Gerasimov: A World on the Brink of War

As every year, General Gerasimov’s address to the General Assembly of the Academy of Military Sciences was published by the VPK (, Military-Industrial Courier, Issue No 10 (674), 15th March 2017. Below is Mark Voyger from NATO LANDCOM’s brilliant translation. My comments are in green.

A World on the Brink of War

Tracking the current challenges is not enough, it is the future ones that must be forecast
Army General Valeriy Gerasimov, Chief of General Staff of the RF AF

This article is based on the report “Contemporary Warfare and the Current Problems of the Defense of our Country” presented by the ChoGS to the General Assembly of the Academy of Military Sciences.

It was Clausewitz who compared warfare to an expanded single combat, defining it as an act of violence whose purpose is to force the adversary into acting according to our will. The prominent Russian and Soviet theoreticians from the early 20th century Andrey Snesarev and Aleksander Svechin had their considerable contribution to the development of the science of warfare. The subject of their research became the main trends in the conduct of warfare that are the result of not only the political, but also of the economic and social relations. By the early 1990s a firm understanding had been formed of warfare as the means of attaining political goals based exclusively on armed struggle.

Svechin and Snesarev are very important Russian military thinkers.  The first was the first chief of the Soviet General Staff. 

A classification was developed in the USA that includes traditional and non-traditional warfare, and in the beginning of 21st century the American theoreticians posited that hybrid warfare should be added to it. They define it as actions taken during a period, which is impossible to define purely as either war or peace.

The concept of Hybrid Warfare was fully developed by Frank Hoffman, but I remember to see a Master Thesis from some USA’s military institutional calling similar strategies “hybrid” already in the beginning of the 1990’s.  It was mostly about developments of Low Intensity Conflict. If someone find it, please drop me a line. 

“The mobilization capacities of the social networks were first revealed during the conflicts in the Middle East”

Our country’s science and practice offers a more balanced approach to the classification of contemporary armed conflicts that accounts for a larger number of parameters. At the same time, the definition of warfare is lacking in the international and domestic official documents. The Military Doctrine of the RF calls it a form of resolving interstate or intrastate conflicts by using military force.

An active discussion is ongoing in trying to clarify the term itself. Some of the scholars and specialists adhere to the classical definition. Others propose a radical revision of the views on the content and substance of the term “warfare”, as they think that armed struggle is not one of its mandatory attributes. At present one can encounter definitions, such as information, economic, hybrid warfare, and numerous other variations.

The General Staff pays due attention to the discussion of the said problem. In 2016 a discussion was organized at the Military Academy of the General Staff on the meaning of the term “warfare” under the current conditions. The said issue was being discussed during the session of the Security Council’s scientific council section. In the course of the discussions a common position was elaborated on the necessity of analyzing the characteristics and features of contemporary armed conflicts, and of revealing the trends in their emergence and evolution.

This is most the result of authors as Chekinov. Bogdanov, Maruyev and others claiming for “futurology” to be recognized as a branch of Military Sciences. The Russian General Staff has great interest in the subject.

The No-Contact Warfare has been replaced by the Hybrid One

Such conflicts of the end of the 20th and early 21st centuries differ from each other in the composition of their participants, the types of weapons used, the forms and methods of troop actions. At the same time, however, they do not exceed the limits of the overall content of warfare, while they include as components various forms of struggle – the direct armed one, along with political, diplomatic, information, and others. New features have appeared nowadays. These include the change in the ratio of contribution of one or another type of struggle into the overall political success of the war, the overwhelming superiority of one of the sides in terms of military power and economic strength.

Basically, it is a development of Low Intensity Conflict. New technologies, etc., of course changed the character of warfare.

Contemporary conflicts can be characterized by a number of features.

The experience of NATO’s operations in Yugoslavia that ushered in the age of the so-called no- contact or distance warfare, did not gain universal distribution. The reason for this was objective since the limitations of geographical, as well as economic nature impact the attainment of the goals of war. The factor of the cost of armaments, and of the war as a whole, started to play an important role in the choice of methods for conducting military actions.

He is referring to Slipchenko’s discussion about 6th Generation Warfare. Also, Putin’s idea that warfare has to be asymmetric, as explained by him already in 2006. Besides, it is clear he knows Russia doesn’t have the money to afford engaging in long traditional wars. Russia isn’t a rich country.

An important feature is the increased use of the newest robotic systems and unmanned aerial vehicles of various purposes and actions.

New forms of application of the diverse forces and means have appeared. For example, in the course of the operation in Libya, a no-flight zone was created while simultaneously imposing a naval blockade in conjunction with the joint actions of private military companies from the NATO member- states, and the armed formations of the opposition.

Here it’s clear how the Russians see the West as a mirror. If they use private military companies as mercenaries in the orst sense of the word, of course  the US and NATO do the same.

The army operating concepts of the leading states postulate that achieving information dominance is an indispensable pre-requisite of combat actions. The means of mass media and social networks are used to perform the set tasks. Simultaneously, the forces and means of information-psychological and information-technical influence are activated. Thus, the mobilization capacities of the social networks were first revealed during the conflicts in the Middle East.

The conflict in Syria became a visual example of the use of hybrid methods. It involved the simultaneous use of traditional and non-traditional actions of military, as well as non-military nature.

It’s implicit that the Hybrud part was the proteste of the populaiton agains Assad. Of course it has to be Western interference… 

During its first phase the internal Syrian contradictions were transformed into armed demonstrations of the opposition. After that, they became organized in nature with the support of foreign instructors, accompanied by active information warfare.

It’s the West again. And the United States is to blame. The CIA, the illuminati, the Free Mansonry and Soros. :-))))))

Later on, terrorist groups supplied and directed from abroad entered the fight against the government forces.

The hybrid actions are actively introduced in practice on the international arena by the USA and the NATO countries. In many respects this is conditioned by the fact that this variation of activities does not fall under the definition of aggression.

In the Western media the combination of such methods has received the name “hybrid warfare”. However, it is still premature to use this term as an established one.

I agree, Sir.

The New Perception of a Common Term

The analysis indicates a number of trends testifying of the transformation of armed conflicts in the beginning of the 21st century. Nowadays the erasing of the boundary between the state of war and peace is obvious. The negative side of hybrid actions is becoming the new perception of peacetime, when no military or other overt violent measures are used against one or another state, but its national security and sovereignty are under threat and can be violated. The range of reasons and causes for using military forces is widening, as it is activated ever more often to secure the economic interests of states under the slogans of defending democracy, or the inculcation of democratic values into one country or another.

He’s clearing referring to the USA again, but he has a point.

The emphasis of the content of conflict methods is moving toward the wide application of political, economic, diplomatic, information and other non-military means, implemented by involving the protest potential of the population.

It’s post-modern Low Intensity Conflict. 

The non-military forms and means of action have experienced unprecedented technological development, and have acquired a dangerous, often violent nature.

Their practical use can trigger the collapse of the energy, banking, economic, information and other spheres of the state’s vital functions. The example can be adduced of the impacts of the cyberattacks against Iran’s energy infrastructure sites in 2015.

Or Russian attacks against Estonia…

The analysis of the characteristics, features and trends in the evolution of contemporary conflicts demonstrates that all of them share a common feature – the use of violent military means. At the same time, almost classical armed struggle is used during some of those, such as the two US wars against Iraq or the NATO operations against Yugoslavia. In other conflicts, such as Syria, for example, the armed struggle was waged by one of the parties in the form of anti-terrorist operations, and by the enemy – in the form of actions of the illegal armed formations and terrorist groups. This way, the essence of wars in modernity and in the foreseeable future will remain the same. Their main feature is the presence of armed struggle.

This is a very important point. It isn’t only asymmetric Low Intensity Conflict (Hybrid, if you prefer). Concentional military force is and will be part of the Russian strategy.

Along with that, the question of defining the nature of warfare has not been closed, it is still relevant and requires constant studies and a thorough development.

For this purpose, the scientific-business program of the international military-technical forum “Army-2017” to be held in August of this year will include a “roundtable” discussing the topic of “Contemporary warfare and armed conflict: characteristics and features”. The scientists from the Academy of Military Science must take the most active participation in it. It is necessary to continue working on the inter-institutional standardization of the military-political and military terms and definitions.

The rise of the world’s conflict potential underlines the relevancy of a number of tasks in the sphere of our country’s defense.

The High-Precision Measures

The main among those remains the same – the guaranteed repelling of potential aggression against the Russian Federation and its allies from any direction. At the same time, it is necessary to guarantee the neutralization of the threats to the security of the country by relying on the existing forces and means in the course of performing the activities of strategic containment in peacetime. In that regard, the role and importance of forecasting the military threats and dangers increases, as it is expedient to conduct it in conjunction with the assessment of economic, information and other challenges.

“The strike potential of high-precision weapons in the RF Armed Forces will
increase fourfold by 2021”

The improvement of the capabilities of the Armed Forces is implemented by means of the balanced development of all of the troops (forces) branches and services, the mastering of high-precision weapons and the modern means of communication, reconnaissance, automated command and control, and electronic warfare. At present, a large-scale re-armament of the Strategic Rocket Forces with modern systems is underway. The navy is receiving new nuclear submarines armed with ballistic and cruise missiles that have no analogues in the world. The strategic aviation airplanes, our legendary missile carriers Tu-160 and Tu-95MS are being actively modernized. This will allows us to re-arm the strategic nuclear forces with 90 percent of modern weapons by 2020. The strike potential of high-precision weapons in the RF Armed Forces will increase fourfold by 2021, which will allow for guaranteeing the security of Russia along the entire perimeter of our borders. By 2021 the share of modern weapons and military hardware in the Ground Forces will be no less than 70 percent. The Aerospace Forces will receive new-generation airplanes, which will increase the combat capabilities of the air force by 50 percent. The Navy will receive modern ships armed with high-precision long- range missiles.

It WILL. One day. The important point here isn’t about they having the capabilities or not at this moment. First, it is about the strategic changes on the Russian strategy, the way of fighting. Second, that they’re trying to catch up and sooner or later they might surprose the West with some new technologies.

A considerable role in increasing the combat capabilities is played by robotics. The large-scale and substantiated application of robotic systems of various purposes will increase the effectiveness of troop actions, and will guarantee the considerable reduction of personnel loss.

It’s like an Industrial Revolution in combat capabilities. 

The Science of Preemption

Nowadays the Armed Forces are gaining combat experience in Syria. They have had the unique opportunity to check and test the new models of weapons and military hardware under complex climatic conditions. It is necessary to continue summarizing the experience gained by using the means of armed struggle during the Syrian campaign, and draw lessons for their improvement and modernization.

We must remember – victory is always achieved by using not only the material, but also the spiritual resources of the people, its cohesion and its drive for resisting aggression by using all its strengths. The military-political leadership of the Russian Federation is exerting serious efforts to restore the nation’s confidence in the army. Nowadays the Armed Forces are reaching a fundamentally new level of combat readiness, and it is enjoying the utmost support of society. In the interest of increasing their prestige further, it is important to develop the linkages between army and society, and in order to achieve that we must improve the system of training of service members and of patriotic upbringing of the youth.

Solving the current problems of our country’s defense would be impossible without studying them in a thorough and preemptive fashion. In that regard, it is worth focusing the attention on the priority tasks of the Academy of Military Science.

The study of the new forms of conflict between states and the development of efficient methods to counter that stand above all.

In other words, Russian miltary scientists will look very closely to what the US and NATO do. They will reframe what they’ve seen within their own moral system, beliefs, etc., and that will become the new developments of Russian New Generation Warfare.

A relevant task is the development of scenarios, long-term forecasts of the evolution of the military- political and strategic situation in the most important regions of the world. It is necessary to study operationally the features of contemporary armed conflicts and based on them to develop the work methodology of military command and control and the troop actions under various conditions.

General Gareev, did you understand? Enough of your guys writing about WWII. It’s the second time he saying that.

A separate study is required of the problems related to the organization and conduct of regrouping of forces (troops) to distant theaters of operations. The standard tasks of military science have not lost their relevancy, as they also need further development.

Voyennaya Misl will start to publish such articles soon. I’m ready to bet. 



3 thoughts on “Gerasimov: A World on the Brink of War

  1. Frank Hoffman

    but I remember to see a Master Thesis from some USA’s military institutional calling similar strategies “hybrid” already in the beginning of the 1990’s. It was mostly about developments of Low Intensity Conflict. If someone find it, please drop me a line.

    I have those if you still need them, which I cite often. Bill Nemeth was a Marine at Quantico in the Irregular Warfare center. He’s now in Europe. I think he is a student of Russian affairs.

    1. Jānis Post author

      Dear Frank, thank you so much. Could you send them, please? I’ll write on Facebook.


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