The command personnel of the modern Russian army and fleet must know the lessons of the past war
24 held a military-scientific conference in Moscow on the theme “Lessons and conclusions from the experience of the Great Patriotic War, military conflicts for the effective solution of defense tasks, construction and training of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation taking into account the prospects for the development of military and non-military means and methods of warfare”. The forum was attended by representatives of the leadership of the Armed Forces of Russia and the Academy of Military Sciences. The keynote address was made by the Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, First Deputy Minister of Defense, Army General Valery Gerasimov.
Thousands of articles, monographs, and scientific papers have been written about the 1941 – 1945 war. It would seem that the events of those years are so deeply studied that disputes about its heroes and antiheroes are meaningless. However, it is precisely in our days, when in Europe and in the territory of the former Soviet Union, we now and again observe the revival of Nazism, it is very timely to remember what our people sacrificed for the sake of Victory. This is more than 26 of millions of human lives, pain and deprivation of survivors, tens of thousands of cities and villages burned to the ground.
The 70 anniversary of the Great Victory is a good reason to rethink the present and future of Russia in a new way, to assess the ability of the Russian Armed Forces to meet the challenges and threats of modernity, to determine the prospects for the development of military affairs.
Unity of political and military leadership
Today, a number of Western countries are making large-scale efforts to rewrite stories The twentieth century and especially the Second World War. The absurd goal is being pursued: to put the aggressor on the same footing, that is, Nazi Germany, and its victim - the Soviet Union, trying to prove that the main winner in the war was not the USSR, but the United States in alliance with Great Britain.
“The Institute of Representatives of the Supreme Command Headquarters existed until the end of 1944. The need for it has disappeared due to the increased commanding art commanders "
The forces of the Red Army in the Great Patriotic War destroyed the 507 divisions of the Wehrmacht and the 100 divisions of their allies - almost three and a half times more than on all other fronts and for all the time of the Second World War. In the first, most difficult years of the war, the USSR alone opposed the aggressor.
It is significant how Europe fought fascism. Poland was defeated within three weeks. France, which had numerical military superiority, lasted only a month of battles, after which it capitulated. Belgium, Denmark, Holland occupied for several weeks. Fascist Germany marched victoriously throughout Europe.
In these difficult conditions of the pre-war period, when the main trends of world development directly indicated that the beginning of a major war was only a matter of time, the Soviet military-political leadership placed preparation for it at the center, paying particular attention to improving the military and government system.
By the beginning of the Great Patriotic War in the USSR, the control system as a whole was formed. The principle of unity of the political and military leadership was put in the basis of the preparation of the country and the Armed Forces to repel aggression. All the most important issues relating to defense, were decided by the Central Committee and the Politburo of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks).
At the highest state level, the overall day-to-day management of the Armed Forces of the country was carried out by the Defense Committee of the USSR Council of People’s Commissars, and the direct leadership of the Red Army and Navy was respectively the People’s Commissariat of Defense and the People’s Commissariat of the Navy through the General Staff, Main Naval Headquarters and other military authorities .
The outbreak of war with its enormous spatial scope, unprecedented intensity and dynamism of military operations, the use of large masses of troops and military equipment, enormous material costs and casualties demanded a radical change in the system of political, state and military leadership. In connection with the mobilization of all the forces and resources of the country, their use in the interests of achieving the goals of the war, it became necessary to maximize the centralization of state leadership with the concentration of all power in the hands of one competent authority. It was formed by 30 June 1941 of the year by the decision of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, the Central Committee of the CPSU (b) and the Council of People's Commissars of the USSR State Defense Committee (GKO). At the time of the war, the GKO, which had full power in the country, united military, political and economic leadership.
Improving strategic management
The situation was more complicated with the organization of the strategic leadership of the Armed Forces. The system of organs of leadership that had developed in the prewar period corresponded essentially to the experience of the First World War and the Civil War, when the Supreme Command had a limited number of front-line unions at its disposal. This did not meet the new requirements, conditions and nature of the armed struggle, did not ensure the necessary centralization of the leadership of the Armed Forces and the speed of command and control of troops (forces).
Andrei Sedykh collage (photo by ITAR-TASS)
On the second day of the war, by a decree of the Council of People's Commissars of the USSR and the Central Committee of the Party, the headquarters of the high command is created. Its chairman is appointed Commissar Semen Konstantinovich Timoshenko. However, in fact, the leadership of the Stavka and the People’s Commissariat of Defense was supervised by Joseph Stalin as General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Party and Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars and the State Defense Committee.
Because of this bifurcation rate was experiencing great difficulties. In order to eliminate this shortcoming of 19 in July of 1941, Stalin was appointed Commissar of Defense of the USSR, and on August 8, in connection with the renaming of the High Command Headquarters to the Supreme Command Headquarters (Supreme Commander), the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces of the USSR.
The headquarters of the Supreme Command carried out strategic leadership of the Red Army, the Navy, border and internal troops, and partisan forces. She dealt with an extremely wide range of issues. The main ones included defining the strategic tasks of the Armed Forces in accordance with the military-political goals of the war, making decisions and directing the preparation and conduct of military campaigns, strategic operations, organizing the interaction of various types of Armed Forces and with the partisans. Its working bodies were the General Headquarters and offices of the People's Commissariat of Defense and the People's Commissariat of the Navy.
During the war years, the General Staff carried out a huge amount of work. He collected and thoroughly analyzed the data on the fronts with the preparation of conclusions and proposals to the High Command.
On the basis of the decisions taken, the General Staff developed plans for the use of the Armed Forces, prepared and conducted military campaigns and strategic operations, organized strategic interaction between the types of the Armed Forces and fronts, communicated decisions, orders, directives of the High Command to the troops, supervised their implementation, controlled the formation of reserves and their use in accordance with the decision of the High Command, monitored the condition, provision and combat effectiveness th troops, to solve a number of other issues. He was the main organizer of the practical implementation of strategic plans and plans for military operations.
To this end, the General Staff has freed itself from many functions not directly connected with the leadership of military actions. In particular, at the end of July 1941, the tasks of supply, military transport and the management of military schools were removed from it. From the composition of the General Staff removed the control device of the rear, weapons and supplies.
The organizational changes of the General Staff during the war continued and mostly ended in 1943.
Other measures were taken to improve the strategic management system of the Armed Forces. Thus, in connection with the expansion of the scale of armed struggle, the increase in the number of formations and units of the branches of the Armed Forces and the types of troops in the army and the need to ensure their effective use, the posts of the commanders of the branches of the Armed Forces and the branches of the troops were established.
In 1942, the central headquarters of the partisan movement was created to lead the partisan struggle.
The organizational changes were followed by personnel appointments. During the war years, the General Staff was headed by such experienced and talented military leaders as Army General Georgy Zhukov, Marshals of the Soviet Union Boris Mikhailovich Shaposhnikov, Alexander Mikhailovich Vasilevsky, Army General Alexei Innokentievich Antonov.
Planning Experience at the Operational and Strategic Level
Along with the reorganization of the structure of the central bodies of strategic leadership, clarifying their functions and tasks, there was a continuous search for ways to develop forms and methods of planning at the operational and strategic level. This required a transition from a two-stage system of strategic leadership (the Supreme Command headquarters — the front) to a three-stage system (the Supreme Command headquarters — the main commands of strategic directions — fronts).
As early as the first days of the war, in the conditions of a rapidly changing situation, in the absence of a stable connection with the fronts and reliable information about the position of the troops, the Stavka was systematically late in making decisions, and made gross mistakes. This necessitated the creation of an intermediate command instance between the headquarters and the front.
The direction to the fronts of the leaders of the People's Commissariat of Defense did not give any results. Therefore, the GKO Decree of July 10 of 1941 created three main commands of strategic directions.
The introduction of intermediate bodies of strategic leadership in the difficult conditions of the first period of the war was justified. The commanders had the opportunity to ensure reliable and precise command and control of troops and organize interaction between the fronts in the interests of repelling the enemy’s offensive.
However, the commander in chief did not succeed in drastically changing the situation and improving the leadership of the fronts. This is largely due to the fact that they did not have well-defined functions and sufficient powers, did not have the necessary reserves of forces and material resources.
In fact, their activity was limited to the transfer of information from the fronts to the Supreme Command Headquarters and, conversely, the Bid orders to fronts. Therefore, the headquarters was often forced to continue to directly control the activities of fronts, fleets and armies. As a result, in 1942, as the situation stabilized, the need for an intermediate link of strategic management disappeared. The main commands of strategic directions were alternately abolished.
The rate resorted to a similar system of leadership, but in a more perfect form, only in 1945, during the period of the military campaign in the Far East.
The creation of the main command of the Soviet troops in the Far East was due to the remoteness of the theater of operations from the Center. Having at its disposal major forces and means, the main command was given much greater autonomy in dealing with the preparation and conduct of military operations, although here the Supreme Command retained the right to control the fronts and the Pacific Fleet.
Since the summer of 1942, the Headquarters has been directing fronts and fleets directly, that is, without an intermediate link. This system received the greatest use and development during the war, since with one strategic front of the armed struggle (against Germany), it provided high efficiency and effectiveness in managing combat operations. The headquarters, having direct contact with the fronts and fleets, had the opportunity to follow the development of the situation, respond promptly to its changes and influence the combat activities of the troops.
Since September 1942, the Supreme Command headquarters has passed to the leadership of front operations through its representatives. Most often in this role were Georgi Konstantinovich Zhukov, Alexander Mikhailovich Vasilevsky, Semyon Konstantinovich Timoshenko, Kliment Yefremovich Voroshilov, Alexey Innokentievich Antonov, Sergey Matveevich Shtemenko, Nikolai Gerasimovich Kuznetsov, Alexander Alexandrovich Novikov, Nikolai Nikolayevich Voronov, Lev Zahakhovs, Nikolakh Gerakhimovich Kuznetsov, Alexander Aleksandrovich Novikov, Nikolai Nikolayevich Voronov, Lev Zakhakhovs, Nikolai Gerakhimovich Kuznetsov, Alexander Aleksandrovich Novikov, Nikolai Nikolayevich Voronov, Lev Zakhakhovs. Possessing great powers and rights, being aware of the plans and plans of the Supreme Command, they rendered great command to the commanders of the fronts in the preparation of operations, coordinated the actions of adjacent fronts, monitored the implementation of the Headquarters instructions, promoted quick resolution of issues that required the intervention of the Supreme Commander.
The institute of representatives of the Supreme Command Headquarters existed until the end of 1944. In the future, the need for it has disappeared due to the reduction of the strategic front of the armed struggle and the increased leadership skills of commanders.
Military Campaign Planning
During the war, not only the organizational structure of the system of strategic leadership of the country and the armed struggle was constantly developed, but the style, forms and methods of work of the State Defense Committee and the Supreme Command Headquarters were continuously improved. The activities of these bodies became more specific.
As experience gained, a relatively harmonious system of preparation and adoption of both principled long-term and private current decisions took shape. Clear principles of strategic planning, development of plans and plans for military campaigns, strategic and front-line operations have been developed and mastered.
With this in mind, the Supreme Command and the General Staff during the war consistently proceeded from resolving certain urgent strategic tasks by administrative procedures to advance planning of front operations, then strategic operations of front groups and, finally, military campaigns.
Planning military campaigns is an important achievement of the national military strategy, a new stage in its development. Each had its own characteristics, differed unique character and peculiar features. Its goals, content and scope depended on the specific conditions of the military-political situation. Therefore, the principles of planning defensive and offensive campaigns, as well as each military campaign separately, were different.
In general, the planning of military campaigns, as a rule, consisted in defining their goals, strategic plans, as well as determining the number of strategic operations, distributing forces and means by area, calculating the composition and building strategic groups of forces, planning the first strategic operations, and organizing strategic interaction. between front groups and types of the Armed Forces, the development of measures for the material and technical support of the Armed Forces. In this case, the first strategic operations were developed most fully and comprehensively, the subsequent ones were outlined only in general terms.
In all cases, the planning of military campaigns was based on specific intelligence intelligence on the enemy, forecasts of his actions, as well as an assessment of the possible increase of military production by both sides and the likely development of the situation in other theaters of World War II. Planning of strategic operations in the framework of each military campaign was carried out by the General Staff with the involvement of front commanders and their headquarters.
In this case, two methods of practical work were used.
In the first case, the Supreme Command immediately after the approval of the plan of the operation, the Supreme Commander sent directives to the front commanders to develop appropriate operations. The prepared plans were reported to the Stavka by the front commanders and approved by the Supreme Commander.
In the second method, even before developing the plan of the operation, the Stake informed the front commanders about the tasks ahead, sent the initial data for planning and required them to submit their proposals, which were then considered by the General Staff for their compliance with the campaign plan. After that, a consolidated plan of operation was developed and, if necessary, clarifications were made in the plans of the fronts.
Strategic planning, carried out by the Supreme Command Headquarters and the General Staff, was distinguished by its creative character. With great skill, for example, the counteroffensive at Stalingrad was developed: the enemy’s weaknesses, the configuration of the front line, the directions of the main attacks and the moment of their application were correctly used.
In 1944, a system of large sequential and simultaneous operations (the famous “Ten Stalinist strikes”) was prepared with high skill. The operations on the liberation of Right-Bank Ukraine and the Baltic States, as well as the Byelorussian and Yassko-Kishinev operations, were particularly original.
Organization of strategic interaction
One of the most important tasks of strategic leadership during the war was the organization of strategic interaction by coordinating the efforts of fronts, fleets and associations of other branches of the country's Armed Forces to achieve their goals.
The fundamentals of strategic interaction were laid by the Supreme High Command Headquarters while developing plans and plans for campaigns and strategic operations. They found expression in defining the tasks of strategic groupings, the role and place of fronts and other unions in operations, in developing coordinated methods of conducting the offensive and defense, in establishing the sequence of tasks accomplishment and rendering mutual assistance.
In strategic defensive operations, great attention was paid to reconciling counterstrikes, which were inflicted on various fronts, for example, in repelling the enemy’s offensive in the Battle of Kursk. Provision was also made to transfer reserves from one direction to another in order to close the gaps created in the defense.
In strategic offensive operations, all attention was focused on coordinating successive operations and strikes in various directions in order to crush the enemy front, alternately crush its main groups, gradually expand its offensive front, as was the case during the Lviv-Sandomir offensive operation of the 1 and 4 troops Ukrainian Front.
The General Staff organized and throughout the entire war, including the most difficult - the initial period, carried out the collection, study and synthesis of combat experience, the use of means of warfare, operational and tactical techniques, their strengths and weaknesses, control methods in combat and operations. The results were implemented in the form of orders, directives, other guidance and guidance documents.
Great importance was attached to the development of the strategic communications system of the Armed Forces. To ensure sustainable leadership, it was necessary to create appropriate troops for the Supreme Command Headquarters reserve and apply new ways of organizing communications with the extensive use of redundant channels, both at the operational and strategic levels. The system of special purpose communication hubs of the General Staff from 1943 of the year became the main one on the entire front of the armed struggle.
From 1944, communications of the General Staff were organized along strategic and operational lines. At the final stage of the war in Europe, special purpose units began to be created that served not only the military command, but also the organs of the Soviet military administration.
Thus, the system of strategic leadership that developed during the war was characterized by a high degree of centralization at the level of the State Defense Committee, the Headquarters of the Supreme Command and the General Staff. Its structure was created and developed on the basis of the principles of collegiality, combined with unity of command, a clear division of functions between various government bodies, and the personal responsibility of managers for the assigned area of work. Distinguished by high reliability, it ensured stable, continuous and effective command and control of troops and fleet forces, the rational use of material and human resources, and the successful fulfillment of the entire complex of military-political and strategic tasks.
What lessons in the organization of command and control of the Armed Forces can be drawn from the historical experience of the past war for modern conditions? First of all, it concerns the organizational restructuring of state and military government bodies.
“The transition of the state to repelling an attack should be carried out without significant changes to the usual time system”
The transition of the state to the leadership of the country in the conditions of repelling an attack, as well as to the combat command and control of troops (forces) should be carried out without significant changes to the system operating at the usual time. Already in the peace period, the relevant authorities of all units must have an organizational structure and, if possible, staffed close to military conditions, as well as an appropriate system of command and control centers.
The experience of the war showed that the High Command and the military-strategic and operational-tactical level should be prepared as a single system in advance, before the outbreak of hostilities. This system should be created on the uniform principles of centralized leadership of strategic nuclear forces and groups of forces.
Another lesson is that the technical equipment of the strategic management system with communication and control facilities, the security of command and control centers and their readiness for work largely determine the extent to which the combat capabilities of the Armed Forces will be realized.
And finally, we made conclusions regarding interspecific groups in theaters (strategic directions), which, under a single command, should be created in peacetime. Only in this case, joint operational training, solving the tasks of daily activities will ensure their controllability and effective leadership from the commanders on the theater of operations (strategic directions) in wartime.
The supreme bodies of state power and administration of the Russian Federation, as well as its subjects, together with local governments bear full responsibility for ensuring military security, state of defense, combat and mobilization readiness and combat capability of the Armed Forces within their powers as defined by the Constitution.
All activities related to the solution of security tasks are organized, monitored and coordinated by the President of the Russian Federation. He also heads the Security Council - a constitutional body that prepares decisions of the president in the field of defense and military security.
The direct leadership of the Armed Forces is entrusted to the Ministry of Defense and its organs — the General Headquarters, the main and central directorates, the joint strategic commands, the main commands of the arms and services of the Armed Forces.
For the time of the war, the Supreme Command Headquarters, headed by the Supreme Commander, is created for the leadership of the united Armed Forces. Its working body will be the General Staff.
The feasibility of such a system is confirmed by the practice of the Great Patriotic War and the postwar period. On the whole, it continues to exist and develop in view of the changing nature of modern wars and armed conflicts.
An important step towards building a unified system of government control of the military sphere of the Russian state was the creation of the National Center for Defense Management of the state, which is a permanent body of the state’s military organization under the leadership of the Supreme Commander with a constant peacetime and military structure.
The main purpose of this body is to monitor, analyze and short-term forecast the development of the situation in strategic areas and in problem regions, promptly support decisions made by the leadership of the country and the Armed Forces, and coordinate the activities of federal executive bodies in ensuring the country's defense.
The functioning of the National Center for Defense Management of the state allows real-time analysis and provision of versatile information, to prepare sound proposals for decision-making by the government leadership on responding to crisis situations in the country and abroad.
In the new Regulation on the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation 2013, the directions of the General Staff’s activities were clarified. In principle, they have not changed. Its main purpose remains strategic planning in the field of defense, the development of fundamentals for ensuring the state’s military security, the strategy for building and developing the Armed Forces and the military organization of Russia as a whole, and managing the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation.
At the same time, according to the new Provision, a number of tasks of the General Staff have been clarified, and additional powers are assigned to it. They are aimed primarily at coordinating the activities of all federal bodies of executive power in the interests of ensuring the defense and security of the country.
New tasks and requirements
One of the new tasks of the General Staff since January 1, 2013, was the creation of the Defense Plan of the Russian Federation, which is a set of interrelated military planning documents for the entire military organization of the state.
Such a plan was developed by the General Staff in conjunction with federal executive bodies and approved by the President of the Russian Federation - the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces.
The experience of developing the Defense Plan of the Russian Federation has shown the need for a clear legislative regulation of joint activities of federal executive bodies. In the event of a real threat to the security of our country, already in the period of danger, all federal agencies, their territorial bodies, regional and local authorities are involved in the defense organization process. Moreover, for the purposes of defense, material resources and resources of non-state structures of all forms of ownership - enterprises, fuel and energy companies, and transport will be involved.
All movements and concentration of resources should be synchronized with the developed plans for the use of the Armed Forces. Therefore, one of the most important tasks of the General Staff today is to coordinate the activities of military bodies and state authorities in working out the preparation and conduct of measures to transfer the Armed Forces and other troops and forces to the organization and composition of wartime.
The creation of the National Center for Defense Management of the Russian Federation and its inclusion in the general government of the country gives this structure a complete look, making it possible, if necessary, to immediately switch to the military regime.
The readiness of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation for immediate action is one of the main requirements for ensuring the country's defense and security in modern conditions. Taking into account this circumstance, in December 2010 of the year, in accordance with the presidential decree “On the military administrative division of the Russian Federation”, united strategic commands of the Western, Southern, Central and Eastern military districts were formed. In December, the combined strategic command of the Northern Fleet was created by 2014.
Each joint strategic command is responsible for the state of combat readiness of the troops (forces) subordinate to it, ensuring the security of the Russian Federation in the strategic direction. The commanders of military districts in peacetime are subject to the association of the Air Force, Air Defense and Fleets.
In the course of the war, the joint strategic command directs the inter-agency and interdepartmental grouping operations on land, sea and air.
In order to achieve coherence in the work of the state and military administration bodies of the General Headquarters, joint measures are being held on a planned basis. So, in September 2014, during the strategic exercise "Vostok-2014", issues of interaction between the Armed Forces, other troops, military formations, as well as federal executive bodies and authorities of the constituent entities of the Russian Federation were worked out.
In order to increase the level of preparation of the leadership of state legislative and executive bodies of the constituent entities of the Russian Federation on military issues, training was organized for their representatives at the Military Academy of the General Staff.
In the future, it is planned to focus on common activities on working out issues of organizing and jointly solving tasks by different departmental groups of troops (forces), which will be conducted against a common strategic and operational background, according to common scenarios for the development of the military-political and strategic situation.
These are, in general terms, the tasks that the General Staff of the Armed Forces performs as a strategic management body. Their implementation implies a great organizational and intellectual work. It is carried out by the joint efforts of state and military authorities in the interests of defense. At the same time, we take into account and fully rely on the experience of strategic leadership of the country and the Armed Forces during the years of the Great Patriotic War.
The experience of the past war will never lose its value. The command personnel of the Russian army and navy can and should extract from it everything that has not lost its value, and relying on the development of military art in the post-war period, creatively solve modern tasks in improving combat readiness and building the Armed Forces.