When in war lying becomes a crime
I wrote this material at the request of one of the unit commanders, who is now at the LBS. We have known each other for quite a long time, and the topic is quite relevant even after many months of fighting. It's about... lies. More precisely, about lies for good and lies for harm. This can be called differently. Misinformation, ignorance of the situation, an attempt to hide their commander’s mistakes or the cowardice of their subordinates, etc.
I'll start with something a little different. Something that almost no one talks about.
Once upon a time at school we studied a strange subject for peacetime - NVP. Basic military training. We were lucky. Our teacher was an old senior lieutenant. Participant of the Great Patriotic War. And he taught us the way he probably taught his soldiers during that war.
In the tenth grade, we knew very well what today, for some reason, even those who arrive at LBS after school do not know. We knew that we couldn’t lie to the commander! It’s impossible because your lies could cost the lives of your comrades and you. We knew that we should not huddle together even when the enemy was sleeping or eating. Gathered in a group - you will receive a mine from the enemy.
We even knew that running heroically during artillery fire almost always meant getting a shell or mine fragment. And what they show in the movies is complete nonsense. The fragments do not fly vertically. Sometimes you watch videos of the work of some units and are amazed that they have not yet reached the level of the 200s or 300s. The fighters are wandering along the greenery, almost huddled against each other. And the signature: “Our intelligence officers at work”...
This knowledge is so simple and obvious that then, not knowing and not knowing what war is, it seemed to us a waste of time. It would be better to go to a shooting range and shoot from a small gun... And only then, with life experience, did I understand that the military instructor, by the way, I repeat - a front-line soldier, taught us not just to shoot and advance and retreat according to the military tactics of that time, he taught us to survive in war.
This is probably why I decided to write about the first rule. Don't lie to the commander! This rule applies to everyone without exception. From a simple soldier to the Minister of Defense. Lying in war is too expensive. And no punishment of a liar will bring back the lives of those who died due to the fault of the liar.
From lies to crime
Yes, I'm not mistaken. Sometimes lying actually leads to crime. And the higher the liar’s position, the more serious the consequences of lying. But it is quite difficult to eradicate this phenomenon, already because honesty is punished. It is also difficult because, alas, the truth does not always coincide with the wishes of higher-ups.
Let me remind you of the 1941 trial regarding the actions of the commander of the Western Special Military District, General Pavlov. Until now, the debate on this issue is not a joke. Yes, the commander went through the stages of growth of a military leader in a rather original way. But for the army of that time such generals were a dime a dozen.
I started straight away with the position... commander of a cavalry regiment in Turkestan! Remember the movie "Officers"? It shows the war with the Basmachi quite truthfully. If we call what the Red Army did there, then I would call it an anti-partisan operation. Next, Pavlov took a new turn in his career - brigade commander of a mechanized brigade. This was when there was not even a concept for using such compounds.
Then service outside the personnel. Training, study of technology, etc. The district commander is ready! No division commander, no corps commander, no army commander. Immediate district commander. I don’t want to argue about competence or incompetence. I'm talking about lies...
Remember the situation at that time. When did Stalin try his best to delay the war? Accordingly, all opinions that did not coincide with his became the opinion of enemies. And we must fight our enemies. And people began to report as Joseph Vissarionovich demanded. This is how they reported to Pavlov, and this is how Pavlov reported. That's what everyone reported.
And those who tried to “open the eyes” of Stalin quickly replenished the number of Gulag inmates. True, later, those who were lucky enough to survive after interrogations and escape from the camps were lucky enough to become great commanders of that war. The big lie resulted in millions of lives lost during the initial period of the war.
Why did I tell you my opinion about that time?
Yes, simply because every day I come across the fact that you cannot immediately trust official data. This is already a habit. Neither ours nor the Ukrainian ones. To be honest, often what I read in official messages does not coincide with what actually exists. The general from the press says one thing, and the captain from the company at the LBS says something completely different.
It even reaches the point of insanity. It seems that those at the top somehow know “differently” about the state of units and subunits and their actions. Some say “they repulsed so many attacks,” others say “they don’t allow us to advance.” Recently I congratulated a tanker I knew. In response: “Thank you. Don’t forget to congratulate me on Artillery Day”... Such is the sarcasm of the front line.
Well, okay, unit level, even brigade level. Perhaps the command has some kind of strategic plan that is not brought to the level of the relevant commander. Remember - “in the part that concerns them.” But lies at a higher level, as was the case with General Pavlov?
The commander of the direction or the operation as a whole, the General Staff, receives incorrect initial data. So, what is next? And then tragedy. The initial data is curved, then what will be the decision of the corresponding commander or headquarters? Also crooked! They reported that such and such a village was ours, which meant we didn’t need to take it again. This means that neither funds nor time will be allocated for this task! And vice versa…
But this is the most important moment of any military operation. If not to speak even louder. Reliability of information is the basis of war. For this, there are many channels of reconnaissance, searching for information in any way. But no intelligence will say more about the state of units and subunits than the commander.
And then, after it turns out that the decision is crooked, the commander will become the scapegoat. As has already happened during the SVO. The responsibility lies with him. Didn’t provide, didn’t track, didn’t check and so on... And the losses are also on him...
Instead of a conclusion
I understand that now there will be those who will tell me about disinformation, information war, and so on. I agree, sometimes it is necessary to use the media to spread false information. Sometimes it is even necessary to resort to more radical channels of such stuffing. But that's not what this is about.
It's about lying to your commanders. This is not an information war. This is not the work of special forces. This is caring about your own career. It's no secret that we have military personnel who care about awards, positions and status. Whether it’s good or bad, I won’t write here. But they exist. This is the choice of everyone.
Something suddenly came to mind. Probably many remember the famous painting from the USSR “V. I. Lenin at the All-Russian subbotnik in the Kremlin on May 1, 1920” from 1927, which was located in the Museum of the Revolution in Moscow. So, as the guide once said there, the museum contains memories of this moment from 22 participants in this carrying. Let me remind you that in the picture with Ilyich, five Red Army soldiers are carrying a log...
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