M. V. Frunze

"Unified Military Doctrine and the Red Army" (1921), from Izbrannye proizvedenie (Moscow, 1940), originally published in Armiia i revoliutsiia, # 1 (July 1921).

Translation copyright David R. Stone 2006, revised 2012.

One of the most important questions attracting the attention of our contemporary military thought is the question of the so-called "unified military doctrine."

It has served as a subject for lively discussion in articles a series of military specialists placed in the pages of the now-defunct journal "Military Affairs"; army personnel have approached this question earnestly, as witnessed by the proceedings of many military conferences shedding light on the questions of reorganization of the Red Army.

All this speaks of the presence of the deep theoretical and practical interest aroused by this question. But, unfortunately, the matter has not yet moved further than simple interest, for up to this time we have not only not attempted the systematic study of our military doctrine, but the very contents of that concept are to a sufficient degree cloudy and indeterminate.

In particular, the articles of our old military specialists have brought to light disagreement in opinions and views. It's gone literally according to the proverb: "so many heads means so many opinions." As recognized by the leading representatives of the military world, it turns out that our old general staff does not hold any kind of determined views on this basic question of military theory, and even more than that, there is no clear conception of what the very question substantively consists of--the skill to properly pose it is lacking.

This fact, which speaks above all to the extremely thin military-theoretical resources which we have inherited from the old army, could lead to sad ruminations on the chances for further efforts in that direction. We need to recognize, doubtlessly, that there is some foundation for those kind of fears, but only some.

It's worth remembering the social-political situation in which our (19) old comrades in military affairs developed and worked out their thinking. In the atmosphere of an autocratic police state, which suppressed any social and personal initiative, against a background of our general economic and political backwardness, under the extremely ingrained habits and views in all spheres of social activity, of course one couldn't speak of some kind of broad scholarly creativity.

All these deformities appear especially sharply in the state of our military affairs, where inquisitive thought was relentlessly nipped in the bud and initiative was undercut. Therefore one cannot objectively blame the old General Staff for that confusion and helplessness it displayed on a series of questions. Nevertheless, a fact remains a fact, and all those who hold the interests of our Soviet republic dear and want to see the further development and strengthening of its military power must take it into account.

We think that on the basis of newly created social relations, in a situation not only allowing but directly demanding from each honest citizen maximal energy and initiative, that our military theory will be able to develop quickly and grow stronger as well. We think that in the midst of the old General Staff we will find more than a few workers capable of tearing from their spiritual selves the clothes of the Old Testament Adam, not able to think differently than within the bounds of narrow frames and habits presented by a bourgeois worldview, steeped in a spirit of philistine dullness and stagnation.

The basic condition for fruitful work by our old specialists consists of this ability to rid themselves of the remains of old routines, to understand all the complexities of the destruction of the old world going on around us, to take up the point of view of the new social classes moving into the arena of life. The practical experience many of them received in the ranks of the Red Army will give sufficient material for this task.

All this, taken together with the activity of the newly-spread wings of the young generation of our military workers, moving up during the period of revolutionary wars from the lower ranks of the population, gives complete assurance that in the near future the business of analyzing our military experience will move forward along with the working out of those unified views which must serve as a basis for the Red Army's training and the absence of which we now painfully feel from the top to the bottom of the Red Army.

This article presented for the reader's attention is an attempt to raise the question of a "unified military doctrine" from the point of view of the interests of a workers' state and revolution and to sketch as an example a path which, it seems to us, the resolution of the problem must follow. (20)


Before all else, what exactly do we mean by "unified military doctrine"? What is the practical meaning of this idea?

An answer to this question is already evident from the most superficial look at the essence of contemporary wars, the character of current military tasks and the conditions of their resolution.

Wars of the current historical period in comparison with previous epochs have a whole series of characteristic features. In previous times the outcomes of armed clashes depended on comparatively small groups of the population, or on defined and formed standing formations who considered war their profession, or on those temporarily included in the ranks of troops for these goals. Now, however, the participants of war are whole nations almost to a man. It's not thousands and tens of thousands fighting, but whole millions--wars themselves draw into their sphere and decisively subordinate all sides of social life, and drag in without exception state and social interests. The theater of military operations is no longer a narrowly bounded space, but a huge territory with tens and hundreds of millions of inhabitants; technical means of struggle are endlessly developing and becoming more complex, creating newer and newer categories of specialties, types of arms, and so on and so forth.

Under these conditions, the basic demand of military art and science--the cohesiveness of the general plan and strong coordination in its conduct--could indeed be left hanging. While in previous wars the commander's direct leadership of individual units of the overall formation was a normal occurrence, now there can be no talk of that. Meanwhile unity, wholeness, and agreement are needed more than at any previous time. And they are needed not only in the period when military operations have already developed, but also at that time when preliminary preparations for those operations are going on, for, as a general rule, this preparatory work both by the state as a whole and its military apparatus in particular will play a decisive role. The state must determine in advance the character of general policy and, in particular, military policy, while noting correspondingly possible objects of its military exertions, working out and establishing a specific plan of general state activities, taking into account future clashes and preparing their tasks in advance by a propitious use of national energy.

As for the military apparatus, it must take the organizational form most demanded by the general state aims, based on the general state program, and by further work create a strong unity of all the armed forces, connecting them from top to bottom by a commonality of views on both the character (21) of military tasks themselves, and on the means of their resolution.

This work on developing unity of thought and will in the ranks of the army is an affair extraordinarily complex and difficult and can succeed only when it is completed methodically [planomerno], on the basis of the situation precisely formulated and sanctioned by the general opinion of the class ruling the country.

From what has been said above, it's clear that the study of "unified military doctrine" has great practical significance for the Republic's entire military development. This study must, above all, indicate the character of those military clashes which await us. Should we prepare ourselves for the passive defense of the country, not setting or pursuing any kind of active assignments, or must we have those active tasks in mind? Military policy and the entire character of our armed forces' development, the character and system of training for individual soldiers and the largest formations, military-political propaganda and in general the country's entire system of education depends on the resolution one way or another of this question.

This study must absolutely be unified as an expression of the unified will of the social class in power.

Here is an illustrative list of general ideas and the practical tasks proceeding from them, all of which must be included in the understanding of "unified military doctrine."

It was already noted above that there is no more or less generally accepted and exact formulation of this concept in our military literature. But despite all the difference of opinion expressed on the concept of "unified military doctrine," the majority of the various formulations' basic points generally coincide. Based on what's been said above, these basic points may be divided into two categories: 1) technical and 2) political. The first consists of those concerning the organizational basis of the Red Army's development, the character of troops' military preparation, and methods of resolving military tasks. To the second relates the connection between the technical side of the armed forces' development with the general structure of state life, determining that social environment in which military work must take place, and the very character of military tasks.

In such a way, it's possible to propose this definition of "unified military doctrine": "unified military doctrine" is the instruction accepted in the army of a given state, establishing the character of the country's armed forces' development, troop training methods, their guidance on the basis of the state's ruling views on the character of military tasks lying before them, and the means of resolving those tasks, proceeding from the state's class essence and determined by the level of development of the country's productive forces. (22)

This formulation does not at all pretend to constructive finality and complete logical consistency. That is simply not the issue. What's important is the concept's basic content: its final crystallization is a matter for further practical and theoretical research.


Having established the general logical content of "unified military doctrine," we will move now to the question of concrete practical content of this understanding in application to really-existing armies in various states.

In connection with this, it's especially interesting to pause on the example of three states which have sharply expressed outlines of a single military ideology (military doctrine), completely developed and embodied in precise form in their armed forces. I have in mind Germany, France, and England. We begin with the first.

Germany until very recently was the state with the most powerful military apparatus, a structured system of organization of its armed forces and a completely defined military ideology, unified for both the leading elements of the army and the entire country.

The basic line of German military doctrine in its technical part (i.e. strictly military) is an extremely sharply expressed aggressive spirit. The idea of activity, of striving to complete military tasks via energetic, brave, and unwavering offensive conduct permeates all German manuals and instructions for high commanders. This idea also determined the structure of the entire German military apparatus, emphasizing the resolution of operational problems and creating in the German General Staff a powerful and all-authoritative organ, managing all activities for military planning and troop training. All troop education and training went on in this tactically offensive spirit and in the final result prepared such a perfectly structured and prepared armed forces, that its preeminent combat qualities were revealed in full measure on the fields of the imperialist war's immense battles.

One asks: to what or to whom was Germany obliged for the presence of such qualitatively superior armed forces?

The first answer has already been given: Germany developed its army on the basis of a "unified military doctrine," constructed in correspondence with the tenets of the military art. But this is only a first answer. We must ask further: why did (23) the German army have such a doctrine, why was that doctrine inculcated from top to bottom, while at the same time in Russia, say, there was nothing similar, although Russia also doubtlessly possessed theoretical knowledge of the military art.

This question cannot be answered by pointing to the exceptional military gifts of German military figures, who supposedly by the strength of their genius discovered the secrets of victory and created the German military doctrine which raised their army to unattainable heights. Such an explanation is childishly naive, but one must take note of it, for some of our military specialists' articles consistently show attempts to link the essence of creating a military doctrine to the individually remarkable people's activities and talents of (see, for example, such a definition: "military doctrine is the prophetic voice of military genius" and similar nonsense.)

The basic outlines of German military doctrine are not at all an accident; they turn out to be wholly and completely a product of the general structure of German life in the period leading up to the imperialist war.

What in fact was the German Empire until 1914? It was an economically and politically powerful capitalist state with sharply expressed imperialist coloring, a state conducting an openly predatory policy, and, while relying on its material and cultural strengths, striving for world hegemony. The presence of strong competitors in the form of other imperialist countries (France, England, Russia, and others), which had historically created state-national unity earlier and successfully seized the best morsels of world resources, forced imperialist Germany to exert all its strength in the struggle for world position. The ruling bourgeois class in Germany subordinated the country's entire life to this basic state goal: victory over its competitors.

The press, the sciences, the arts, the schools, the army--all were organized and directed by the bourgeoisie to one goal. The bourgeois succeeded in corrupting and subordinating to its influence even significant layers of the German proletariat--a class which was objectively opposed to that predatory line of conduct taken by the bourgeoisie. And against this background, in this atmosphere of general admiration for the army and fleet, on the basis of the most active foreign policy, placing before the army defined offensive tasks, no other kind of German military doctrine could have been created besides that which we have before us. In the personnel of the German general staff and all the German army, in the very personality of Emperor Wilhelm as never before, all Germany reflected the self-satisfied burzhui [pejorative term for bourgeoisie] and landlords, sure in their strength and their ecstatic dreams of world power. "Germany over all"--that was the slogan which poisoned the consciousness of the majority of the German nation in the era of the imperialist war. And the German regiments were true to this slogan as well, assuredly following the principles of their doctrine, as they dashed in a shattering stream across the plains of Belgium in 1914.

The very first clashes with enemy armies showed the strategic and tactical correctness of the positions of German doctrine.

Such was the case with Germany. The conclusion one can made from it is the following: all the military affairs of a given state, up to and including training, on the basis of which are constructed its armed forces, are a reflection of the entire structure of its life, and, in the final analysis, its economic way of life, as a first source of all its strength and resources. The German generals would never have succeeded in creating their military doctrine, and even if it had been done, they would not have been able to inculcate it so thoroughly into the German army if the corresponding conditions of German life had not greeted it.


We move now to France.

This country also is a representative of predatory imperialism. Just as with the German bourgeoisie, France was always ready to seize foreign goods and acted in such circumstances no worse than "militarist" Germany. But in actuality the French bourgeoisie had significant differences from their eastern neighbors. In disputes with competitors over resources they lacked the open impudence and self-assurance which marked the German ruling clique. It is worth remembering only the conflicts of 1905, 1909, and 1911 with the very same Germany over Morocco and the cowardly, predatory, and wily policy which France followed in that case, clinging to the resources slipping from its hands and at the same time not having the decisiveness to start a dogfight.

This unique character of French foreign policy is determined in general by the economic and political position of the Third Republic. In its development, French industry had fallen far behind from the industries of other leading countries; the French population for a series of years had not grown, and the phrase "the population remains in a stationary position" became the usual characterization of the French population according to the data of the yearly statistical account. In place of the open seizure of foreign territory, accompanied by the risk of becoming tied up in a difficult struggle, French capital looked for different, calmer paths to the exploitation of foreign labor, widely looking for deals of any sort with foreign capital with a goal of a world division of resources. (25)

This spirit of the French bourgeoisie--opportunistic, unsure of itself and its strength, passive--determined the general character of French military doctrine. Regardless of the presence in the French army of the richest military traditions, beginning with the great Turenne (Henry de la Tour d'Auvergne) and ending with Napoleon, regardless of the shining examples of military art they had given in the spirit of brave, attacking strategies and tactics, the military doctrine of the armies of the Third Republic was inferior to Germany's. It was characterized by a lack of confidence in its strengths, an absence of broad offensive plans, an inability to bravely seek decision in battle, instead seeking to tie its will to the enemy and not considering the will of the latter. The positive content of the doctrine governing the French army in the most recent era essentially consisted of attempting to decipher the plan of the enemy, occupying for this purpose a temporizing position, and only with the clarification of the situation looking for decision in a general offensive. Such were the essential lines of French military doctrine, planting its impressions on the entire image of activities of the French army in the last war, especially in its first, maneuver period.

Here it is especially worth underlining that in their individual gifts French commanders were hardly any worse than German ones. Besides that, many of them theoretically sympathized not with their own doctrine, but in fact with German doctrine and its spirit of the greatest activity. Despite all that, they could not change the general spirit of the French Army, its entire internal structure, and the character of ruling views in it on the method of resolving military problems, since this was a product of more powerful factors than the strength of individual personalities.

In such a way, the example of France confirms all that we said on the question of doctrine in connection with Germany. The military structure of a given state, the character of view and outlooks in the military sphere, and finally the very content of principles of military affairs is determined by the entire structure of life of a given period and, in particular, the essence and character of that social class holding power at the given time.

As for England, its example is curious in that the geographical and historical particularities of its position directed the attention of its ruling classes not to ground forces, but to a navy. England was and is a primarily colonial power. The exploitation of colonies was the chief source for the enrichment of the British bourgeoisie, and the support of colonial rule was its greatest military task. In connection with this, the support of control of the sea acquired for English capital the significance of a question of life and death. The idea also became the basic, foremost principle of English military doctrine. This was concretely expressed in the formula mandatory for all English governments of past epochs: to have a fleet, equal in power to the next two naval powers combined. Until recently this program was unswervingly followed, but now, with the appearance on the field of competition of a rival like the United States of America, the position has changed, and the energies of the English bourgeoisie must look for some new formula providing for its aggressive policy.

A few words on the military doctrine of the Russian army under tsarism.

After what was said above about our military doctrine, even posing this question may seem strange. Nevertheless a doctrine, however unformed, did exist in the tsarist army, and although it did not present any positive aspects, all the same this negative example may show the close tie between thinking about war and the general structure of life.

The political side of this doctrine consisted of the three-part idea--Orthodoxy, Autocracy, and Nationality--beaten into the heads of young soldiers in lessons of renowned sophistication. As concerns its military-technical part, in our directive instructions it consisted of simple borrowing of foreign originals, the greater part only in abridged editions; but in this as well the doctrine was the stillborn child of our few military theorists, remaining foreign not only to the mass of the officer corps, but to its highest leadership as well. This sharply displays all the unparalleled mediocrity, all the internal rottenness and flaccidity of late tsarist Russia. In actual fact, the army was always the subject of the tsar's special care, and nevertheless this same army in his hands turned out to be completely unready for combat.

What's been laid out allows us to make some general conclusion on the question interesting us:

The first of them is the thought we have repeated more than once, that the military affairs of a given state, taken as a totality, are not a self-sufficient quantity, but as a whole are determined by the general conditions of the life of that state.

The second--that the character of the military doctrine accepted in the army of a given state is determined by the character of the social class which stands at its head.

The third--the basic condition of the vitality of military doctrine consists in its strong correspondence with the general goals of the state and those material and spiritual resources which it has at its disposal.

Fourth--it is impossible to invent a doctrine capable of being a vital organizational principle for an army. All basic (27) elements of it are already given in the surrounding context, and the work of theoretical investigation consists of the discovery of those elements and their inclusion in a system in correspondence with the fundamental positions of military science and the demands of the military art.

Fifth--the basic theoretical task of the workers of the Workers' and Peasants' Red Army (RKKA) must be the study of the character of the social structures surrounding us; determining the character and essence of the military tasks growing out of the essence of that state; a study of the conditions providing for their fulfillment with regard to both material and spiritual prerequisites; a study of the particularities of the construction of the Red Army and the application to this of methods of struggle; harmonization of the demands of military science and art with all those particularities which are objectively and directly connected with the character of our proletarian state and the revolutionary epoch we have lived through.


What basic elements must underlie the military doctrine of our Workers'-Peasants' Red Army?

In order to answer this, we turn first to an analysis of our state.

By its character and by its essence our homeland presents itself as a state formation of a wholly new type. Differing from all other states existing now on the globe, the RSFSR [Russian Soviet Federal Socialist Republic] is the only state in the world where power belongs to labor. Beginning from October 1917, when the working class of Russia, united with the laboring peasantry, seized power from the hands of the great and the petty bourgeoisie, we live in a worker-peasant state, where the leading role belongs to the working class.

The basic idea and sense of proletarian dictatorship consists of the task of destroying capitalist production relations and replacing them by a structure founded on socialized ownership of the means of production and the planned distribution of the products of that production. This idea is in unresolvable contradiction with the foundations of existence of the world's remaining states, where for now capital rules.

Proletarian dictatorship signifies the most wholehearted, most merciless war of the laboring classes against the class of rulers of the old world--the bourgeoisie who, relying on the strength of international capital, on the strength and fortitude of their international connections, and finally on the spontaneous conservatism of the petty-bourgeois mass, are a threatening and powerful enemy of the newly-born world. Between our proletarian state and the entire remaining bourgeois world there can be only one relationship: long, stubborn, desperate war to the death--a war, demanding colossal endurance, discipline, hardness, unwavering commitment, and unity of will. The outer form of these mutual relations may change superficially depending on the struggle's changing conditions and course; a state of open warfare may give up its place to some kind of treaty relations, allowing to a certain degree the opposing sides' peaceful coexistence. But these treaty-based forms are not able to change the basic character of mutual relations. And it is necessary to completely realize and openly recognize that joint, parallel existence of our proletarian Soviet state with the state of the bourgeois-capitalist world in the long term is impossible.

With energies multiplied tenfold by overthrow of the bourgeoisie in only one country as a premonition of their fate, the bourgeoisie cannot rest until they destroy the nest which serves as the breeding ground and source of danger to their worldwide domination. At the first convenient moment, the waves of the bourgeois-capitalist sea surrounding our proletarian island will dash against it, straining to wash away all the conquests of the proletarian revolution. And at the same time the flame of the revolutionary fire will spring up more often and more sharply in various countries of the bourgeois world, and the threatening tramp of proletarian columns preparing for a storm speaks of some kind of attempts from the opposite direction. This contradiction can be resolved and removed only by the strength of arms in a bloody struggle of class enemies. There is no other way out, nor can there be.

From this we come to the following conclusion: the consciousness of every worker, every peasant, every soldier, and most of all every member of the ruling communist workers' party must be filled with the thought that at present our country is in a state of siege and will remain in that state so long as capital rules in the world, that the energy and will of the country must be directed for now to the creating and strengthening of our military might, that state propaganda must psychologically prepare general opinion with the idea of unavoidable active struggle with our class enemy, with taking care and providing for the needs of the army. Only in such an atmosphere can the matter of developing our armed forces be completed successfully.

This moment of general consciousness of the unavoidability and importance of the military tasks lying before the state is the first and most important element in the future unified military doctrine of the Workers'-Peasants' Red Army.

Here it's worth noting still another particularity characterizing the doctrine of a workers' army. Since the world's bourgeoisie are forced to impel the working masses to achieve military goals alien to them, they accomplish this with the help of all possible subterfuges, built on either the excitement of certain crowd instincts (ambition, the most extreme national chauvinism, and others), or mass deception. It's worth remembering, for example, the history of the "Keys to the Holy Places," the Byzantine inheritance (Russia), the idea of revanchism (France), and so on.

For a workers' state like Soviet Russia, there is no need for these deceptive means. The class interest of laborers in revolution's victory and the idea of their international solidarity as a means of achieving victory is wholly adequate for creating the strongest ties for the goals of general struggle. Do we have plain evidence that this element has become a living component part of the worldview of Russia's broad laboring masses? Doubtlessly yes. Supplies of spiritual energy among the working class, fighting for its freedom, are fully sufficient. It is only necessary the expenditure of these supplies be carried out in the proper direction and with sufficient planning and coordination. Military propaganda, organized on a statewide scale, must be the means for achieving this.

The PUR (Political Directorate of the RKKA) must be the organ working out everything connected with this question, and all the organs of education under the general leadership of Glavpolitprosvet [Main Directorate for Politics, Propaganda, and Education] must be responsible for putting those measures into practice. Only such an organization of responsibilities can create the same propitious strengthening of the military might of the Republic that took place in Germany. The role of German schools in this matter is already well known. It's necessary only to recall the well-known phrase that "the honor of victory at Sadowa and Sedan belongs to the schoolteacher." It's equally necessary for the honor of victory in the world revolution, taking place before our eyes, to belong to our teachers and propagandists, in school and out.

As for the concrete social-political content of this part of our future military doctrine, it's found as a whole and fully developed in the ideology of the working class, in the program of the Russian Communist Workers' Party. The old formula of the tsarist army--"Orthodoxy, Autocracy, Nationality"--surrendered its place to the ideas of revolutionary communism, soviet power as a specific form of proletarian dictatorship, international brotherhood and solidarity of labor. Three years of activity by the political sections and communist cells of the Red Army have already brought sufficiently tangible results in the sense of the broad Red Army mass's political education in a new spirit, and, continuing in the same direction, this activity must prepare for us unified armed forces, strongly cohesive from top to bottom thanks to a single political ideology.

Today's basic task in this connection, together with deepening and expanding political work at the lower levels, is work on joining our officer [commander] corps to the general Red Army mass. (30) The state must throw all the weight of its influence immediately into ending those remnants of disunity which are still observed in the Red Army. People with an ideology opposed to that of labor must be removed from it. This does not at all signify the necessity for the entire officer corps to become members of the Communist Party. But it does mean achieving a position in which the officer corps has become essentially Soviet, thereby removing any basis for suspicion directed at them, so that they and the rank-and-file Red Army mass will feel complete union and mutual understanding.


As for the question of the character of the military tasks that we may face--that is, should they be of a strictly defensive character or should the Red Army be ready if necessary to move to the offensive--from the ideas presented above the conclusion is clearly determined.

The general policy of the working class, a class active by nature, a class striving for victory over the entire bourgeois world, cannot NOT be active in the highest degree. It is true, if one considered the material resources of our country alone, that the limits of this activity become sufficiently narrow and defined for the present time by that level of economic development and the general position in which we currently stand. It is therefore possible that for a certain interval of time the actively revolutionary energies of the working class will not be directed at the achievement of goals of the active type. But this fact does not change the essence of the matter. That principle of grand strategy applies fully to politics: "the one who wins is the one who finds in himself the decisiveness to attack; the side which only defends is inevitably headed for defeat." The working class will be forced by the very course of the revolutionary process to move to the offensive against capital when the proper opportunity presents itself. In such a way, at this point we have complete agreement between the demands of the military art and general politics. As for the material provision for the possibilities of conducting this offensive line, it's worth considering that the base of our offensive may not be Russia alone, but a whole series of other countries as well. All depends on the degree of maturity of the revolutionary process within these countries and the capabilities of their working class to move to open struggle with their class enemies.

The class character of the approaching clashes, providing us aid in the interests of the general cause of all proletarian elements, destroys to a significant degree the negative (31) consequences of the indications given above of the difficult economic position of our country. The proletariat can and will attack, and alongside the proletariat, serving at its greatest weapon, the Red Army will attack as well.

From this follows the necessity of educating our army in the spirit of greatest activity, to prepare it for the completion of revolutionary tasks via energetic, decisive, and bravely conducted offensive operations.

If we turn to the combat experience the Red Army already has, we see that it has long been conducting itself essentially in this way. Almost all significant operations during the Civil War carry traces manifesting a spirit of activity and initiative on our side. It may even be said that at times our activity went beyond all bounds, bordering on an inability to evaluate the current situation and not avoiding the dangers of excessive risk.

All this is completely natural, for in an army created and led by the proletariat, a spirit other than the most active could not exist.

The active character of approaching military clashes mentioned above presents a whole series of practical demands to our general staff. It's necessary to establish the procedures of the higher staffs so that the Red Army can fulfill its duties against any operational objective [napravlenie] and on any part of the front. The limits of this front in the near future are determined by the entire span of the old world.

By the way, the preparation of our officer [commander] corps must include not only military training but also the economic and political conditions of possible theaters of military action. This presents the military apparat in general with preparatory work immense in scope and importance.

Analyzing the probable nature of our future military clashes, we may predict in advance that we will in technological terms be weaker than our opponents. This circumstance has extremely serious significance, and in addition to exerting all efforts and means to achieving technological equality, we must look for ways to equalize to some degree this disadvantage.


We have some means to do this. The first and most important of them is the preparation and training of our army in the spirit of maneuver operations on a grand scale. (32)

The extent of our territory, the possibility of retreating significant distances without losing the ability to continue the struggle, and other factors present suitable conditions for the application of maneuvers of a strategic character, that is outside the field of battle. Our officer [commander] corps must be trained primarily in the ideas of maneuverability, and the entire mass of the Red Army must be taught the art of quickly and methodically carrying out march-maneuvers. The experience of the recent imperialist war in its initial stages, and equally the whole experience of our civil war (having on the whole a maneuver character), gives us the richest material for study on this.

In this connection (given the general scarcity of our military means) engineering defense and assault [sic], playing such a colossal role in the imperialist war, must move to last place in our army. The auxiliary role which these methods must play consists in serving as a supporting means for field operations. Use of local conditions, broad application of artificial fortifications, the creation of temporary artificial barriers, providing for the completion of general march-maneuvers--this is the proper sphere for the application of these methods and measures. In particular, the role and significance of fortifications in our future operations will be minuscule. It will be much more cost-effective to strengthen our field forces at the expense of fortifications.

Once again the experience of the Civil War gives us the richest material from this standpoint. The activity of partisans in Siberia, the struggle in cossack regions, the "basmachi" in Turkestan, Makhno's uprising and in general banditism in Ukraine and other regions presented an unlimited field for study and general conclusions of a theoretical character. But a necessary condition for the fruitfulness of this idea of "small war", I repeat, is the timely development of a plan and the creation of all conditions providing for its broad development. Therefore one of (33) the tasks of our general staff must be the development of the idea of "small war" and its application to our future wars with enemies more technologically advanced than we are.

The maneuver character of our future operations raises the question of reevaluating the role and significance of cavalry in contemporary battle. The positional character of the recent imperialist war created in many minds the impression that cavalry, as an independent, active force, cannot play a special role and must move to a secondary place.

Truly, the experience of the civil war gave newly shining examples of independent cavalry actions both on our side and on our opponents', and gave cavalry back its former significance, but it is well-known that not all consider the experience of the civil war alone sufficiently convincing, and the question can therefore not be considered clear to all.

By our deep conviction, in future operations Red cavalry will have an extremely important role, and therefore care over its preparation and development must be one of our first responsibilities.

In order to best prepare cavalry for combat operations, special attention must be directed to the colossal experience of the Civil War and developing on the basis of this research special directives for old cavalry commanders.


Organizationally, a standing Red Army is the only possible basis for our armed forces in the near future. This follows from what we've said about the character of our military missions. This question can now be considered definitively settled in connection with the corresponding resolutions of the 10th Congress of the Russian Communist Party and subsequent governmental decrees. We can permit transition to a militia system on the basis of Vsevobuch [organization responsible for universal military training] only to a degree that provides for specific savings on government expenditure while not undermining the Red Army's capability to carry out active missions.

As concerns the internal life of the Red Army, it must be organized to achieve the maximal convergence with the ideals of communist society. Of course, given current levels of productive forces, propaganda on the complete equality of the officer corps with the rank-and-file is impossible, and could attract only those interested in destroying the strength and power of the Red Army. This is clear to the vast majority of Red Army soldiers; nevertheless the internal structure and routines of the army of the Workers-Peasants' Soviet state must be free from any privileges not proceeding from the demands of service and not flowing out of its character. Only on this basis is it conceivable to create such comradely cohesion and mutual understanding of high and low ranks in the army which is the most important security for the physical and spiritual might of the Red Army.

In unit training, the element of drill in the Red Army must move to last place; in that, the very understanding of drill must be completely changed. Drill in the old sense of the word--that is, purely mechanical training of elements of the unit with the application of harsh measures of discipline--we cannot even speak of. We have no reason to strive to attain that level of training of our soldiers, who would be ideal for lovers of parades and shows. It is enough to achieve a certain level of structure, quickness, and correctness in carrying out specific activities. This should not be mechanical; it's necessary to organize everything on the achievement of these effects through the maximum development of the personal initiative and independence of each Red Army soldier. In this regard, the characteristic particularities of our state and our army open up the widest possibilities. We have the chance to build the unity of our army not through harsh discipline, but by the maximum mental development of the Red Army soldiers. While every bourgeois state must fear the introduction of the slaves of capital to knowledge and spiritual development, for us this very development is the truest guarantee of victorious achievements. The entire apparatus of our training of the individual soldier must be applied to this demand.

The maintenance of service discipline in the ranks of the army is an obligatory and necessary condition of its might, and in this regard the demands of the Soviet state are most decisive. But at the same time there is an immense difference between our contemporary understanding of discipline and that of the old tsarist army. Discipline in the Red Army must be based not on fear of punishment or naked compulsion, but instead on voluntary, conscious fulfillment by each of his service duty, and the first example of this kind of discipline must be the officer [commander] corps.

How should discipline be maintained? First, by the self-consciousness of the leading elements of the Red Army mass, its communist cells, its political workers, and all of the officer [commander] corps, their self-restraint, dedication to the revolution, heroism, and self-sacrifice. Second, the ability of the officer corps to connect, to approach, to some degree to blend with the broad Red Army mass. Third, by the correctness of the Red Army's political and technical leadership, strengthening the faith of the Red Army mass in the complete match between the [capabilities of] Red Army officers and their assignments. Without these conditions, the maintenance of discipline in a revolutionary army (36) like our Red Army is a hopeless task. Of course, it is absolutely impossible to get along without some elements of compulsion, but their application must be within the strictest limits. Only that can be recognized as the true Red Commander, who without any compulsion achieves complete subjection to his will.

In general terms, these must be the basic elements of the military doctrine which will form the basis for the development and strengthening of the might of the Soviet federation. To fulfill its purpose the ideas of our doctrine must penetrate and permeate all our military manuals and instructions, must become an organic part of the worldview of the Red Army mass and especially its officer corps. It seems to me entirely proper to present the basic practical concepts growing out of the doctrine in a special manual, which would be a basic catechism of the Red Army.

This is a rough circle of general ideas which, it seems to me, those working on questions of military theory in its general elements must all hold close. Doubtlessly, what's been presented here is only an attempt to raise questions and attract corresponding attention. As for final answers, they may only come as a result of the lengthy and stubborn work of military-theoretical thought on the basis of collective experience.

I only wish to express my most fervent desire--that the development of the question of the Red Army's doctrine would occupy that place in our literature and our practical activities that it rightfully deserves, thanks to its special significance for the further development of the Republic's armed forces.