March 14, 2019 Special Dispatch No. 7943

Russian First Deputy Defense Minister Gerasimov: 'Our Response' Is Based On The 'Active Defense Strategy'; 'We Must Act Quickly' To ' Preempt The Enemy... Identify His Vulnerabilities, And Create Threats Of Unacceptable Damage To It'

March 14, 2019
Russia | Special Dispatch No. 7943

On March 2, 2019, Russian General Staff chief and First Deputy Defense Minister Gen. Valery Gerasimov spoke at the annual meeting of the Academy of Military Sciences. Traditionally, this conference is a platform for military experts to exchange views on the most topical and problematic issues of military science, and its results essentially determine the future direction of the discipline's development.

The meeting was opened by academy president Army Gen. Makhmut Gareyev. The conference participants – academy members, senior Russian Defense Ministry officials, and representatives of the Presidential Administration, the State Duma, and the Federation Council, as well as leading scientists from the Russian Academy of Sciences and universities and research organizations of the military department – discussed the nature of future wars, armed conflicts, and actual problems in the defense field.

In his speech, Gerasimov reported on the main directions of the development of military strategy and the tasks of military science. He stated that Russia must be ready to conduct wars and armed conflicts of a new type using classical and asymmetric methods of action. Therefore, he said, the search for strategies for waging war with various adversaries is of paramount importance for the development of the theory and practice of military strategy.

Gen. Valery Gerasimov. (Source:

Below are excerpts of Gerasimov's speech at the annual meeting of the Academy of Military Sciences:[1]

Transformation Of Military Threats

"This year we are scrutinizing the development of military strategy in modern conditions.

"Military strategy as a science' ... the 'art of locomotion of troops' originated at the beginning of the last century and developed based on the study of the experience of wars. In general, strategy is 'a system of knowledge and action to prevent, prepare and conduct war.'

"At present, wars are expanding and their content is significantly changing. The number of subjects involved in the armed struggle is increasing. Along with armed forces of sovereign states, various gangs, private military companies, and self-proclaimed 'quasi-states' are also fighting.

"Means of economic, political, diplomatic, informational pressure, as well as demonstrations of military power in the interests of enhancing the effectiveness of non-military measures, are being actively used. Military force is used when it is not possible to achieve the goals set by non-military methods.

"Meanwhile, Russia's geopolitical rivals are not hiding the fact that they will not only achieve political goals in local conflicts, but are also preparing to wage wars against a 'high-tech adversary' using high-precision weapons from the air, sea, and space, with active information warfare.

"Under these circumstances, our Armed Forces must be ready to wage a new type of war and armed conflict, using classical and asymmetric methods of action. Therefore, the search for rational strategies for waging war with various adversaries is of paramount importance for developing military strategy's theory and practice of military strategy.

"We need to clarify the essence and content of military strategy, the principles of preventing war, and perparations for war and for waging it. It is necessary to further develop the forms and methods of using the Armed Forces, primarily in strategic deterrence, as well as to improve the organization of state defense."

The Evolution Of The Main Strategic Concepts

In its development, military strategy has evolved through several stages – from a 'strategy of crushing' and a 'strategy of starving the enemy' to strategies of 'global war,' 'nuclear deterrence,' and 'indirect actions..'

"The U.S. and its allies have defined the aggressive vector of their foreign policy. They are developing offensive military actions, such as 'global strike' and 'multi-sphere battle,' using the technology of 'color revolutions' and 'soft power.'

"Their goal is to eliminate the statehood of unwanted countries, to undermine sovereignty, and to change lawfully elected bodies of state power. So it was in Iraq, Libya, and Ukraine. Currently, similar actions are observed in Venezuela.

"The Pentagon has begun to develop a fundamentally new strategy of warfare, called 'Trojan Horse.' Its essence is actively using the 'protest potential of the fifth column' for destabilization while simultaneously attacking the most important targets via PGM [precision-guided munitions].

"I would like to note that the Russian Federation is ready to oppose any of these strategies. In recent years, military scientists, together with the General Staff, have developed conceptual approaches for neutralizing the aggressive actions of potential adversaries.

"The basis of 'our response' is the 'active defense strategy,' which, given the defensive nature of the Russian Military Doctrine, provides for a set of measures to proactively neutralize threats to the security of the state.

"The military scientists' research focus should be justifying the measures being developed. This is one of the priority areas of state security. We must be ahead of the enemy in developing military strategy, and we must stay 'one step ahead.'

"In Syria, for the first time, a new form of Armed Forces usage – a humanitarian operation – was developed and tested in practice."

Unity Of Theory And Practice

"The development of strategy as a science should cover two areas. One is developing a system of knowledge about war and improving practical activities for the prevention of, preparation for, and conduct of war.

"The area of military strategy research is the armed struggle on its strategic level. With the emergence of new areas of confrontation in modern conflicts, the methods of struggle are increasingly shifting towards the integrated use of political, economic, informational, and other non-military measures implemented with reliance on military force.

"Still, the main focus of military strategy is preparing for and waging war, primarily by the Armed Forces. Yes, we are taking into account all other non-military measures that affect the course and outcome of a war, and that provide and create conditions for the effective use of military force. At the same time, it should be understood that confrontation in other areas represents separate areas of activity, with their own 'strategies,' ways of conduct, and corresponding resources. In the interest of achieving a common goal, we must coordinate these, rather than direct them.

"The strategy should be used in predicting the nature of future wars, developing new 'strategies,' and preparing the state and the Armed Forces as a whole for war. In this regard, it is necessary to update the list of research tasks, complementing them with new areas of scientific activity.

"Of course, work in these areas of military strategy should be headed by the Military Academy of the General Staff, together with the Academy of Military Sciences.

"For more effective study of issues, all scientific organizations of the Ministry of Defense must be involved, as well as the scientific potential of interested federal executive bodies. As practice shows, problematic issues should be discussed at scientific conferences and scrutinized in roundtable meetings.

"This is the only way to achieve new results in the field of theory and practice of military strategy."

Principles Of Prevention, Preparation, And Warfare

"With the change in the nature of war and the conditions of preparing for it and waging it, some principles of the strategy cease to apply, and others gain new content.

"The principle of preventing war is anticipating how the military-political and strategic situation will develop, so as to identify and respond to military dangers and threats in a timely manner.

"The principles of preparing the state in advance for war are ensured by maintaining the Armed Forces' constant high combat and mobilization readiness, and by creating and maintaining strategic reserves and reserves.

"Under modern conditions, the principle of warfare has evolved based on the coordinated usage of military and non-military measures, along with the decisive role of the Armed Forces.

"The principle of surprise actions, decisiveness, and continuity of strategic actions remains relevant.

"We must act quickly so as to preempt the enemy with our preventive measures, promptly identify his vulnerabilities, and create threats of unacceptable damage to it. This ensures that the strategic initiative is captured and maintained.

"Clarifying existing principles and justifying new ones should continue, with the consolidation of the efforts of the entire scientific community. It is necessary to formulate universal principles as well as principles of action relevant to the concretely evolving situation.

"Such are the main directions of development of the theoretical positions of military strategy. However, as the great Russian commander Alexander Vasilyevich Suvorov said: 'Theory without practice is dead...' and this is why the practical activity of military strategy is unimaginable without scientific substantiation."

Studying Predicted Scenarios

"The strategy's practical functionality is based on creating a system for studying predicted scenarios for unleashing and managing military conflicts. This means that a reasonable prediction of scenarios of possible conflicts will provide the initial data for developing ways and methods of using the Armed Forces. We have worked out, in theory, and confirmed, practically, a rational system of ways of using the Armed Forces in which strategic deterrence plays an important role.

"Today, Washington is continuing a policy of expanding the system of military presence directly at Russia's borders, and of destroying the system of contractual relations on arms limitation and reduction – leading to a violation of strategic stability. Thus, in 2002, the U.S. withdrew unilaterally from the Treaty on the Limitation of Anti-Ballistic Missile Defense Systems.

"Its next step, after its demonstrative suspension of participation in the Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles may be its refusal to extend the Treaty on the Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms START-3.

"Recently, the Pentagon has repeatedly declared its intention to use outer space for military purposes. For this, a new branch of the military is being formed – space troops – creating the prerequisite of militarizing outer space.

"Ultimately, all these actions can lead to a sharp exacerbation of the military-political situation, and to the emergence of military threats to which we will have to respond with mirror and asymmetrical measures.

"Military science needs to develop and justify a system of complex destruction of the enemy."

Strategic Deterrence Measures

"As a result, the urgent task in developing military strategy is to justify and improve nuclear and non-nuclear deterrence measures. Any potential aggressor must understand that any form of pressure on Russia and its allies is hopeless.

"Our answer is not long in coming. For this purpose, modern models of weapons, including fundamentally new types of weapons, are being commissioned and deployed.

"Mass production of new types of weapons and equipment for the Armed Forces began. The Avangard [hypersonic glide vehicle], the [RS-28] Sarmat [thermonuclear intercontinental ballistic missile] and the latest Peresvet [laser weapon] and Dagger [nuclear-capable air-launched ballistic missile] weapons have demonstrated high efficiency. We have successfully tested the Poseidon [nuclear-powered underwater drone] and Burevestnik [nuclear-powered, nuclear-tipped cruise missile] complexes. Work is planned to create a sea-based hypersonic Zircon missile. There is no doubt that we are confidently leading in this area, in comparison with the world's technologically advanced countries.

"Thus, it was decided to conduct scientific and design work on the development of ground-based complexes of hypersonic medium and shorter-range missiles. Creating new types of weapons will not drag Russia into a new arms race. Enough new complexes will be created within the framework of the planned military budget.

"The policy pursued by our Western partners forces us to 'respond to the threat by creating a threat,' and to plan for future strikes against decision-making centers and at the launchers for cruise missiles aimed at facilities in Russia.

"Military scientists should step up their research on introducing new ways to use advanced weapons, and also on ways of counteracting a potential enemy's possible military action in space or from space."

The "Strategy Of Restrained Action" Outside Russia

"The Syria experience plays an important role in developing the strategy. Generalizing it and implementing it allowed us to pinpoint a new practical area – tasks for protecting and promoting national interests outside Russia within the framework of the 'strategy of limited actions.'

"This strategy focuses on creating a self-sufficient group of troops (forces) based on the formations of a one of the branches of the Armed Forces. [This group of forces will have] high mobility and be capable of making the greatest contribution to completing the tasks. In Syria, this role is assigned to formations of the Aerospace Forces.

"The most important conditions for implementing this strategy are gaining and retaining information superiority, readying management systems and all-round support, and covert deployment of the necessary grouping.

"During the operation, we arrived at a rationale for new methods of action for troops. The military strategy's role was to plan and coordinate joint military and non-military actions by the Russian forces (troops), by the armed forces of the interested states, and by the militarized structures of the countries participating in the conflict.

"Post-conflict settlement was developed. In Syria, for the first time, a new way to use Armed Forces formations – a humanitarian operation – was developed and tested. In a short time in Aleppo and Eastern Ghouta, we planned and carried out measures to remove the civilian population from the conflict zone while combat tasks were being carried out.

"The results achieved in Syria made it possible to pinpoint the most relevant areas of research on using the Armed Forces in protecting and promoting national interests outside Russia's borders."

Using Troops In The "Strategy Of Limited Action"

"Mobile ground-based missile systems can hide in any environment and launch missiles from positions that the enemy does not expect.

"One direction in strategy development concerns creating and developing a unified system of integrated forces and means of reconnaissance, destruction of the enemy, and command of troops and weapons based on modern information and telecommunication technologies.

"It is designed to detect and issue target designations and to deliver selective strikes against critical targets in a time scale close to that of real, strategic and operational-tactical non-nuclear weapons. Military science needs to develop and justify a system of complex destruction of the enemy.

"The next direction focuses on the wide-scale use of military robotic complexes, primarily UAVs, to more efficiently solve a wide range of tasks.

"Another direction is creating a system to counter UAVs and precision weapons. Here, the decisive role was played by the forces and by electronic warfare, which provide the opportunity for selective influence, based on the type, structure, and timing of the target.

"The task of military science in this area focuses on scientific elaboration of the issues in creating a strategic system in the Armed Forces for countering UAVs, and on substantiating promising strategic electronic warfare systems, including integrating them into a single system.

"I would stress that digital technologies, robotization, unmanned aerial systems, and EW should all be on the agenda of the development of military science, including military strategy."

Interaction Of The State Military Organization's Components

"One characteristic of modern military conflicts is the destabilization of the internal security of the state via sabotage and terrorist activities.

"That is why the elaboration and improvement of the territorial defense system, of its structure, and of different options, and the substantiation of measures for its constant readiness, are important directions in developing military strategy and the mission of military science.

"At present, we have much to do to implement the military and non-military measures carried out by government ministries and departments in the interests of state defense. At the same time, it is necessary to continue the elaboration of coordinating the actions of the federal executive bodies, the distribution of their powers, and the management of territorial defense tasks when there is an escalation of the military threat, and in the event of crisis situations.

"Particularly relevant is the rationale for creating an integrated system to protect the state's critical infrastructure from exposure in all areas during an immediate threat of aggression, when the enemy seeks to destabilize the situation and to create an atmosphere of chaos and uncontrollability.

"This question is new in the theory and practice of military strategy, and is the subject of comprehensive scientific study. The work should result in theoretical positions, and ultimately in the development of the system of joint use of multi-departmental forces and means to ensure integrated security."

Confrontation In The Information Sphere

"Until recently, military science researched the use of the Armed Forces in the traditional areas of warfare – on land, in the air and at sea.

"An analysis of the nature of modern wars shows a significant increase in the importance of the information sphere. In the new reality, future wars will involve the transfer of military actions in this particular sphere. At the same time, information technologies are in fact becoming one the most promising types of weapons.

"Because it lacks clearly defined national borders, the information sphere provides opportunities for remote, covert influence not only on critical information infrastructures, but also on the population of the country. This directly impacts the state's national security.

"That is why the study of preparing and carrying out informational activity is the most important task of military science.

"Digital technologies, robotization, unmanned aerial systems, EW – all this should be on the agenda of the development of military science, including military strategy."

Increasing The Combat Power Of The Armed Forces Of The Russian Federation

"The priority of military strategy is studying issues involved in increasing the combat power of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. This is determined by the size and quality, staffing, and technical equipment of these Armed Forces, as well as by the troops' and forces' morale and psychological state, level of training, and combat readiness and combat ability.

"At present, a recruitment campaign is underway for contract servicemen for the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. By the end of 2025, troop numbers will reach 475,000. At the same time, the need for conscripting citizens will be reduced.

"Today, the Armed Forces' officer corps is staffed with trained professional personnel. All military commanders of military districts, combined arms, and air force and air defense units, as well as 96% of the commanders of combined-arms units and formations, have combat experience.

"All types of troops of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation are developing in a balanced manner, and are equipped with modern types of weapons in a timely manner. The nuclear triad, which plays a key role in preserving strategic parity, has noticeably strengthened. Our nuclear component's weapons are 82% modern weapons.

"The level of operational and combat training of troops and military command bodies has noticeably increased. Their capabilities change dramatically. Sudden readiness checks have confirmed the ability of troops and forces to promptly redeploy formations and units over long distances and to reinforce groups in strategic areas.

"Traditionally, it is vital to improve the system of ideological, moral and psychological stability of the population, and first of all, of the military. This is why the system of military-political work has been revived in the Armed Forces."

The Defense Ministry's Interaction With The Defense Industry

"An important direction in the development of military strategy and the task of military science is searching for new approaches to developing links between military strategy and the economy. To prepare the country's economy for solving defense tasks, the strategy aims to answer the following questions: What possible war should the economy be prepared for, and in which directions should it be prepared? How should the economy's vitality and stability be insured? Where is it most expedient to situate the objects of the economy [i.e. factories] so as to protect them?

"The classic thesis of the national military strategy of Commander Alexander Svechin, expressed nearly 100 years ago – 'The economy will be able to subjugate the nature of military actions' – has become an objective reality.

"I will note that at present, much has been accomplished by the joint efforts of the Defense Ministry and the military-industrial complex. First of all, an effective interaction system was built.

"Research organizations that analyze military operations are involved in drawing up requirements for weapons, and control their implementation at all stages of development, from drafting to testing.

"Thus, it is military science based on predicting the vision of future wars that determines what the promising models of weapons and military equipment should be. At the same time, military scientists are proactively conducting research to justify the ways and methods of their use.

"The complexity of modern weapons is such that when hostilities begin, production likely cannot be adjusted in a short time frame. Therefore, everything necessary must already have been issued to the troops, and integrated, during peacetime. We must by all means ensure technical, technological, and organizational superiority over any potential adversary.

"This should be the key requirement when setting defense industry targets for developing new types of weapons. This will allow enterprises to conduct long-term planning, and scientific organizations will be given guidelines for developing basic and applied research in military science.

The Main Tasks Of Military Science And Their Solutions

"The main thing today for military science is that it should be proactive in practice and in continuous purposeful research, in order to determine the possible nature of military conflicts and in order to develop a system of ways and methods of actions, both military and non-military. This will determine the directions of development of weapons systems and military equipment.

"Promptly introducing the results of the fundamental and applied research into the troops' practices is extremely important.

"The solution of these tasks is entrusted primarily to the military-scientific complex of the Armed Forces. In recent years, the military-scientific complex has achieved some success. Thus, as part of the research work assigned by the General Staff, an initial data system was prepared for military planning for the next medium-term period (for 2021-2025). It forms the basis for the refinement and development of documents of the National Defense Plan for the new period.

"Our military science has always been distinguished by the ability to see and expose problems as soon as they emerge, and by the ability to quickly work them out and find solutions."


[1], March 4, 2019.

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