

Published by the Foreign Military Studies Office 2016.

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THE EVOLUTION OF OPERATIONAL ART

THE EVOLUTION OF OPERATIONAL ART

By Brigade Commander Georgii Samoilovich Isserson

One can argue that the development of true doctrine required the formal adoption of the concept of operational art. Prior to the Great War, no army in the world possessed a codified body of thought that enabled senior military commanders to visualize the aggregate effects of tactical engagements across time and space. By 1918, after a dramatic revision of drill regulations into something approaching true doctrine, the German army was furthest in realizing this goal. Ultimately, though, the Germans could not translate tactical success into strategic victory because they could not resource military operations in sufficient depth to render local successes decisive.

Published by the Combat Studies Institute Press, US Army Combined Arms Center, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas 2013.

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