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Don d. 









Naval War College Press 

Newport, Rhode Island 

Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data 

Bathurst, Robert B 1927- 

Understanding the Soviet Navy 

Bibliography: p. 

1. Russia -Naval policy. 2. Russia (1923- 

U.S.S.R.). Voenno-Morskoi Flot. I. Title. 

VA573.B37 359'.03'0947 79-28436 






Chapter I: East vs. West: The Two 

Languages of War 1 

Chapter II: Concepts of War, East and West 16 

Chapter III: The Soviet Navy in Marxist Strategy ... 37 


Chapter IV: The Historical Setting 49 

Chapter V: War and Revolution 74 

Chapter VI: A Soviet/Russian Synthesis 95 


Chapter VII: The Tactics of War 117 

Chapter VIII: Preparing the Mind 139 

Chapter IX: A Summing Up 152 

NOTES 160 



My greatest indebtedness for this book is to the assignment 
officer who sent me to the Naval War College in 1972 at the 
beginning of Admiral Stansfield Turner's reign as President and 
revolution as academician. From the very beginning, Admiral 
Turner said that he wanted an atmosphere of free intellectual 
inquiry. To be truthful, I did not believe him. Such freedom, after 
all, is a rare commodity, hardly to be taken for granted even in the 
universities, much less in the military. But under Admiral Turner 
we had it. 

Admiral Julien J. LeBourgeois even continued the policy of that 
intellectual freedom. As President of the Naval War College, he 
made it possible for this book to be written without making any 
demands on the author whatever. He did not know whether it 
would support the Navy budget or the current foreign policy 
"line." The basis for his decision, so far as I knew it, was that the 
author had something different to say which was possibly worth 
hearing. That is intellectual freedom. 

Authors frequently make a ritual bow to their students. I do 
not because in my seminars, I did not have students but 
colleagues. They (officers from all services and many government 
agencies) were a source of stimulation, pride, and astonishment. 
They were on an intellectual par with any groups of students I 
have ever met and far exceeded nearly all of them in self-disci- 
pline, intellectual honesty, and curiosity. As a result of our 
discussions, I have filled several notebooks with ideas that will 
keep me writing for years to come. Having come to know these 
admirable people, I no longer worry about our country's defense 
or tolerate prejudiced notions about "the military mind." 

Professor James E. King, Captain Norman Channell, Doctors 
Frank Simonie and John Chomeau, Mr. Ervin Kapos, and 
Commander Tyrone Martin have been wonderfully helpful and 
generous in their criticisms. More importantly, they have stimu- 
lated many ideas. Captain Hugh Nott has been very patient and 
encouraging. A man with very high standards, he is easily 
disappointed. I have kept that very much in mind. 


I also owe much to the late (I fear) Dr. Nicholas Shadrin, a 
deeply Russian sailor and troubled Soviet/ American citizen, who 
disappeared in Vienna in December 1975. Who can doubt that the 
KGB has committed another atrocity? I am indebted to Nick for 
his insights, not his secrets. If he has somehow survived, I wish him 

Professors Victor Terras and Arnold Weinstein, of Brown 
University, who teach language and literature, would be surprised 
to learn that they were also important influences in this work. 
Nevertheless, it was through their vision that I finally saw the 
unity between strategy and art. 

So much of success or failure is due to chance meetings, 
incidental remarks and unpredictable occurrences. In that connec- 
tion, I must thank Janet Auchincloss, my fellow seminarian and, 
on one critical day, my muse. 

Diane Haley Moshier's first reactions, while she transcribed and 
typed the manuscript, were an important encouragement. Cynthia 
Edwards did a fine job of helping to bring order out of chaos. 

Finally, with the gratitude of a belated awareness, I thank the 
U.S. Navy which may be a hierarchical elite, but an elite which 
shows loyalty downward as well as up. 



Although everything in this book, one way or another, is about 
the Soviet Navy, much of it may seem to wander far afield. That is 
because the object of this study is not just to provide a history of 
the Soviet Navy and a review of current tactics and strategic 
doctrine, but also to provide a basis for predicting how the Navy 
will be used-a guide to action, as it were. 

Prediction is a military necessity. The strategist cannot afford 
the intellectual security of traditional scholarship, that of being 
able to analyze events after the passage of time. The military 
leader, like everyone else, must learn from the past but his 
professional competence is determined by his ability to manipu- 
late his resources in the present and to be prepared for the future. 

It is presumptuous, perhaps, but possible to write about the 
employment of the Soviet Navy in the future. Because of rapidly 
changing policies and administrations^ one hardly could, and then 
only with too many qualifications to make it meaningful, write 
about the future of the U.S. Navy or that of many of the major 
navies in the free world. However, in the Soviet Union changes 
occur slowly within a system that sets up a series of absolute 
limitations. The variables within those limitations may be numer- 
ous but they are controlled by an ideology that makes them more 
easily predictable. It is the thesis here that once one understands 
the operations of the culture and ideology, one can make 
reasonably accurate predictions about the composition and use of 
the Soviet Navy in future years. 

Understanding those elements of Soviet ideology that pertain to 
the use of the navy also prepares one to understand patterns of 
response that may occur in crises. In crisis management one must 
not only know patterns of an adversary's response but also how he 
views his adversary and what decisions he is likely to make on the 
basis of his assumptions about that adversary's behavior. For 
example, Americans usually think of themselves as logical, 
rational, and rather conservative in their decisionmaking. The 
Soviets, however, appear to view Americans as impetuous, 
emotional, and easily angered. Whether that is justified is not 
particularly important. The point is that those are the qualities 


that the Soviets will take into consideration when deciding how to 
respond to situations with a crisis potential. 

In understanding the Soviet Navy it is practical to stop reacting 
to the veracity of Soviet claims and to ask only if a given notion is 
an operative concept. Whether true or false, does it seem to 
influence Soviet behavior? For example, the Soviet line is that 
skillful Soviet diplomacy and restraint kept the Cuban missile 
crisis from becoming more serious than it was and that Soviet 
intervention caused the Japanese surrender in 1945. In view of the 
complete Soviet control of information, one must accept those 
versions of history as "operative" within the Soviet Navy. No one 
within the Soviet Navy would dare to argue otherwise. 

This study will try to avoid organizing naval activities into 
discrete categories, paired opposites, such as offense and defense, 
coastal and blue-water, etc., for two reasons. First, there are 
certain emotional responses that have become attached to these 
terms that tend, by standardizing responses to them, to channel 
thought too narrowly. For example, "offensive" is widely con- 
sidered to be much better and more honorable than "defensive." 
When the Soviet Navy was considered a "defensive" navy, it was 
not taken very seriously and the radical developments that were 
occurring and that laid the foundations for the modern "offen- 
sive" Soviet Navy tended to be ignored or inaccurately appraised. 
As we shall see, the Soviet concept of warfare is such that these 
terms are at best misleading and in Soviet epistemology only 
partially applicable. 

The second reason for avoiding such terms is that in trying to 
understand the Soviet Navy as a dynamic force, it is undoubtedly 
wise to avoid— as much as possible— the language of mechanistic 
categories. In doing so one can more easily see new combinations 
and escape one of the major pitfalls of current and past analysis, 
that of translating Soviet reality into our own terms and then 
responding as if Soviet concepts were identical to ours— the 
mirror-image problem. 

There are excellent studies of the Soviet Navy by Robert 
Herrick, Michael MccGwire, and John Moore, among others, that 
tell us nearly all of the facts that we can hope to learn from 
available sources. This book is intended to fill a different gap. To 
date there have been no studies by Western analysts of the Soviet 
Navy as a Marxist- Leninist force. In fact, there are few studies in 
any of the disciplines related to political science that focus on 
Soviet naval developments through Soviet ideology. As a result, 
few of those whose business it is to react to the Soviet Navy realize 

how much of Soviet behavior can be predicted, how dissimilar its 
goals are from ours, and how unlike its decisions are from our 

Understanding the Soviet Navy is not easy. The Soviet 
Government, like the Imperial Russian Government before it, 
makes considerable use of false information— disinformation. 
(Anyone from the Premier on down, including the admiral of the 
fleet, may be lying as a matter of official policy.) Second, the 
language that is used is basically incomprehensible to those who 
have not studied the concepts of Marxism- Leninism (which is 
perhaps why many assume that the Soviets surely do not mean 
what they say). And finally, what is said is based upon a very 
different hierarchy of values from our own. 

As the reader will have guessed, there will have to be some 
lengthy discussions before we get to the crux of the matter. 
However, to win at chess, or in war, the victor will be the one who 
has had the foresight to move his assets to the right initial 
positions. Ideas can be like that, too. It is difficult to figure out 
what someone is doing until you have watched him from all sides. 
This book is intended to give the view from some of the missing 



When one reads a Soviet analysis of war-that it is the result of 
the class hatred, that its cause is economically determined, or that 
naval power is related to an attempt to control the means of 
production— one wonders if the Soviets really believe that. We see 
the world so much as a reflection of our own notions that we 
doubt others' realities. This becomes extremely serious when one 
government tries to convey a threatening signal to another but 
when the signal is interpreted to have a different meaning. Such a 
signal was our proposed evacuation of refugees from Bangladesh 
by aircraft carrier in 1970, interpreted by the Indian Government 
as a signal of hostility, approaching an act of war. Relations 
between the two countries have not been the same since. 

Navies can be used to convey signals. In fact the chief function 
of a navy, or any military force for that matter, is not to fight, but 
to convey signals that are so clear that battle becomes unneces- 
sary. Admiral Gorshkov acknowledged that when he wrote: 

Many examples from history attest to the fact that under 
feudalism, as well as under capitalism, problems of foreign 
policy have always been decided on the basis of the military 
strength of the "negotiating" sides, and that the potential 
military strength of one state or another, created in accord- 
ance with its economic resources and taking into account its 
political orientation, frequently made it possible for it to 
implement an advantageous policy to the detriment of other 
states not possessing commensurate military strength. 1 

(That Admiral Gorshkov put quotations around the word "negoti- 
ating" is significant. One of the somewhat ominous arguments 
running through his book is that sufficient power can bring rapid 

The idea of a naval ship as a sign was specifically stated by 
Engels when he said, "A modern naval ship is not only the product 
of a major industry, but is at the same time an example of it." 2 


Gorshkov concludes that a "Navy can be a graphic affirmation of 
this and an arbitrary indication of the level of development of the 
country's economy." 3 

Of course, in a political system of signals a navy is not just a 
deterrent— for deterrence means preventing someone from doing 
something that he wants to do— but part of a large group of signs 
that may actually define a nation's view of its political reality. 
Those things that a nation sees as quite vital are easily influenced 
by its system of interpretation, which is to say by its peculiar 
pattern of signals. 

For example, in the United States it is widely assumed that an 
attack against one of our naval ships would be tantamount to an 
attack against the country itself. That is part of the U.S. system of 
interpretation. Through our foreign policy, we teach other 
countries "to respect" our system of values. It is probable that the 
U.S.S.R. would not interpret such an event in a similar way. The 
Soviet system is different. 

How enormously different a system of signs can be is illustrated 
by the fact that Iceland, with no significant navy whatsoever, 
would undertake a so-called "cod war" against Great Britain, an 
infinitely greater power; or that another small island, Malta, would 
challenge, as it did in 1970, not only Great Britain but all of 
NATO. These countries were responding not only to signals but 
also to the absence of signals that had existed in the first half of 
the 20th century. At that time, they would not have dared to defy 
the great powers. 

Obviously, signals are interpreted according to cultural differ- 
ences. A "rational" analysis can be very unimportant in predicting 
behavior. The problem is that signals are always part of a cultural 
system, a code, and one has to be able to decipher the code from 
within that system to assign values accurately. If one is outside the 
system, then one reacts only to the signals that one perceives and 
assigns values to them in accordance with one's own system. For 
example, the importance of the adaptation of the surface-to- 
surface missile to the small torpedo patrol boats was for many 
years not generally perceived in the West. For Western navies, signs 
had to have a certain dimension to attract attention. We were 
reacting to big ships, big guns, and big kill ratios. We tended not to 
react to mere words, either. We did not understand until 1975 the 
significance of Admiral Gorshkov 's statement, first made in 1967, 
that the navy should serve in defense of state interests. 

It is perhaps helpful to think of the Soviet Navy as a mass of 
signs about power relationships, some of which we will interpret 


correctly, some of which we will not understand, and many of 
which we will not perceive at all. For example, when in the 60s 
the Soviets shadowed U.S. Atlantic carrier crossings, they were 
conveying signals that we did not understand. It was only later, 
when we understood that the Soviet aircraft were part of a system 
meant to prove that the carrier "problem" was solved, that the 
reason for the shadowing became clear. 

Of course, no one even within the system can respond with 
consistent accuracy to these signs that are always confusing, 
frequently contradictory, and sometimes purposefully false. Even 
when one does respond one is also conveying signals that, of 
course, immediately alter all of the values. Reading the code is a 
dialectic game with infinite variations. It never ends. 

Whether they like it or not, military leaders are in the business 
of reading the signals and devising a system for conveying their 
own. They must determine the code to which the signals relate (in 
this case it is Soviet military strategy that is the result of a very 
different mentality) . 

The problem is always to understand the alien code, the foreign 
system of signals. For instance, after years of denigrating the 
aircraft carrier as being obsolete, a floating coffin, an easy target, 
the Soviets have built two. What is the signal to foreign navies? 
What is this change in their strategy that has made the aircraft 
carrier a justifiable undertaking? In reversing their position, what 
are the Soviets telling their own people, their navy, their allies? 

Understanding the Soviet system of signals is not easy because it 
is very different from our own. Sometimes the Soviets seem 
irrational; they do not properly understand their own vital 
interests, we think; they misjudge us; and they lag behind in what 
we consider important fields. That is to say that the Soviets do not 
choose, whether they wish to or not, the same system of signs. It 
is surely a commonplace notion, but one almost always forgotten 
in asking our favorite question -"Who is ahead?", that with a 
different perception, one has a different code. That is a double- 
edged sword. We tend to ask the wrong questions and are satisfied 
with the wrong answers. We do not recognize what they are up to 
because our code is different. The first video-data link between 
submarine, bomber, and missile was such an example. It took us 
some time to read because that was not our way. The invasion of 
Czechoslovakia in 1968 and the expulsion of poets were others. 
We could not comprehend the Soviet logic. 

In order to get a handle on the different systems, let us make a 
comparison of the codes, signs, and signals used by the United 


States and the Soviet Union, not in order to say who is ahead, but 
in order to grasp how the two systems work. First, let us consider 
military strategy. Here the Soviet code is quite clear. There are at 
least two major aspects. The first is that war with the capitalist 
nations is probably inevitable although there is some possibility 
that it may be avoided. The first strategic principle for the Soviet 
Union is that now the main law of war is to attack first with a 
surprise and devastating blow. The objective has to be complete 
victory which means that one must have superiority of forces and 
destroy the warmaking potential— both industrial and human— of 
the enemy. Obviously, deception is one of the principal rules of 
war and intimidation is one of the primary rules of peace. The late 
Marshal Malinovsky, the Soviet Minister of Defense, explained this 
when he said: 

The best method of defense is to warn the enemy of our 
strength and readiness to smash him at his very first attempt to 
commit an act of aggression .... This is why we do not hide 
our points of view on the nature of future war and the means of 
conducting it and present them in this book Military Strategy. 4 

A second implication of this overall military strategy of the Soviet 
Union is that as the leading socialist power it will inevitably be the 
object of attack. It follows that the defense of the Soviet Union is in 
part the defense of the future of socialism for all mankind. 
Therefore, the various sacrifices that are to be made both at home 
and abroad to insure the military victory of the Soviet Union are 
both moral, justified, and assumed to be obvious to the international 
proletariat. A second major implication of this strategic doctrine is 
that since this war that will take place is a class war, its nature will 
not be limited to national boundaries. Just as the Soviet Union is the 
leader of the workers' movement, so the United States is the leader 
of industrialists. Therefore, the distinction between the United 
States and its "cohorts" and satellites becomes somewhat blurred. 
This concept was behind the situation that emerged in the SALT 
talks in which the Soviet Union wanted to lump the British and 
French nuclear submarines together with those of the United States. 
Soviet strategy gravitates toward emphasis on people's (primarily 
workers') rebellions and guerrilla warfare and assumes that ours 
concentrates on coordinated armed conflict directed by govern- 
ments composed of the servants of the capitalists. 

The United States, on the other hand, in spite of its alliances in 
NATO and other organizations, tends to think of itself as 

strategically alone in its military calculations. It recalls with 
difficulty that the Soviets might take a war with Western Europe, 
but without the United States, seriously or that Soviet cruise 
missiles may have to be considered strategic weapons in France. 

Part of the problem in adjusting our concepts is that Soviet 
strategy is not an aggressive strategy in the sense that Napoleon 
and Hitler had aggressive strategies. This is because of its class 
nature and its domination by the rules of "scientific" Marxism. 
Scientific Marxism argues that until the proletariat is ready for a 
socialist revolution, it is premature to try to force it into action. 
This idea of Marx was extremely annoying to Lenin and to 
Communist theoreticians who were impatient for the advent of 
socialism. But it has been a useful, face-saving device in such 
embarrassing situations as the Egyptian debacle and the Sudan. 
One could always argue that conditions were not ripe for socialist 
power. But although this feature of Marxism is not in its nature 
aggressive, it always contains within itself a plan for aggression. 
The Soviet Union's duty is always to support the progressive 
proletariat whenever the Soviet center, socialism's heartland, is not 
threatened and to thwart the capitalists' designs. A corollary that 
promotes aggressiveness is that because socialism is the wave of the 
future, it is always moral. Those things done to advance its 
interests, including war and aggression, are justified and those 
capitalist efforts to thwart or delay the advent of socialism are 
immoral. Thus, any action taken against capitalism is ethically 

If we turn to the basic strategic doctrine of the United States, 
we have an immediate problem. An overall strategic code is 
difficult to cite. The Soviet principles provide a kind of grand 
strategy. In the United States, there is nothing comparable unless 
it is the idea of maintaining the current balance of power, the 
international status quo. This is not evolutionary doctrine. Since 
Vietnam, our previously messianic code calling for world democ- 
racy has been in a decline. Certainly we do not view international 
relations as dynamic, developmental, or dialectical. Such a code is 
quite sensible for a rich and comfortable nation, but it does not 
translate into any clear military, much less naval, strategy. This is 
reflected in the American Navy's mission statement that primarily 
outlines the Navy's functions or capabilities. The signals that this 
and the counterpart statements by the Army and Air Force give 
are that they are flexible, useful, and reliable instruments of 
executive policy. Such mission statements are what the Soviet 
military writers would call "operational art." They relate not 


to strategy but to problems that would require tactical plan- 
ning for their implementation. 

Our major strategic goal is largely negative— that of deter- 
rence. It is important to note that the two basically different 
understandings of deterrence lead to two different interpretations. 
The United States and its armed forces, through their expenditures 
and planning, intend to convey the signal that war is impossible. In 
conveying this signal, they tend to minimize or ignore the nuclear 
aspects of modern war which the Soviets emphasize. We concen- 
trate on the feasibility of limited war and practice for that. 

The Soviets, who have a doctrine that war with the United States 
is very difficult to avoid, if not inevitable, emphasize the need to 
fight and win that war under nuclear conditions. Therefore, Soviet 
training and exercises stress nuclear war and only secondarily take 
into account the possibility or importance of limited war. Given the 
Marxist/Leninist interpretation of history, this is very reasonable. 
Only through a nuclear war with a nation of the magnitude of the 
United States could the advent of world socialism be seriously 
delayed. Other wars, so long as they can be contained, are only of 
transitional historic importance. 

Soviet naval officers study operational art in addition to 
strategy. The primary task of the Soviet Navy is to intercept the 
threat as far from the shores of the Motherland as possible. 
Massive naval exercises, such as Okean I and II, were designed to 
signal the Soviet Navy's superior ability to accomplish this task. 
Through the construction of an enormous number of submarines, 
the Soviet Navy signaled its plan to prevent the resupply of 

Because of their defensive nature these demonstrations of Soviet 
naval operational art are sometimes interpreted in the West as signs 
of the inferiority of the Soviet Navy. 5 Such an evaluation is not 
invalid but it is a projection of Western values based upon the 
Western system of thought. In any case, such judgments are the 
prime reason that the true nature of Soviet militarism has been so 
largely misunderstood for so many years in the West where a 
defensive role is considered an inferior one. 

On the other hand, Western demands for aggressive codes 
reflect, quite naturally, the competition between the services for 
leading roles. They also derive from strategic ideas that date from 
the 18th and 19th centuries in which political and social units 
were thought of as occupying distinct spacial and temporal areas. 
They do not consider ideas such as the international proletariat for 
example. They assume that control of the seas, or at least control 


of the sea lines of communication or of specific colonial 
territories, are definite goals that can be realized by one service 
acting alone. Such notions are based on the idea of balances of 
power and the assumption of the possibility of a conclusive 
victory. Obviously, the origin of such ideas is extremely different 
from that based on class warfare. Whatever the strategic problems 
the West thinks it faces, they are not the kind that Marx defined, 
the kind of problems the Soviets are trying to solve, or the sort 
with which Lenin dealt. 

Other goals of operational art may not seem military at all at 
first glance. They are the kinds of problems that for the success of 
the socialist revolution are by far the most crucial and that our 
Navy, with its offensive orientation, largely ignores. They are 
those that Gorshkov referred to as carrying out state interests. 
They may range from largely military— such as the various shows 
of force during military crises off the coast of Israel and 
Lebanon— to largely cultural such as the former Imperial Navy Day 
Celebrations in Ethiopia. These are all part of the Soviet concept 
of operational art because a navy, as a sign, cannot divest itself of 
its military, and political significance. 

For the Soviet Navy these signs have an economic significance 
as well. From the Marxist/Leninist point of view, the navy, as a 
class symbol, conveys an economic signal to the proletariat of any 
country that it is a means of liberation from exploitation. 

All of these signs that the Soviet Navy conveys tend to be very 
different from those of the U.S. Navy. That is because ships, even 
if exactly equal by every standard measurement, are totally 
different because of the things they represent. They are signs that 
relate to a national past as well as to the present and future. The 
interpretation of those signs, either the intention of the originator 
or the understanding of the recipient, is not easy. For example, 
the Japanese objection to nuclear-powered U.S. ships visiting their 
ports does not relate to the ships themselves or perhaps even to 
the United States but to associations with the nuclear bombs of 
the Second World War. In the same way, U.S. visits to African 
ports, where the United States has never been a colonial power, 
may crystallize hostility rather than reduce it because of African 
associations of periods of European economic exploitation. 

The appearance of an extremely sophisticated U.S. naval ship in 
the port of an undeveloped nation probably does not have much 
of a technological impact because the United States is known to 
be the world's technological leader. However, the appearance of a 
Soviet ship with sophisticated radars and weapons may convey the 


idea of the extraordinary achievements of the proletariat and 
peasants of a backward nation in catching up with, and possibly 
overcoming, the technological superiority of the former colonial 
powers. The propaganda literature that the Soviets on these 
occasions dispense is clearly meant to support that idea. It is not a 
question of who is superior but of who seems to be so. 

It would be extremely shortsighted to underestimate the 
importance of the state interests that the Soviet Navy is serving 
for, in the end, the competition will be won or lost by the battle 
for men's minds, as it was in Vietnam. The Soviets are aware of 
this. Their strategic doctrine states that one of the most important 
factors in war is the morale, the level of the people's spirit, in the 
struggle. Elements of Soviet strategic planning relate to the morale 
of not only their own people but also those in the target nation. 
This is what we call psychological warfare and in doing so we set it 
aside as a category reserved for specialists, but by giving this 
operational category a central place in their doctrine, the Soviets 
make it a part of the navy's principal (and thus more aggressive) 

The problems of "showing the flag" are extremely complex and 
studying them yields enormous dividends as Cable's book, 
Gunboat Diplomacy, and Ken Booth's articles show. Particularly 
important is understanding that in this kind of operation the signal 
conveyed and the signal received may fit two different codes of 
meaning and be very differently understood. For example, the 
easy relationship and informality between officers and their 
superiors and between officers and enlisted men as well as the 
mixture and quality of races in the U.S. Navy do not go 
unnoticed throughout the world. The Soviets, too, are aware of 
the importance of public opinion. They greatly modify their 
behavior for foreign visits in order to try to convey a democratic 
aspect and to mask the totalitarian and class relationships that in 
fact have been reestablished in the Soviet Union. But the subtle 
signs of authoritarianism are easily detected. 

Finally, we must also compare the two navies in terms of 
tactics. The postwar U.S. Navy has had, roughly, three tactical 
periods: from 1945 until about 1960 tactics that had been 
developed in World War II were perfected; from about 1960 until 
1973 the tactics of the Navy's new strategic mission were 
extrapolated from the presumed role of the aircraft carrier and 
strategic ballistic missile submarines; and finally, since 1973, the 
Navy, after the decline of the strategic role of naval aircraft, has 
had the problem of finding a new mission. 


The role of our navy in modern warfare is in doubt but that 
only reflects the fact that the nature of modern warfare is in 
doubt. This contrasts rather fundamentally with Soviet strategic 
goals and concepts that have never been in doubt, although the 
tactics of implementation have changed. Our assumptions and 
goals were different from those of the Soviets and led to a very 
different kind of naval strategy. Take the concept of sea lines of 
communication, the foundation of Mahan's theory of sea control. 
Mahan's theory was that a strike against the communications of a 
country, across the seas, was a strike at the power of that country 
itself. It was not at all unlike Lenin's theory of the weakest link, 
that to seize control of the source of raw materials in the colonial 
nations was to emasculate the industrial powers. But given two 
somewhat similar ideas, we concentrated on control of the seas as 
an end in itself and the Soviets concentrated on control of the 
emerging nations. 

In recent years, a new dimension has been added. It is no longer 
obvious that a strike against one element of the power of a 
country is necessarily a strike against the country itself. The 
Pueblo incident, the Cuban missile crisis, the rescue of the 
Mayaguez, and the cod war off Iceland have demonstrated that 
threats to the integrity of a nation do not necessarily lead to war. 
This has greatly weakened traditional naval strategy that depended 
more on presence— the art of symbolic warfare— than it realized. 

The United States has been concerned in a traditional way with 
its ability to maintain sea lines of communication to Europe for 
the resupply of NATO. The Soviets, who have had no experience 
of "sea lines of communication" as being different from "land 
lines of communication" have understood this as simply part of 
the overall strategy of preparing for the decisive war to destroy the 
socialist camp. Consequently, Soviet tactics involved moving out 
the perimeter of their defense in accordance with a strategic 
theory of defense zones. It was the kind of theory that one might 
adopt for defending mountain passes or water barriers. 

In the West it was not assumed that the Soviets really believed 
what they were saying about our intention to unleash a war for 
the destruction of the socialist camp. Other explanations were 
required, and most often they centered on the assumption that the 
Soviets themselves were preparing for an aggressive war, primarily 
one to break our sea lines of communication. The fact that they 
did not construct ships that seemed suitable for that mission was a 
constant mystery. They did give, however, some encouragement to 
such theories in about 1963-64 when they reconstituted the naval 


infantry and began constructing amphibious ships. However, 
unfortunately for the proponents of Soviet aggression, the 
amphibious ships were only used in the Baltic and Black Seas in 
conjunction with exercises that the Soviets could view as 
defensive -that is, gaining control of access routes through the 
straits— and that the West would see as aggressive acts against other 

As the Soviets could not be credited with believing the reality 
of their own positions— it was assumed that they were operating 
with perceptions that fit our assumptions and not theirs— it was 
widely believed that they could not be serious about what they 
said. That assumption underlay much of our strategic and political 
thinking. It stemmed from the naivete of those who did not fully 
comprehend the degree to which "reality," or the perception of 
"reality," could be very relative. 

How it can be so widely assumed that individual Soviet military, 
or political, thinkers adopt privately reasonable and logical, 
therefore Western, conclusions in spite of party, censorship and 
propaganda is quite a mystery. Even in our own service, juniors 
jeopardize their careers by questioning forcefully the positions of 
their seniors. In the Soviet Union much more is at stake than one's 
career. The welfare of one's family, one's freedom to live in cities, 
even one's life is dependent upon supporting the party line and 
that has always been that the West wants a war of aggression. 

In any case, there have been, roughly, three periods of postwar 
Soviet strategy. The first was the initial aftermath of the war when 
the Soviet Union was in a condition of strategic and economic 
inferiority. The Soviet Navy was limited to the mission of 
protecting the flanks of the army and of patrolling Soviet waters 
and coastlines because of extreme shortages in manpower and in 
the economy. (Even under such conditions the gauntlet was 
thrown down in Berlin and elsewhere to distract and to divert the 

After 1953, planning for a change in missions was begun. It was 
based upon the adoption of nuclear power and heavy emphasis on 
missile warfare. Tactics were developed for moving the defense 
perimeter further out to sea. The threat from aircraft and naval 
ballistic missile submarines had led to the need to establish zones 
of defense further from Moscow, even at the 1,500 kilometer 
mark, to develop successful antisubmarine warfare and to provide 
air cover for theaters of action far from Soviet air bases. 

With the successful development of missiles and rockets— the 
revolution in military affairs that the Soviets emphasize con- 


stantly-they began introducing new tactics for the destruction of 
Western fleets in specific areas and new strategies for winning, or 
at least breaking up and neutralizing, the Third World. The object 
was to seriously disturb the world order and to introduce 
confusion, at least, into concepts of the ownership of the means of 

The Soviets had foreseen the political advantages that would 
result not just from nuclear parity but from superiority and 
superiority in conventional weapons as well. With superiority, with 
the ability to extend military zones of operation, with dictatorial 
control of a mobilized population and a servile industrial and 
scientific base, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union saw itself 
in a position to increase the momentum of international change. 

Signals were initiated in such exercises as Okean 70, which was 
meant to show the world (and perhaps Soviet political leaders) 
that the correlation of forces had indeed changed, that former 
concepts of seapower were outmoded, and that the revolution in 
military affairs, preceded by a revolution in the control of the 
means of production, would be followed by a revolution in the 
relations of states. 

At the 24th Party Congress in April 1972 Brezhnev enunciated 
the new line. 

The armed forces of allied states are in a high state of 
readiness and in a position to guarantee the peaceful labor of 
fraternal peoples. 

Protection of socialism under present conditions has taken on 
a clearly expressed international character .... 

Under this line socialist armed forces had an international role. 
Soviet forces in Egypt, Somalia, and the Sudan and Cuban forces 
in Angola all helped to confirm what had become obvious from 
the navy: the Soviet Armed Forces had a new strategic mission, 
but not one that depended upon traditional campaigns ending in 
signed documents of victory. Rather it was a new role of helping 
to smash the weakest link. 

In view of the fact that any reasonable theory of modern 
nuclear warfare must assume that it begins with a surprise and 
devastating attack, it is essential -certainly for anyone concerned 
with crisis management, which must include all military men-to 
understand the Soviet code in order to read the signals. Under 
conditions of modern warfare, one will not have time to learn the 
code after the action has begun. 




Writing about the Soviet Union is very easy in one way and very 
difficult in another. It is easy in the sense that the Soviet Union is 
a country that has powerfully resisted any intellectual growth 
(except within very narrow limits) for the last 60 years and that 
has had a policy of resisting intellectual change for many of the 
last 300 years. However unpleasant that resistance was for Russian 
citizens, it considerably simplified the work of the historian and 
analyst. A country subject to rapid change, even when it is 
controlled change as in Japan, for example, is relatively more 
difficult to explain. 

The Soviet Union is a country in which official policy is not 
only to keep its own citizens (and therefore its own leaders, too) 
ignorant of some of the things that happen in the world outside 
but also in which policy dictates going to enormous and expensive 
lengths to keep the outside world from knowing what is happening 
internally. Not only does this involve not revealing information— 
such as the number of deaths in airplane crashes or earthquakes— 
but also in issuing misinformation or official government lies. 

These attitudes toward truth cannot be dismissed as un- 
important national idiosyncrasies. They indicate differences in 
understanding reality. In the United States, the suppression of 
truth is taken to be a corruption of the spirit for it is believed that 
by concentrating on the negative and unpleasant aspects of life 
one can comprehend reality. In czarist and Leninist Russia, reality 
is understood officially as that which is planned by the supreme 
authority; therefore, that which is negative and ugly is transitory 
and of no intellectual importance. It is obvious that with two such 
different views of reality, interpretations of concrete events are 
very different as well. 

The lack of information about the Soviet Union has some 
curious results. People in the West tend to ask the kinds of 
questions that reflect their view of reality in the West but have 
little meaning in the Soviet Union- "how much does it cost; is this 
or that leader on the right or the left; who is in line to succeed?" 

Because those who ask such questions seldom have time for a 
short course in Russian history or Leninist thought, they are 
impatient for the answers that are, quite often, supplied by people 
who know that they are distorting Soviet reality in order to 
answer them. 

For example, it is frequently argued that the growth in the 
Soviet Navy is the result of Admiral Gorshkov's very effective 
maneuvering within the Soviet hierarchy— there is even one 
far-fetched argument that holds that it is because he and Brezhnev 
were on the same front during World War II that the Navy is 
receiving the biggest share of the budget!— and not because there is 
any state policy requiring a larger navy. There is not a shred of 
evidence that the enlarged Soviet Navy has anything to do with 
Admiral Gorshkov's personality. Nor does anything we know 
about how policy is formed in the Soviet Union suggest that that 
could be true. 

It is therefore very important to understand how we know 
anything about the Soviet Union; how valid concepts can be 
formed. In Soviet usage, "propaganda" is not a negative word. 
It is used to refer to an idealized truth, and as any other kind 
may be a defamation of the state, idealized truth is the only 
kind that can be printed. Thus, Gorshkov in his book Sea 
Power of the State deals with an idealized truth. He does not 
hesitate to rewrite history or to omit such significant events as 
the Kronshtadt Rebellion or the role of the atomic bomb in 
the defeat of Japan. 

This concept of idealized truth derives from a theological way 
of looking at the universe; truth -whether political, social or 
historical -is considered to be revealed by the documents of Marx, 
Engels and Lenin, by the pronouncements of the Communist 
Party through its spokesmen in the Politburo, and increasingly 
through its supreme high priest, the General Secretary, President 
and Marshal Leonid Brezhnev. The function, then ; of propaganda 
organs (which include such journals as the Soviet equivalent of 
Naval Institute Proceedings, the Morskoy sbornik ) is to raise 
morale, comment on revealed truth, illustrate doctrinal concepts, 
and inform, but they are not a forum for objectivity on any 
question. (An American equivalent would be if one could not 
discuss the negative implications of SALT I in the Proceedings or 
Military Review or even The New York Times because the official 
position was favorable to the treaty, or if one could not discuss 
the arguments against the Trident submarine because the Chief of 

Naval Operations had officially declared that Navy policy was to 
support it.) 

That does not mean that in Soviet publications there never is 
controversy. Arguments do occur, although rather seldom and in a 
ritualized format. There is hierarchy for discussions and debates 
that, when one understands it, reveals at what level of the 
government or the party a question is being considered. 

In a typical situation, a question may be raised by a leading 
admiral about whether or not large surface ships are necessary. 
This officially opens the subject for debate that will then take 
place both in printed form and in party and cell meetings 
throughout the navy. Many of the discussions will be led by the 
party political workers, the Communist chaplains, whose job it is 
to whip up interest and enthusiasm for the discussion at hand. 

During such periods there is apparently a comparatively free 
debate in which leading admirals and officers even visit ships and 
units to develop interest at the lowest levels. However, once a 
decision is made (it will be announced in unmistakable terms 
either by a senior official or a party worker) debate is cut off. 
Ranks are closed behind the party. The matter then becomes 
doctrine and further discussion may expand upon it, interpret or 
apply it, but will not question it. This is what is known as 
"democratic centralism." 

For example, in 1975 the Soviet CNO, Admiral Gorshkov, 
began publishing a series of articles entitled, "Navies in War and 
Peace." They could not have indicated, as so many Western writers 
suggested, an argument within the Ministry of Defense about the 
need for a larger navy. Such arguments never take place publicly. 
Nor could they have suggested that Admiral Gorshkov was turning 
to the public to get support for his position. Such a process would 
be totally alien and meaningless in the Soviet Union where the 
general public would not consider that it had any part whatsoever 
in making such a decision and where the government and party 
would not allow the public to think that it even had the right to 
adopt a position. (In the Soviet Union, a popular saying is that 
there is only one kind of vote and that is with your feet. This 
means that as a citizen you have the choice of either accepting or 
leaving, although leaving is not usually an option either.) 

This kind of process was the same during Lenin's life and even 
under Stalin's reign. Lenin allowed controversy but after a 
decision had been made, there could be no more debate and he, 
like Stalin, ruthlessly exterminated all opposition. During Stalin's 

dictatorship, controversy was sometimes encouraged such as one 
about a big-ship as opposed to a small-ship navy; however, he who 
expressed himself on what later turned out to be the wrong side, 
usually did not live to repeat his error. Stalin had those who had 
disagreed with him, even when he had asked for free discussion, 

The Western reader has difficulty understanding the kind of 
influence that such a history of tyranny introduces into the 
decisionmaking process. That it is seldom taken into account is an 
extraordinarily grave error. Obviously one could not be very 
outspoken in circumstances such as those. For instance, imagine 
how free a discussion would be in the U.S. Navy if it were learned 
that because they had opposed the President's budget proposal, 
three of the five members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff had been 
shot! Yet that is what happened in Russia 40 years ago and 
explains why Gorshkov became an admiral at age 31. Most of the 
officers senior to him were liquidated which helped to clear the 
way for him to be promoted to the Soviet Chief of Naval 
Operations at age 45. The current generation of Soviet rulers and 
military leaders are those who survived and cooperated with 
Stalin during that period. 1 

A second important element affects public discussions of 
military matters. Soviet concern with security and alertness to the 
danger of espionage exceeds all bounds of what, in the West, 
would be considered sane. This is one of the great constants in 
Russian history, observed by Elizabethan visitors to the court of 
Ivan the Terrible, French visitors to the court of Nicholas I and 
ordinary tourists who stray from the prescribed path in the Soviet 
Union today. (To a Russian citizen, it seems perfectly normal that 
a captain in the Soviet Navy should spend 20 years in a prison 
camp, as Captain Buinovskiy did in Solzhenitsyn's One Day in the 
Life of Ivan Denisovich, because he had been mailed a gift, which 
he had not solicited, from an English admiral for whom he was the 
officially designated liaison officer during World War II. Instead of 
complaining, the officer should have considered himself lucky not 
to be shot.) 

The result of what seems abroad to be a national paranoia, in 
terms of military discussion, is that for a Soviet officer it is not 
safe to speak about any aspects of the Soviet Navy unless he is 
absolutely certain that what he is saying is approved not only by 
the Navy, but also, and most importantly, by the party and the 
government organs. Every article, every speech, every meeting 
with foreigners is controlled. There are layers upon layers of 

censorship. There are censors for security, for political content, 
for military content and for general party content. Although 
information may appear that is inadvertently revealed, one cannot 
reliably identify it and one certainly cannot assume that anything 
written or said by a high official in the Soviet Military Establish- 
ment represents a purely private and not officially approved point 
of view. 

While information that is new to us may sometimes appear, we 
should assume that it is being released for official reasons. It is 
totally naive to pretend that published statements by major, much 
less minor, figures in the Soviet Military Establishment represent 
individual positions not approved by the party unless they occur 
during the period of officially encouraged debate. Such audacity 
would, at the very least, jeopardize one's career and at the very 
most, be a flirtation with death. Furthermore, in a society that is 
almost totally controlled, publicly expressing one's opposition 
about matters of national security would be foolishly stupid. 
There would be no chance, in the face of the party's opposition, 
of having one's opinion ever reach the public, and even if it did, 
there would be no possibility of any kind of public support. In the 
Soviet Union decisions are made behind closed doors and are 
eventually "revealed." Even Solzhenitsyn who wrote very oblique 
criticisms of the Soviet Government in fictional form, was accused 
of "fouling his own nest," was called a traitor and enemy of the 
people, and eventually feared for his own life. It has been said that 
the Soviet Union is the only country in the world that has 
executed its own poets. 

Some mention should be made of the "closed doors." Because 
of recent revelations, "bugging" is a very sensitive issue in the 
United States. However, in the Soviet Union it is not. The reason 
that it is not is that a private individual dares not object to it as 
that would only imply that he had something to hide that would 
result in redoubling the number of electronic devices focused on 
him. Surveillance, not only of diplomats, tourists and visitors, but 
also of Soviet citizens, is absolutely ubiquitous, and is not limited 
to electronic means. It is also conducted visually. Everywhere, in 
one's apartment, office, ship, or club there are people who have as 
a secondary responsibility that of reporting suspicious or unusual 
behavior or even a lack of enthusiasm for party policies and 
politics. Young Pioneers, members of the Young Communist 
League, and those of the Communist Party are constantly being 
harangued to be vigilant and to be on guard against the "wreckers" 
of the Soviet reality. Telephones are widely monitored and 

long-distance connections are controlled from central city offices; 
the receipt of foreign mail is still dangerous enough to jeopardize a 
military or civilian career; repeated contact with foreigners is 
certain to cause interrogation by the secret police; it is even 
dangerous to show much interest in life abroad and one must hide 
any suggestion of a wish to visit or live in a foreign country. (Even 
the Soviet Ambassador to the United States, Anatoly Dobrynin, 
that brilliantly successful confidence man, frequently prefaces his 
remarks with a complaint about the "sacrifice" he is having to 
make by living abroad.) 

As the chief party ideologist, Mikhail Suslov, said to Svetlana 
Stalin when she requested permission to take the ashes of her 
deceased husband to India, "What is it that attracts you so much 
abroad? Why, my family and I never go abroad and don't even feel 
like going. It is not interesting." 

How then is information about life abroad absorbed and 
disseminated? Technical and scientific information is rapidly 
translated and widely available, but only on the basis of a "need to 
know." Soviet scientists, especially those in military institutes and 
factories, are served with a vast network of information about 
foreign sources. When new developments are discussed, such as 
those, for example, in connection with antisubmarine warfare, the 
medium used is that of foreign publications. In other words, the 
author will tell his readers what the U.S. Navy is doing and what 
its technical experts are writing about new methods of using 
underwater sound. It is presumed that appropriate Soviet per- 
sonnel will know what to make of that information in connection 
with Soviet developments. 

In the United States, a great quantity of what the Soviets would 
handle as top secret information is disseminated in the open press. 
What in the Soviet Union would be the very most important 
information-our foreign policy, the budget, military strategy and 
assessment of the balance of military power-is a matter of public 
record. However, much, much more is revealed. The details of 
defense contracts, of deficiencies in the fulfillment of military 
specifications, of personnel movements, promotions and assign- 
ments are widely known. 

It is almost impossible to get a telephone directory for the city 
of Moscow; it would be unthinkable to get a telephone directory 
for the Ministry of Defense such as one can easily acquire for the 
Pentagon. So conscious of security are the Soviets that even on 
foreign visits only designated naval officers are authorized to 
reveal their family names-many of which must be assumed to be 

false— and to do so, they are given specific permission by the party 
political workers, or the secret police. 

Because the Soviets use foreign publications to discuss military 
matters of concern to their own navy, one must estimate their 
tactical and strategic concerns by inference. Obviously, in making 
such assumptions, there is a far greater possibility for error than in 
a similar discussion based upon the Proceedings. However, it is so 
difficult to know what is safe to discuss in the Soviet Union that 
whenever anything is authorized, it naturally becomes everyone^s 
favorite subject. By the sheer weight of repetition in the press, one 
can know, with reasonable accuracy, what is the authorized, new 
line. For example, Admiral Gorshkov's articles were correctly 
understood to be a signal for propagandizing the international role 
of the Soviet Navy. There were a great number of articles in 
Morskoy sbornik and elsewhere related to this theme. Read in 
isolation, these articles suggested that extraordinary emphasis was 
being put upon naval developments in the Soviet Union; however 
articles with similar themes about the changed balance of power 
appeared widely in the military press as well as in many other 
organs. 2 What was appearing was an advertising campaign for a 
new "line." The new line stressed the decline of the West, the 
brotherhood of socialist parties and workers, and the obligation of 
the Soviet Union to support radical movements throughout the 
world. It tested international opinion and followed the tactic of 
gradually accustoming imperialist powers to bolder Soviet actions. 
(The lessons of the famous Russian psychologist, Pavlov, have 
been well understood. Man can be taught to become indifferent, as 
well as to salivate, when the bell is rung.) 

While the internationalist theme was developed everywhere, it 
was forcefully restated by Brezhnev, most recently at the 25th 
Party Congress. Having asserted in his report on the success of the 
Soviet Union's foreign policy, for those who thought they could 
escape the march of revolution, that "there is probably no spot on 
the earth where the state of affairs has not been taken into 
account in one way or another in the formulation of our foreign 
policy," Brezhnev gave one reason why: 

In the developing countries, as everywhere, we are on the 
side of the forces of progress, democracy and national 
independence and we treat them as our friends and comrades- 
in-arms. Our Party is rendering and will render support to 
peoples who are fighting for their freedom. The Soviet Union 
is not looking for any benefits for itself, it is not hunting for 


concessions, is not trying to gain political supremacy and is 
not seeking any military bases. We are acting as our 
revolutionary conscience and our communist convictions 
permit us. 3 

Besides giving a slightly more vague but no less distinct 
argument for protecting state interests throughout the world— we 
shall see later what the nature of "state interests" is from a Soviet 
communist point of view— Brezhnev was making it clear that there 
would be many more "Angolas", and that perhaps the next time 
the trend would not be reversed in Chile. Clearly, the navy is well 
designed to play an important part in the new phase of promoting 
the internationalist momentum of the Communist Party of the 
Soviet Union, as Gorshkov confirmed in Sea Power of the State 
and obviously that was not news to Brezhnev. 

To sum up, then, when a new line is adopted it is normally 
signaled by a major speech or declaration that gives key 
formulations of the main points. These key formulations will then 
be repeated— endlessly and often verbatim— in a variety of ap- 
proved contexts. This usually signals that a process of education 
and information is going on aboard ships and in shore units. There 
will be a series of party meetings to disseminate and discuss the 
new "line" and to prepare the naval personnel for the implications 
of the policy. The point of these meetings is to insure compliance, 
to mobilize support, and, incidentally, to give any "wreckers" of 
socialist unanimity an opportunity to identify (and therefore to 
destroy) themselves. Certainly that idea was important in the 
Gorshkov papers. It was stated in the preface: 

In the opinion of the editorial board and the editorial staff 
the publication of these articles will foster the development 
in our officers of a unity of views on the role of navies under 
various historical conditions. 4 

To state unequivocally that the Soviet Navy will continue to 
grow in sophisticated equipment is not, now, a controversial 
prediction in view of the massive outpouring of information about 
the current Soviet assessment of the prospects for a socialist 
revolution throughout the world vis-a-vis the decline of imperial- 
ism and the crisis of capitalism. A great number of articles discuss 
how the navy supports that movement, how the Soviet Navy is to 
be used politically, and how it is likely to develop. Obviously 
surface ships are the ticket for protecting state interests in Angola. 

If one were to analyze the navy only in terms of weapons and 
capabilities, ignoring its international role, one would overlook 
one of its primary missions. And finally, if one were to try to 
analyze the Soviet Navy without reference to what is happening in 
the other services and/or to the Communist Party line, one could 
not make very accurate predictions about its future. 

It is, however, this process for achieving a unanimity of views 
that gives us an opportunity to know the outline of Soviet 
intentions. On the whole, the main lines of development have been 
surprisingly consistent since the Revolution, much more consistent 
and more predictable than those of the United States or many 
other countries, for that matter. Paradoxically, foreign analyses of 
Soviet intentions have been surprisingly erroneous. The Soviets by 
official position encourage the erroneous interpretations. (We will 
discuss this further in naval tactics as deception is not only the 
prime artifice of war but also of politics.) As Lenin said, "Our 
morality is deduced from the class struggle of the proletariat .... 
Communist morality is the morality which serves this strug- 
gle .. . ." 5 

Concerning their concept of war, however, the Soviets have 
seldom been misleading. Much of the misinterpretation of Soviet 
intentions originates from ignorance of the language of Marx and 
Lenin and from incorrect assumptions about the nature of 
Russian culture and society. For example, confusion about the 
word "detente" has been rampant and dangerous. Whatever was 
meant in English by detente, the Soviets had a totally 
different concept. First of all, the Soviets never used the French 
word at all. They used a Russian word that is not an equivalent 
(razryadka which means "relaxation"). The Russian word shares 
only one implication with the French word detente and that is in 
its literal sense. It does not imply "friendship," "cooperation," 
"change of policy" or "agreement" of any kind. In the Soviet 
usage, it means only "relaxation of tensions" and only in the 
context of the policy of "peaceful coexistence" that has been, for 
the most part, Soviet policy since the time of Lenin. In other 
words, detente in Russian meant essentially nothing new at all. 
Nevertheless, as long as the U.S. Government and press chose to 
misuse the nature of the "new" relationship to Soviet advantage, it 
was not in the interest of the Soviet Government to make any 
important corrections. (The party and government officials did 
remind their citizens, however, that the danger of war remained 
and that the class struggle continued. They simply omitted 
suggesting that those circumstances caused any "tension.") But 


when President Ford announced that he would no longer use the 
word detente but rather would refer to "a policy of peace through 
strength," there was a considerable Soviet retroactive correction. 
Spokesmen went so far as to explain that Americans all along had 
been using the word to mask their aggressive intentions. Neverthe- 
less, an underlying theme of Soviet propaganda during the entire 
phase of detente, and one for which the tactical implications will 
be examined shortly, was that the United States was forced into 
the position of adopting a policy of detente because of the change 
in the "correlation of forces" brought about by Soviet superiority 
after the military buildup and the successful, far-reaching policies 
of the Communist Party, formulated by its leader, Brezhnev. In 
short, the Soviets have been saying that the world balance of 
power has changed in the Soviet's favor. Whether or not that is 
true, it has obviously become part of the operational code of the 
Politburo (with rather alarming implications) and therefore of the 
Soviet Navy as well. 6 

The code for the use of words is obviously critical in East- West 
relations. There is evidence that U.S. negotiators at SALT I did 
not understand the Soviet concept of war and, as so often has 
happened, analyzed what was assumed to be the Soviet position, 
based upon what would be the American position given the Soviet 
circumstances, and then reacted to that. Ethnocentrism could go 
no further. It was as if our side was negotiating with itself. 

One of the basic positions at the SALT talks was that the 
Soviets not only did not share our concepts about nuclear warfare 
and deterrence- "assured destruction," "damage limitation," 
"limited war," "destabilization," etc.— but specifically, and re- 
peatedly, rejected them as a masquerade. (The reasons for this 
rejection will be discussed in the chapter on the Soviet concepts of 
war.) Nevertheless, the American side did not take the Soviet 
ideology seriously, perhaps not understanding the language of 
Marxism as we shall see. 

An interesting and sound observer of Soviet affairs, Roman 
Kolkowicz, wrote an estimate of Soviet intentions in 1971 based 
very much on a projection of "rational" rather than Soviet 
arguments. It is very interesting to see now what an intelligent and 
informed observer, using that kind of methodology, concluded. 
His overall assessment was that the Soviet Union was going to seek 
an accommodation with the United States that would enable it, on 
the basis of strategic parity, to wind down the arms race and 
pursue political goals elsewhere, a not very dangerous prediction 
since that is what was going on at the time. However, his reasons 


for coming to that conclusion are instructive. This Soviet policy he 
had postulated was based on the following considerations: 

a. The strategic arms race is expensive and does not add 
objectivity to the security of the Soviet Union once parity is 

b. The political utility of strategic arms increments is 
insignificant because, as the Soviets themselves point out, it 
cannot easily be applied to non-nuclear contexts, i.e., its 
extra deterrence value is questionable. 

c. A stabilization of U.S.-Soviet strategic capabilities at 
parity levels would still give the Soviet Union a wide range of 
options for the pursuit of policy objectives by means of 
conventional forces . . . . 7 

All of that makes admirable sense; however, it makes American, 
not Soviet, sense. It was not what the Soviets thought about it or 
subsequently did. They began pursuing the buildup of conven- 
tional forces, but dual-equipping them with nuclear weapons, 
preparing the population for nuclear war, and pursuing the 
qualitative and quantitative improvements of their strategic forces 
wherever possible. In short, they were pursuing a policy of 
maximizing the change in "the correlation of forces" on every 
level while externally trying to pacify the United States with 
discussions of "peaceful coexistence" and "detente." Their point 
was that the struggle was to continue and was, in every sense of 
the word, strategic. The fight was for the overthrow of the 
capitalist system and its sources of power. While Professor 
Kolkowicz was not arguing unreasonably, his terms of reference 
were not from the Soviet system of thought. His overall 
conclusion, that the utility of a preponderance of strategic 
weapons was "insignificant," did not square either with the Soviet 
past or the Soviet present. 

A significant statement about the degree to which Soviet 
concepts were not taken into account was made by the chief U.S. 
delegate to the Strategic Arms Limitations Talks, the Director of 
the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency and a negotiator 
of two strategic arms accords signed in Moscow in May 1972, 
Ambassador Gerard Smith. Ambassador Smith, in a Senate 
hearing, said: 


I think the Soviets, as a result of the SALT negotiations, 
have moved toward accepting the concept of assured destruc- 
tion. I would say that I don't know. I have no way of judging 
whether their doctrine, their national doctrine, says that this 
is their national strategic concept. I just don't know. 8 

The most basic, widely defended and discussed Soviet military 
concept is that once the imperialists begin the war (and there is a 
corollary that seems to justify preemption on the basis of a Soviet 
assessment of U.S. intentions) rapid obliteration of the enemy's 
strategic forces and defenses, economic capability and the reserves 
of the rear will be required inasmuch as the war will be fought to 
the finish and will result in the triumph of socialism and the total 
destruction of capitalism. It is extraordinary that our chief 
negotiator did not know that and that Soviet doctrine repeatedly 
rejects "assured destruction" as simply not relative to class war. 

A major problem, then, is that there is a widespread tendency 
to pay little attention to what the Soviets are saying and to 
attribute American preconceptions to their side. Of course, the 
Soviets do the same for us which creates something of an Alice in 
Wonderland world. 

To dismiss what the Soviets write about war is very strange 
(perhaps schizophrenic) when one considers how many billions are 
spent on defense, intelligence, news coverage and diplomacy. The 
Soviets make no secret of their concepts, attitudes and intentions 
about the West. Perhaps more ominous, their mirror can be just as 
one-way as ours. The difference is that they are locked into their 
vision. In matters of security, deviations are not permitted. 
Everyone must support the same line and we must assume that 
almost everyone does. 

Perhaps the West tends to ignore the Soviet's dogma because 
two realities are so far apart; however, the party line is massively 
expounded and repeated in all forums, whether by Brezhnev, 
Admiral Gorshkov or a military correspondent. One example can 
serve for many. Here is a passage from The Officer's Handbook, 
published by the Ministry of Defense. 

Contemporary capitalism is not only an obsolete reaction- 
ary system slowing down historical progress, but also a 
dangerous aggressive force which threatens world civilization. 
The struggle of the working class and all workers against 
imperialism is a historical necessity. Only by considering this 
objective regularly is it possible to approach correctly an 


understanding of all types of contemporary wars, the culprits 
of which are the imperialists. They unleash both world wars 
and local wars directed toward the strangling of liberation 
movements, the seizure of foreign soil and the enslavement of 
the peoples of other countries. 

Bourgeois armies always and in all circumstances bear the 
stamp of the ruling class and protect its interests .... Life 
itself shows that a bourgeois army is the tool of the 
imperialist state and defends the rotten foundation of 

In order to force the people to wage war, the imperialists 
process the troops in an intensified manner in a spirit of 
an ti- communism and they bring them up on misanthropic 
ideas of racism. Developed especially persistently among the 
servicemen is a feeling of cruelty with respect to the peaceful 
population and an aspiration for personal profit. The results 
of such "upbringing" were graphically manifested in the 
behavior of the American militarists in Vietnam. They even 
exceeded the Hitlerites with their atrocities. 9 

It is a fool's paradise to pretend that these are not operative 
concepts. What and who is to contradict them? For instance, when 
one reads the following: 

The employment of two atomic bombs also did not play a 
decisive role in the capitulation of imperialist Japan, since 
total victory over Japan was achieved as a result of the 
destruction of its Kwantung Army by the Armed Forces of 
the Soviet Union. 1 ° 

one may react with indignation but one may also be assured that 
such a statement does not find contradiction within the Soviet 
Union. It is necessary to take into consideration the fact that such 
concepts are shaping Soviet thinking and it is beside the point to 
argue that they are not true. Marxism and the Soviet censorship 
have insured the relativity of truth. 

Under these circumstances, our estimate of the Soviet Navy 
cannot be simply derived. Because the object of a massive system 
of security, censorship and disinformation is to keep us from 
knowing or to mislead us about the nature of what we know, 
without sources of intelligence information we would be almost 
helpless in the hands of the Soviet propaganda machine. 


That being the case, America's reaction to intelligence is odd. 
As the Soviets want the outside world to know very little of what 
happens in their country (they want their own citizens to know 
very little, too) nearly everyone who shows an interest in the 
Soviet Union is, willy-nilly, an intelligence operative. At least the 
Soviets respond that way. To keep them under surveillance, 
diplomats, correspondents, tourists, students and exchange pro- 
fessors are all controlled through elaborate organizations and 
systems. There are coordinated efforts to keep them from 
knowing more than that which is authorized. 

As one acute observer said: 

If better diplomats are found among the Russians than 
among highly civilized peoples, it is because our papers warn 
them of everything that happens and everything that is contem- 
plated in our countries. Instead of disguising our weaknesses 
with prudence, we reveal them with vehemence every morning; 
whereas, the Russians' Byzantine policy, working in the 
shadow, carefully conceals from us all that is thought, done 
and feared in their country. We proceed in broad daylight, 
they advance under cover; the game is one-sided. The 
ignorance in which they leave us blinds us; our sincerity 
enlightens them; we have the weakness of loquacity; they 
have the strength of secrecy. There, above all, is the cause of 
their cleverness. 1 1 

That was written in 1839 by a French traveler, the Marquis de 
Custine, who, after his journey to Imperial Russia warned that 
although the future was obscure, one thing was certain, that the 
world would witness strange things done by "this predestined 
nation." What seems to be insufficiently appreciated now, as it 
was in Custine 's time, is the degree to which Russia's different 
concepts cause distortion both here and there. The ubiquitousness 
of the misconceptions about the Soviet Union, the degree to 
which commentators simply project their own cultural assump- 
tions, is undoubtedly, in part, the result of the very incomprehen- 
sibility of what they see, and a desire to impose some familiar 
order on a significantly different world. 

It is obviously of paramount importance that both sides read 
the signals correctly and that each side know how certain acts will 
be interpreted. We cannot afford to misunderstand crises, such as 
the Czech uprising in 1968, in which the Soviet Union regarded its 
vital interest as dangerously threatened by a "savage attempt to 


inflict damage on socialism ... by international reactionary forces 
and internal anti-socialist, counterrevolutionary elements in 
Czechoslovakia in their 1968 intrigue." 1 2 

On our own side, perceptions of even quite concrete facts, no 
matter how significant, can be ignored. The problem is always one 
of focus, of recognition, of having a context or system into which 
information can be meaningfully placed. For example, the Soviets 
have been writing for more than 15 years about the fundamental 
changes in the nature of war, the revolution in military art, the 
radical requirements placed upon strategic planning by the new 
technology. Yet many in the West most concerned with defense 
and security are sometimes only vaguely aware of the implications 
of such doctrines. 

Most war plans appear to start with the rather absurd 
assumption that the Soviets will give 30 days warning of their 
intention to launch an attack. (How such notions can persist after 
the occupation of Prague in 1968 is a mystery.) Soviet practice is, 
of course, to minimize signals, disguise preparations, misinform 
and mislead. According to their own doctrine, if they could not 
attack almost without warning they would not attack. 

A very brief sketch of the difference in the two mentalities- 
Soviet and American— may be helpful in explaining how critical 
questions can be often misunderstood or overlooked. 



The eminent authority on Soviet Russia, Harvard's Professor 
Richard Pipes, 1 observed that because both Russia and America, 
although offshoots of different aspects of European civilization, 
reject that civilization (although for different reasons) they have a 
superficial resemblance that seems to give rise to the theory of 
convergence-that the two societies are bound to come together. 
There were some grounds for arguing that that was happening 
before 1917, but the Bolshevik Revolution reversed that trend so 
that a theory of divergence would now make more sense. What 
happened was that the country's Western-oriented element, the 
intellectuals, the administrators, the educators, were eliminated 
and those who came into power were the small tradesmen and 
provincial workers— Brezhnev, Kosygin, Podgorny, et al.-who 
represented the forces of xenophobia, anti-intellectualism, and 
who rejected the West with all of its political baggage of 
enlightenment, democracy, and individualism. The new power 
center, although atheistic and antireligious, perpetuated the 
cultural responses of old Moscow in a new form. Its orientation is 
theological in the sense that it accepts beyond proof, beyond 
question, and on faith, a complete set of Marxist- Leninist 
principles about the nature of reality, the meaning of the universe, 
man's mission, and the nature of paradise. The role of the 
theoretician, like the role of the priest, is to show how these truths 
are manifested in society. He is to find evidence of proof but he is 
not to be objective about it. To question this state of affairs is to 
identify oneself as a heretic, and the fate of heretics, in recent 
memory, was no less severe, cruel and merciless than the fate of 
the victims of the Spanish Inquisition. 

What is important in understanding the Soviet Navy in the 
context of the Russian mentality is to grasp that this state of 
mind, consistent with its own terms, does not necessarily lead to 
acts that the West would judge, in its ignorance, as wise, rational 
and in Russia's self-interest. In any militantly self-righteous 
movement, such as even America's in Vietnam, the conviction that 


one is serving a higher cause inevitably has tended to affect 
restraint and rational perspective. 

In Soviet terminology, there is no concept of a "balance," of a 
"stable community of nations," or "convergence." The Soviet 
Government can only look at the idea of any "equilibrium" as a 
tactical maneuver employed on the way to achieving the "workers' 
paradise," a concept so strong that it is used to justify the 
sacrifices demanded of the Soviet people. 

One of the major and most obvious differences between the 
Soviet and American mind is that of the understanding of time. 
There is no date by which the workers' paradise has to be 
achieved. There can be great patience in the attainment of goals 
and there can be failures without the loss of face. Lenin accepted 
the reality of one step forward and two back. Since the goal of 
mankind is to serve this great cause, individual lives tend to be 
unimportant. Egos do not have to be assuaged by rapid 
promotion. Gorshkov and Brezhnev and most of the rest of the 
political and military leaders will probably serve until they die. 
Like monks, their commitment is forever. Under the czars, too, 
the state's interests were protected by a service class (which the 
Soviets have reconstituted in the form of the military hierarchy 
and Communist Party members) that in return for its loyalty and 
complete lifetime dedication was given special privileges and 

The fact that the Western press and analysts are constantly 
predicting the retirement or death of Communist leaders is 
indicative of the temptation to make ethnocentric projections 
based upon our own experience. Unlike Russians, Americans 
expect rapid changes. Because our Presidents are elected every 4 
years, officers face new billets every 3 years, and executives 
change jobs periodically we are all attuned to the need for our 
elite groups to make their mark, achieve some distinction, 
reorganize some department, or "solve" some problem so that 
they can make their next promotion or election. This, of course, 
affects our military estimates, our politics, our defense posture, 
and our negotiating techniques. According to Pipes, the Soviets are 
fully aware of the fact that we are in a hurry and will make 
concessions; that every few years the team will change; that 
possibly the head of the American negotiating team will not have 
had time to do his homework. 

As opposed to the integrated, all-embracing social concepts of 
the Soviets, Americans are educated to think more in mechanistic 
terms— that there are all-inclusive laws that govern, quick solutions 


to behavioral problems, and stable contracts in human affairs. 
Quite often reality is viewed in terms of either/or. You have peace 
or war; defense or offense; democracy or dictatorship; a balance 
between "for" or "against"; tactics or strategy; and so on. The 
customary question is, "Who is ahead; who is winning?" The 
communist menace is either an aggressive threat or it isn't. We 
seem to have to decide between being in a hot or cold war. We 
strive for categories of definition-a clean sort of the cards. 

Our tendency is always to compromise, not only because that is 
the language of commerce but also because our "supersalesmen" 
need to come hornj with a deal. We begin our negotiations by 
"sweetening the kitty" and then settle down to making conces- 

Russia has not been a commercial nation but an agrarian and 
feudal one until very recent times. At the time of the Revolution, 
90 percent of the population lived in rural communities and even 
now 40 percent do. Russians have a mentality not based upon 
theories of enlightened self-interest. Instead, officially at least, 
they have adopted the powerful weapons of Marx's economic 
analysis to enforce unified values on mankind. 

If the Soviets make a practice of trying to deceive us and if we 
seem to cooperate by wanting to deceive ourselves, how then can 
we know the truth? That is an either/or question and the answer is 
that we probably cannot know the truth. What we can know, 
however, is what they say and, to a certain extent, what they do. 
If there is a correlation, then that suggests a degree of confirma- 
tion that we should take seriously. To that end a study of the 
Soviet Navy is very useful as its comparatively recent rebuilding 
must reflect current Soviet strategic goals and concepts. Without 
question, the Soviet Navy must conform to the current concepts 
of war. It should first be examined from that point of view. 

The formula about the danger of war hardly ever changes. It 
argues that: 

. . . the forces of imperialist reaction and aggression, which 
have not given up their attempts to undermine the process of 
strengthening peace and normalizing the international situa- 
tion, still exist and are actively operating on our planet. 
These forces have not been neutralized, and the danger of 
war has still not been eliminated. The Party teaches that as 
long as imperialism, whose aggressive nature has not been 
altered, remains, the real danger of an outbreak of a new 
world war continues to exist. In the capitalist states, 


preparation of the material base for warfare has not eased, 
military budgets are growing, and new armament systems, 
above all the latest nuclear- missile submarine system, are 
actively being developed. 2 

This is a quite straightforward statement that differs little from 
the party line for the last 15 or so years. Certainly it reaffirms 
Marshal Grechko's statement in 1972 that: 

While firmly and consistently defending the principles of 
peaceful coexistence, the party at the same time teaches us 
not to forget that the nature of imperialism and its aggressive 
essence remains unchanged. 3 

Like all official Soviet language, however, these statements are 
Aesopian— they have to be interpreted— for they rely on a fairly 
large body of doctrinal pronouncements. In essence the Soviet 
view of the East-West struggle clearly is modified but not 
abandoned. There are circumstances in which the Soviets would 
engage in war, circumstances that might not be obvious to Western 

Arguing that a Soviet concept of war exists is neither 
warmongering nor raising the specter of the cold war. Soviet 
publications are extensively devoted to war, its horrors, its 
imminence and its demands. War and revolution for years have 
been the staple subject for the majority of TV programs that are 
not about sports or music. War is the subject of a comprehensive 
civil defense program that even reaches into the kindergartens. War 
and the danger of war are part of nearly every major speech by 
government and party leaders. Anyone who reads Russian knows, 
then, that war is a major preoccupation of the Soviet communica- 
tions media, the government and the party. That is not surprising 
as a theory of war is one of the basic concepts of Marxism- 

Western analysts routinely point out that Lenin was greatly 
influenced by Clausewitz and that the Soviets have adopted the 
maxim that war is a continuation of politics by other means. 
Unfortunately, that is an enormous simplification of the Soviet 
position which, if left uncorrected, leads to mistaken notions. 
According to the Soviets, war in the 20th century is funda- 
mentally different from wars in the past because of technological 
changes and the intensification of the class struggle. This leads to 
radical changes in strategy and operations. 


The war in Vietnam has been interpreted by Soviet theoreticians 
as an ideal example of the new class war and the inevitable victory of 
the proletariat over the imperialist aggressors. The Vietnamese won, 
they argue, for conceptual, as well as for military reasons. The 
United States did not understand that it was fighting a class war. It 
assumed, so the explanation goes, that when overwhelming power 
was applied against inferior power, the inferior power would be 
defeated and subside. But the center of power was not in the arms. 
Instead it was in the class consciousness of the fighting men, their 
knowledge that destiny was on their side, that the forces they were 
fighting were doomed and that they were backed by the solidarity of 
working men everywhere, even those in the enemy camp whose 
consciousness merely had to be awakened. That is not Clause witz. 

Clausewitz' ideas, interpreted by such writers as Mahan, tended to 
see the world in mechanistic terms: lines of communication, specific 
nations and groupings of nations, concentrations of power and 
colonial dependencies. Of course such terms carry over into the 
writings of Lenin and modern Soviet commentators, but in that 
context those words function differently, as we shall see. 

The concept is both Marxist and deeply Russian, that life— people, 
nature, the elements, ideas— is in a constant state of struggle, an idea 
opposite to the usual Western preconception that matter can be 
brought into balance and that political harmonies can be achieved 
and maintained. For the Russian peasant, as well as for the Marxist, 
such harmonies come about only in paradise, whether it is God's 
paradise or the workers' paradise. For the rest of life, which is 
tenuous and not individually significant, there is constant struggle. 

The idea that there can be peace short of that paradise occurs 
nowhere in Soviet Marxist literature. What does appear is the idea of 
a continuation of the struggle on various levels. The essential point, 
so often overlooked, is that there is no possibility in Marxist doctrine 
for an accommodation of or convergence with the social orders of 
Western capitalistic democracies. To put it in Western, mechanistic 
terms, the ideas in each "camp" are destined to repel. This being the 
case (and it will shortly be shown why it must be so), any idea of 
detente can only be considered with the mental reservation that it is 
a temporary tactic in what is seen as a cosmic battle between forces 
that are either good or evil. 

The interpretation here of the religious nature of the Soviet 
theory of war may come as a surprise; nevertheless, if one reads 
what the Soviets write then one quickly sees that the basic 
conceptions revolve around a core of ideas that are derived 
deductively (a central "truth" is accepted on faith and the 


world is shown to support that "truth") instead of inductively (in 
the manner of science). Let us examine a few cases. 

The foreword to a book on Lenin's treatment of the problems 
of contemporary war, which is recommended reading for soldiers 
and sailors and probably required reading for all officers of the 
Soviet Armed Forces, begins: 

The entire revolutionary era in human history is associated 
with the name and activity of Vladimire Il'ich Lenin— the 
brilliant successor to the revolutionary teachings of K. Marx 
and F. Engels, and the founder of our Party and the Soviet 
state. . . . Having absorbed all of the wisdom of the history of 
mankind, V.I. Lenin was able with all dialectical comprehen- 
siveness to embrace the objective logic of the development of 
social events; and by the force of his brilliant intellect to 
expound on a new field of social processes to the most 
profound depths. 4 

The theme of Lenin's godlike omniscience continues throughout 
the foreword making it clear that he understood not only "all of 
the wisdom of history" but also foresaw all aspects of modern 
strategy and tactics. This obeisance to Lenin's genius is a standard 
element of all discussions, including Gorshkov's. 

In The Officer's Handbook, the role of Marxism- Leninism in 
determining the loves and hates of the Soviet people is stated 
without equivocation. 

The communist ideology, which has become the ideology 
of the entire Soviet people, the communist morals which 
come forward as the stimulating motive for the behavior of 
our people, high political consciousness and selfless devotion 
to the ideas of communism comprise the foundation of the 
spiritual world of the Soviet man and engender a feeling of 
ardent love for the socialist Motherland and a burning hatred 
for its enemies and an indestructive steadfastness in defend- 
ing the socialist homeland. 5 

This is the rhetoric of religion. It is an invocation to a higher 
communist spirit. 

What is presented is not a unique selection from a small sample. 
Nearly everywhere and on any level one meets this kind of 
language whether from the former Minister of Defense, the 
Admiral of the Fleet of the Soviet Union, or the General Secretary 


of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet 
Union. For example, one opens the December issue of the 
Morskoy sbornik for 1975 and reads: 

The Soviet people, having successfully completed the 9th 
Five Year Plan, is worthy of greeting the 25th Congress of 
the Communist Party. 

"One can say with confidence" remarked the General 
Secretary of the CC CPSU Comrade Brezhnev at the 
preelection meeting of the workers of the Bauman sector of 
the city of Moscow on 13 June 1975, "that the forthcoming 
Congress will mark new, important guideposts on the road to 
the great goals for which our party fights, achievements for 
which we give our entire strength." 6 

Patriotism, too, is a kind of religion and generates an emotional 
fervor that gains strength from faith. A patriotic appeal to the 
motherland is used in Russia but takes second place to the appeal 
to the party which obviously, in a multinational land, has priority. 
It is the party that is the unifying force, not only internally but 
also externally, with the proletariat of all nations. 

Obviously, such statements, issued on such an enormous scale, 
say something about the Soviet attitude toward war, how and 
when it might be waged, and on what basis. They clearly reflect 
very basic information about crisis decisions not only in the 
Military Establishment but also in the Central Committee. We 
would be remiss in not trying to understand what they are telling 

The most basic notion about war held by the Soviet Commu- 
nists is that it is a struggle on class lines. As previously stated, this 
suggests a fundamentally new way of thinking about war that 
dictates new concepts of strategy. An idea of the "class nature" of 
war suggests that the Soviets do not expect to fight nations but 
groups or coalitions determined by economic functions. The 
explanation for the fact that the Soviet Union must make treaties 
and agreements with nations (rather than with the classes) that are 
her natural enemies is simply that the ruling groups, although 
condemned by history, are in control and are able to deceive the 
masses about the nature of their true interests. 

This all leads to a theory of war that is not based upon some 
grand strategy for lebensraum, or colonial dependencies, or foreign 
markets. The strategy is to defeat the ruling classes who are 


preserving "outmoded" economic systems. The first priority for 
protecting the interests of the worldwide revolution is to insure 
the inviolability of the center (Moscow), the sacred bastion of 
orthodoxy, and the armory of the international proletariat. 
The second priority is to promote and protect socialist move- 
ments elsewhere. With such precepts for strategy, it is obvious 
that the causes of war for the Soviet Union would not be the 
same as those that would incite the United States to take up 

In the communist idiom war is not, of itself, bad. There are 
times when it is justified. One lesson of history, according to 
Lenin, is that war accelerates change from outmoded social 
systems to the new order of mankind. In fact, until the capitalist 
system is eradicated, a violent struggle, if not a war, is considered 
to be almost inevitable because, according to the Marxist doctrine, 

. . . the aggressive policy of the imperialist states which is 
directed toward the preparation and unleashing of predatory, 
marauding wars, is caused by the basic economic law of 
contemporary capitalism according to which the goal of 
capitalist production under imperialism is obtaining the 
maximum profits by the monopolists. 7 

Once the United States, the leader of the capitalist system, is 
eliminated, it is likely that mankind will be freed from the scourge 
of war inasmuch as "imperialism was and remains the only source 
of military danger." 8 

Violence, then, is a handmaiden of history. It can be used, 
according to Lenin, incorrectly-Marxists argue that that was the 
case in Vietnam-"but then it is doomed to death by history. But 
it is possible to use violence relying on the leading class and on the 
higher principles of a socialist system, order and organization. 
Even then it may temporarily experience failure, but it is 
invincible." 9 

Although Soviet leaders ritually condemn nuclear war and war 
in general as a danger to mankind, they do not condemn either 
violence or struggle. For example, such statements as the following 
are customary: 

Conscious of its internationalist duty, the Communist 
Party of the Soviet Union will continue to pursue a line in 
international affairs which helps further to invigorate the 
world-wide, anti-imperialist struggle, and to strengthen the 
fighting unity of all its participants. 1 ° 


For those who look forward to a period of peace and friendship, 
the Premier made himself very clear about the conditions in which 
it would have to thrive: "The full triumph of the socialist cause all 
over the world is inevitable. And we shall not spare ourselves in 
the fight for this triumph, for the happiness of the working 
people!" 1 l Although expressed in somewhat less vitriolic terms, 
the same intentions were affirmed in the 25th Party Congress. 
What was being argued was that in the international sphere the 
Soviet Union was continuing to try to consolidate its alliance with 
the forces of socialism, the international working-class movement 
and "people's liberation movements." 

The temptations for communists in this struggle are very great 
indeed because imperialism, the stage the Western World is now in, 
is considered to be the highest and the last stage of capitalism. It 
will be followed by socialism. According to Lenin, and therefore 
to current Soviet doctrine, there are five characteristics of 
imperialism that have finally developed: 

1. The concentration of the means of production and 
capital to create monopolies. 

2. The union of finance capital with industry to create a 
financial oligarchy. 

3. The export of capital rather than the export of goods. 

4. The formation of international capitalistic monopolies 
and combinations that divide up the world. 

5. A legalistic division of the world by capitalistic govern- 

The idea of the stages of imperialism may seem very far from a 
discussion of the Soviet Navy, but it is of direct, immediate 
importance. It affects how part of the navy is to be used and 
therefore built as well as the Soviet Government's military 
priorities. For example, the Soviet Government's reading of the 
degree of maturity of the imperialist order affects its estimates of 
the imminence of war and therefore of the order of priorities in 
budgetary allocations. 

If Mahan was the strategist of imperialism then Lenin was 
clearly the strategist of its demise, for many of his writings are not 
theoretical and abstract but explore concrete tactics for the 


breakup of the power of Western governments. A summary of his 
conclusions follows: 

1. The new epoch is the epoch of imperialistic wars and 
proletarian revolutions. Wars are inevitable as are revolutions. 

2. In this stage of development, there is not a "national" 
capitalism but a worldwide imperialistic chain. 

3. Before the chain can be broken, revolution and 
socialism will have to conquer in one or a few countries. 

4. The country in which socialism is victorious will serve 
as the worldwide base for revolutions. 

5. It is necessary to break the imperialist chain at its 
weakest link, the source of its raw materials. That must begin 
in the East and in the colonies and will lead to the 
destruction of the whole chain. 

Therefore: the area for prime concentration is in the emerging 
nations with critical raw materials. The methods for cutting the 
link must not be limited but will be political, commercial, 
economic, cultural and military. 

Throughout Soviet literature one finds these ideas affirmed and 
elaborated upon in all disciplines. They are clearly used as a guide 
for current action and for the interpretation of current events. For 
example, the Soviets claim that all wars since World War II have 
been started by the imperialistic powers with the United States in 
the vanguard. According to Major General Milovidov, the United 
States is responsible for "thirty aggressive wars and military 
conflicts of various scales." 1 2 

Given such views, combat readiness takes on a more realistic 
meaning and although high Party officials may talk about the 
danger of nuclear war receding (they are always very careful in 
their terminology about the kind of war they mean) they, as well 
as others, balance such statements with concern about the 
heightening of tension that ensues as imperialism moves toward its 
demise. Almost always the authority of Lenin in invoked: 

History has confirmed the correctness of the methodologi- 
cal position taken by Lenin, based on analysis of the class 
struggle with imperialism: " . . . The force of the revolution, 


the force of the impact, the energy, decisiveness and triumph 
of its victory at the same time heighten the force of 
resistance by the bourgeoisie. The greater our victory, the 
greater the extent to which the capitalist exploiters learn to 
unite and shift to move resolute attacks." 1 3 

The Marxists- Leninists see two factors limiting the power of 
imperialism and both are militant: the growing political power of 
socialism and the development of its military strength. 

In the West, fashions in ideas change rather rapidly. We tend to 
equate the passage of time with the notion not only of political 
and economic progress but also progress in comprehension. Thus 
we tend to assume that ideas held 10 or 15 years ago, much less 20 
or 50, are interesting but no longer operational. The strategic ideas 
of the Soviets are, at least in their major thrust, timeless in the 
sense that there is no evolution of concepts; there is only the 
fulfillment of a predetermined plan. The supreme leader's genius is 
displayed by the correctness of his estimate of the economic stage 
of civilization on its predetermined march and the brilliance of his 
tactics in dealing with international imperialism and internal 
economic growth. But the basic elements of the doctrine remain 
unchanged. Lenin is considered to have said it all. His modern 
interpreters are allowed only limited scope for maneuver. This was 
clearly displayed by Brezhnev when he said: 

Following Lenin's behests, we shall continue to strengthen 
our country's defense, to furnish our army with the most 
sophisticated weapons. Our army has been, is now and will 
continue to be an army of peace, a dependable bulwark of 
security for all peoples. 1 4 

Much of the Western analysis of the Soviet Union is questionably 
based upon the preconception that the Soviet leaders really want 
to live like us, maintain the status quo and would prefer not to go 
through all of this ideological fuss. Leaders are commonly thought 
to be political pragma tists, like ours tend to be, who are forced 
sometimes to make ideological pronouncements for tradition's 
sake. Such notions are quite irrational in themselves. Among the 
many systems of political thought, there is nothing inevitable 
about pragmatism. Even the idea that man should be happy, which 
most of us assume as the preconception of political action, is not a 
Soviet assumption. 

Why is the dialectic so often ignored when Soviet intentions are 
discussed? It is an official doctrine that is considered scientific. It 


has such force that, until recently, Einstein's theory of relativity 
could not be studied because it contradicted Marxism. Even now, 
theories of anthropology, Freud's theories in psychoanalysis, and 
nearly all Western schools of history or literature are forbidden. 
Great poets, musicians and artists are hounded even to their deaths 
for not creating in approved modes. As the dialectic dominates the 
universities and intellectual life, it also dominates foreign policy 
and strategic planning. It is the thread that provides sense and 
continuity to thought and provides the source for bureaucratic 
rationalization. How then can it be avoided? 

The entire Marxist concept of the universe is based upon 
struggle. As Marx wrote in the Communist Manifesto, the history 
of human society is the history of class warfare. This basic law is 
related to three of Marx's dialectical laws, fundamental to the 
Soviet view of war. They are summarized as follows: 

a. The law of the unity and struggle of opposites. 

b. The law of the transformation from quantity to 

c. The law of the negation of the negation. 

The first law is the major basis for the communist idea of class 
warfare and has formed the foundation for the idea of constant 
struggle. The law is that all things are organically tied together but 
that all things are in conflict; all have their negative and positive 
sides; their past and future; their contradictions between the old 
and the new, the dying and being born. This is the most important 
law for it leads to the understanding that development is not 
harmonious, progressive and sequential. Change occurs through 
violence as a resolution of opposites. The expulsion from Egypt or 
the retreat from Cuba may not be agreeable but they can be 
explained by this theory. In this theory the United States is, of 
course, the contradiction, the opposite, one of the causes of 

This law, emphasizing struggle rather than harmony, makes a 
mockery of the Western notion of "destabilization." Officially, 
the Soviets cannot assume that a harmonious relationship is 
possible with the United States. 

The second law, that of the transformation from quantity to 
quality, is also imponant and has military applications. The idea is 
that things accumulate or change gradually, by addition or 


subtraction, in a quantitative way, but once this change exceeds 
that which the nature of the thing dictates, then there is a sudden 
qualitative transformation. The thing becomes something else on a 
different level. 

This law has been very influential in shaping Soviet policy and 
in determining the theory of war, for it says that if the law of 
development dictates a sudden transformation then the change of 
social classes from oppressed races into independent socialist 
entities does not come about through small accommodations and 
reforms such as labor unions and social security, for example, but 
explosively, by revolution. 

This law, too, justifies violence and insures that the arms race 
does not abate, for the quantitative accumulation of arms can lead 
to a qualitative change in war. That was one of the lessons of the 
Battle of Stalingard— which has become a model of Soviet military 
thought— where the massing of armament turned the tide. Now the 
advent of nuclear weapons has made warfare totally new and 
qualitatively different. This law also reinforces the historic Russian 
experience of the importance of mass in battle. The rapid 
recognition and acceptance of the revolution in military affairs, 
which led to a very dynamic change in Soviet military thinking, 
almost certainly was influenced by a knowledge of this law of the 
transition from quantitative to qualitative change. 

The law of the negation of the negation forces military analysts 
to keep rethinking military art as the old is constantly giving way 
to the new. This law gives Soviet military theorists the authority 
to criticize American military concepts for being outmoded and 
inflexible. Without this guide to an understanding of the universe, 
thought is unscientific and backward. It is, in short, historically 

Admiral Gorshkov was referring to this law when he said: "The 
qualitative transformations which have taken place in naval forces 
have also changed the approach to evaluating the relative might of 
navies and their combat groupings . . . M1 5 The negation of the 
negation is the basic law of the dialectical reasoning. The thesis, 
capitalism, gives rise to its antithesis, communism, and through the 
battle of the two there is a temporary synthesis, some form of 
socialism. (There are a great number of possible variations on this 
theme.) What happens, however, in any dialectical argument is 
that "synthesis "-is eventually negated and the process begins again 
in a never-ending chain of development. (The logical flaw that 
Marxists cannot resolve is the question of what comes beyond 
communism in the endless change.) 


This law, too, has been applied to warfare, as we shall see, and 
reinforces the historic Russian patience. It can be used to justify 
even political failure as every manifestation of a historic process is 
an indication of forward movement even when it appears that the 
opposite is true. With such a philosophy it is difficult to become 

This, like the other "laws," is also a cruel law. Manifestations in 
history that can be labeled as "an antithesis" can be negated 
without moral qualms. That can be applied to whole societies and 
classes. It has been used to justify the liquidation of people and 
even nations. The elimination of ruling classes— men, women and 
children— would be and has been considered a morally justified 

The dialectic then justifies war and revolution. What it cannot 
tolerate is any peaceful relationship with capitalism. Its laws 
cannot be rejected because if they were, any possible basis for 
legitimacy of the Soviet Government and the power of the 
Communist Party would disappear. While it is possible to argue 
that the severity of change can be somewhat diminished, Marxist 
dialectic insists that the imperialist order will never submit 
peacefully to its own liquidation. Although the change in the 
correlation of forces causes the imperialists to be cautious and 
intimidated, violence is likely, probably unavoidable. 

Western observers have long been puzzled that Soviet leaders 
talk about the necessity of avoiding nuclear war and yet all of 
their war games and their new war materiel show that they are 
preparing for nuclear war. The laws of the dialectic give an 
explanation. Violence is assured and stability is not. Mere human 
reason and leadership cannot abrogate that condition. The 
imperialist governments, in spite of all of their assurances, once 
they realize the imminence of their defeat, may resort to nuclear 
war. From the Soviet point of view, one must respond to the 
scientific laws of history. The arguments of Western diplomats, 
ignorant of those laws, can be of little more than transitory 

There are many other aspects of Marxism that are important for 
understanding the Soviet view of war and revolution; however, we 
shall discuss only two more: the doctrine on revolution and the 
theories of the crisis of the old order. 

According to Marx and Lenin, and to the undisguised glee of 
the Soviet commentators in the modern media, capitalist systems 
are doomed to undergo ever increasingly severe economic crises. 
These crises are "good" as they mark phases toward the ultimate 


collapse of imperialism altogether. The crises are economic and 
social in nature. Increasing unemployment, lessening demand, 
inflation and recession and depression are all among the indicators. 
Marxists, and of course Soviets, argue that one should not do 
anything to help to reduce these problems or to ease the suffering 
of the masses in foreign countries as that would reduce the 
momentum of change. It is through the exacerbation of these 
conditions that progress occurs in the form of the awakened 
consciousness of the proletariat and therefore they are to be 
encouraged. But economic problems must be carefully monitored 
not only in order to measure the speed of the decline of the West 
but also to ensure the proper degree of military preparedness. 
Because the Soviets expect the crisis of capitalism to lead to an 
increase in the number of conflicts and an increase in the 
danger of war, such periods heighten their own sense of 
danger and alarm. 

The doctrine on revolution is also important because it adds 
another dimension to our understanding of the Soviet theories of 
war. It also relates to the primary source of the breach between 
the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China which 
indicates the extraordinary importance of ideological arguments in 
the preparations for war. 

In the Communist Manifesto, Marx and Engels held that 
revolution would come about through the organization and leader- 
ship of the working class. Later, that doctrine was modified in The 
Critique of Political Economy and more clearly in Das Kapital In 
the latter, Marx held that socialism would arise dialectically ; that is, 
through the conflict of the contradictions within the capitalist 
system. It was argued that there were stages of development and that 
until the contradictions had "ripened" sufficiently, there would not 
be the qualitative change to the new system. 

But such a theory was too passive for Lenin. He could not wait 
for the "ripening" and called for taking up arms. His final position 
on revolution has replaced Marx's as the classical doctrine for the 
world communist movement. Lenin held that the revolution had 
to be organized. A great body of his writing deals with the tactics 
of bringing about the violent overthrow of the old regime. Above 
all else, Lenin, though Machiavellian certainly, was a brilliant 
tactician. In any case, as a result of the success of the Bolshevik 
Revolution achieved against overwhelming odds, Lenin became the 
foremost authority on the subject. 

The Leninist theory, however, was modified during the 20th 
Party Congress in 1956 and it was this modification that led to the 


charges by the Chinese of "revisionism" and ultimately con- 
tributed to the major ideological basis of the Sino-Soviet split. 

The new Khrushchevian doctrine, which Brezhnev has not 
repudiated, was formulated because of the advent of nuclear 
weapons. This was the stimulus for the new tactic of "coexist- 
ence" and a new formula for seizing power. It was proclaimed that 
the proletariat could take power by achieving a parliamentary 
majority as well as through revolution. The Chinese fulminated 
against the new doctrines as anti-Leninist and revisionist. That led 
them to deny the supremacy of the Moscow priesthood and to the 
split. But the basic doctrines about the destruction of capitalism 
do not change with changes in supreme leaders. Any sensible 
Western observer realizes that the Chinese/U.S. accommodation is 
at best a very temporary one doomed by history. 

Because the Leninist tactics for the seizure of power have 
become the doctrine for most of the world's communist parties, it 
is well to review them briefly. They can be summarized as follows: 

a. Remain steadfast to the principles of Marx but flexible 
in tactics. 

b. To achieve the final goal (the seizure of power) all 
political gambits are permitted. 

c. In the interests of ultimate success, it is necessary to 
know how to change course radically. 

d. It is necessary to know how, at the proper time, to 
retreat, to take different paths, use different methods and to 
take advantage of a breathing space for the preparation of a 
new attack. 

e. It is necessary to know how to penetrate the organiza- 
tion of the enemy in order to destroy it from inside and to 
win its members over to the socialist side. 

f. One must penetrate bourgeois parliaments and institu- 
tions not for constructive work but in order to destroy them 
from inside. 

g. It is necessary to conclude political compromises with 
the enemy in order to lead him into a trap and to prepare the 
conditions for his liquidation. 1 6 


As no major move is made without reference to the teachings of 
Lenin, it can be assumed with confidence that these general tenets, 
gleaned from his work and thought, are the basis of current policy. 
And current policy is very much influenced by the doctrine on 

Marxism- Leninism focuses its primary attention on the eco- 
nomics of defeating the capitalistic nations. It is not surprising 
that many of the major clashes have occurred in the Third World 
and it is easy to predict that after Africa is in full turbulence, 
America will become an increasingly important arena. The 
Leninist objective is to attack the United States at its "weakest 
link," the source of its raw materials and trade. In a very 
significant way, Lenin has stood Mahan on his head: instead of 
concentrating on attacking the lines of communication (although 
that, too, would be done) he has advocated cutting off the supply 
at its source. In the Leninist strategy, there would be no 
commerce for the time it takes to bring the imperialists to their 
knees. With that kind of focus it is obvious why the Soviets did 
not, at first, place a higher priority on large surface ships and why 
that is now the apparent policy. 

Within the Soviet Union, economics takes the primary place in 
policy as well inasmuch as economic development is to cause a 
transformation and revolution in military affairs. The dominant 
idea is of a quantitative accumulation that will enable a qualitative 
leap. Perhaps no other viewpoint more dramatically underscores 
the differences between our two systems. The United States, both 
internally and in its foreign aid, is more or less dedicated to 
finding ways to improve the quality of life. Therefore, it tends to 
focus its attention on the consumer at home and abroad. The 
Soviet Union, however, concentrating on the future and the 
proletarian paradise to come, tends to ignore the consumer in 
favor of heavy industry that provides the kind of accumulation 
that may support qualitative leaps. 

Because of its doctrinal and oracular nature, the language of the 
texts on contemporary war, like the language of the Party 
Congresses, has a religious quality that is greeted in the West with 
some embarrassment and tends to be dismissed. Nevertheless, 
taking the total body of Soviet writings on war into account, there 
can be no doubt that the Leninist doctrine is still fully functional. 
According to Milovidov, 

The military-philosophical heritage of V.I. Lenin comprises 
the richest theoretical basis for development of military 


theory and practice under contemporary conditions .... The 
military -philosophical ideas of V.I. Lenin have withstood the 
test of time. They are convincingly confirmed by our brilliant 
victories in the Civil War, the Great Patriot War [World War 
II] , and by the steadily increasing might of the army and 
navy in the post-war period. 1 7 

The Soviet doctrine on war, then, is internationalist in scope. 
Even the idea of defense is translated into international terms, for 
the purpose of defense is to maintain the Soviet Union as the 
bastion of the world proletarian movement. For: 

If the armies of the capitalist states serve as an instrument 
of aggression and attack on other peoples, the armed forces 
of the U.S.S.R. and the other countries of socialist systems 
threaten no one; they exist in order to ensure the security of 
their states, and the peaceful building of socialism and 
communism. They are the most important factor for the 
preservation of peace in the entire world. 1 8 

The object is obviously to achieve solidarity with the armies of 
fraternal socialist countries "for the joint defense of the world 
socialist system against imperialist aggression." 1 9 

The principle of internationalism is also manifested in the 
fact that our army is built and brought up as an army of 
liberation . . . this principle also envisages aid to young 
national states in assuring their security from the intrigues of 
the colonizers and aid in military construction (the training 
of national military cadres, provision of weapons for defense 
against the attack of the imperialists, etc.). 2 ° 

American political leaders and military strategists talk about the 
impossibility of nuclear war if civilization is to continue. In 
practice, military preparedness in the United States assumes that 
nuclear war and therefore war with the Soviet Union, is an 
unacceptable solution. The Soviets assume that war is likely, 
although they try to avoid it, and in the case of war that nuclear 
war is almost inevitable. Therefore, they plan and train for the 
worst case. That is the lesson of dialectics. 

Because they believe that history is the new god, the Soviets are 
able to attach moral definitions, in addition to class descriptions, 
to war. This determines the nature of the Soviet response to war. 
There is the additional factor, taught by the dialectic, that one 


kind of war can be transformed into another; a war of national 
liberation into an imperialistic war; an imperialistic war into a civil 
war; etc. 

With this kind of definition, it is obvious that the Soviets 
cannot possibly fight an unjust war. By virtue of their economic 
stage of development, any war they fight is necessarily dictated by 
history and any conflict the United States enters is necessarily in 
opposition to the course of history. Or, as officially defined: 

Condemning predatory, imperialistic wars, Marxist- 
Leninists consider as just and support wars in defense of the 
achievements of peoples against imperialist aggression, for 
national liberation, and wars of the revolutionary classes 
which reflect the attempts of the reactionary forces to retain 
or to restore their supremacy with the use of weapons. A war 
of the workers for their social liberation and for the 
strengthening and development of socialism and communism 
is the most just war. For this very reason, by the concept of 
"just war," we imply primarily revolutionary, liberation wars 
since these wars are truly progressive and further historical 
development. 2 ! 

On the other hand, unjust wars include: 

1. Counterrevolutionary wars— the bourgeoisie against any 
revolutionary movement of the proletariat. 

2. Any aggression by the imperialist states against a 
socialist country. 

3. Wars of the imperialists to restore the colonial system. 

4. Predatory wars of the imperialists against nonaggressive 
bourgeois countries. 

5. Wars between imperialist powers for spheres of influ- 
ence. 22 

The basis for war is philosophically, politically, and historically 

Contemporary capitalism is not only an obsolete reaction- 
ary system slowing down historical progress, but also a 


dangerous aggressive force which threatens world civilization. 
The struggle of the working class and all workers against 
imperialism is a historical necessity . . . They [the im- 
perialists] unleash both world wars and local wars directed 
toward the strangling of liberation movements, the seizure of 
foreign soil, and the enslavement of the peoples of other 
countries. 2 3 

That the Soviet Union would consider initiating a war (it would 
certainly be defined in different terms) is made almost explicit in 
the definition of the goals of a socialist war: 

1. To defend "the most just social system in history." 

2. To defend the freedom and independence of socialist 
nations including their territory, culture and existence. 

3. To give aid to other socialist states and allies. 

4. To give aid to the working class of capitalist countries 
and their colonies. 

Considering the ease with which this formula is adapted— the 
argument already cited explaining the need for invading Czecho- 
slovakia is a case in point— it is really not correct to assert that the 
Soviet Union pursues a policy of avoiding war, or some dimension 
of war. It is the policy of the Soviet Union to avoid certain kinds 
of wars, or wars under certain circumstances. Theoretically, a 
socialist or proletarian army is, by definition, an implement of 
justified violence. In fact, if it were not for the danger from the 
imperialistic system, then there would be no army and no 
violence. It is the unrighteous bourgeoisie that forces the army and 
navy not only into existence but also into action. 

Although Marxists argue that war does not change policy, and 
argue that nuclear war must be avoided, they do find a positive 
value in war. It was the October Revolution, according to Soviet 
Marxists, that marked the beginning of the final phase of the 
transition from capitalism at its highest stage, imperialism, to 
socialism. Through wars by surrogates in Korea, Vietnam and 
Egypt, the Soviets have already dealt the West serious blows in the 
Third World. The Soviets believe that through their leadership and 
support, the momentum of change has been developing irre- 
pressibly and the contradictions within the capitalist system have 


been festering increasingly. These signs lead in one direction with 
two important aspects: increasing power for the socialist side and 
increasing conflict and danger of war as the bourgeois class begins 
to comprehend its danger. It is for this reason that a reduction in 
tension makes good politics. The West, with its rational and 
pragmatic interpretations, understands detente as a means of 
stabilization, and, since it thinks primarily of the present, detente 
is a goal that it finds satisfactory; for the Soviets, whose primary 
reality is in the future after the defeat of imperialism, detente 
makes excellent sense in order to deflect the attention of the 
bourgeoisie from its imminent danger. It provides a tactical pause. 

The specific application of the principles of war will be 
examined in the next chapter; however, to summarize, war on any 
level, nuclear, local or limited, is to be judged on its class nature, 
not on its destructiveness, and its outcome is predetermined. 

As Colonel Kondratkov wrote, 

The fact that the use of means of mass annihilation makes 
for world war fraught with disastrous consequences certainly 
does not mean that its class content and social character 
disappear, that it ceases to be a continuation of a certain 
policy. New weapons do not disrupt and cannot disrupt the 
connection of war with politics, they do not and cannot 
abrogate the social and class character of war. 2 4 



For most observers, the Soviet Navy is an enigma. The purposes 
for which the navy is designed are unclear. If the Soviets plan 
worldwide domination, where are the amphibious ships? If the 
Soviets intend to control the seas, where are the airplanes? What is 
the need for so much firepower on such small ships and why are 
there so many submarines? The questions are endless, and the 
answers are seldom satisfying. 

Gorshkov's many pronouncements are, to a degree, clarifica- 
tions but we must suspect them as including what such statements 
have always included in the past: some truth, much propaganda, 
some disinformation, much boasting, some bullying and a con- 
fusion of future and present. What they do confirm is what most 
observers had always known: that the Soviet Navy's primary 
interest is on the land. They also show the degree to which official 
pronouncements are tied to economic and political capabilities. At 
each stage of its development, the Soviet Navy has been praised as 
the last word in the analysis of naval warfare and all more complex 
navies, with aircraft carriers for instance, have been denigrated as 
useless and retrograde. 

Admiral Nikolai Kuznetsov 's memoirs furnish evidence that in 
1937 the Soviet Union decided, certainly at Stalin's direction, to 
build a big navy consisting of "battleships, heavy cruisers, and 
other surface war ships . . . not excluding aircraft carriers." 1 

The memoirs show that the Soviet high command was fully 
aware of the need for air cover, even in the 1930s, and for a fleet 
operating in the open ocean. Commenting on the building program 
of large numbers of battleships, without a single aircraft carrier, 
Stalin asked, "Then how far out at sea could they have gone?" 2 

Stalin would have maintained the same position with respect to 
a large oceangoing fleet composed of capital ships but without air 
protection before and after the war. As Kuznetsov said, "Stalin 
has a special and curious passion for heavy cruisers." 3 And 
apparently Stalin's views did not change, according to Kuznetsov, 
even after the war. As far as we know, the same attitudes lasted 


until approximately 1970 or whenever it was decided to construct 
the first aircraft carrier. 

As we do not know about how decisions are made, we must 
look for a continuity in the decisionmaking process. Throughout 
the Soviet and even imperial period of Russian history there has 
been an attachment to the idea of an open-ocean fleet without any 
clear strategy for its use, although apparently with a clear 
perception of its limitations because of the geographical choke- 
points surrounding Russia. 

Admiral Gorshkov's comment in an article of 1967 is extremely 
revealing. Speaking of the period when it was decided to construct 
a high-seas fleet without air cover far at sea he said, "Even then, 
when the country was creating a big oceanic navy, the strategic 
principles on which its use was based were not revised and, as a 
result, they were left just the same as those which guided our 
armed forces in the period of the rehabilitation of the navy." 4 

We need to know what were "the strategic principles" on which 
the navy's use was based for that period and for the postwar period 
so that we may make some kind of estimate about the strategic 
principles that have changed the Soviet Navy in our own era. 

Herrick is almost certainly correct when he says that the reasons 
for this kind of postwar fleet were deterrence and prestige. 5 Until 
approximately 1970 the Soviets could not afford the luxury of an 
aircraft carrier for the purpose of prestige and deterrence when other 
more flexible and less costly military means could fill that gap and 
when priority of state interest required that the main pressure be 
kept in contiguous geographical zones. The fleet was not to be on the 
high seas far from Soviet shores, showing off to the United States, 
but in contiguous waters, for the benefit of Europe. The recent 
growth of the Soviet Navy into an open-ocean fleet has been a 
natural accompaniment of the proliferation of Soviet interests from 
the Eurasian zone into all the world's oceans. 

Most analysts of the Soviet Navy (e.g., even the very capable 
editor of Janes, Capt. John Moore) sooner or later argue that events 
have taught the Soviet leaders the value of a navy and that they are 
now bound to become aggressively oriented toward the sea. For 
instance, Captain Moore refers to the lessons of the Second World 
War that "must have been apparent to the few competent senior 
officers who had survived the purges-the importance of aircraft and 
submarines, the demise of the battleship, the vital place of A/S 
warfare" and so on. 6 In other words, he argues that the Soviets 
learned they needed a fleet exactly like the Royal Navy; that is, a 
mirror image. 


It should be recalled that the Soviets had the largest submarine 
fleet in the world prior to the Second World War and resumed 
building it immediately after the war. Furthermore, they were not 
engaged in building battleships and they immediately established 
one of the largest naval air arms in the world. The evidence simply 
does not support the usually ethnocentric explanations of who 
taught whom. The Soviets, while influenced by what was 
happening abroad, were usually responding to the beat of their 
own drum. In fact, the Soviets might with some justification argue 
that they taught Western navies about the application of modern 
technology to naval warfare. 

The Soviets were the first to begin building submarines 
modularly (that is in sections that were then welded together) ; in 
the early fifties the Soviets perfected the air-to-surface missile 
carried by the Badger bomber and introduced by 1956 a 
reconnaissance and strike aircraft with a range of 3,500 miles 
without refueling; in 1956 the Soviet Zulu-class submarine put to 
sea with a 250-mile ballistic missile to be followed by the first of a 
series of nuclear-propelled ballistic missile submarines, the Hotel 
class; in November 1957 the first Sputnik flew, and it was 
obviously designed for military, including naval reconnaissance 
uses. It was not until 1959 that George Washington, the United 
States first nuclear submarine FBM, was launched with sixteen 
1,100-mile Polaris Al missiles. The world's first surface-to-surface 
missile on a surface ship appeared on the Kildin which became 
operational in 1959. The first submarine with surface-to-surface 
missiles was the Whiskey class that appeared in 1958 and went 
through some modifications before the more sophisticated version, 
the Juliet, appeared in 1962. 

Furthermore, it should be recalled that the Soviets had begun 
writing about the revolution in military science at least as early as 
1960. Theyv were quite obviously oriented to the technical and 
operational changes that the possibility of missiles had introduced 
into naval warfare long before some Western navies, including our 
own, fully accommodated them. 

One erroneous argument holds that the land-oriented Soviet 
leadership learned about the importance of navies through the 
Spanish Civil War that began in 1936. The Soviet Union played an 
important role in that war as a supplier for the Republican forces. 
The Soviets faced a problem in getting supplies to the Republicans 
through seas dominated by Germany and Italy. The contention is 
that the Kremlin leaders learned the need for seapower in doing 
so. As we saw, Stalin was already fully aware of the problems; 


however, the industrial capabilities of the country would not 
sustain the luxury of a bigger navy. 

The Anglo-French-Israeli attack on Egypt in 1956 was thought 
to be another lesson. The Soviet Union found itself unable to 
intervene because of the lack of seapower. This happened again in 
the Lebanese crisis of 14 July 1958, when American troops played 
a pacifying role. Of course the Cuban missile crisis of October 
1962 was assumed to be the crowning blow to those in the Soviet 
hierarchy resisting an expansion of seapower. 

While it would be foolish to argue that the Soviet leaders were 
not learning to use the navy in these experiences, one could, with 
similar logic, argue that the United States was forgetting how to 
use its navy in such crises as the Angolan Civil War, the Pueblo 
incident, or permitting establishment of a Soviet air base at 
Conakry. Both statements are the kind of oversimplification that 
results from a tunnel vision when one tries to judge the world 
from one perspective such as naval science. We must seek far more 
complex explanations. 

There has seldom been a time in Soviet history when the Soviet 
Government was not building armaments as rapidly as it could, 
and since the twenties the Soviet Navy has been building 
submarines on a massive scale. In addition, it was always building 
inshore defenses and constantly perfecting mine warfare. The 
naval air arm, like all Soviet air forces, was rapidly expanded after 
the war. Even before the war there was recognition of the need for 
an enlarged air force. 

Stalin probably was not taught a lesson by the problems of aiding 
the Spanish Republicans. All Soviet leaders had been keenly aware 
of military problems since the inception of Soviet power. In fact, the 
test of their leadership was in being able to mobilize and militarize 
the whole state. The problem was not demand but supply. 

As a comparatively young Marxist in the 1930s, Stalin assumed 
that the European and American imperialist powers would not 
permit a successful republican government to be established in 
Spain. Only a few years before, the Soviet Government had been 
threatened by foreign intervention. Some years later Stalin proved 
his awareness of the limits of naval power in confrontations with 
capitalist nations. He said to Milovan Djilas, commenting on 
Yugoslav support for the revolution in Greece soon after the 
Second World War, 

What do you think, that Great Britain and the United 
States-the United States the most powerful state in the 


world— will permit you to break their line of communication 
in the Mediterranean Sea? Nonsense! And we have no navy. 
The uprisings in Greece must be stopped and as quickly as 
possible. 7 

Furthermore, in the 1945 Navy Day address Stalin announced 
that the postwar Soviet Navy was to be used to aid revolutions 
throughout the world. The idea of the navy as a support for 
revolutions was to be picked by Admiral Gorshkov later but, as an 
obvious political move, it must have been frequently considered in 
the new circumstances following World War II. In 1967 Admiral 
Gorshkov, in an article entitled "The Development of the Soviet 
Navy," criticized Stalin for having made an idol out of the Second 
World War. He wrote that the acceptance of such preconceptions 
as the basis for the postwar planning 

without taking into account the changes in the correlation of 
forces in the international arena, consolidated the domi- 
nating position of the defensive tendencies among views on 
the strategic employment of the navy. These were propa- 
gated in the postwar years so that the navy was tied down 
even more than it had been before to the coastal zone 
which is controlled by the ground forces. In this manner 
the role of the navy as merely an assistant to the army was 
confirmed. 8 

Yet, while Gorshkov 's statement no doubt has considerable 
validity, leading officers of other branches of the services made 
similar statements. All had to operate under the dominance of 
Stalin's strategic ideas that were said to be based upon a repetition 
of the victories of the Second World War. But there is the apparent 
contradiction that in those years when Stalin was thought to be 
holding back modernization, the Soviet Navy was rapidly moving 
operationally and scientifically in novel and imaginative directions. 
One only need recall that 1 year after Gorshkov 's article appeared 
the first nuclear-powered Chariie-class submarine became opera- 
tional. It was armed with a subsurface launched surface-to-surface 
missile, the unique and most advanced naval weapon of its time. In 
the year of the publication of that article, sea trials were carried 
out in the Baltic by the first Kresta, a surface ship with many 
innovations in weaponry and electronics. In addition, the totally 
new design for helicopter carriers, the Moskva, appeared and 
nuclear-powered, ballistic missile submarines were launched. 


While the Soviet leaders were certainly learning about the use of 
the navy they were apparently also learning about the use of an air 
force, an army, rocket troops, intelligence services and security 
organs. While production was lagging on the collective farms, 
inadequate quantities of fertilizer were being unevenly distributed 
throughout the countryside and wasteful methods of harvesting, 
storing and distributing grain were being permitted, the armed 
forces were taking giant strides on all fronts. 

The Okean exercises of 1970 and 1975 were a stunning show of 
naval force on a very sophisticated level, explicitly demonstrating 
a threat to several European governments. These scientific, 
political and cultural demonstrations certainly proved that the 
Soviet Government did understand and promote seapower. 

The conceptual framework notwithstanding, the origins of these 
imaginative and physical accomplishments deserve close examina- 
tion. They seem to defy all of our "old saws" that under a 
totalitarian regime there is an inevitable lack of leadership, 
initiative, and innovation. For an explanation we can designate 
two groups of factors: one ideological and the other cultural and 
historical. Among the ideological factors, clearly the doctrine of 
the inevitability of war has played an enormous role. It has been 
used as a justification for the sacrifices of the present in order to 
gain the paradise of the future. The extensive exposure of the 
Soviet people to the constant recapitulation of the details of the 
Second World War reinforces the demand for that sacrifice. 

The second major ideological stimulus probably comes from the 
Leninist tactical doctrines for the defeat of the imperialist nations, 
the most important of which is the doctrine of the weakest 
link-that sophisticated industrial nations will be most easily 
conquered by cutting off their raw materials in the emerging 
nations. This doctrine has quite obviously been a major plank in 
Soviet foreign policy since the Revolution and, broadly speaking, 
it is an obvious factor in many foreign policy moves: the military 
support for Somalia and Conakry; penetration of the Mideast; and 
intensified activity in the emerging African nations. The demands 
of such a policy obviously lead to requirements for a large 
merchant navy and a high-seas fleet. The strategy is not for a 
19th-century style colonial war but for supporting what is 
ultimately to be the expropriation of the means of production. 

A final factor of considerable importance in influencing 
allocations is the materialistic and scientific base of Marxism. Its 
goal, the liberation of man, is to be achieved through production. 
Turning resources into productive channels is almost a moral 


obligation. Finally, there is the synthesis that binds all of these 
tendencies together, the theory of the dialectic through which the 
world is known, understood, manipulated and controlled. Because 
the Soviet naval analysts study military science in terms of the 
dialectic, they see each principle of operational art giving way to a 
new situation that then creates its new position of instability. 
Unlike their Western counterparts, they are not likely to be 
maneuvering for balances and then trying to maintain the status 

Among the cultural factors that undoubtedly have influenced 
innovation in the navy, the most important is certainly the 
universally observed paranoia of the Russian people. ("Paranoia" 
is not meant here in a derogatory term. Any people who have 
suffered as much as the Russian people would be fully justified in 
thinking of the world around them as a threatening and dangerous 
place. For them, it has been.) The paranoia, however, is 
heightened by their ignorance of the outside world. Even for the 
leaders it must be like Plato's cave. They must create an 
interpretation of the world from the shadows seen through their 
prison window. Fears are easily exaggerated and rumors can 
become nightmares. Such an intellectual climate certainly creates a 
very distinctive basis for crisis decisions. The rational model of 
calm and logical leaders guarding their "vital interests" will not 
help us to explain much of Soviet behavior. 

A second cultural influence of considerable importance is the 
Soviet Union's technological inferiority. This has generated an 
atmosphere in which Western ideas have been easily, in fact 
automatically, exploited and absorbed and in which Russian pride 
expresses itself by requiring a degree of innovation and improve- 
ment in the foreign model. The Russian intelligentsia has always 
been aware of the technical backwardness of the masses; therefore, 
it has had to develop systems that can withstand the punishment 
and abuse of the ignorant. These cultural and ideological tenden- 
cies have reinforced each other and have inspired the propaganda 
about the extraordinary achievements of Russians-the backward 
Slavic people, led by the party, marching toward its brilliantly 
productive workers' paradise. That is what Gorshkov meant when 
he said: 

We may assert that a state bounded by the sea, which 
does not have a navy corresponding to its importance in the 
world, thereby shows its relative economic weakness. Thus, 
each ship of a navy is a relative indication of the level of 


development of science, technology, and industry in a given 
country and an indicator of its real military might. 9 

This indicates the primary significance of the high-seas navy 
that the Soviets have built. It is a visible sign, an embodiment of a 
national and Marxist triumph, a promise of the glorious future and 
of the possibility of solidarity in the present through the 
protection of the military machine. The Soviet Navy is a challenge 
to the West because it asks, "Who indeed rules the seas?" In this 
extraordinarily important competition it is saying, "Anything you 
can do I can do better." 

The Soviet Navy's challenge to the U.S. 6th Fleet and the 
French and Italian Navies did not begin with a shot across the 
bows. According to Admiral Kasatonov, the Soviet Navy was in 
the Mediterranean to "consolidate international peace and 
security." Admiral Gorshkov wasted no time in plugging his 
favorite theme that the Soviet warships were "fulfilling the 
responsible state interests of the Soviet Union in this region." 10 
The Mediterranean also furnished an opportunity to test combat 
readiness, to be in the vicinity of the enemy and therefore to 
introduce a degree of realism that the Black Sea did not afford. 
The many indignant reports by the U.S. 6th Fleet of Soviet missile 
batteries being trained on its ships were an indication that the 
Soviet Navy was not practicing detente. 

Perhaps even more interesting, certainly more ominous at that 
time, military leaders began to speak about another of the major 
themes, that the balance of power and the correlation of forces 
had shifted from the West and was permanently altered in the 
Mediterranean. In 1968 Vice Admiral Smirnov referred to the 
change in the balance of power and the fact that the NATO fleet 
no longer had "unrestricted freedom to threaten countries in the 
Mediterranean." 1 l 

There was one element of these naval moves that has been 
consistent with a Soviet cultural pattern generally and about 
which it is useful to be aware. Because of the scientific nature of 
Marxism, the certainty of the model for the future, and the 
inexorable turning of the planning cycle, Soviets often confuse 
present reality with future plans. That which is planned, once it is 
promulgated, takes on a degree of reality that gives it an 
immediate existence. Or putting it another way, something that is 
planned is a sign of the future, and therefore it takes on such a 
reality that Soviet leaders begin to give premature signals about its 


Such, of course, was the reason for the Soviet boasts about the 
change of power in the Mediterranean. It was still very clearly a 
NATO sea; the balance of power had not shifted; the correlation 
of forces was hardly changed. Nevertheless, contrary statements 
were signals of Soviet intentions and plans as were the signals 
about the Indian Ocean, the Caribbean, and Angola. 

Another element was operating, too. Khrushchev in Cuba and 
Stalin in the Berlin blockade adopted a policy for testing the wind. 
If they succeeded, they would have repeated the action in order to 
habituate their opposition to a new order of international relations 
as they later did by their presence in Egypt. 

The Soviet practice has been to try to find a solution for the 
kind of naval threat that the United States posed and then to 
make it clear to us that it had the solution. This was not just a 
deterrent; this was also psychological warfare. Through the late 
1960s and into the early 1970s, the Soviets made a point of 
reconnoitering nearly every aircraft carrier crossing of the Pacific 
or the Atlantic. True, a percentage was missed, but the point was 
being made that the probability of detection was extremely high. 

The semiannual relief of the submarine squadrons in the 
Mediterranean was a demonstration of a similar sort. Replace- 
ments transited on the surface to the Straits of Gibraltar in an 
obvious display of naval presence, and then submerged to begin 
the game of ASW in earnest. 

Okean 1970, the most powerful naval exercise the world had 
ever seen, with its massive display of naval power at the southern 
edge of the Norwegian Sea, challenged the concept of resupplying 
NATO by sea. In case Western naval forces did not get the point, 5 
years later in Okean 1975, although fewer naval forces were 
involved, the operation was repeated. Various "convoys" were 
simulated and attacked in the Azores, the Sea of Japan and the 
Eastern Atlantic. With aerial reconnaissance by IL-38s over the 
Indian Ocean and Northern Pacific and TU-95s flying from 
Somalia and southern Russia, it became apparent that the Soviet 
Navy was in an exercise to show that it could sink Western 
shipping, break lines of communication, and attack at the weakest 
link over a vastly expanded range. 

The important question is: are the Russians coming or not? The 
answer is really rather easy: not if the world socialist revolution 
(the Soviet dominated part of it, of course) seems to the Soviet 
leaders to be spreading satisfactorily. If it is, they can point to 
themselves as Marx's true interpreters. If it is not, then we are 
probably in trouble. 


Such a formula may seem too facile and perhaps it is, but its 
implications are not. Marxists everywhere believe that they cannot 
survive in a world, dominated by imperialists, that is not moving 
toward socialism. They are probably right. The temptation, if the 
correlation of forces is interpreted as swinging more heavily in 
Soviet favor, will be to facilitate the momentum of the transition 
to socialism by eliminating, where possible, reactionary forces. On 
the other hand, in our either/or mentality, the idea of "eliminating 
reactionary forces" suggests fears of the big bomb. Marxists, with 
their greater patience and scientific theories, are likely to see many 
more possibilities. 

The problem of discussing the willingness of the Soviets to go to 
war is that one is confronted with the need to know a great deal 
about the emotional makeup of the leaders, and that information 
is denied us. Regarding the kinds of war they would fight if they 
felt threatened, however, we have enough information to speak 
with considerable certainty, and Soviet naval tactics to confirm it. 

Moscow, as a kind of "New Jerusalem," must be inviolable. It is 
the center for support of the worldwide socialist movement and 
the bastion protecting the gains of the Soviet people at home. It is 
the place where ideological, cultural and emotional reactions 
reinforce each other. It is the mecca of the socialist movement and 
of Russian nationalism. Should the Soviet leaders feel Moscow and 
any part of the Soviet land threatened they would almost certainly 
retaliate. In 1972, this concept of Moscow as the arsenal for the 
Warsaw bloc was expanded to suggest a great variety of alterna- 

In case anyone was missing the point, Brezhnev, in his foreign 
policy speech at the 24th Party Congress, and later in his visit to 
Hungary in 1972, emphasized the internationalist nature of the 
Soviet Armed Forces. The armed forces, he said, would defend the 
achievements of peaceful labor in fraternal countries. The whole 
new internationalist policy of the Soviet Armed Forces was 
summed up in a speech repeated, in part, widely by other military 
figures, by General of the Army V. Kulikov, Chief of Staff of the 
Armed Forces: 

A basic principle underlying the military policies of the 
Soviet state and our Soviet military doctrine and one that 
serves to guide the armed forces in carrying out their assigned 
tasks is the fact that our country is neither prepared for nor 
thinks about conducting a war for the purpose of gaining 
political rule throughout the world or for changing the 


existing social systems in other states .... But it will defend 
very decisively everything that has been accomplished or 
created by our Soviet people. In like measure, we will defend 
the accomplishment of other friendly socialist countries with 
whom we have signed appropriate agreements. 1 2 

This is a kind of echo of the period after the war when America 
was the defender of democracy. In that role, we went to Lebanon, 
Korea, and Vietnam. As the defenders of socialism, where might 
the Soviets not go? 

This new internationalist role for the armed forces must 
certainly bring about an expansion in the traditional Soviet 
concept of perimeter defense, a concept that gets quickly 
translated into offense, as Finland discovered in the winter of 
1939 when she did not recognize her obligation to contribute to 
the defense of Leningrad by giving up her territory. From the 
Soviet point of view, the threat to Soviet defenses brought on by 
the liberalizing movements in Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslo- 
vakia in 1968 justified the fury of Soviet repression. 

The navy's basic tactics, discussed in Section III, are geared to 
this concept too. Perimeter lines are drawn at intervals from 
Moscow. The crossing of each line by a threatening force 
automatically triggers a predetermined response. From what 
Gorshkov and others have said, we may assume that this response 
is authorized in advance. 

With the increased range of missiles, the defensive perimeters 
must be extended so that appropriate action can be taken at safer 
distances. The evidence indicates that the Soviets do, indeed, see 
the Mediterranean as an extension of the Black Sea, a point they 
have been making for years. 1 3 Now the Indian Ocean has clearly 
become a new threat sector. 

This whole concept is an excellent example of the dialectic for 
it dictates a series N of quantitative changes in the Soviet Navy that 
have led to a qualitative leap and a transformation of relationships. 
The qualitative shifts have led to an enormous transformation in 
the potential for influencing political, economic, cultural and 
other variables. 

Whether or not the Soviet actions appear to be defensive to 
great powers outside of their perimeter, they are highly offensive 
and extremely threatening to those within the circumference of 
the defensive ring. Inevitably, relationships are altered by these 
new forces and the new perceptions which follow them. 

Some of the changes this concept provokes are even geographic. 


In solving their problem, the Soviets achieved a greater coordina- 
tion between the armed forces and even the foreign service. 
Diplomacy enabled the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to present 
Conakry to the Defense Department as a kind of aircraft carrier. 
The outward reach demanding new operational scenarios, in- 
creased forces and logistics seems to have had the effect of 
reducing the importance of the geographic separation of the fleets 
or the influence of the geographical bottlenecks. As it is, the 
Soviets can bring more naval power to bear in the Indian Ocean 
faster than can any other nation. By now, the Black Sea, the Sea 
of Okhotsk and some of the Arctic are de facto Soviet. 

What about other scenarios? 

The one about an accidental naval battle somewhere in the 
world's oceans would seem to be the least likely, given the 
scientific nature of Marxism and the Russian cultural values about 
human life and human egos. The loss of Soviet lives, while not 
viewed with equanimity, would probably not excite the same kind 
of response that it would in the United States. And certainly, a 
random event, having nothing to do with the march of socialism, 
would not justify endangering the Soviet Union. Its sense of honor 

would not, in all likelihood, demand its suicide. 

The strategy for naval war is, of course, to marshal such over- 
whelming force that the opposition, upon observing the correlation 
of forces, will simply crumble. This is undoubtedly the kind of 
calculation that has led to the buildup of forces in the Mediterranean 
where Western powers will apparently no longer intervene. 

The Soviets are not obviously changing the correlation of forces in 
the Indian Ocean, for the price is to be able to strike at industrial 
Europe and Japan through the weakest link, oil. As these goals can 
be achieved more easily through the air and by land, however, it is 
likely that the Soviet Navy will not have a major role here. 

Although Marxism does dictate that the world will become 
socialist, it does not establish a timetable; nevertheless, the Soviets 
plan to increase the momentum of that transformation through, 
among other weapons, their military might. Why else do they need 
so many submarines, tanks and bombers? And having such forces 
will certainly lead to bullying. The Soviets have never been 
reluctant to follow that line when they had the power as Finland, 
Poland and the rest of the bloc can testify. These are the kinds of 
strategic problems that our war games do not like to have to 
anticipate. It is like a very slow, complex game of chess going 
forward on many levels. If a disaster comes, it will be because the 
United States continues to think that it is playing checkers. 





Contemporary Soviet concepts of strategy and ship design did 
not spring only from the critical review and strategic realignment 
of the post-Stalin period. Those decisions formed a new synthesis 
based on past experiences of future strategic demands on the 
Soviet Navy. 1 Its great emphasis on preparedness, for example, 
was intensified by history: the Soviet and Russian Navies from the 
Crimean War to the Second World War have not been ready for the 
engagements in which they first fought. 

Even geographically, the dialectical process has worked. The 
extremes of climate, the shallow seas, the lack of natural 
barriers and the vastness and basic self-sufficiency of the land have 
worked as an antithesis to any inclination to build a navy in 
imitation of foreign models. When that did happen- Stalin's plans 
in the thirties were for a blue- water navy -disaster or inaction 

The geography of the land dominates Soviet maritime concepts 
as it must do, for the space to be defended is where the narrow 
seas give way to the land. The range and speed of modern weapons 
only emphasize that relationship, reducing the importance of the 
medium in which battles are fought and increasing the importance 
of the logistical base. 2 

The concept of the battle against the shore as the primary 
mission of the Navy was also inevitable. Historically, amphibious 
operations have been those in which the Russian and Soviet Navies 
have excelled but those for which, in recent times, the Soviet Navy 
has never been ready. 

The multiplicity of cultures in the U.S.S.R. also plays a part. It 
promotes the recognition of the need to invest the land in order to 
secure a victory. Russian domination, whether in military art or in 
political control in Estonia, Egypt or Czechoslovakia, has not been 
welcome. Command and control cannot end, it is realized, with 
the destruction of the enemy navy but only when the rear is 
secure, when nationalities are merged and men are reshaped 
according to the Soviet interpretation of the Marxist mold. 


Any understanding of the dynamics of the Soviet Navy must 
include a knowledge of its past, for there has been a continuity 
with the present. Some of the historic battles have, still, an 
influence on naval operations of the present. For example, the 
destruction of the Russian Fleet at Tsushima is often cited as good 
evidence for the need to exercise in all seas, in all kinds of weather 
in order to be prepared for all possible conditions. The mutinies of 
the early 20th century and at Kronshtadt must influence the 
heavy role of political indoctrination and personnel control. These 
and other characteristics came out of Russia's past. Concepts of 
naval power were shaped by forces very different from those that 
formed the preconceptions for Mahan. 

The absence of any mention of Russian naval engagements in 
Alfred Thayer Mahan's classic, The Influence of Sea Power Upon 
History, 3 is not surprising, although his writings have been widely 
studied in the Russian and Soviet Navies. (The book was first 
translated into Russian by HIH the Grand Duke Alexei Alexandro- 
vich, the son of Emperor Alexander II.) Although the Imperial 
Russian Government was building a fleet second in size only to 
that of the United Kingdom during the period Mahan was writing, 
the Russian Navy had made few excursions out of home waters in 
the 19th century and had won only one battle -against the 
Turkish Black Sea Fleet off the port of Sinop in 1853. 
(Apparently Mahan was not interested.) Its most famous activity 
in the 19th century was a disgrace. In answer to the imminent 
attack of a Franco-English force, in a sad effort to be useful, it was 
ordered to sink its ships across the harbor entrance at Sevastopol, 
the beginning of the Crimean War, in 1854. 

After such an undistinguished record for that century, there was 
a crowning disgrace. The Baltic and Pacific Fleets were defeated in 
1904-05 by the Japanese, not only newcomers to industrial power 
and technology, but also a nation whose fleet was inferior in size 
to either of the Russian fleets it defeated. 

What was particularly instructive about these naval engagements 
was that the problems they involved, while not ignored in Mahan's 
works, were the kind that were peripheral. Although Mahan did 
not draw attention to them, these episodes had some important 
and original features. 

At the Battle of Sinop, the guns of the Russian ships fired 
explosive projectiles for the first time in history. Most con- 
temporary naval experts thought that naval warfare would no 
longer be possible. In this battle, which was very brief (but hardly 


just the five minutes Frederick Jane claimed), 4 nine Turkish ships 
and one steamer were sunk, although under the protection of the 
shore battery at Sinop, by six Russian ships with 540 guns. The 
battle was comparable in importance to the sinking of the Israeli 
destroyer Eilat in 1967 by a surface-to-surface missile. Both 
engagements ushered in a new era in naval warfare. In the Crimean 
War, after the Black Sea Fleet was sunk across the harbor, the 
naval officers and men joined the army in manning the ramparts. 
This versatility has usually marked the Russian use of men and 
weapons. One exception was the disaster of the Russo-Japanese 
war. That taught the Russian Navy a lesson that it has not 
forgotten. Because of the logistics problems on the long voyage 
and the rapid and excessive growth of marine encrustations on the 
hulls that greatly slowed the ships (to the Japanese advantage), the 
Russian and Soviet Navies have taken it for doctrine that ships 
must sail in all seas and operate in all waters in order to know the 
conditions under which they might have to fight. And finally there 
was another episode in the Battle of the Tsushima Straits in 1905 
that was probably not lost on modern Soviet historians. The 
Japanese admiral, Togo, used destroyers and torpedo boats that 
had been positioned in advance to attack the Russian Fleet in the 
night while it was repositioning the ships of the line for a renewal 
of the battle the next day. However, the Russian Fleet surrendered 
in the morning. 

There were some features of these events that were charac- 
teristic of the sporadic pattern of the Russian Navy. Largely 
antiquated at the time, it could still score a stunning victory at 
Sinop and 2 years later be at the bottom of the harbor entrance at 
Sevastopol. Then it grew from the ruins of the Crimean War again 
into a formidable force. Its naval budget was exceeded only by 
Great Britain, the United States, and France. But that did not 
prevent it from suffering a defeat with political and psychological 
repercussions that still influence the Soviets today. 

The missions of the Russian Navy, then, were different from 
those of the United States and England. The geographical 
considerations (using the term in its broadest, non-Haushofer, 
sense) that formed the preconceptions for Mahan's thought- 
industrialized nations expanding their commerce and foreign 
trade -simply did not fit Imperial Russia. His basic premise, that 
seapower was essential to national growth, that national growth 
was based upon expanding commerce that in turn required 
imperial power and control, did fit Russia, but in a different 


Imperial Russia's colonies were all contiguous. The northern 
Black Sea coast had been taken from the Ottoman Turks in the 
reign of Catherine the Great; the Caucasian kingdom of Georgia 
had willed itself as an inheritance to the Russian czar; and 
Armenia and Azerbaijan on the Caspian Sea had been absorbed 
and subdued in the 19th century. The conquest of the frontier 
regions— for Russia for four centuries the motto has been to go 
east-that had begun in the 16th century reign of Ivan the Terrible 
has only ended in this century militarily (although Red China and 
Japan would dispute that). 

Without overseas territories, the forces that Mahan saw im- 
pelling nations to the sea were simply turning Russia inward for 
the exploitation of its enormous landmass and its extraordinarily 
varied population. In addition, Russia's foreign trade was largely 
by land. It was a great importer of European technology and an 
exporter of grain and raw materials, goods that had been carried 
by water but by the end of the 19th century were being shipped 
by rail. 

Mahan was aware of the inroads that rail transport was making 
into the need for navies and wrote about it in Problems of Asia 
and Its Effect Upon International Policies which was published in 
1900, too early for a treatment of the fascinating problems of the 
Russo-Japanese war. Nevertheless, he understood that railroads 
and other means of transportation and communications were 
eroding the importance of sea lines of communication. His 
arguments were not unlike those of today in defense of navies: 
that shipping by sea in large quantities and for great distances was 
cheaper and more efficient; that sealanes constituted a line of 
communication that gave the decisive military advantage; and 
therefore, that control of the seas was indispensable. 

Interestingly enough, these ideas came to have an enormous 
European influence and eventually even changed, apparently, 
American concepts of seapower, although at the time Mahan was 
writing American strategic ideas shared much in common with 
traditional Russian ones. First and most obvious, neither nation 
had strategically essential overseas commerce; second, both fleets 
were geographically divided and there were questions of the 
control of a contiguous sea, for us the Caribbean; third, as 
relatively poor powers with long coastlines, there was a serious 
problem of dividing scarce resources for multiple objectives; and 
finally, both countries thought of their navies as defensive. (There 
was an additional Mahanian analogy: both the United States and 


Russia had such a wealth of internal resources that they were 
constantly tempted to turn inward, away from the sea.) 

However long our navy may have been satisfied to continue in 
the 19th century its mission of preventing the sacking and shelling 
of harbors and coasts (a mission that Admiral Gorshkov considers 
primary even today), the new strategic concepts and imperialistic 
mania interfered. By that time, the last decade of the 19th 
century, we had no overseas colonies and were not exporting 
philosophical concepts. But the acquisition of command of the 
Caribbean, the opening of the Panama Canal and new strategic 
responsibilities in the Pacific for the defense of the Philippines in 
1898 and Hawaii in 1899 changed all of that. "Control of the 
Seas" became an accepted doctrine and, coupled with Mahan's 
warning that a small navy on the defensive would always 
eventually be defeated by a large navy, became the foundation of 
American naval thought. In the course of this shift the United 
States lost sight of a quite important Mahanian distinction 
between defense in the political sense (a navy prepared to go to 
war if the nation is attacked) and in the military sense (a navy that 
awaits attack and is only prepared to defend its own, according to 
its priorities). 5 Defense, without control of the seas, was not 
seriously considered as a concept. For the United States, sea 
control became a strategic concept; for Russia, it is a tactical one, 
or as Gorshkov would call it, a question of operational art. 

In reviewing some of the main points of Mahan's doctrine one 
sees that there are differences in ways of thinking about navies, 
and about seapower. Western navies, which have generally fol- 
lowed Mahan's strategic concepts, have developed along different 
lines and for different purposes from the Russian Navy or even the 
German Navy. For those two powers Mahan's strategic concepts 
have had a kind of reverse validity. Their problem was to protect 
and develop land lines of communication and to control certain 
routes in order to gain the decisive advantage. Furthermore, 
whereas Western naval strategists have been able to think of navies 
as somewhat separate entities with separate missions, Russian 
strategic thinkers have not. Until quite recently, until they 
acquired overseas socialist responsibilities comparable in their 
military demands to those of the old colonial empires, the Soviets 
studied Mahan for insights into Western naval thought and 
preconceptions. However, since 1970 the Soviet Navy, having 
demonstrated its preparedness for worldwide operations, has been 
formulating a new theoretical base finally summarized in Admiral 
Gorshkov 's writings. This has helped to promote the idea that the 


Soviet Navy is really modeled on our own and has similar missions. 
However, even a brief review of the Imperial Russian and Soviet 
development of seapower makes it clear that Russia, while only 
intermittently emphasizing seapower, has nearly always been 
innovative and unique in its naval application and has consistently 
pursued knowledge of the sea through science. We should have 
been amply prepared for the fact that the Soviet Navy is not an 
imitation of Western navies. The Russians, even in periods of great 
technical dependency on the West, have usually adapted foreign 
ideas to their own needs but they have also been very inventive. 
While much of his naval history simply served the party line 
Gorshkov was quite accurate when he wrote: 

In the quest for ways of developing our Navy, we avoided 
simply copying the fleet of the most powerful sea power of 
the world. The composition of the navy, its weapons, ship 
designs and organization of forces were determined primarily 
by the missions which the political leadership of the country 
assigned to the armed forces and consequently also to the 
navy, by the country's economic resources, and also by the 
conditions under which the navy had to accomplish these 
missions. 6 

This tended to be true of czarist Russia as well. 

The two most common preconceptions about Russia's maritime 
strategy are: that the czars engaged in a relentless drive for a 
warm-water port and that the navy was used in the grand strategy 
of the Russian bear, the unremitting conquest of new lands. As we 
shall see, neither of these notions is completely correct. Nor is the 
idea, promoted by the Soviet Government, that the Soviet Navy, 
organized as the Red fleet, marked a new beginning from the 
czarist fleet. The continuity with its past has been maintained and 
even proudly emphasized by Admiral Gorshkov and the innova- 
tions of the present continue an Imperial Russian tradition of 
inventiveness. A review of some aspects of Russia's naval history 
proves very useful in interpreting the present and predicting the 

That the Soviet Navy wears much the same uniform and is 
largely structured in the same way as the Imperial Russian Navy 
should be taken as a minor, perhaps, but nevertheless important 
sign that the Soviet Navy recognizes and insists upon the 
continuity with its imperial past. Immediately after the revolution, 
when the Red army and the Red navy were being created, Russia's 


military traditions, including the normal signs of rank and the 
ranks themselves, were rejected. The readoption of these 
symbols of ranks and tradition must have marked the end of 
revolutionary idealism in the military and a return to a society of 
classes. There was also a return to study of the historic doctrine in 
the use of the fleet. 

Everyone knows that Peter the Great is the father of the 
Russian Navy but not everyone knows how he got that name. 
Whether or not the records were destroyed inadvertently or on 
purpose in order to flatter the ego of the autocrat, the absence of 
documents prior to Peter the Great serves to enhance the 
impression, which is also an official position, that the Russian 
Navy was his personal creation. Certainly there can be no doubt 
that Peter's reforms, innovations, and decrees had a fundamental 
and long-lasting effect on the Russian Navy as they did upon all of 
those aspects of the Russian life that could be controlled by the 
Romanov prince. However, there was a long Russian maritime 
tradition before him. 

According to the legends, the earliest settlers in what is now 
Central Russia were thought to have been seafaring folk, Vikings, 
who established the line of Rurick which lasted until the advent of 
the Romanovs. Water was the primary means of transportation in 
some regions and even today during certain seasons it still provides 
the only means of access. The great inland waterways formed a 
network that literally determined the course of Russian history 
itself. It was on these waterways that the cities developed. Kiev in 
the south on the Dnieper River and Novgorod in the north were 
both essentially maritime cities as their communications with 
Europe and Asia were largely by water. Kiev maintained close and 
constant communications— commercial, cultural and religious 
—with Constantinople by means of the Dnieper River and the 
Black Sea. Novgorod in the north was a Hanseatic city whose 
lifelines reached across the Baltic to Western Europe. 

Russia's inland waterways formed one of the major lines of 
communication between Europe, Asia and the Near East and 
Russia was the primary transit zone for supplying goods and trade 
between Northern Europe, the Far East and the Eastern Mediter- 
ranean. Most Russian towns and villages at that time were located 
along these waterways and we can presume that nearly the whole 
Russian population was acquainted with transportation by water, 
whether on rivers, lakes or seas. 

The geographical conditions -inland seas and a network of rivers 
and marshes frequently requiring portages-must have determined 


the preference of the Slavs for light boats that were rowed and not 
sailed. That further resulted in the fact that they skirted coastlines 
and avoided the open ocean. However, Slavs were familiar with 
other kinds of ships and seamanship for they were highly valued 
by the Byzantine emperors and served in both the army and the 
navy. The Roman Emperor Mauricius wrote in his memoirs at the 
beginning of the 7th century A.D. that the Slavs were brave, 
particularly on their own soil, hardy, and easily bore heat, cold 
rain, and lack of food and clothing. These were similar to 
comments made by all observers, German, English, and American, 
during the Second World War. They certainly echo a statement 
made by the German General, Ruge, that is quoted by the Soviet 
Commander in Chief of the Northern Fleet during World War II, 
that against overwhelming odds, the Soviet fighting man could 
initiate an attack and that when his ammunition was gone, he 
would use his weapon as a club and when the clubs were gone he 
would fight with his bare hands and his teeth. 7 

In succeeding years there were additional elements of Slavic 
warfare that became legend. The Slavs were long known to be 
masters of camouflage, of forcing passage through seemingly 
impossible terrain and across rivers, and of preferring death to 
retreat. Apparently the Slavs did not try to adopt Byzantine 
techniques or equipment, but used their own or those adapted to 
their conditions. It is sometimes argued that their skill in 
deception and ambush came from the Byzantines, but that was a 
universal characteristic of war and it is impossible to make any 
specific attribution. 

After the Mongols captured Kiev in 1253 the trade routes 
between north and south were cut and apparently commerce came 
to an abrupt end. Merchants at that time were not willing to 
endanger their lives by going into the territory held by the 
Mongols. The next three centuries marked not only a "dark ages" 
for Russian culture and development but also to some extent its 
decomposition. Its economic and cultural axis from the Byzantine 
Empire on the south and the Hanseatic cities on the north -which 
connected it quite firmly with the major cultures of that 
period-was switched to an east-west axis as the population, 
reduced by the cruel conditions of the Mongolian occupation, 
gradually shifted to the protection of forests and cities and 
towns of the north. But the rivers and lakes continued to serve 
as essential links between towns and villages and it was along 
these rivers that the princely towns such as Moscow began to 


Obviously, if the towns and villages were located along rivers 
then military engagements had to involve the use of boats. We do 
know that two of the great battles in Russian history, connected 
with the defeat of the Mongols, were fought from the rivers as well 
as the land. One was the battle fought by Alexander Nevskiy in 
the north and the other was fought by the Moscow Grand Prince, 
Ivan IV, at Kazan on the Volga. Once Kazan, where the Volga 
turns south, was cleared, the Russian forces had the relative 
advantage of the speed and momentum that the southward 
flowing current gave their boats in helping to clear the country of 
the remaining Mongol hordes. 

Obviously, the Russian Navy, far from having been born just at 
the time of Peter the Great, had a long history. The evidence 
suggests that this naval tradition was not totally confined to rivers 
and lakes but also involved the sea. Archangel, for example, was 
always a trading post and a major seaport for whatever Russian 
power was in existence. That was where English shipwrights in the 
17th century reign of Alexey Romanov constructed an imperial 
yacht. Some of them were probably shipwrights who had been 
hired by Boris Godunov in about 1598. Czar Boris carried on a 
tradition that had already been initiated by the grand princes of 
Moscow of hiring foreign experts and bringing them in large 
numbers to Russia. For example, he hired two to three thousand 
foreigners from maritime countries, primarily England, Scotland 
and Holland, to come and work in the Russian shipbuilding and 
maritime industries. 

Excessive emphasis on these early beginnings in discussing the 
Soviet Navy might be misleading but there are some interesting 
parallels. For example, in 865 A.D. a fleet of small Slavic ships 
attacked Constantinople. The ships were described as about 60 
feet long and with a freeboard of 12 feet above the water level. 
This was a curiously high freeboard and particularly interesting in 
view of the fact that Russian and even now Soviet-built ships have 
always had an unusually high freeboard. In addition to the 
military protection it gives, a high freeboard is very useful against 
wind and spray, two elements of considerable importance in 
Russia's very bad climate. The high freeboard also indicated the 
intent of the Slavs to navigate the Black Sea and, perhaps, beyond. 

A second element of continuity was probably determined by 
geography. The Russians have always claimed an interest not only 
in the Black Sea and free passage through the Dardanelles but also 
into the Mediterranean. Any consideration of their geography 


makes the reason quite clear: the whole commercial and cultural 
life of the Russian people was determined by the flow of rivers 
from north to south, into the Black Sea, and to Constantinople. 

In the same way that the shape of the Austrian Empire was to 
some extent formed by the flow of the Danube River, so the 
Russian Empire was greatly influenced by the flow of its rivers. 
When the Urals were crossed and Lake Baikal was settled, Russian 
civilization was almost impelled by the current of the Amur River 
to flow eastward to the Pacific resulting in the conflicts with 
China and Japan. 

The transition from the pre-Petrine Navy to that of Peter the 
Great was somewhat similar to the transition that we see going on 
in the Soviet Navy today. Although there was a qualitative and 
quantitative change, the new navy was built very firmly on the 
experiences of the old. 

The navy that Peter commanded was really born of necessity 
created by a new strategic situation. The Swedish invasions from the 
north, considering the coastline to be defended, meant that Peter's 
only maritime choice was to cut their lines of communication and 
supply and to intercept them as far offshore as he could. This has 
always been Russia's problem. With its enormous coastline, its long 
common border with many European and Asian nations, and its lack 
of natural barriers it has always had to agonize over how to protect 
itself from a possible thrust by land or by sea over distances that 
could only be partially defended. The extraordinary fortifications, 
constant sea patrols, and barbed wire entanglements that now 
surround the whole of the Soviet Union were made possible by the 
economic might of the nation and are a triumphant, and perhaps 
barbaric, response to that centuries-old problem. 

But Peter's turn to the sea was not, after all, so radical. The 
navy that he built was constructed under the supervision of many 
shipwrights who were already working in Russia and the ships 
themselves were hardly more than a continuation of the kind that 
had been built in Archangel and Voronezh, the two shipbuilding 
centers of the Russian state at that time. Indeed, one of the 
inspirations for the Russian Fleet of Peter the Great was provided 
by Elizabeth of England. She had sent to Ivan IV-known in the 
West as Ivan the Terrible-perhaps in consolation for not accepting 
his proposal of marriage, a small sailboat that Peter saw in 1688. 
Peter sent for a shipwright from Archangel, who might have been 
English, to put the boat to rights and to build several more. It was 
in this boat that Peter first experimented with sailing. 


The heir to the grand princely throne in those days was given a 
first-class education not in reading or writing but in the military 
arts. Peter, like his forebears and his descendants, was not given 
toy soldiers to play with but real human beings. 

Peter's palace, like nearly all princely palaces, was on one of the 
rivers that was a tributary to the Volga. Along the banks of the 
river Peter had fortifications constructed and then held exercises 
with his personal soldiers in which he experimented with various 
tactics. As with most things that he did, Peter went about it very 
seriously and with excess. For example, in one of his exercises 
30,000 soldiers took part. Tactics were apparently realistic. 
Twenty -four men were killed and at least 50 were wounded. 8 
Involved in his maneuvers were amphibious landings along the 
banks of the river. 

The whole operation was a sort of preliminary exercise for Peter's 
first campaign in 1695, the siege of the fortress of Azov on the Black 
Sea, that was the first Russian naval operation of the modern era. 
The fleet was constructed with the speed that only the absolute 
Russian control over allocations could make possible. Hundreds of 
ships were built in one winter in the shipyards at Voronezh. 

The Russian Navy grew out of the need to protect the flanks of 
the army and to provide for landings on distant shores. It was 
natural to extend the kinds of boats designed for the inland 
waterways because the seas in which the navy operated— such as 
the Sea of Azov, and the Gulf of Finland— were not only shallow 
but also narrow and did not require either ships or the art of 
navigation to be significantly different from that ordinarily 
experienced within Russia itself. 

Another precedent, established by Peter through his own 
example, was that the leader should first master the military arts 
that he expected his subordinates to know and then teach them 
how to accomplish their tasks. Peter built boats with his own 
hands and he learned the mathematics necessary for military and 
maritime science. 9 

Converted riverboats, used in the siege of Azov were not 
sufficiently adaptable to the conditions of the Baltic Sea and 
certainly not any match for the Swedish Fleet. However, in 
Archangel, Peter, with the large cadre of English and Dutch 
shipwrights, was able to build a fleet more than adequate for the 
Bay of Finland and the Baltic. In fact, one of Peter's last acts on 
his European trip when he was summoned home from Holland in 
order to put down a rebellion, was to hire over 900 sailors and 
shipbuilders from vice admirals to ships' cooks. 1 ° 


It was probably not a desire for territorial aggrandizement that 
caused Peter the Great to found the city of St. Petersburg, at least 
not aggrandizement in the 19th-century colonial sense, but the 
need to solve the strategic problem of securing the northern 
boundaries. It was this same kind of strategic sense that made the 
Soviets demand Finnish territory in 1939 and that was behind 
many territorial acquisitions to be discussed later. 

The "window on Europe" that Peter founded, St. Petersburg, 
was a natural terminus for both east/west and north/south trade. 
(Novgorod, 120 miles to the south of St. Petersburg, had grown 
rich on its trade with Baltic nations, trade which had been 
conducted with apparently little difficulty through portages across 
the swamps and lakes to the north with exits into Lake Ladoga 
that feeds the Neva, the river on which St. Petersburg was 
founded.) The strategic threat that made this imperative came 
from Sweden and its king, Charles XII. Peter's strategy for 
defeating Charles XII was not unlike that of his descendant 
Alexander I in defeating Napoleon or of Stalin in defeating Hitler's 
armies. It was to cut off the source of supply from the rear while 
destroying the foreign forces in the interior. 

A significant difference between the Swedes and the German 
and French invading armies was that they came by sea. Peter, 
therefore, was faced with the problem of cutting them off from 
the sea. In doing so, his fleet discovered that it could undertake 
greater and more daring activities than it had performed before, 
such as venturing further into the Baltic and raiding the Swedish 
mainland. As a result, by 1723 Peter was the lord of the Baltic 
having engaged, after the defeat of Charles XII, in unclassical naval 
warfare by having his fleet conduct amphibious raids in which 
cities and towns were sacked and devastated, in the style of the 
Vikings and the old Slavs. 

In one of the early demonstrations of naval presence, in July 
1723, Peter sailed the Baltic at the head of a squadron of 24 
ships-of-the-line and ten frigates in addition to a large coastal 
flotilla. For this occasion Peter appointed himself a vice admiral. 

When Peter died in 1725 Russia was a great Baltic seapower; 
Sweden never again attempted an invasion. In fact, large-scale 
landings never again have been made on Russia's Baltic coast. 

Peter's legacy for the Soviet Navy was an important one. While 
there have been many discussions of Peter's strategy in securing 
the "window on Europe," it is important to note that Peter was a 
great military tactician. He planned every detail with a view of 
achieving concrete tactical and strategic advantages in an age when 


military operations were often grand gestures without any 
apparent strategic significance. Furthermore, Peter showed the 
importance of the leader knowing the basic operation of his 
equipment and leading his men, with heavy emphasis on training, a 
planning phase, and extensive exercises for the operations that 
were to take place. 1 1 

In making his estimate of the situation, Peter was fully aware of 
the capabilities of his men and the need to adapt foreign 
technology and equipment to their use. This understanding led 
Peter to establish a rule for tactical engagements that has carried 
considerable weight in Russian strategy. The rule is that the enemy 
must not be engaged unless Russian forces possess substantial 
superiority. 1 2 Specifically, Peter did not engage the Swedish Fleet 
unless he had at least one third more ships than they. This rule of 
Peter's acquired the force of law in Russian warfare. For example, 
in May 1743 when the Swedish Fleet was again attacking the 
Russian Fleet at the Battle of Hango Point, the Russian Admiral 
Golovin refused to engage the Swedes on the grounds that he did 
not have the majority that Peter the Great would have required. 

Peter's concern for education and training was so great that he 
established a naval school for the study of mathematics and 
navigation in 1701, 6 years before the official foundation of the 
Russian Navy. Peter's interest in the naval school was not casual. 
He was personally involved in preparing lessons and in supervising 
students to insure that they were taught according to his ideas. 

The first teacher at this school was an Englishman. 13 In fact 
one could argue that much of the Russian Navy at that period was 
foreign. Many of the admirals and officers were foreign; ship- 
wrights were foreign; and there were many foreign sailors in the 
crew. Great Britain, as the foremost maritime nation, was the 
prime source for recruitment. The custom of hiring foreign 
military, even very high-ranking military, was not unusual as 
Europe was filled with soldiers of fortune seeking employment. 
Our own Revolution owed not a little to these soldiers of fortune 
such as John Paul Jones, a Scotsman, who ended his naval career 
as a vice admiral under Catherine the Great of Russia. 

However, it would be a mistake to assume that whatever 
successes the Russian Navy achieved were owed to foreign 
leadership and technology and whatever defeats it suffered were 
because of the backwardness of the Russian people and industry. 
At its best, the absorption and melding of foreign technology and 
knowledge with the Russian inventiveness and persistence had led 
to works of genius such as the first use of exploding projectiles or, 


in our own time, the practical development of submarine launched 
surface-to-surface missiles. (Germany had begun this in World War 


Reference is often made to the great swings in the interests in 
the Russian Navy depending upon the autocrat in power. The 
"swings," of course, were dependent upon the political situation 
of the time and problems of the budget. Until late in the 19th 
century ships were built from pine taken from the Russian forests. 
Pine did not have a very long life, especially in salt water, so that 
periodically the Russian fleets simply disintegrated. This was the 
case with the flotilla that was given to John Paul Jones to 
command when he served Catherine the Great in 1787. A fellow 
officer described it as a "motley collection of detestable boats of 
all sizes and shapes armed by men who were neither sailors, 
soldiers, nor officers but Russians and no cowards." 1 4 In fact, the 
flotilla was made up of leftover boats that had been used for 
Catherine's royal progress down the Dnieper to survey her new 
lands. It is probably fortunate for his reputation that John Paul 
Jones only had to fight engagements with the Turkish Navy whose 
ships were even worse than his boats. 1 5 

Until the reign of Catherine the Great, Russia had no fleet in 
the Black Sea. In 1736, when Russian forces tried to take the 
Crimea in a series of operations that were largely amphibious, a 
naval force that consisted of flat-bottomed boats, gunboats, and 
armed rafts as well as casks and rafts used to cross shallow inlets 
and bays was assembled. The whole operation showed the Russian 
talent for making use of what was at hand. 

Whether or not it was because she was German and not Russian, 
Catherine's naval policies added a new dimension to those of her 
predecessors and her successors. In her reign, the Russian Fleet 
engaged in operations for specific maritime ends— not always 
directly in support of the army. 1 6 

Catherine also used her navy for rather grand gestures that 
seemed to have a clear strategic purpose although the execution 
was a bit random. For example, in 1769 she ordered one of her 
lovers, Orlov, whom she raised to a count and promoted to 
admiral, to take the Baltic Fleet into the Mediterranean in the first 
operation of the Russian Navy outside of its contiguous waters. Its 
mission was to distract the Turkish Navy during a Russian Army 

The Turks, who had not learned to have a high regard for the 
Russian Navy from what they had seen in the Black Sea, 
considered the whole expedition impossible. They were, therefore, 


astonished when they discovered that the Russian Fleet had passed 
the Straits of Gibraltar. Count Orlov's first operation was to make 
some attacks in the Greek Islands and abet some revolts. But he 
did create a diversion and drew off the Turkish Fleet. 

Catherine sent Count Orlov reinforcements under the command 
of English admirals in the Russian service in July 1770. They 
engaged the Turkish Fleet and scored an enormous victory. The 
Turkish Fleet had taken refuge in the Bay of Tchesme and 
Admiral Elphinstone attacked with four fire ships, a tactic used by 
the English against the Spanish Armada but apparently new to 
both the Russian and Turkish crews themselves. 

The very conditions of the growth of the Russian Navy, and the 
Russian military as a whole, insured its genius for absorbing and 
adapting foreign techniques. Being led by soldiers and sailors of 
fortune from all over the world, it had a quality of mind that 
assumed that there would always be something more advanced 
that ought to be adapted and assimilated as quickly as possible. In 
any case, in the battle of Tchesme the Russian admirals, far from 
preventing their British colleagues from undertaking this very new 
tactic, apparently encouraged it, and, in addition, absorbed it into 
standard Russian tactics as evidenced by their becoming the 
masters of the use of fire ships and their modern equivalent, the 
torpedo boats. 

The result of Count Orlov's first Russian naval expedition to the 
Mediterranean was that the Turkish Fleet was diverted and unable 
to assist the Turkish Army from the shores of the Black Sea during 
Catherine's drive to take the Crimea. The battles on the land were 
as victorious as those on the sea and in the end, in 1774, Russia 
won the right to send merchant ships through the Bosporus and 
also, significantly, the right to have a permanent Black Sea Fleet. 
With that success, Count Orlov's expedition to the Mediterranean 
came to an end, although its historical ramifications continue until 
the present. Count Orlov's expedition, as well as those of Admiral 
Ushakov later, provided Admiral Gorshkov with the basis for 
arguing that the Soviet Navy had a historic right to be in the 

With the need to build a Black Sea Fleet in the south and 
renewed threats from Sweden in the north, Catherine undertook a 
very large shipbuilding program and in this she relied heavily on 
English officers. The reputation of John Paul Jones had reached 
her ears and she urged her ministers to do everything possible to 
secure his service. According to a Russian historian, when 
Catherine heard that Jones had accepted service, she was delighted 


and is reported to have said, "He will get to Constan- 
tinople." 1 7 

After the Empress had secured John Paul Jones' service she 
never let him out of her sight and kept him under watch by her 
agents. However, by the time Jones arrived, a large faction against 
him had developed. There were fortunes to be made in Russia by 
pleasing the Empress, as the wealth of her lovers showed, and they 
did not look with favor upon new rivals. Furthermore a 
predominant influence in the Russian Navy was exerted by English 
and Scottish officers in the Empress' service and they looked upon 
Jones as a pirate. Apparently, John Paul Jones, who had been 
hired to be the Commander of the Black Sea Fleet, was regarded 
as a threat for he was given command of sailing ships in their last 
stages of obsolescence for operations in very narrow and shallow 
waters, while his senior, a French nobleman with no nautical 
experience, was given the more manageable galleys. To make 
matters worse, all of these forces were under the command of 
Catherine's former lover and chief minister, Prince Peter Potem- 
kin, who also had no naval experience. There followed a contest 
between the serious and rational (one assumes) Admiral Jones 
trying to restore morale and equipment and coordinate tactical 
plans on the one hand and the Empress' jealous lovers on the 

Jones, employing a recognizable bureaucratic technique, set 
about writing memoranda to his superiors, but his many plans of 
action appear to have been largely ignored. Certainly they were 
frustrated. One engagement, for which Jones' senior took credit, 
involved capturing several large Turkish ships-of-the-line. The plan 
had been formulated by Jones to deceive the Turks into running 
aground in the Liman Narrows. The ships that Jones' senior 
"captured" were already either aground or sunk. 1 8 

The leadership of Prince Potemkin was not exceedingly straight- 
forward. Either he gave no orders and failed to respond to Admiral 
Jones' requests and proposals or he issued directives such as the 
following warning that the Turkish commander might try some- 
thing. He wrote, "I request your Excellence, the Captain Pasha 
[ the Turkish CO | having actually a greater number of vessels, to 
hold yourself in readiness to receive him courageously and drive 
him back. I require that this be done without loss of time; if not 
you will be made answerable for every neglect." 1 9 

Admiral Jones' reply to this order was his last act in the Black 
Sea Fleet for he so enraged Prince Potemkin that he was relieved 
and sent to St. Petersburg to await further orders. Jones replied, 


"A warrior is always ready and I had not come here an 
apprentice." Obviously, Prince Potemkin did not want any lessons 
in professionalism. 

The account of Jones' stay in czarist Russia indicates that he 
was subjected to false accusations, a not infrequent experience for 
visitors to Russia. Not only was he kept under the observation of 
agents but also the letters that he wrote in Russia were intercepted 
and confiscated without his knowledge. Finally, in order to make 
him leave, either the secret police or Catherine's or Jones' enemies 
probably fabricated an accusation that he had violated a 14-year 
old girl. The accusation was made by a prostitute. He was denied 
the right to a lawyer and advised that his situation was very serious 
and that he should depart. His professional and personal 
reputation blemished, he spent much of the rest of his life trying 
to understand or vindicate what had happened to him during those 
few months serving Catherine. He concluded that in a free 
society with a free press no one could play the "hypocrite" 
for long. 2 ° 

The second Russian naval squadron in the Mediterranean 
entered in the year 1798 during the brief Turkish/Russian alliance 
in opposition to Napoleon, but the Russian Admiral Ushakov and 
the British Admiral Lord Nelson did not develop a harmonious 
relationship. Lord Nelson accused Admiral Ushakov of spending 
more time trying to capture miscellaneous harbors than in trying 
to fight the French. On the other hand, he, Lord Nelson, seemed 
to have spent an inordinate amount of time concerning himself 
with Lady Hamilton and the Neapolitan royal family. Although 
Ushakov's undertakings were perhaps mysterious to Lord Nelson, 
they were probably explained by a Russian desire to have two or 
three islands in the Aegean for the purpose of logistics supply. At 
least that is how Catherine explained Admiral Ushakov's erratic 
maneuvers to the Hapsburg Crown Prince, Joseph, in 1792 while 
assuring him that Russia had no further imperial designs and 
adding, with pious Russian orthodoxy, that her primary concern 
was for the fate of the Christians under Moslem rule. Catherine 
had had a grand design that was greatly encouraged by Prince 
Potemkin. The plan called for reorganizing Greece, the Aegean 
Islands, and Constantinople into a new empire with her grandson 
as emperor. The only practical outcome of this intention was that 
her grandson was christened Constantine. 2 1 

Lord Nelson also suspected that the Emperor Paul wanted to 
take Malta. (A similar alarm developed when Mintof was elected 
the Premier of Malta and brought into power a leftist government 


in 1970. At that time, incidentally, the Soviet Mediterranean 
squadron was standing off Valletta; however, in Nelson's time, the 
Russian squadron under Admiral Ushakov failed to materialize 
when needed.) The only imperial Russian interest in Malta, 
however, was the half-mad Emperor Paul's masquerade in playing 
Grand Master of the Knights of Malta. 2 2 

On the basis of his Mediterranean observations Lord Nelson 
certainly did not have a high opinion of the Russian Navy. When 
he expected to engage it in battle he believed that he could sink all 
of the ships-of-the-line at Reval, now Tallin. That would have been 
an extraordinary accomplishment as Reval was a highly protected 
harbor with large shore batteries. Nelson was going to accomplish 
this with only ten of his own ships, one or two fire ships, and a 
bomb ship. 2 3 His tactic was to use the Russian winter to his 
advantage: to get to Tallin before the ice melted in order to keep 
the force from joining that of the larger one at Kronshtadt. 
However, the ice melted and on 2 May the fleets were joined, 
making a force of 43 ships-of-the-line. Nelson still boasted that he 
could defeat them with only 25 of his own ships. 

Oddly enough, although Admiral Ushakov had been celebrated 
as a naval hero, the Russians called Lord Nelson "a young 
Suvorov," referring to the famous Russian field marshal who 
defeated the Turks and engaged the Napoleonic forces in 
Switzerland. Evidently the Russians even then did not think of 
military genius as separated into categories according to land or 
sea. 24 

The Russian squadron in the Mediterranean did little more than 
threaten several islands and then devoted itself to the support of 
Marshal Suvorov. The navy did not see much more action even 
during the Napoleonic wars. Significantly, during Napoleon's 
invasion of Russia the Russian ships remained in the island fortress 
of Kronshtadt, but in the Slav tradition the officers and crews 
joined the army to fight on land in the defense of the motherland. 

The succeeding years, until the Crimean war, were marked by 
fairly continuous battles with the Turkish Navy which seemed to 
have been one of low capability and efficiency. The climax was, 
however, the Battle of Sinop in which all of the surviving Turkish 
ships were destroyed by the Russian Navy's use of explosive 
projectiles. This was an event of far-reaching importance not lost 
upon other Europen navies. It was also then predicted that naval 
warfare was no longer possible. 

The introduction of this projectile did mean that navies as they 
had been built were outmoded. Certainly sailing ships made of 


pine could no longer withstand the heat of battle. The Russian 
Navy had begun converting to steam when that was introduced 

Perhaps the knowledge that their ships were outmoded may 
have played a significant part in the decision to sink the Black Sea 
Fleet across the harbor entrance at Sevastopol at the beginning of 
the Crimean war but the legacy of the military disaster at 
Sevastopol had many more far-reaching effects than the im- 
portance of that war warranted. The Russian Fleet probably could 
have defeated the British Fleet, which was standing guard during 
the landing at Balaklava below Sevastopol, and was preparing to 
do so. However, the commander in chief countermanded the order 
to attack as he intended to fight, in the traditional Russian 
manner, primarily on land and use the fleet in its usual supporting 
role. As a result the fleet was bottled up and useless. 

The disgrace of the defeat reverberated throughout the 
empire and was a major shock to the imperial throne. Not 
only that, the English participation in the war— the reasons for 
which were very obscure at best— proved to the Russians an 
enormous duplicity that led to the still prevalent emotion that if 
the English talk about peace, that meant they are planning for 
war. 2 5 In any case, there was a surge of an ti- British propaganda 
including rather violent denunciations of the parliamentary sys- 
tem. In the midst of this unfortunate atmosphere, the revolu- 
tionary parties and factions were becoming solidified and most of 
them took it on faith, right up to the eve of the October 
Revolution, that the English system was antithetical to the 
Russian spirit. Such can be the unforeseeable result of a naval 

In rebuilding her fleet Russia, of course, turned to steam 
and iron. But interestingly, while the rest of the world's navies 
adopted heavier and heavier guns, the Russian Navy for many 
years employed a much lighter one as more easily handled. Here 
again, Russia was showing an ability to absorb foreign technology 
without being overawed by it. This happened again in 1864 when, 
impressed by the "monitors" that took part in our Civil War, the 
Russian Navy built six of its own although they were seldom used. 

Russian naval invention during these years was certainly on a 
par with that of any country. For example, Russians were the first 
to design what was called an "armored cruiser." The idea of the 
armored cruiser, quickly adopted by other countries, was to 
protect it at the waterline with armor but not elsewhere. In that 
way, it would have greater speed. Another invention was ingenious 


but a failure. In 1873 two ironclads of 2,500 tons that were 
perfectly circular were launched. The idea was that the circular 
construction would deflect any shell. The guns were retractable, 
an idea that returned with the retractable antiaircraft missile 
system used today. These circular ships might have caught on but 
on a trial run up the Dnieper, able to make only 8% knots, they 
were caught by the current and whirled like merry-go-rounds 
down to the sea. The crews were put out of action by dizziness. 

In listing Russian "firsts," it must be mentioned that in the 
Russo-Turkish War of 1877 a Turkish ship was sunk by a Russian 
torpedo-the first successful torpedo attack in history. In a later 
development the Russian Navy armed a merchant ship and 
equipped her with six torpedo boats of small enough size to be 
carried. The maneuver was to sail the merchant ship into position, 
lower the torpedo boats and attack. At the same time, the Russian 
Navy was advancing the use of mine warfare and showing great 
innovation in mine design. 

Mines were used at the mouth of the Danube to bottle up the 
Turkish Fleet. The Russians were quite inventive in the use of 
torpedos and when they acquired a kind for which they had no 
suitable ship, they lashed them onto barges or suspended them 
from the hull and somehow made them effective. In these 
engagements the Russians were literally inventing the tactics for 
torpedo warfare. Torpedos were almost totally new in naval 

The result of this Turkish War was that the Russian Navy had 
found the torpedo boat an extremely effective instrument and 
devoted, thereafter, a great deal of attention to building large 
numbers and kinds of torpedo boats. In 1902 the Russians also 
had planned, according to the naval editor and Russian visitor 
Frederick Jane, to build at least 50 submarines that would 
apparently have carried at least torpedos but would have been 
only semisubmersible. They were to submerge only at the moment 
of attack. The possibility of a submarine battleship was not 
regarded as a remote dream even then. 

By 1904 at least four submarines were operational and four 
more were on the way. There was some evidence that they were 
being built in sections (an innovation the Soviets have perfected) 
so that they could be transported on the Trans-Siberian Railroad. 

Brilliant technical innovation, however, could not elevate the 
Russian Navy beyond the limits of geography and the capabilities 
of its personnel. By the end of the 19th century, European navies 
were playing an aristocratic game. Perhaps because there had been 


no major engagement since the Crimean war, Russian officers paid 
more attention to their increasingly elegant regalia than to the 
requirements of warfare. The fleets were in commission only 3 
months of the year and had only 25 percent of their full 
complement the rest of the year. 

While the rise of Japan in the Far East was not ignored by the 
army or foreign office, it is apparent that few, certainly not the 
naval leadership, appreciated the change in the correlation of 
forces. That a nation, until recently feudal and technologically 
ignorant, could mount an offensive against the largest country in 
the world, with the largest standing army and the third largest 
navy, seemed absurd. Nevertheless, the blow was struck and the 
Russian Navy, without a Pacific Fleet, was faced with its first war 
at sea in the Mahan mold. Logistics and morale brought defeat 
even before the Japanese delivered the coup de grace. 

Because of the Treaty of Paris (1856), the Black Sea Fleet had 
become inactive. No Russian or Turkish warships could sail there 
until 1871 when Russia revoked that limitation in the treaty. 
However, nothing was done to build up the fleet. The Baltic Fleet, 
therefore, had to make the long journey. The heat and the 
privations— Baltic sailors had never before experienced tempera- 
tures of 115° in the shade— would alone have guaranteed a very 
inefficient fighting force. Political unreliability and lack of 
experience guaranteed a degree of failure, but logistics absolutely 
insured it. 

As the defeat of the Russian Navy at Tsushima was a trauma 
that affected even the Soviet Navy, it is necessary to get some 
understanding of this naval battle from the Russian point of 
view. Although Western historians credit the Russian Second Pacific 
Squadron with little distinction, Russian writers look upon the 
defeat at Tsushima on 26 and 27 May 1905 as the first major battle 
lost by the Russian Navy in its 200-year history. Among naval 
disasters there are few to compare with it. Of 37 Russian ships 
only 13 survived: one cruiser and two destroyers reached 
Vladivostok; five ships were captured by the Japanese; and five, 
which reached foreign ports, were interned for the duration of the 
war. From having been the world's third naval power, Imperial 
Russia plummeted in the course of 2 days to sixth. 

Even though the Soviet Navy is still embarrassed by this 
defeat— there is reason to believe that it is studied minutely for the 
purpose of lessons learned— it should be instructive for all navies, 
for it showed the importance of understanding logistics, an often 
neglected aspect of naval warfare. 


Originally, the fleet was sent in order to make it impossible for 
the Japanese to land troops, reinforcements, and supplies for the 
siege of Port Arthur. But Port Arthur had fallen. The Russian 
squadrons there and at Vladivostok had proved ineffective in 
preventing Japanese resupply and amphibious landings. The czar, 
however, did not change the squadron's mission, apparently 
planning to use it in the role of support for the Army. 

But by the time the Russian Navy had sailed 18,000 miles from 
the Baltic, having left on 15 October, it was in no condition of 
readiness to do anything but to make a dash for port. The only 
port left or open was Vladivostok. No other power would give aid 
to the Russian ships. 

Slowed by marine growth on their hulls, the Russian ships were 
no match for the newer and faster Japanese Navy. In making a 
dash through the Straits of Tsushima the Russian ships presented a 
broadside target for the Japanese guns. Although Admiral 
Rozhdestvenskiy, the commander in chief, has been severely 
criticized for his tactics, no one has suggested what other decision 
he could have made. What is often forgotten is that the Japanese 
Navy was a new force in the world, untested and untried against 
European navies. It is likely that every Western navy would have 
underestimated Japanese capabilities and met the same fate in the 
Straits of Tsushima. 

In spite of the disgrace of the Russo-Japanese War, the great 
Russian naval leaders of the 20th century were all present during 
the battle. Admiral Makarov was a commander in chief of a naval 
squadron; Commander Essen was given command of a battleship; 
and later promoted to the Commander in Chief of the Baltic Fleet; 
and Lieutenant Kolchak, Captain of the destroyer Serditiy 
("furious" in English), became the Commander in Chief of the 
Black Sea Fleet and was the last hope for a non-Marxist 
government after the Russian Revolution. 

The Romanov throne, already tottering, was dealt a severe blow 
by this disgrace. This was the second defeat in 60 years suffered 
by a government that justified its repressive measures on the 
grounds that it needed to be the most powerful nation in the 
world. Furthermore, it was now protected by only one fleet, 
confined to the Black Sea and beset with mutiny. 

Even so, the Russian Navy began to rebuild and to rebuild with 
imagination. It began construction of a destroyer, the Novik class, 
that was years ahead of the rest of the world in speed (it could 
make 37.3 knots in 1913!) gunpower and the size of the 
torpedo battery. (It carried fifteen when British destroyers carried 


two.) The navy had developed the world's best mine and the 
world's first submarine minelayer called the Krab, although 
industrial problems prevented its completion. Thus, on the eve of 
the First World War, the Russian Navy reflected the contradictions 
of the Russian nation itself: advanced design and backward 

The naval architects for a building program that started in 1912 
were ahead of their time on paper, or at least ahead of other 
planners in their designs for battleships, cruisers, and destroyers. 
They planned to build 32,000-ton ships with the speed of cruisers 
and the armament of battleships. They were to have twelve 
16-inch guns, more than any other ship in the world. Quite clearly 
there was a recognition at that time that speed was an essential 
element in modern navies, a prediction that was to prove fateful in 
the Black Sea engagements of the First World War. They also 
developed a concept of a light cruiser that was both heavily armed 
and fast like the Novik class. 

In the Turkish wars the Russian Navy had discovered the 
importance of torpedos and in the Russo-Japanese War the tactics 
of mine warfare. The need for underwater protection had made 
such an indelible imprint on Russian naval architecture that this 
feature of Russian warships has been emphasized in Soviet design 
down to the present. 

Russian design genius was not quite as brilliant as the Soviets 
normally claim but it was, nevertheless, one of the most inventive 
and imaginative of its time. For example, Russia had the first 
electrified city, Tsarskoe Selo (now Pushkin), and one of the first 
commuter railroads. (Of course everyone knows that the Soviets 
also produced the first Sputnik.) It is significant that these 
achievements were not the product of the whole economy but of 
the ability of the supreme leader, whether emperor or dictator, to 
demand sacrifices in one sector in order to have great achieve- 
ments in another. (For all of their faults, the last Romanovs were 
possibly unable, but certainly unwilling, to force the cruel and 
inhuman kinds of economic dislocations and industrial slavery that 
Stalin and his successors have inflicted upon the Soviet people.) 

It has been a great burden for Russia that throughout its history 
forward leaps in industrial production have usually been decreed 
from above rather than produced from below, even when it meant 
having commerce with the enemy. Thus, with the Imperial Russian 
Navy, even on the eve of World War I orders were still being placed 
for ships with foreign firms that would undoubtedly be in German 


When Czar Nicholas II took the supreme command at Mogilev 
in 1916 the Naval Directorate, similar to a naval ministry, was 
disestablished. Instead a naval staff was formed that was attached 
to the Supreme Command. The Baltic Fleet at that time was 
subordinate to the Commander of the Northwestern Front. The 
mission of the Baltic Fleet was 

to tightly defend the approaches to the capitol from the sea 
and in order to effect that to prevent any breakthrough of 
the enemy into the Gulf of Finland and also to defend the 
right flank of our front from an attack from the sea and in 
order to effect that to prevent a breakthrough of the enemy 
into the Bay of Finland on which that flank depended. 2 6 

In 1916, four new battleships were received by the Baltic Fleet, 
greatly strengthening it and permitting an increase in its activity 
until the revolutionary events overwhelmed it. 

The Baltic Fleet provided considerable support to the right 
flank of the front by shelling shore objectives. The minefields 
established at the entrance of the Gulf of Finland were com- 
pletely successful in preventing a breakthrough by the German 
Fleet, although one was tried in the fall of 1916. A major 
operation was to curtail German trade with Sweden. Minefields 
were laid and in this the Russian submarines cooperated with 
British submarines. 

It is frequently charged that the Imperial Russian Command 
was ignorant of the importance of communications security. One 
naval incident in the war makes it clear that that was not the case. 
In fact, Admiral Bubnov claims that Russian awareness of the 
importance of communications security lead to a great discovery 
that made it possible for the English to win the Battle of 
Jutland. 2 7 Early in the war, the German cruiser Magdeburg went 
aground on an island at the mouth of the Bay of Finland. A 
detachment was sent under the command of Lieutenant Hamilton, 
a descendant of an English sailor hired by Peter the Great, to take 
command of the cruiser. When Lieutenant Hamilton reported to 
the Commander in Chief that the cruiser was essentially intact, he 
was ordered to send divers overboard to search for codes and 
signal books. The books were found and throughout 1915 and 
1916 German communications could be deciphered. According to 
Admiral Bubnov, the codes were also given to the British who 
were then able to anticipate and attack the German Fleet off 
Jutland forcing it to withdraw for the duration of the war. 


Immediately after the Battle of Jutland the German Command 
realized that its code was known and apparently changed it; 
however, according to the Russian admiral the British were able to 
decode the new system as well. 

If one considers the history of the Russian Navy up to the First 
World War, one is struck by the paradox of the frequently brilliant 
tactical and technical leadership but faulty strategy and bad 
planning which so often left the navy helpless. The Russian Navy 
was seldom disposed to advantage for the action it had to take. 
This failure has, so far, characterized the Soviet Navy as well. In 
view of the massive Soviet and Imperial Russian espionage 
networks, that situation would seem absurd. Of course the Soviets 
have learned from the past and tried to correct these faults. Many 
patterns, however, persist about which our naval strategists should 
not afford to remain ignorant. 



The Russian Navy reached its lowest ebb on the eve of the First 
World War. The Pacific Fleet, as a result of the disasters of the 
Russo-Japanese war, no longer existed. There was no Northern 
Fleet and not even a developed port at Murmansk. The Baltic 
Fleet consisted of four rather old battleships, five cruisers, and 
several other capital ships in various stages of completion. The 
building program that had been initiated in 1909 had hardly- 
gotten off the ground. The Black Sea Fleet however was in good 
physical condition. It had been unable to participate in the 
Russo-Japanese war and the new ships were being delivered. 
However, its crews were mutinous. At the outbreak of the war it 
had 5 old battleships, 2 cruisers, 9 destroyers, and 17 torpedo 
boats. In addition, there were four submarines, gunboats and 
minelayers. Personnel numbered only 47,000 men. 1 

So much has been made of the incompetence of the Russian 
war ministry and system of industrial production that it comes as 
a surprise to learn that in the 3 years from the start of the war 
until the revolution 4 dreadnoughts, 26 destroyers and 28 
submarines were completed. On the ways, there were 75 subma- 
rines and a good many capital ships. Even then, when navies were 
assessed according to their capital ships, the Russians were giving a 
very high priority to submarines. 

Although the Russian Navy by no means distinguished itself 
during the First World War, there are several facets of its operation 
that are interesting either because they illuminate modern Soviet 
naval concepts and strategic thinking or characterize Russian 
maritime attitudes. 

There was a paradox. The Imperial Naval Staff had no other 
plans for the strategic employment of the Russian Navy, ap- 
parently, than that the Baltic Fleet should guard the approaches to 
St. Petersburg and the Gulf of Finland, and the Black Sea Fleet 
should protect Russia's Black Sea shores. There was no plan to 
force the Bosporus prior to the First World War. The plans for 
naval construction in the Baltic alone called for the production by 


1930 of 24 battleships, 12 battle cruiser, 24 cruisers, 108 
destroyers and 36 submarines. 2 This would not have been, by 
normal standards, a purely defensive force. The size of this force, 
like the size of the "defensive force" the Soviet Navy constructed 
in the fifties and sixties gives us some notion of the Russian 
conception of their requirements. 

The German High Command expected that the Russian Navy 
would be employed as it had been in past wars and battles in 
amphibious operations and raids. In the south, it was assumed that 
there would be some threat to Turkey, most likely in the region of 
the Bosporus, as the Germans shared the preconceptions of other 
naval analysts— that the Russians were always driving toward the 
sea. It was expected that the sea lines of communication between 
Sweden and Germany, so important for German ore imports, 
would be seriously threatened. 

But no such actions took place. In the Baltic the naval war 
disintegrated into one of mining operations. Both the Russians and 
the Germans mined and countermined the Gulfs of Riga and 
Finland and tried to interfere with each other's shipping by means 
of mine barriers. 

There was no attempt to remove the Baltic Fleet to a more 
advantageous position. Instead it was left in the Gulf of Finland, 
bottled up behind its own minefields. Second, in spite of the many 
assertions in the West about the Russian centuries-old drive for 
warm-water ports with free access to the sea, there had been no 
effort to develop Murmansk until well into the First World War. 
And, indeed, in spite of the centuries-old fears in Europe about 
the territorial lusts of the "Russian Bear" such as voiced by the 
British Prime Ministers Pitt and Palmerston, there was not in the 
Imperial Staff any clear concept that a blockade by sea or land 
would do harm to Russia economically. One is inclined to suspect 
that territorial aggrandizement was not an objective of Nicholas II. 
In fact, the need to protect sea lines of communication became 
apparent only in World War I. 3 In the period before the First 
World War 80 percent of Russia's exports went by sea, and 60 
percent of those from the Black Sea-a figure that reflected the 
huge grain exports from the Ukraine. Thirty-five percent went 
through the Baltic and only five percent on the remaining seas. 

With the main transportation routes cut, the alternative ones 
were badly overloaded. Supplies could not be gotten to the 
front nor even distributed within the country. This situation was 
to repeat itself in the Second World War under the Soviet 


In view of the widespread assumption that Russia had as its 
primary foreign policy objective the acquisition of the Bosporus, it 
must seem strange that no move was made to keep open that vital 
waterway. In fact, in 1912 Nicholas II had had a clear warning. 
Turkey was in a war with Italy and illegally closed the Strait to 
Russian shipping. The economic effects of the closure were 
immediate and violent. After a short time, through international 
pressure, the Strait was opened again to Russian shipping but the 
czar either did not learn his lesson or felt helpless to do anything 
about it. Alternative routes for imports were not developed. 

The results of the neglect of logistics and supply plans were to 
be staggering. Ninety-seven percent of Russia's imports came 
either by land or through Baltic and Black Sea ports. But after the 
outbreak of World War I, only 3 percent of Russia's normal 
imports were being received as the other lines of communication 
were cut. The two remaining shipping lines were via the 
comparatively remote ports of Archangel on the White Sea and 
Vladivostok on the Pacific. 

The problems were horrendous. Previously only about one 
tenth of 1 percent of foreign imports had come by way of 
Archangel. The facilities were so poor that only one or two 
steamships could be unloaded per week; there was no dock; there 
were no icebreakers; and at the beginning of the war, there was a 
loading capacity for only two or three trains per day between 
Archangel and St. Petersburg. 

Transshipment through Vladivostok, while an alternative, was 
not a very good one. For 3 months of the year that port was 
frozen and could be kept open only with great difficulty. There 
was no question of the Trans-Siberian Railroad's inability to 
handle the huge volume of foreign imports, especially as the 
section across Lake Baikal had not been completed. 

Vis-a-vis its presumed opponent, the Turkish Fleet, the Black 
Sea Fleet was in an incomparably better condition than the Baltic 
Fleet. Its mission was to "provide defense of the shore and 
security of the lines of communication." 4 The Turks, however, 
did not venture to engage the fleet and it saw little action. 
However, in August 1914 the German High Command sent two 
cruisers to join the Turkish Fleet and a number of officers to 
occupy command positions and to undertake the training of 
personnel and exercising them in various tactics. 

The Germans apparently assumed that much more than two 
cruisers were needed in order to engage elements of the Russian 
Black Sea Fleet and therefore a task group was formed to try to 


harass shipping and supply in Black Sea ports. The German 
Command, however, need not have been disturbed as the Russian 
Navy did not try to engage their cruisers, which were regarded as 
too fast. Instead, the Black Sea Fleet confined its operations to a 
few not very effective raids on the Turkish coast. The Imperial 
Navy apparently lacked any strategic plans whatever and, accord- 
ing to Admiral Bubnov on the czar's staff at Mogilev, even 
considered impractical any attempt to mine the entrance to the 
Bosporus. The Navy's inaction eventually so disturbed even the 
mild-mannered Nicholas II that he removed his passive commander 
in chief and replaced him with Admiral Kolchak from the Baltic. 

That the Imperial Russian High Command did not have plans 
for seizing the Bosporus is surprising and in view of the traditional 
reading of Russian history is difficult to credit. Apparently, 
however, at that time naval intelligence was the only agency of the 
Imperial Government that had serious thoughts about the Bos- 
porus. According to Admiral Bubnov, intelligence had made fairly 
exact reports on the deteriorated state of Turkish fortifications 
and suggested that a breakthrough to the Dardanelles should be 
made before repairs and supplies could be brought in and before 
the two German cruisers, after a prolonged cruise in the 
Mediterranean, could achieve a high state of readiness. 5 But there 
were no amphibious forces, and there was no equipment for 
amphibious forces located in the region of the Black Sea at that 

The czar's government was so passive about expansion to the 
south that it heard about the plans for the Gallipoli campaign not 
directly from the English but through the Russian Ambassador's 
agents in Paris! An amphibious force was quickly formed in 
Odessa from three divisions of the Caucasian Army. There was no 
naval infantry. Then it was discovered that there was hardly any of 
the equipment needed for amphibious operations and there was 
not even transport in the whole Crimea sufficient to effect the 
operation. Furthermore, priorities were such that troops were 
gradually transferred from the "naval infantry" to the south- 
western front and thus the amphibious task force came to a 
gradual end. 

The Russian Fleet performed effective action, however, in the 
mining of the Bosporus as well as of Bulgarian and Rumanian 
ports in the Black Sea. Another traditional role was that of 
escorting the Russian troops to the southern front. 

The Imperial Russian Black Sea Fleet came to an end in June 
1917 when the Sailors' Soviet ("soviet" means council) on board 


ship forced Admiral Kolchak not to lay down his sword but to 
throw it overboard. It is generally reported that Admiral Kolchak 
was forced from his command by the revolutionary threats. 6 That 
is not correct. The Sailors' Soviet, which at that time were 
supporting the Provisional Government, had demanded that all 
officers give up their pistols and weapons. They included in their 
demands that Admiral Kolchak should give up a golden sword that 
the Emperor had awarded him for his outstanding performance in 
the Russo-Japanese war. Admiral Kolchak refused but the demand 
was pressed for several weeks. In the end, to avoid a confronta- 
tion, Kerensky recalled Admiral Kolchak to St. Petersburg to 
avoid a more serious incident and rather than submit to the Soviet, 
he threw the sword overboard. 

The advancement of Gorshkov, the Soviet Navy's youngest 
admiral, to Commander in Chief of the Fleet, has been interpreted 
as proof of his exceptional ability. Although his way was 
smoothed by the purges (there will be more discussion of that 
later) his rapid advancement was not unique in Russian history. 
Promotions in Russia had not always taken place according to 
strict seniority. Perhaps this was because Russia was a country 
always subjected to the whim of the supreme ruler. In any case 
where favorites can come to the fore, age is no barrier. 

Admiral Kolchak, as an example, was promoted from com- 
mander of destroyer and torpedo divisions in the Baltic to the 
Commander in Chief of the Black Sea Fleet at the age of 42. He 
was the youngest admiral ever to be promoted to a commander in 

In the czarist government it was not even essential to be 
well-born. The brilliant naval strategist, acquaintance of Admiral 
Luce and visitor to the Naval War College in Newport, Adm. 
Stefan Makarov had risen from the ranks of the peasantry. 
Admiral Makarov had already shown great imagination in tactics, 
when as a lieutenant he introduced the startling innovation of 
torpedo warfare in the Turkish war of 1877. 

It is very likely that Makarov is Admiral Gorshkov 's model as 
there is much similarity between them. For example, Admiral 
Makarov had a slogan "you must feel at home at sea" which 
Admiral Gorshkov frequently recalls in his articles on navies, and 
which he introduced in practice by long sea voyages and an 
increased tempo of operations and exercises. In addition, Admiral 
Makarov was extremely interested in oceanography and in the 
North Sea route as was Admiral Gorshkov. (He was in command 
of a ship called the Vitiaz. A ship of that name exists today.) 


Finally, Admiral Makarov did pioneering work in the design and 
use of icebreakers. 

The spirit of innovation has long characterized the Russian and 
Soviet Navies. The trauma of the Russo-Japanese war caused the 
Russian Navy to build the world's first minelayers and mine- 
sweepers, started in 1910. They also experimented with balloons 
in the Baltic as early as 1903. In 1909, a design was developed for 
a ship with a speed of 30 knots to carry aircraft that would be 
launched from a catapult. The project, although never realized, 
was apparently quite serious because naval aviation schools were 
established for the Baltic and Black Sea Fleets. Operating on the 
Black Sea were two Russian seaplane carriers, the Nicholas I and 
Alexander I, whose airplanes actually attacked the Turkish port of 
Zonguldak and dropped 40 bombs. 7 Having used seaborne 
airpower for reconnaissance, bombing and convoy escort, the 
Russian Navy was in advance of all other navies with the exception 
of the British. The paradox remained, however, that although the 
ideas were brilliant, the execution almost never was. 

The Marxist idea that a navy is not just a military force but also 
an economic, cultural, and political force was never more 
thoroughly demonstrated than at the time of the Russian 
Revolution. To say that the Revolution would not have been won 
without the participation of the navy might be an exaggeration. 
The course of the Revolution, however, undoubtedly would have 
been very different, for the Baltic sailors played a crucial role in 
the fall of the czarist government and in the Bolshevik seizure of 

Being close to the capital on the island of Kronshtadt, the Baltic 
sailors were subjected to far more political agitation than were 
other forces. They also were largely idle. In fulfilling their mission 
of defending the Gulf of Finland they saw far less action than the 
Black Sea Fleet or the Army on the German front. In addition, as 
Admiral Bubnov suggested— an idea that appears to be a constant 
in Russian and Soviet psychology— the Baltic sailors having seen 
advanced foreign countries on official visits were far more critical 
of Imperial Russia's backwardness and far less satisfied with their 
lot than the sailors of the Black Sea Fleet. Although the most 
famous mutiny occurred in the battleship Potemkin in June 1905 
in the Black Sea, even more serious revolutionary movements were 
gaining momentum in the Baltic Fleet in which conspiracies had 
been discovered in 1911 and 1912. 

The signal for the fall of the Provisional Government was the 
blank charge fired at the winter palace from the cruiser Aurora, a 


survivor of the battle of Tsushima. The Kronshtadt sailors had 
been the most active in the formation of the Soldiers and Sailors 
Committees (Soviets). Later they served as elite guards protecting 
the Bolsheviks from counterrevolution and it was they who carried 
out Lenin's order to prevent the seating of the Constituent 
Assembly, the only democratically elected body in the whole of 
Russian history. 

It was also, quite uncharacteristically in Russia's military 
history, the navy that took over from the Imperial Staff. The 
supreme commander in chief designated by the Bolshevik govern- 
ment was an ensign named Krylenko who arrived with a naval 
battalion to occupy the headquarters at Mogilev and presumably 
run the war. As a matter of fact, during this period the Baltic Fleet 
was mostly operating ashore, for the sailors were acting as 
commissars, members of the secret police, agitators, and militia. 
But the real end of the Baltic Fleet had come earlier with the receipt 
of "Order Number 1" of the Petrograd (St. Petersburg) Soviet of 
Soldiers and Workers Deputies that declared that troops were no 
longer subordinate to their officers. Having been transmitted openly 
over the wireless, the information went uncontrolled to the whole 
front and the fleet. Military discipline collapsed immediately. That 
led to the collapse of the front, the collapse of Russia's war effort, 
and eventually the collapse of the Provisional Government. Quite 
clearly this must have influenced Stalin to say that the first 
principle of war is the morale of the rear. 

Ironically, the Bolsheviks who had come to power on a 
platform of ending the war and securing an immediate peace, were 
the ones who had to reverse that policy almost immediately 
because the garrison at Riga assumed that it was not necessary to 
resist the German advance and the previously unbreachable 
fortifications quickly fell, exposing the road to Petrograd. 

The Bolsheviks did everything possible to undermine the 
Imperial Army in 1917. Lenin seized power with only 25,000 
(largely reserve) troops in the capital and sailors from Kronshtadt, 
l/560th of the Russians under arms! 

Marxist theory rejected the idea of a standing army. At first, the 
Bolsheviks remained orthodox. The concept they devised to 
replace the army was that of a "people's militia." Having 
destroyed the Imperial Army and Navy and demanded a peace 
platform, Lenin could not immediately form new armed forces. 
However, like so many other Marxist or Bolshevik promises of 
those days, that one was almost immediately repudiated. In 1918 
a war commissar, Trotsky, was appointed and compulsory military 


service was introduced. In order to reform the army and navy- 
Trotsky had to take 80 percent of the commanders from the 
former czarist ranks. As a concomitant of that, party cells were 
established in the army to oversee morale and to enforce devotion 
to duty but they also served as a base for spies and informers 
insuring the continuation of civilian control. As a final move 
Communist commissars were placed in every regiment next to the 
commanders to maintain complete military control. 

Lenin officially disbanded the Imperial Navy on 29 January 
1918 8 and created the Red Navy of Workers and Peasants based 
on elected commanders and a volunteer service. Although leaders 
were to be elected, the Communist Party members remained in 
control. It was recognized that naval art required some knowledge 
of the sea. The first chief of the Soviet Navy was a czarist rear 

Aside from its policing and subversive action, the navy's 
participation in the civil war was not unlike its participation in 
previous wars. It was employed to defend the Gulf of Finland, and 
to protect the army's maritime flanks. It carried out this mission 
using traditional Russian operations. Fields of 7,605 mines were 
laid from 1918 to 1920. 9 Showing its traditional amphibious 
versatility in the civil war, the navy formed a number of river 
flotillas in which the sailors fought very much like their cossack 
forebears conducting raids from their boats, expropriating sup- 
plies, and cutting off normal communications. 

The period of the civil war and the allied intervention has 
provided the Soviet Government with an endless amount of 
material for propaganda. The events of that period are used as 
examples of the rapaciousness of capitalist governments against 
the lonely heroism of the young Bolshevik state. As far as the navy 
was concerned this was the state of affairs. After the civil war in 
1921, 3 battleships, 10 cruisers, 64 destroyers and 30 submarines 
plus many auxiliary ships and transports were taken away by the 
retreating White forces and foreign governments. The only fleet 
that survived was the Baltic Fleet. The Pacific, Northern, and 
Black Sea Fleets simply ceased to exist. The ships that remained 
were in a bad state of repair. There were no spare parts; there was 
no fuel; and most of the ship-repair facilities had been destroyed 
or seriously damaged. Even those that remained were no longer 
staffed adequately as specialists had also gone into exile and those 
who remained were suspected of ideological unreliability. 

The Baltic sailors had been so important to the Bolshevik 
seizure of power that Lenin called them "the glory and the pride 


of the Revolution." However, their "glory" became a problem. 
Having helped to make a revolution, they mistakenly thought of 
themselves as having a right to participate in its direction. That 
was never agreeable to Lenin. The sailors had formed their own 
organizations such as their Revolutionary Military Council and 
their Revolutionary Center. They assumed the right of inspectors 
and critics of military and revolutionary developments. This was 
not the Bolshevik way. Lenin, like Stalin after him, tolerated no 
other centers of power. 

Control of the Baltic sailors' organizations was becoming 
increasingly difficult as the Bolsheviks among them had been 
appointed to other important posts such as that of the commander 
in chief of Russian forces. Thus a natural control mechanism was 
weakened and the sailors resisted efforts to increase party 
supervision. By 1920 unrest in Petrograd was becoming serious. Not 
only were there protests against the hardships of life, but more 
ominously against the betrayal of the aims of the Revolution. 

The explosive forces met. The Kronshtadt sailors supported the 
Petrograd workers. Indignant at the increasing efforts to bring 
them under control and at the central government's refusal to 
consult them, they rebelled in March 1921. 

The mutiny was viciously, ferociously and definitively suppressed 
by units of the Red Army led by Trotsky and including participants 
from the Tenth Party Congress. The Congress had been in session in 
Moscow but was hastily adjourned upon receipt of news of the 
defection of the "glory and pride of the Revolution. " 

The sailors' demands were not exorbitant. They consisted 
primarily in requiring that the promises of the Bolsheviks for legal 
and political reforms, made at the time of the Revolution, be 
fulfilled and that decisions be made on a democratic basis. Lenin's 
government, however, was terrified because if the Baltic sailors 
rebelled, then it was quite probable that the entire nation would 
rebel against the Revolution. The first wide-scale purge was the 
Bolshevik answer. The Navy was reduced from 180,000 men to 
39,000 by the end of 1921. But Lenin did retreat. The New 
Economic Policy (NEP) was instituted restoring a measure of 
private enterprise to a suffering country. A degree of prosperity 
returned. At the same time, Bolshevik sailors who had been given 
other positions in the party and government administrations were 
returned to the Baltic Fleet and the power of political workers was 
"strengthened." 10 

In 1922 a school was organized to train political officers. 1 x 
Another act was to organize a massive infiltration of the navy with 


loyal party members. As the result of a propaganda campaign, 
between 1922 and 1924, over 10,000 Young Communist League 
members joined the navy's educational institutions. However, the 
navy went into a decline because the government did not trust it. 
The shore fortifications were changed to army subordination and 
it was not until 1927 that full-scale Baltic and Black Sea naval 
exercises— and with the participation of the Red army— were 

The design of the Soviet Fleet at this time was a function of 
several priorities: 1) the collapsed state of the country's economy 
and industry; 2) the sense of isolation and containment and the 
constant threat from a hostile world; 3) the hope for an international 
Communist movement directed from Moscow; and 4) the Bolshe- 
viks' distrust of the navy as a result of the Kronshtadt uprising. 
Between 1921, the year of the Kronshtadt Rebellion, and 1928 the 
year of Stalin's consolidation of power, according to the official 
history, the navy was being restored "within the general condition 
and material resources of the country." 1 2 

Lenin was concerned in those years with having a navy that 
would be capable of filling the requirements for political and 
economic objectives; that meant one ready for international tasks 
or "state interests" as Gorshkov would put it. 13 In 1922, at an 
All-Union meeting of Communist Seamen, the policy was re- 
affirmed that the mission of the Soviet Navy was to incorporate all 
classes of surface ships, submarines and aviation, in order to work 
aggressively "in cooperation with the Red Army." 

In spite of the demands of worldwide revolution and the 
problem of the country's security, the highest priority in naval 
administration and planning was given to educational institutions 
and securing the loyalty of the sailors. In effect the navy was, on 
party orders, turned over to the Young Communist League which 
acted as a political patron and ideological supervisor. 

There were, of course, no "officer" training programs as rank 
had been abolished, but there were "command personnel" schools 
that had been organized in 1918 with an 8-month program. A 
political school was opened to provide cadres who would insure 
that no more Kronshtadts would take place. 

Already in those years the young Communist power, expecting 
to lead a worldwide revolution, was concerned with its interna- 
tional image. Although the navy was in a low state of readiness, 
visits were made in 1923 to Bergen and Trondheim, Norway, and 
to Canton, China. The next year, there were visits to Norway, 
Sweden, Italy and Turkey. 


The main tactical problem at the time, however, was to sweep 
the mines left over from World War I. The ports in the Baltic, 
Black Sea and Sea of Azov were not declared free for shipping 
until 1925. Primary attention was also given to patrolling the 
maritime borders. Patrols were established on the Baltic, Black 
Sea, the Caspian Sea, in the Far East, on the Amur River and in 
the north. 

One of the legacies of the Kronshtadt rebellion was a system for 
political control that was and remains extremely unpopular with 
the military. A political commissar was appointed for ships and 
units. He had equal authority with the commanding officer. In 
addition, the commissar had a chain of subordination that ended 
directly in the Politburo and not the Ministry of Defense. The 
commander of the navy at that time had a chain of command that 
was extremely diffuse. Fleets were subordinated to shore com- 
mands or simply reported to the Central Revolutionary Military 
Soviet and the People's Commissar for Military and Naval Affairs. 
The problem was not, however, one of a rational organization and 
standard subordination but one of party control and loyalty. Only 
27 percent of naval "leaders" were Communist Party members and 
there was a very high proportion of former czarist naval officers 
serving as specialists in the Soviet Fleet, a higher proportion than 
in the other armed forces. 1 4 

Compulsory military service became law in September 1925 
although according to Marx the military should have disappeared. 
Conscripted naval service was set at 4 years where it remained 
until the new law of 1969. 

Beginning with the Conscription Law in 1925, there was a 
movement away from the unpopular dual command system except 
for the navy in which it was exercised until 1933. 1 5 

Finally, a naval building program was begun as determined by 
the First Five Year Plan of 1928. First priority was given to 
building submarines, then torpedo boats and finally escort 
destroyers. The Soviets began solving the problem of interfleet 
transfers in a way that was to become more and more sophisti- 
cated. M-class submarines were constructed in sections that could 
be transported by railroad. Finally, in 1932, the Soviet Pacific 
Fleet was reorganized and the next year the Northern Flotilla 
became operational. (The Northern Flotilla was changed to the 
Northern Fleet in 1937.) 

The continuity between the czarist and Soviet Navies, the 
navy's helplessness during the period of civil war and foreign 
intervention, and the internationalist policies of the Bolsheviks all 


trained the leaders of the new state to be aware of the importance 
of seapower. The Marxist- Leninist doctrines on war insured that 
naval strategists could not have a narrow vision. 

The Spanish civil war provided the Soviets with the first major 
opportunity to promote state interests abroad and at the same 
time focused attention on the navy. In that war the Soviet 
Government did its best to support the Republican Armies but 
had no means to protect the merchant ships delivering supplies. 
Several Soviet merchant ships were sunk or captured by German 
and Italian forces operating in support of Franco. Admiral 
Kuznetsov referred to that period as a time when it became 
"particularly apparent how important the sea is for us and how 
much we need a strong Navy." 1 6 

Response to the Spanish civil war, however, was not what 
caused the Soviet Government to begin a shipbuilding program in 
1937. That project provided a formidable assignment for Soviet 
industry, calling for increased numbers of submarines and de- 
stroyers as well as construction of battleships, heavy and light 
cruisers and minesweepers. Soviet leaders, whose Marxist vision 
was necessarily international, were limited in their military 
construction by the catastrophic state of the country's economy 
and industry. The naval construction problem that the Soviet 
Union faced in the 30s was far worse than even the naval 
construction problem that all czarist governments had faced 
before. Requirements, inventiveness, and desires far exceeded the 
capacity of industry to fulfill them. There were at that time 
extreme shortages in every field. And while the leaders of the 
government were aware of the need for a large fleet, and expressed 
the desire for large ships, industrial limitations were apparent. 17 
Plans were delayed because of many kinds of inadequacies. The 
crucial problems were intensified by the purges and the universal 
fear in which Soviet citizens lived, but they were primarily owing 
to a lack^of productive capacity. 1 8 

One solution to these problems was also traditional, the 
employment of foreign technology. Since the Treaty of 
Rapallo (in 1922), there was close Soviet-German military 
cooperation. With some design changes, the Soviets began 
building in serial production a submarine designated type "S" 
which was based on improved plans for the German "B-3" 
submarine. French and Italian designs were also influential, as 
they had been in the czarist navy, especially with the 
construction of surface ships. And propulsion machinery was 
bought in England. 


By 1939 the arms race was at a phrenetic tempo. The Soviets 
requested blueprints from the Germans for a battleship and from 
the United States and Germany for the blueprints of an aircraft 
carrier. The requests were rejected. By 1938 the objective 
situation was such that the Soviet Government undoubtedly 
realized that it had no choice but to accelerate the development of 
an oceangoing navy. Not only was there a growing threat on the 
European front but also there were clashes with Japan, in August 
1938, on the Pacific front, promising a two-ocean war and raising 
the specter of another Tsushima. 

The answer, clearly perceived at that time, was for a blue- water 
navy, and such grandiose plans had existed from the start. The 
Foreign Minister, V.M. Molotov, in a statement to the First 
Session of the Supreme Soviet, in 1938, publicly confirmed "the 
mighty Soviet state should have an open sea and ocean navy 
corresponding to its interests and worthy of its great tasks." (The 
words "great tasks" mean what Admiral Gorshkov means by the 
"protection of state interests.") 

With the war clouds gathering and the threats from both the 
East and the West, and perhaps with renewed confidence after the 
slaughter of the purges, the navy was "rehabilitated" in 1937 
when the Commissariat of the Navy, a kind of navy department, 
was established. That did not mean, however, that Stalin was 
prepared to trust his military leaders. Dual command was restored 
through the creation of the Main Political Directorate which 
meant that Communist commissars would be making final military 
decisions on ships and in all units. (To be denounced by a party 
member in those days was tantamount to summary execution.) 
Further control was ensured through the creation of an organiza- 
tion called the Main Naval Military Council. One of Stalin's closest 
henchmen, Zhdanov, was appointed the chairman. Of course, 
similar control measures existed in the army as well. Stalin insured 
that he would not suffer the indignity of being challenged by an 
army or navy Bonaparte. 

The information about the Soviet Navy in the thirties available 
in the West is largely from Soviet sources which means that it 
cannot be taken at face value. (Jane's Fighting Ships for 
1938-1939 despaired of giving any accurate information about the 
Soviet Navy at all.) According to Soviet sources, the Soviets had 
certainly made remarkable progress, considering the situation, in 
rebuilding a navy between 1920 and 1941. They claim to have laid 
down 533 warships and to have completed 4 cruisers, 37 
destroyers of various types, 8 river monitors, 18 patrol ships, a 


minelayer and 206 submarines. There were 219 ships on the ways 
at the beginning of the war, including 3 battleships, 2 heavy 
cruisers, 8 cruisers, 45 destroyers, and 91 submarines. 19 (The 
number of submarines is not short of extraordinary and proves a 
completely independent mind in the Soviet Union about naval 
warfare, for no other nation in the world had so many.) 

Cdr. Robert Herrick, in his meticulously researched and 
pioneering work on the Soviet Navy 2 ° found evidence that there 
had been two schools of naval strategy in those years: a "young 
school" that rejected any notion of command of the seas and 
argued for a large submarine navy supported by small surface 
ships, and the old school that argued for the traditional concepts 
of a balanced navy. 2 1 The importance of these debates is not just 
historical. It is assumed that if there were such debates, similar 
ones could be occurring now. 

The problem with this argument is that those who are hoping to 
prove that the Soviet Union is moving toward a "balanced 
blue- water" navy have as a preconception that if that is true, the 
Soviets will build a navy like that of the British or Americans and 
give it similar assignments. In other words, it tends to be an 
ethnocentric argument projecting one's own images, causing naval 
analysts to stop focusing on the differences and to find justifica- 
tion in the similarities. 

Dr. Nicholas Shadrin, a lifelong observer of the Soviet Navy, 
wrote with great commonsense, "The debates neither resulted in an 
officially approved theory nor influenced any shipbuilding program. 
The theory of 'small war' which was most widespread since the 
mid- 1920s up to the beginning of the 1930s, reflected the pragmatic 
recognition of the weakness of the Soviet Navy at that time. " 2 2 

One should add that the debates also reflected the weakness of 
the Soviet economy and heavy industry at that time. What such 
decisions did not represent, apparently, was the consensus of the 
naval leadership. At least Admiral Kuznetsov, Commander in Chief 
of the Pacific Fleet who became the Commissar of the Navy after 
the naval leadership was exterminated in the purges, said that he 
first learned of the plans for new ships in 1937, not through the 
naval chain, but from the head of the shipbuilding industry. 23 
Although he was to lead the navy, his opinion was not solicited by 
the Main Naval Council. Such procedure shows an important mode 
of operation, critical for the understanding of decisionmaking in a 

According to Admiral Kuznetsov, an unwritten rule was that 
the navy could decide on important matters only after consulta- 


tion with Stalin, although Molotov (the Foreign Minister) and 
Zhdanov (the Naval Commissar) were sometimes allowed to make 
preliminary decisions before being examined by Stalin. Stalin and 
Admiral Kuznetsov, incidentally, were fully aware of the im- 
portance of a large navy in the political arena and Stalin 
(according to Kuznetsov) was the one who demanded a big navy. 
He also understood the importance of access to the open sea for 
apparently he personally inspected possible ports and building 
yards for the Northern Fleet and chose Severomorsk and the river 
north of Murmansk for major naval bases. His building program 
suggested that Stalin did not expect a war with Germany (these 
were the years of the Stalin-Hitler alliance) but rather that he was 
concentrating on a navy that could divide the spoils of war. 

Stalin's preparations for World War II seem to have been based 
upon his military experience as a revolutionary and party official 
during the civil war, his mania for population control, and his 
belief that Hitler would not attack. 2 4 All of that illustrates the 
disasters that can ensue from a doctrinaire leadership sealed off 
from objective information. Certainly no sane argument can be 
made that the Soviet Union, in the months preceding the war, was 
pursuing its vital interests. Driving the population mad with fear 
and privation and eliminating all but a fraction of the experienced 
and technically trained military leaders is hardly anyone's formula 
for success in battle, and that was proved in the winter war 
(1939-1940) with Finland. 

Whether or not Khrushchev's memoirs are completely authen- 
tic, his account of the Soviet Navy in that war is consistent with 
the facts and is in his usual colorful prose: 

Our navy was engaged against the Finnish fleet. You 
wouldn't have thought that the Finns would have the 
advantage at sea, but our navy couldn't do anything right. I 
remember hearing at Stalin's in Moscow that one of our 
submarines had been unable to sink a Swedish merchant 
vessel which it had mistaken for a Finnish ship. The Germans 
observed this incident, and gave us a teasing pinch by offering 
their assistance . . . ? 5 

The German conclusions from their observations may have 
sealed Russia's fate and ultimately Germany's as well. In the 
attack on Finland, Stalin intended to show the Germans the 
invincible might of the Soviet forces. It is almost certain that the 
ensuing debacle contributed to Hitler's plan to open a second 


front and his assumption that he could take Moscow by October, 
before his troops needed warm clothing. 

Later analysis, according to Khrushchev, showed that intelli- 
gence sources had not been consulted and were probably not 
allowed to speak. They were, of course, blamed, but Marshal 
Timoshenko admitted that faulty intelligence had not been the 
cause. Everything was known about the Mannerheim Line. The 
first strike was directed to the middle of it at the strongest point. 
As Khrushchev said: "If we had only deployed our forces against 
the Finns in the way even a child could have figured by looking at 
a map, things would have turned out differently for both the 
Soviet Union and Finland." 2 6 

Whatever the strategic ideas Stalin had for the navy in a war 
with Germany, they were ineffective. The answer to what 200 
submarines could do in the shallow waters surrounding the Soviet 
Union turned out to be almost nothing. 

Although one is arguing from hindsight, the experience of the 
Soviet Navy at that time had extended over 20 years. It had 
underscored the importance of protecting convoys, both in the 
Spanish civil war and in the First World War, and of the 
vulnerability of shallow seas, like the Black and Baltic, to mine 
warfare. But the lessons learned were ignored and the Baltic Fleet 
was bottled up by German mines so that it could do little more 
than serve as antiaircraft batteries to protect Leningrad, and the 
Black Sea Fleet was paralyzed by the rapid German advance. 

Stalin's Navy may have been designed to promote state interests 
and revolution but it was not designed for war with Germany. No 
doubt the navy's rather sad showing in the Second World War was 
because of the maritime ignorance of Stalin as much as of any 
deficiencies in operational planning and design. Certainly, it 
suffered gravely from the purges and the atmosphere of paranoia. 

Admiral Golovko wrote that at the beginning of the war, 
German reconnaissance airplanes would fly over the Northern 
Fleet at Murmansk and no one would shoot them down even 
though orders had been issued to do so. The reason was that the 
penalty for a much less serious mistake in those years was death, 
although Admiral Golovko does not say so. 2 7 The sailors were 
paralyzed by fear. 

For a war in so many respects similar to the First World War, 
the Soviet Navy proved itself very inadequately prepared. While 
most of its ships were equipped for minelaying, there was only one 
minelayer and there were an inadequate number of minesweepers 
and ships for antisubmarine warfare. There were no amphibious 


ships, although amphibious operations dominated naval wartime 
operations. Naval aviation was grossly inadequate. 28 In addition 
to the other deficiencies, no ships had radar and there were few 
antiaircraft guns. 2 9 

In spite of Admiral Kuznetsov's claim that the Soviet naval 
intelligence staff gave enough advance warning of the German war 
plans for the Soviet Navy to go into readiness state number two on 
19 July 1941, and to readiness state number one (meaning war) at 
2335 on 21 June, the preparations taken did not suggest any 
knowledge of German courses of action. 30 The commander in 
chief of the Northern Fleet inferred the danger of war from the 
flow of refugees. He had no direct information. 

The German plan of operation was for a defensive war in the 
Baltic as the major portion of its fleet would be occupied with the 
far greater British Navy in the West. The principal mission for the 
German Navy was to protect the sea lines of supply between 
Finland and Germany. Apparently naval support for land opera- 
tions was not planned. As far as the naval war was concerned, it 
was expected that the rapid German advance would deprive the 
Russians of their bases and the ships would be sealed into the 
harbors by rapid mine warfare. Thus, although the Soviet Navy 
was on alert status, it apparently did not put to sea and the 
Germans laid their minefields with little opposition. 3 1 While the 
Soviets claim that in the initial attack there were no losses of 
Soviet ships, the Germans claim that the largest Soviet ships 
sustained serious damage. In view of the supremacy in the air of 
the Luftwaffe, the latter account is probably correct. The rest of 
the war was largely one of Soviet attempts at minesweeping and 
counteroffensives in mine tactics and several heroic and a few 
successful attempts by submarines to break through the mine 
barriers across the Gulf of Finland. 

In any case, the history of naval operations in the Baltic during 
the first months of the Second World War is a story largely of 
retreat, escape, and evacuation. The Baltic Fleet was put in a far 
worse position than it had ever been since the time of Peter the 
Great, bottled up in the Gulf of Finland between Kronshtadt and 
Leningrad. In those shallow waters many of the ships ceased to 
function except as fortress gun turrets in the defense of Leningrad, 
until they were sunk. Some, resting on the bottom, continued to 
operate even afterwards. 

Because the Germans controlled both shores of the Gulf of 
Finland, they were able to immobilize the Baltic Fleet with 
minefields, shore batteries and air defenses. Naval aviation had 


been made subordinate to the army so all that was left for 
operations was the vast number of submarines. 3 2 Action was then 
confined to Soviet submarines which scored some successes against 
German shipping. Their main targets were the ships engaged in 
transporting Swedish ore to Germany. The submarines were only 
effective enough to force Germany to introduce the convoy 
system briefly in 1942, but not again until the second half of 

Of the navies in the Black Sea, the Soviet was by far the largest 
but it was not very useful. In the initial action of the war the 
German advance was so rapid that the Soviet Navy's mission was 
limited to resupply and evacuation at the fortress bastions that 
remained at Odessa and in the Crimea. The Soviets showed the 
ingenuity of their predecessors in the time of Peter the Great and 
Catherine by using numerous small craft and barges to land troops, 
usually at night in order to avoid attacks by the Luftwaffe, and 
under the protection of support gunfire from cruisers and 
destroyers. On one occasion a whole division was transported in 
this manner. However, by September 1942 the few repair facilities 
at Novorossiysk were lost and with that the Soviets had little 
opportunity to maintain their ships. 

The war in the Black Sea at this stage was one of submarine 
warfare in which the Soviet submarines proved effective only at 
interfering with the shipping along the coast from the Crimea to 
Rumania and Bulgaria. The major surface action engaged torpedo 
boats; this evolved a tactic not unlike that of John Paul Jones in 
the same waters. Minefields were sewn in shallow waters of the 
Kerch Strait in the Sea of Azov through which shallow-draft 
motor torpedo boats could operate. They could harass the flanks 
of the army and decoy larger German ships into the minefields. 

For the most part, the Soviet surface ships remained inactive so 
that even after the German land-supply routes were cut, Germany 
maintained the flow of supplies across the Black Sea to the Crimea 
until April 1944. The Germans were able to evacuate 137,000 
troops from Sevastopol, long after the evacuation should have 
been made, and under attack from the air. The troops were 
transported to Constansa, 200 miles away, without significant 
interference from the Soviet Navy. In the same way, vast numbers 
of troops were evacuated from Odessa without significant Soviet 
surface interference. 

The British Naval Liaison Officer with the Black Sea Fleet said 
that he was constantly urging the Soviet Naval Command to attack 
German shipping but without success. The excuse was that it had 


no adequate air cover for such operations. 33 In the first 18 
months of the war, 24 out of the 63 submarines in the Black Sea 
Fleet were lost. The British Liaison Officer attributed this to 
inadequately trained crews. 

In the Arctic the Soviet Naval Air Force first appeared in 1942 
and was employed mainly in reconnaissance. However, the sea war 
was confined to submarine attacks against German shipping. 
Russian destroyers were never used against German convoys but 
were used in the final stages as escorts for allied convoys to 
Murmansk. The Soviet destroyers used for escort duty limited 
their range to 430 miles from their own base. 

A senior British naval officer, who was in the Soviet Union for 
liaison at that time, described their seagoing efficiency as poor and 
their tactical behavior as erratic, with the result that the British 
preferred to station the Soviet ships astern of the convoys in order 
not to endanger the allied ships and for the possible benefit of 
picking up survivors. 3 4 

The nature of the war was such that there were several unusual 
developments. First of all Soviet planners, whether Stalin or the 
Naval Commissars, who had been weaned away from traditional 
Russian concepts of naval warfare, received a sharp rebuff. Except 
for convoy escort duty in the north, and the harassment of rather 
short and not very distant sea lines of communication in the Baltic 
and Black Seas, the Soviet Navy's mission in the war was certainly 
that of supporting the army on its flanks. For that task, the navy 
was singularly unprepared. Its experience with mine warfare seems 
to have been abandoned. The navy was inadequate and untrained 
in antisubmarine warfare. The use of naval aviation and its 
dominant role in warfare was apparently and properly understood 
at the beginning of the war and given considerably more attention 
by the end. There were no preparations for amphibious warfare 
except by the Pacific Fleet and that was at the end of the war with 
amphibious ships provided by the United States. Nevertheless, the 
Soviet Navy showed great inventiveness in making several dozen 
amphibious landings. There were naval rifle brigades formed from 
sailors and naval shore units totaling 405,000 men who were often 
incorporated into the ground forces and used as shock troops. As 
in the days of Ivan the Terrible, there were numerous naval 
flotillas on the rivers conducting semiamphibious operations. 

The poor showing of the Soviet Navy in the Second World War 
seems to have led many naval critics to the assumption that the 
Soviets learned some lessons that transformed their thinking into 
some Western configurations. Nothing could be more misleading. 


The war did not teach the Soviets that they needed capital ships. 
Indeed, how could they have used them in either the Baltic or 
Black Seas? In fact it taught them just the reverse. In two world 
wars their battleships and cruisers had remained helpless in the 
Gulf of Finland. But the requirement to protect the flanks of the 
Soviet Army was a supremely important mission which, in a war 
to the death, could in no way be denigrated. 

While acknowledging the value of aircraft carriers and of big 
oceangoing, blue-water navies, the Soviets in writing about their 
experience in the war make it clear that they recognized that these 
would not have been answers to Soviet tactical or strategic 
questions of that time. 

The poor showing of the Soviet Navy in the Second World War, 
quite obviously, owes a considerable amount to the Stalinist 
purges that preceded it. By the time the war began, the Soviet 
Navy simply did not have an experienced leadership or a cadre of 
trained officers and technicians. Nearly all living senior Soviet 
admirals were promoted to that rank as very young men, not just 
Gorshkov. The purges had eliminated the ranks above them. 

In the fourth quarter of the 20th century one has extreme 
difficulty comprehending the effect of Stalin's purges on the 
armed forces. That act defies the formula that we generally apply 
to history, that assures us that nations act in their own 
self-interest. A conservative summary would be that the Soviet 
Union entered the war having almost wiped out its party 
leadership, its civil and regional administrations, enormously 
weakened its technological and intellectual faculties, and nearly 
eradicated experienced officers of its armed forces. The defeats of 
the winter war in Finland were an early indication of the 
consequences of that terror. 

Another problem the Soviet Navy faced was similar to the one 
it had faced in the First World War. Critical supplies and spare 
parts were not available and early in the war main repair bases and 
shipyards fell into enemy hands or, as in Leningrad, were 
immobilized by enemy actions. The Soviet High Command, 
composed of young officers who survived the purges, was not 
experienced or trained in the tactical employment of naval forces 
and did not have time to learn. 

Soviet military literature, with its almost exclusive emphasis on 
"heroism" and "military brilliance," does not discuss the effects 
of the purges on the military campaigns of the Second World War. 
Consequently, too little weight has been given to that period in 
assessing Soviet decisionmaking. There can be no escaping the fact 


that nothing has changed in the Soviet system to prevent a 
repetition of the Stalinist period. And as we have seen, a rational 
approach to a nation's vital interests did not dominate Soviet war 



The Peoples' Commissariat of the Navy, created in 1921, was 
abolished on 25 February 1946 and was reinstated as the Naval 
Ministry of the U.S.S.R. on 25 February 1950. In the interim, the 
navy was subordinated to the ground force-oriented War Ministry. 
On 15 March 1953 the Ministry of Defense of the U.S.S.R. was 
created and the navy and the army were then united under the 
command of the Minister of Defense. 

Stalin's attitude toward the navy was not very stable, even after 
the war. In 1947 Stalin demoted the then Soviet CNO, Fleet 
Admiral Kuznetsov, to rear admiral and sent him to the Pacific 
Fleet. The three deputy CNOs were court-martialed and sentenced 
to prison where one of them, a former Chief of the Main Naval 
Staff, died. As Commander of the Pacific Fleet, Rear Admiral 
Kuznetsov was promoted to vice admiral (having achieved that 
rank for the second time after having been demoted) and in 1951 
was recalled to Moscow to become the Minister of the Navy. 1 
Fleet Admiral Kuznetsov made vice admiral for the third time in 
1956 when he was removed as the Minister of the Navy and again 
demoted to make way for Admiral Gorshkov. 

Although a Ministry of the Navy was created in February 1950 
(before Stalin's death) "to emphasize the growth of the navy," 2 
the major intellectual stimulus for the new navy began in 1956 
when Soviet military strategy was basically changed to accommo- 
date the age of nuclear missiles. 

In 1956 and 1957 more than 500 generals, admirals, and 
officers met in a military scientific conference to discuss the steps 
that were necessary to prepare for combat under nuclear condi- 
tions. 3 The result was that the navy was given an equal footing 
with other services and at the same time its usefulness in a broader 
more international mission was fully recognized. 

From the Stalinist period comes the rather confusing termi- 
nology of referring to the branches of service as "army" or 
"navy." This is meant to distinguish between those who serve on 
land or sea. The administrative and command chain, however, 


recognizes the five service arms: air force, strategic rocket forces, 
ground forces, naval forces and air defense forces. Each, and now 
also the civil defense force, has a chain of command up to a 
commander in chief who is also a deputy minister of defense and 
who sits in the military council. The staff organization is 
shown in Figure 1 while the fleet organization is shown in 
Figure 2. 

Ever since 1933 there have been four fleets, and ironically the 
Northern Fleet, which was the last to be established, is now by far 
the largest. In addition, during the war, there were five flotillas 
that would probably be quickly reformed in the event of 
hostilities. The largest and most active was the Danube River 
Flotilla. Now there remains only the Caspian Sea Flotilla which, in 
addition to watching the Iranian Navy, has the missions of patrol 
and support of scientific and technical research. (There are also 
some naval schools in Baku whose training programs the flotilla 
also undoubtedly supports.) 

The widespread geographical separation of the fleets dictates a 
command structure that includes control of the shore estab- 
lishment, hence the fleet commander in chief also controls the 
coastal defense forces, naval aviation and infantry, the bases, and 
the logistical, training and support services including hydrography 
and meteorology. 

The Soviet submarine force is considered the first arm of the 
navy and aviation is ranked second. Such distinctions are made 
annually in the Navy Day speeches (Navy Day is the last Sunday in 
July and is celebrated with naval parades and demonstrations in all 
of the major naval ports: Leningrad, Sevastopol, Vladivostok, 
Murmansk, Baku, Tallin and others) which speeches are a key to 
changes in the naval thinking, and therefore strategy. 

Such, for instance, was the speech of Fleet Admiral Sergeev 
reported in Morskoy sbornik in July 1975. When he said that the 
main striking force of the navy was "atomic submarines and 
aviation," 4 he was certifying a conceptual framework that receives 
a yearly, ritual confirmation. The least change in the order of 
forces would be noticed and would signal a major shift. Actually, 
in 1972, the year the aircraft carrier Kiev was launched, the 
commander of Soviet Naval Air was promoted to the rank of 
Marshal of Naval Aviation. This suggested that several more 
aircraft carriers would be built; also, that naval air was fulfilling 
significant, new naval missions. As Admiral Sergeev put it, ''Jet 
rockets and ASW aviation have been expanded to include the most 
modern kinds of airplanes capable of resolving problems in distant 
















































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regions of the ocean. The crews have mastered extended flights at 
great ranges as well as new locating and targetting devices." 5 

The officers of the naval air force, the naval infantry and 
technical and logistical services have army ranks. Admiral of the 
Fleet of the Soviet Union, Admiral Gorshkov's rank, is the 
equivalent of a marshal of the Soviet Union. The marshal of naval 
aviation is two ranks below that and the equivalent of a marshal of 
tank troops. A fleet admiral, the rank of the first deputy 
commander in chief, Fleet Admiral Smirnov, is the equivalent of a 
general of the army. 

Organization of the Armed Forces. Under Article 132 of the 
Constitution of the Soviet Union universal military service is 
required. All citizens between the ages of 19 and 50 are subject to 
compulsory military training. In addition, there is preservice 
training in schools and paramilitary organizations outside of the 
schools, the primary one being DOSAAF which stands for, 
roughly, "Friends of the Fighting Forces." DOSAAF is a kind of 
super Boy Scout and Girl Scout organization combined with the 
Veterans of Foreign Wars and Lions Clubs. It seems to control all 
of the hobbies that require specialized equipment such as the 
airplane clubs, scuba diving organizations, radio clubs, and many 
others. The result is that the one million men drafted yearly for 2 
to 5 years are already somewhat prepared for their military life. 
After their period of active service they are in the reserves until 
the age of 50 with periodic training. There is a second line reserve 
for women in some specialties and for those men who have been 
deferred for education or other reasons. The Minister of Defense 
who, since Trotsky and until Ustinov, has always been a military 
officer, has two positions, one in the government and the other in 
the party. He is a member of the Council of Ministers in the 
government line and of the Central Committee of the Communist 
Party of the U.S.S.R. The admiral of the fleet, currently Admiral 
Gorshkov, is a deputy minister of defense as are the chiefs of staff 
of the other military components. The minister of defense is, in 
fact, the commander in chief of the armed forces. Directly under 
him is the first deputy minister for general affairs and next is the 
chief of the general staff. The general staff was patterned after the 
German general staff. Authority flows through six departments: 
(1) operations, (2) intelligence (GRU), (3) communications, (4) 
organization and mobilization, (5) topography, (6) history in- 
cluding doctrine. 

The navy, like the other services, also has a general staff. It is 


under the chief of the staff for operations and implements the 
directives of the general staff itself. The historical administration 
works closely with the military academies and besides publishing 
books and studies formulates strategy and doctrine. 

The term of first enlistment in the navy, until 1956, was 5 
years, 1 year longer than in the other services. It was reduced 
finally to 3 years except for aviation personnel who serve 2 years 
only. The reduction in the years of service reflects a decline in the 
popularity of enlisted careers. There was some expectation that a 
reduction in the initial enlistment together with an improvement 
in the standard of living would lead to more reenlistments. 

After active service all Soviet citizens are enlisted in the reserves 
and must have active-duty training periodically, depending on 
their category and age, until they are 50. At that time, their 
obligation is considered to be paid. 

Until they are 35, reservists are subject to four periods of 
training which can last as long as 3 months each. Pilots are subject 
to five flight training sessions of 40 days each. All enlisted 
reservists can be called up at any time for "examination sessions" 
which may last up to 10 days. Reserve officers can be called up for 
training duty much more frequently and for considerably longer 
periods. Reserve officers can be assigned in peacetime to active 
duty for 2 to 3 years if they are less than 30 years of age. This is 
not an uncommon practice. However, training for all Soviet 
citizens begins prior to induction. At the age of 15, whether at 
school, in a factory or on a collective farm, youths must begin 
their military education. Time, by law, is set aside for it. 

The romanticization of the military as well as practical 
indoctrination begins at an even earlier age, however. Soviet 
literature contains references to training students in the work of 
civil defense in the fourth through the seventh grades. During 
competitions in military games these young students get badges 
such as "young rifleman," "marksman," "radio enthusiasts" or 
"young sailor." The training becomes even more formalized in 
the summer when the Young Pioneers, of whom there are some 16 
million from the ages of 10 to 15, conduct military exercises in 
their summer camps. These games are taken quite seriously and are 
even given military sponsorship. For example, in the Vladivostok 
area the Young Pioneers engaged with the navy in assault landings 
and the repulse of an "enemy" naval assault force. At the end of 
this exercise some 6,500 Young Pioneers passed in review. 6 

Furthermore, children engage in civil defense drills. References 
are made to the problems of presenting the reasons for civil 


defense to children in grade schools without causing them 
nightmares. Teachers have resisted talking about weapons of mass 
destruction or explaining why it is necessary to wear gas masks. At 
the same time that the civil defense authorities were trying to get 
the teachers to give the children selected stories on "military 
patriotic themes," the civil defense lessons were obviously meant 
to glorify military service also, as the advice is that "one cannot 
talk about the methods and means of protection against weapons 
of mass destruction in classes with the fifth and ninth grades and 
not mention our armed forces, their combat might and the 
heroism and courage of the Soviet fighting men." 7 

The size of the Soviet Armed Forces including the border 
guards and internal security troops is put at approximately 3.7 
million. 8 There are an estimated 450,000 in the navy. Of the total 
in the armed forces, approximately 700,000 (using the basis that 
one fifth of the armed forces) are officers and 400,000 are enlisted 
men on extended service. The conscript force is approximately 
2,700,000. As only 1,300,000 draftees are required each year, it is 
estimated that this is one half of the 18-year olds available. 

The various changes in personnel policy as well as the frequency 
of articles about making military life more attractive suggest that 
service in the Soviet Armed Forces is not popular with Soviet 
youth. The period of enlistment was reduced and a 
reenlistment incentive was introduced by making it possible to 
acquire quasi-officer status as a kind of warrant officer. This move 
apparently was not successful and regulations were changed to 
make it possible for an enlisted man to become a warrant officer 
and then move on to officer status after 3 years of service by 
entering a higher military school. Various other inducements such 
as longer leaves and better living conditions were introduced in 
order to try to improve reenlistment ratios in the enlisted and 
warrant officer ranks. According to current practice, new navy 
enlistees are trained in special schools after which they advance to 
petty officers. Those who reenlist and choose a permanent career 
in the navy are then selected for a rank more or less equivalent to 
that of warrant officer, known in the navy as michman. This 
change in the enlisted rates which took place in 1971 reflected the 
new awareness of the advanced technical and scientific nature of a 
modern navy. 

A conscripted sailor does not receive pay but rather an 
allowance of from 3 to 5 rubles a month. His pay is about 50 
rubles a year which buys far less than would $50. This is sufficient 
for cheap cigarettes or a few chocolate bars. The low pay is a 


means of control. It is insufficient for a sailor to buy a bottle of 
vodka or to have a night on the town. 

The post exchanges carry little beyond the necessities and are a 
constant subject of complaint. They suffer from the Soviet 
problem of inadequate distribution which results in one store 
being criticized (in Red Star) for not having a single box of 
matches. 9 One thing that is abundant is reading material. 
According to Red Star approximately 40 million books a year are 
distributed through the military system. That is at least 10 books 
per man. 1 ° They are not the entertaining stories enlisted men read 
in the West however. There are no "skin" books, news magazines 
or diverting mystery stories. Instead, the men get largely the 
classics -Tolstoy, Chekov and Dostoevsky-the works of Lenin and 
other socialist leaders and modern "inspirational" socialist fiction. 

The problem of inducing youth into the military is one that 
does not fit the ideology of the "new Marxist man." Service life is 
idealized. Such a degree of lyricism was reached in a description of 
military life in Red Star: 

The happiness that is found in books does not exist. 
Neither the comfort of large cities, nor the comfort of 
restaurants, nor endless pastimes make up the romance of a 
normal, full-blooded life. Romance is born in far away 
garrisons where mad storms wander, where all around you is 
the taiga arctic landscape or sunny desert which, in another 
era, only a plane could reach. In my opinion, romance lives 
unique, light and pure in the hearts of those who subordinate 
everything to the formula -myself, my collective, my mother- 
land. This formula gives birth to heroes. Subordinate the 
personal to the collective; live for the motherland! Remem- 
ber always that no matter what you might do, the collective 
has formed you and the motherland has given you happi- 
ness. 1 ' 

However stirring these calls to arms may be they have been 
notably unsuccessful in maintaining the attractiveness of the 
military career. In terms of prestige, a 1969 study placed the 
military occupation in popularity below nearly all scientific and 
technical occupations and that of aircraft pilot on a 10-point scale. 
The most desirable occupation was to be a pilot. Physicians rated 
5.3. Below physicians came writers and artists at 5.2, university 
teachers at 4.5, and finally the professional military at 4.3 
followed by "social scientists in philosophy" at 4.2. ("Social 


scientists in philosophy" means, of course, Marxist theoreticians.) 
Below them came primary school teachers at 2.5 and so on. 1 2 

In the popularity contest among the services, the navy is 
probably well ahead. One of the great dreams of most Soviet 
citizens is the forbidden one of foreign travel. The navy offers 
almost the only opportunity to visit foreign countries. Admiral 
Gorshkov and other admirals undoubtedly have this advantage in 
mind when they make a point of mentioning in most speeches and 
articles the frequency of foreign visits. 

Officers are paid according to their rank and according to their 
job or billet. For example, a lieutenant would receive 60 rubles a 
month and if he were the commanding officer of a minesweeper, 
he might receive an additional 75 rubles. On top of that if he had 
already served for 5 years, he would receive 10 percent additional, 
and the end of 10 years, 15 percent and so on. For long voyages at 
sea, there is another percentage added and for service in remote 
areas of the Soviet Union there is still another. 

Officers' uniforms— including underwear, socks, and even hand- 
kerchiefs-are supplied by the navy. Officers must pay for their 
apartments and do not receive an allowance for that purpose, but 
rent is a small sum, about 15 rubles per month. Soviets also pay 
income taxes. All of their medical services and vacations at 
sanatoriums and resorts are free. However, medical treatment for 
families of officers is not provided by the military but must be 
obtained at the civilian facilities. The military does pay 50 percent 
of the cost of travel to a military resort for the family of an 

To get some idea of the inflated pay of the military, here are 
the salary ranges per month for some skilled occupations: 
engineers, from 80 to 400 rubles; doctors, from 80 to 150 rubles; 
factory managers, from 400 to 500 rubles; secretaries for regional 
Communist Party Committees (equivalent to governors of state), 
350 to 500 rubles. 

While it is difficult to compare wages because of the different 
scales according to billet, a typical example might be as follows: a 
lieutenant commander, captain of a destroyer in Magadan, would 

Base pay 90 rubles 

For CO 95 rubles 

Seniority 10 rubles 

Food 20 rubles 

Climate 45 rubles (approximately) 

260 rubles 


An officer, serving on a ship in Magadan, would receive the 
highest bonuses in pay and probably 2 years for each one he 
served toward retirement, because of the severity of the climate. A 
lieutenant commander makes basically about three times as much 
as the average worker. The base pay of a captain is 130 rubles and 
of a full admiral is 220 rubles per month. Of course, both would 
receive other allowances and the admiral would have the use of 
special housing possibly including a dacha (summer home or 
cottage in the woods). 

There is considerable competition to get to sea because the 
rewards for sea duty are quite high and .deployments and 
operational periods away from port are not normally as long as in 
the U.S. Navy. 

Age limits for various ranks were established in 1967. A 
lieutenant may serve to the age of 40; commanders until 45; 
captains until 50; and admirals until 60. There is no age limit for 
marshals of the Soviet Union or admirals of the fleet who 
normally serve until they die or become incapacitated. 

Evaluations of officers are done as part of a kind of inspection 
review by a special commission formed for that purpose once a 
year. The commission makes decisions, which are revealed to the 
officer after confirmation by higher authority, which can deter- 
mine his promotion or demotion, release to the reserve, or even 
"spot" promotion outside of the normal rotation. 

A fixed rotation of ship to shore assignments does not appear to 
exist. Officers may serve in various billets for very prolonged 
periods. The most obvious example is Admiral Gorshkov himself 
who has been the Admiral of the Fleet since 1955. (Incidentally, 
the frequent predictions of Admiral Gorshkov's imminent retire- 
ment are another example of the projection of U.S. customs.) 

The standard length of tour aboard ship is 3 or 4 years. On ships 
the size of destroyer escorts or large minesweepers, an officer 
serves as a department head or a commanding officer for about 3 
years and on larger ships and submarines for 4 years. On major 
ships it can be 5 years or longer. 

In the Soviet officer corps there is an unusual feature. Position is 
more important than rank. For example, it is not uncommon for the 
commanding officer of a ship to be junior in rank to his executive 
officer. Many combinations are possible. Perhaps this is a carryover 
from the early days of the Revolution when a leader could be 
advanced because of his relatively greater political reliability. 

Attaining the billet of a commanding officer marks a naval 
officer out for particular respect and those who have been selected 


and have served as commanding officers are given special training 
and education for their future careers. 

Military life is not easy. According to the regulations enlisted 
men must be given 8 hours of sleep and have 2 hours a day for 
relaxation with their comrades; however, energetic political 
officers use the rest and relaxation periods for giving the militarily 
edifying lectures on Marxism/Leninism or the dangers of imperial- 
istic aggression. 

Drunkenness is a major problem within the Soviet Union and 
within the armed forces as well. Attempts are made to associate it 
with a carryover from the capitalists and bourgeois past. Neverthe- 
less, some of the relaxing discussions organized for the sailors' free 
time with his comrades are on the subject of "Drunkenness, a 
Cause of Crime and Enemy of Health." Films with such titles as 
"Wine Begets Guilt" are also shown. 1 5 

For naval personnel, military life introduces some particular 
problems. The ports in the Pacific and Northern Fleets are not 
only located in remote areas but also where extremely adverse 
climate affects the quality of a life already quite dull. In the region 
around Murmansk the ground is covered with snow except for 
about a month in late July and early August and the Arctic nights 
last for half the year. Although conditions are somewhat better on 
the Pacific, it is at the end of the line for the distribution of goods 
(although efforts are made to give it a priority) and far from most 
families and sources of entertainment. 

The stern nature of Marxist ideology coupled with the conserva- 
tive and narrow outlook of the Russian peasant culture (which now 
having power dictates taste) means that there are few sources of 
relaxation or entertainment that are not meant to be improving. Life 
in Russian towns, outside of the Western capitals of Kiev, Moscow 
and Leningrad, is incredibly dull. For most people there is nothing 
light and diverting to read (newspapers are devoted largely to party 
exhortations) or amusing to do. There are few bars and dancehalls 
(and they are difficult to get into and barred to peasants in that 
egalitarian society) and no cabarets or nightclubs. There are 
supposed to be no prostitutes. Only large towns have restaurants, 
and they are always crowded and generally serve food of poor 
quality by Western standards. (At one time, the plan called for 
restaurants, no matter what their size, to spend only 5 rubles a day 
on vegetables.) In any case, without money from home, draftees 
cannot afford to pay for one meal out a month. 

While the navy does hold out the promise of a chance to see 
foreign ports, that is not a promise for everyone. It is used to 


extract increased sacrifice from the sailors. If the political officer 
has anything against them, they will not get ashore or will be 
transferred to the inevitable tender that lies off the coast. In any 
case, the navy now means long voyages, long separations, and an 
absence of the rewards in foreign ports to which sailors are 
accustomed. Sailors are given very little foreign exchange, very 
little time for sightseeing and are required to return by the evening 

In naval training, repeated drill is greatly emphasized not only 
for groups but also for individuals. It is believed that continuous 
training is absolutely essential both at sea and when the ship is in 
home port as well. 1 4 It is in this light that long cruises are justified 
and viewed as essential. They promote not only experience in 
unfamiliar waters but also endurance and the ability to develop 
flexible responses to rapidly changing climatic conditions. This 
justification for long cruises is frequently mentioned in naval 
writing. As Fleet Admiral Kasatonov said: 

Ocean cruises have become the main means of training our 
Red Banner Fleets. In cruises of vigilance, the sailors get a 
general perspective on their training, acquire sound knowl- 
edge and naval tempering, and practice solving operational 
training tasks under complex conditions on the seas and 
oceans. 1 5 

One of the major purposes of training is to prepare soldiers and 
sailors for nuclear war. There is much in Soviet military literature 
about the psychologically disabling effects of nuclear weapons and 
the need to harden the military to conduct combat operations 
under conditions of "tremendous tension and accompanied by 
collosal destruction and mass losses of people and equipment," as 
Army General Kulikov said. 1 6 

Under conditions of mass destruction the military will have to 
operate in a state of shock and in recognition of that reality much 
Soviet training is directed toward hardening them for that 
circumstance. Great emphasis is put on combat realism such as in 
the naval exercises in Okean 1970 and Okean 1975. 

The impossibility of duplicating nuclear realism was regretted 
by General of the Army Epishev, the Head of the Political 
Directorate, who said, 

Certainly, as much as we might wish, we are not able to 
demonstrate the full effect on nuclear explosion and its 


consequences, or to accustom the men to the effect of its 
injurious factors in the exercises. But in the future, it is 
essential to improve these simulators . . . the soldiers and 
sailors must be ready to accept unexpected complex and 
dangerous situations. 1 7 

According to the Soviet press one of the favorite methods of 
approximating these stresses and hardening crews is through the 
device of frequent alerts and calls to quarters, apparently even just 
after coming home from long cruises. 

The Soviet doctrine on war, which gives considerable weight to 
seizing the initiative and the speed of attack, dictates an 
extremely great emphasis upon combat readiness. Consequent 
requirements are that weapons must be in excellent condition, 
that specialists must be highly trained and that the strictest 
discipline and organizational procedures must be observed and 
that all of these elements are interdependent. One element 
essential to combat readiness is precise computation of time. For 
that reason, stopwatches are often used by naval commanders and 
inspectors during naval training. Because of these demands for 
speed and accuracy, constant readiness and alertness, observers 
frequently suggest that naval squadrons and crews, even in 
peaceful circumstances, live and work under the laws of battle 
conditions. (It is surely absurd of NATO to think it will have 
30-days warning of the imminence of hostilities.) 

The stopwatch frequently determines the winner in socialist 
competition. For example there are regular naval competitions for 
the championship in finding and destroying enemy submarines. 
According to Red Star, an outstanding submarine exceeded the 
norm for tracking an enemy submarine by two and one half 
times. 1 8 

The heavy emphasis on the morale factors for winning the war 
is connected with combat readiness. Military writers obviously 
would believe in the importance of the weight of the collective, 
bravery, self-sacrifice, and the willingness to take risks as essential 
elements of the modern fighting man. 

Sailors are expected to bear any hardships and to show an 
insurmountable will for victory and to "withstand the severe stress 
of war without losing the will to win." 1 9 Because of these severe 
stresses, Soviet military policy apparently dictates a very strict 
adherence to regulations and routines of procedure. This of course 
is in conflict with the demands of initiative and independent 
judgment, especially under conditions of nuclear warfare. Never- 


theless, frequent references are made to the need for absolute 
adherence to regulations. As stated in Red Star, 

The secret of turning a collective into a monolith lies in a 
source accessible to us all -military regulations. The most 
important lever in uniting a collective is strict and undeviated 
fulfillment of the regulations and maintenance of exemplary- 
order in the units and sub-unit. 2 ° 

The belief is that through Soviet collectivism, the Soviet people 
and Soviet fighting men will prove greatly superior to the 
populations of imperialistic and capitalistic nations and that 
therefore they will prevail. 

In the drab Soviet reality, rituals of various sorts are created to 
make military life seem more acceptable. All of the organs of 
the media devote a very large percentage of their time to 
glamorizing life at sea, life on submarines, life in remote garrisons, 
and the heroism of death for the motherland. When they start 
their service, inductees are given an elaborate sendoff in village 
ceremonies with speeches, bands, reminiscenses by veterans, and 
bouquets of flowers. There is also a ritual reception when the new 
enlisted men, or officers, are greeted with ceremony upon their 
arrival in their units. 

The ritual begins with a meeting of all the officers in the 
unit. In solemn surroundings, the commander introduces the 
newly arrived officers, and talks to them about the combat 
path and tradition. Such meetings are organized in such 
places as the museum of combat glory. 2 1 

There is a special ceremony for the initiation of submariners in 
an obvious effort to emphasize the submarine service as the 
leading arm of the navy. But it is also meant to reinforce the will 
and harden the characters of the new sailors. As Red Star said, 
"Naturally, this has a great emotional influence on a man and 
engenders in him the aspiration to endure the difficulties of life 
steadfastly." 22 

One function of the ritual is to create as quickly as possible the 
sense of a collective through which behavior can be controlled. 
The collective is extremely important both in the rewards and the 
punishments of sailors and officers. For example, expressions of 
praise for enlisted men and warrant officers are delivered to the 
serviceman in the presence of his unit, or entries are made in the 


"Book of Honor" of the unit or ship. The serviceman's collective 
farm or former place of work is notified of his performance. In 
general, honors are publicly conferred and special achievements 
are celebrated with a dignified reception amid flowered wreaths 
and ribbons. 

In addition to the awards of badges and titles of "out- 
standing" which are given for exceptional competence and per- 
formance, a ship or unit that has shown unusual courage in 
the face of the enemy is granted the title "Guards Unit." Ever 
after, it is referred to by its guards title, and it is given special 
colors and insignia. 

At the same time, punishment is also severe and also in- 
volves, quite frequently, bringing to bear the pressure of the 
collective. If a serviceman is sentenced to punishment in a dis- 
ciplinary battalion, the allowances paid to his family are 
stopped, no matter what hardships that might inflict. A ser- 
viceman who has been accused of bad behavior is threatened 
with having his family or collective informed of his poor per- 
formance. Trials are normally held publicly and on shipboard a 
trial probably is used as a spectacle and is made into an all- 
hands evolution. When a case is decided to be sufficiently 
representative, it is given publicity and coverage in Red Star. 
No one's personal dignity is spared. Names are named and free 
play is given to accusations of behavior inconsistent with Red 
Star's interpretation of proper collective attitudes. In this way, 
the press acts as another judge and jury. 

The collective will is not just a Marxist one but is deeply seated 
in Russian culture. Nevertheless, it is being used as a powerful tool 
of party control and manipulation. The party is represented as the 
soul and core of Soviet collectives. 

Although there is a great effort made to form collectives out of 
crews servicing airplanes, units firing certain weapons, crews of 
submarines or ships, there is also the other side of the coin: the 
fear of loss of control over what might become a "microcollec- 
tive." In other words there is fear that a loyalty will be developed 
to an individual unit or ship at the expense of the collective as a 
whole and especially of the party. There is then this dilemma 
between driving units to higher excellence through competition 
and at the same time avoiding the formation of unit egotism 
leading to it a sense of independence from the controls. 

In discussing the role of the collective in determining a Soviet 
sailor's effectiveness in war, the important point is that whether or 


not he supports the ideology, whether or not he supports the 
current regime (both questions which Soviet sailors would 
probably never ask themselves in any concrete terms, much less 
discuss with their colleagues), historic and cultural traditions 
within Soviet society exert enormous pressures that can be 
expected to produce or form predictable patterns of behavior. 
Through the weapon of approval or condemnation of the 
collective, powerful Soviet authority can be asserted to main- 
tain a kind of conformity that still allows within it much 
innovative behavior. The idea of the collective, which shares 
many similar aspects of the idea of collective morale as prac- 
ticed in our armed forces, has, however, a wider, deeper and 
more persuasive meaning in the Soviet Union. Because every- 
thing is organized into collectives, because the members of the 
armed forces grow up in collectives, because personality and 
goals are defined in terms of the collective, exclusion from a 
collective carries with it some connotation of being excluded 
from life as well. Therefore the pressures of collective behavior 
patterns are not only positive, as they are in the United 
States, but are also and perhaps primarily negative. While there 
are few examples of this kind of pressure known to the West, 
the most famous and obvious one is that of the Soviet writer 
Alexander Solzhenitsyn who, although in danger of his life and 
certainly of his freedom within the Soviet Union, fought long 
and valiantly in order not to be excluded from the Soviet 
Union, from his language, heritage and collective. 

Another kind of pressure is a collective sense of responsibility 
to the motherland. The military is always being reminded of its 
obligations to the country. The massive media coverage of the 
Second World War, the horrors of starvation and destruction, are 
kept before the eyes of the whole civilian and military population. 
In addition there is rarely a speech or article by any Soviet 
military authority in which the sudden German invasion is not 
cited in order to prove the need for constant and unceasing 
vigilance. As the former Minister of Defense, Marshal A.A. 
Grechko, expressed it in one of the infinite variations on the same 

Our problem is to increase the military preparedness of the 
troops, and the fleet to the highest level to adopt every 
means for raising vigilance of the staff, to perfect the conduct 
of military watches in order that no sneakiness of the enemy 
could possibly throw us into confusion. 2 3 


All of the organs of press and propaganda are constantly 
reminding the armed forces of the will of the party and the militant 
spirit of the nation. The lines of communication are almost 
overwhelming in their multitude. Besides the military press, radio, 
television, films, and newspapers, there is also fiction in the form of 
novels, plays and poems that are produced by the Military 
Establishment, published in military organs, and read by military 
readers. Lines also from political, social, security, and educational 
organizations reaching every ship and unit of the Soviet Navy 
throughout the world also stress the party will. 

The third form in which the collective spirit is used to control 
the behavior of the Soviet sailors is the unit traditions of heroism 
generally associated with the Second World War. Unlike the U.S. 
Navy, where billet rotation means that every organization is in a 
constant state of flux, there is relative stability in the Soviet Navy 
with respect to leadership and personnel assignment. Of course, 
officers rotate and fill different billets; nevertheless, it is not 
unusual for the commanding officers of a ship to have that 
command for many years, for teaching staffs to remain relatively 
unchanged, and for crews to have long periods on the same ship. 
In any case, there appears to be a high incidence of long service 
within one or another of the fleets. 

The effect of this comparative stability appears likely to facilitate 
the use of the heritage of past victories to control or at least to 
influence the behavior of the officers and men. A large portion of 
Soviet military propaganda is directed toward that end, and not only 
the military crews but also the civilian population, schoolchildren, 
workers and foreign tourists are lectured about the fearless and 
heroic traditions of this or that unit or ship. The award of medals and 
orders from World War II alone seems to have been in sufficient 
quantity to keep military historians occupied for the foreseeable 
future. For example, 78 ships and units of the fleet were given the 
highly coveted honor of being called "Guards" in their title, which in 
effect designated them as an elitist unit. In addition, some 238 other 
units and ships of the fleet were given honorary orders. All four 
fleets, the Northern, the Baltic, the Black Sea, and the Pacific, 
have been awarded the order of the Red Banner, the Baltic Fleet 
having won that honor twice. During the war 350,000 sailors, 
petty officers and officers received awards and medals for bravery 
and heroism and 580 sailors received the highest honor, Hero of 
the Soviet Union, seven of whom received it twice. 2 4 

These titles, honors and orders are not allowed to become mere 
empty phrases. In the official Soviet language when you want to 


refer to the Baltic Fleet, you must say "Two Time Winner of the 
Order of the Red Banner Baltic Fleet." If you are referring to the 
Frunze Naval Academy you will refer to it as "The Higher Naval 
Order of Lenin, Red Banner, Order of Ushakov Academy named 
after N.V. Frunze." The uninitiated would have difficulty recog- 
nizing under that ponderous appellation the institution founded 
by Peter the Great in 1702. 

One cannot help questioning how seriously this should be 
taken. To the Western reader such a blatant political and patriotic 
indoctrination would seem absurd. Perhaps that condition of 
absurdity is the very measure of the seriousness with which it 
should be judged. It certainly is a measure of the distance between 
our two cultures. Such patriotic political propaganda could be 
published hardly anywhere in the West without exciting laughter. 
Yet, it occupies millions of pages of newsprint daily in the Soviet 

One useful approach to understanding this facet of the Soviet 
political and military mind is to regard it as working somewhat 
like a religion; that is to say, to think of it as using a theological 
rather than a logical cognitive process. In the Soviet Union, the 
intended result is the thing that must determine the selection and 
interpretation of information. For example, the triumph of the 
Communist Party and the Soviet state determines what facts of 
current history may be recognized and what facts must be ignored. 
A history of the Second World War as seen from the Soviet point 
of view is not a history of events in chronological order, of battles 
won or lost, but a history of the triumphs of the leadership of the 
Communist Party and the heroism of the Soviet collective. In the 
official history of the Soviet Navy in the Second World War, 25 
there is no analysis of any defeats. In fact the word is hardly ever 
mentioned. In the whole history of the war, the role in the final 
victory of foreign supplies and materiel is not discussed. When the 
subject of the convoys to Murmansk could not be avoided, it was 
merely said that the goods they brought were in exchange for 
Soviet raw materials that they carried back. One reads that the few 
small ships lent by the United States were returned at the end of 
the war. So much for lend-lease. 

There is an allusion to the importance of the convoys but not 
from the Soviet position in this official naval history. Instead the 
point of view is that of Hitler. The Soviet line asserts that he made 
a mistake in thinking that the convoys were of extreme im- 
portance to the Soviet Union and therefore erroneously decided to 
use surface ships and submarines to achieve a victory in the East. 


In exaggerating the significance of this aid, he "assumed that the 
delivery to the Soviet Union of goods, materiel, and ammunition 
from America and England would significantly strengthen the Red 
Army." 28 

If one tries to read Soviet history or Soviet political com- 
mentary as if it were written with all of the academic and 
scholarly precepts for truth and accuracy that are characteristic of 
writing in the West, one simply dissipates one's intellectual ability 
in indignation. For example, such is a likely reaction to the tribute 
paid to the heroism and bravery of the Americans who died on the 
Murmansk run during the war. In a history praising every minor 
Soviet action as sheer genius, the U.S. aid and its sailors' sacrifices 
are referred to as follows: "During the whole period of the War, 
738 transport ships in 41 convoys arrived and 726 transports in 36 
Allied convoys left." 2 7 

If on the other hand one understands that these versions of 
history are meant to be in part parables, that they are in fact 
lessons for right conduct and proofs of the miraculous results of 
right thinking, then one can begin to understand the paradise that 
is promised and the demanding path toward salvation. 

The hurdle is to realize that truth here is simply deductive, 
conceived through the same process as a religious truth. Negative 
events such as defeat and calamities simply have no place in the 
big plan. For this reason the observer needs special tools or 
preparations to be able to read and to understand Soviet 
publications and to perceive intimations of strategic intentions 
conveyed in a ritual language. 2 8 

In Western ports Soviet sailors have been observed to go 
about only in groups. (In the 1960s, until adverse publicity 
forced the political officers to change their orders, Soviet sailors 
at liberty in a foreign port were required to hold hands.) What is 
not generally known is that the pressure for this kind of group 
evolution takes place in the Soviet Union as well. It is part of a 
whole system of surveillance and group control that the party has 
made a ubiquitous part of Soviet life. For example, soldiers or 
sailors who go to the theater or on an excursion are required to 
move in formation under the command of the senior in the 
group. 2 9 

Soviet officers are encouraged to take their vacations in groups 
and efforts are made to form collectives out of the families. Crews 
and units are kept under the constant surveillance of political 
officers and party activists. 


Although 200 separate languages are recognized in the Soviet 
Union, only Russian is used in the Soviet Armed Forces. The 
authorities are obviously not pleased that minority languages exist 
and the military apparently brings considerable pressure, no doubt 
on the basis of national security, to enforce the standards for 
reading and writing Russian at the secondary school level. 

Indications are that the linguistic and cultural differences are not 
only persisting but are also increasing. A study of the 1970 census 
indicated that Russians in the Soviet Union will be in a minority by 
1985, and that Slavs which includes Great Russians, White Russians 
and Ukrainians, will be in a minority by the year 2000. Nevertheless, 
the principle of multinational crews is adhered to, at least for 
publicity purposes. One submarine crew was said to contain men 
from 22 republics and regions representing 11 nationalities. 30 

The fact of the class differences represented by the military 
structure in a Communist state is glossed over in Soviet writing. 
Differences between ranks are strictly enforced, apparently to a 
greater extent than in capitalist military organizations. 

After the Revolution, the idea of ranks was not considered 
consistent with the aims of the Communists and ranks were 
abolished. In 1935, they were largely restored. In 1950, the 
various ranks of generals and admirals were reintroduced. The rank 
of marshal, which did not exist in czarist Russia, was introduced 
and the special rank of generalissimo, which had never before 
existed, was formulated for Stalin. 

The distinction between ranks is maintained in spite of the 
Marxist goal of a classless society. As it was put in one military 
journal, "On official service matters military personnel must address 
each other in the impersonal form." The "impersonal form" is, of 
course, the formal means of address between superior and inferior. 

The class origin of generals and admirals serves to emphasize the 
changing nature of Soviet society. Fifty-four percent of flag 
officers are of peasant descent, but about 85 percent of young 
officers are the children of manual and office workers. Only 15 
percent come from the ranks of agricultural workers. Nor are 
they the sons of the proletariat, the workers, in whose name the 
Revolution was fought and who give the Soviet Communist Party's 
worldwide aspirations their Marxist legitimacy. 

The transformation of the Red Navy into a modern bureaucracy 
with inherited self-interest is not surprising. Neither is it surprising 
that many dominant Russian cultural traditions and czarist 
concepts have reasserted themselves. After all, man is the creature 
of his preconceptions. 


In very broad terms, there were two great currents in Russian 
life which converged to bring about the Revolution, one political 
and the other social. The major justification for the repressive 
measures of the czarist regime was that such sacrifices were 
required if Russia was to be the most powerful state in the world. 
The defeats of the Crimean, Russo-Japanese and First World Wars 
disastrously undermined that argument and made the government 
a laughingstock. 

It appears that these factors are again -although slowly and 
erratically —reappearing in Soviet society. The distance between 
the classes is growing and the repressions, which continue, some 
with increased severity, are weakly justified by the needs, to use 
Gorshkov's words, for "the power of the state." In the meantime, 
the gap between depressing Soviet life and foreign standards 
grows. In an age of mass communications, even with Soviet 
censorship and jamming, it is impossible to keep the people 
ignorant of their suffering and deprivation. That plus the official 
fear and ignorance of the outside world creates terrible internal 

Those on watch and responsible for crisis decisions can gain 
little comfort from this state of affairs. It is necessary to consider 
the Soviet policy as originating from an internal code that few in 
America can interpret correctly. (The projection of some American 
concept of "the reasonable thing" onto Soviet leaders is, of 
course, absurd.) The Soviet Union, having destroyed the fabric of 
its social structure and normal relations between men, lives in a 
mental world of its own creation. It is ruled by autocrats who, 
ignorant of the outside world and with few internal checks and 
balances— far fewer than Nicholas II had, certainly— are capable of 
religious madness in the role of the vicars of Marx, the terrible, 
inhuman violence of the righteously unbalanced. The world has no 
choice but to wait in fear and on guard for a return to sanity. 





It may be debatable that there is a "national" approach to 
strategy, i.e., that the British and Americans tend to be pragmatic, 
the French spirited but erratic, and the Germans careful and 
methodical. About Soviet military thought, however, there can be 
no argument. It is conceived, developed and implemented as a 
national science. Discussions of military doctrine are tied to a firm 
theoretical and scientific base. 

While the Soviets like to trace the ideal of the systematization 
of military knowledge back to Henry Lloyd, who served in Russia 
under Catherine in the 19th century, the introduction of Marxist 
dialectics led to a major refinement of the method of military 
thought and to some new formulations in military science. Russian 
thought characteristically searched for a totality. The idea of Marx 
and Engels that there were scientific laws governing all phenom- 
ena, which were all interrelated in a material universe, found a 
very sympathetic audience. Undeniably, Marxism brought about 
different ways of looking at the universe and yielded new concepts 
about science, including military science. 

A key concept was that war had evolved into a complex 
national undertaking not only because of the introduction of new 
weapons and techniques but also because of the development of 
new industry and of the participation of the working masses. The 
idea of military strategy, it was argued, was no longer sufficient to 
explain war. Instead, it was understood as a social phenomenon 
with an economic base. The Soviets criticized Western theore- 
ticians for thinking that the problems of war could be placed 
within the framework of strategy alone and explained that this 
backwardness was caused by the egocentric orientation of Western 
concepts, their emphasis on individual strokes of genius. 1 

Instead the Soviets devised a theoretical and unitary "science" 
of the practice of war in which there was a continuing dialectical 
modification between strategic theory and strategic practice; that 
is, each affected the other in a continuing relationship that 
ensured a constant, never-ending interaction. 


The Soviet idea of military science leads to some very fixed 
categories, however, that characterize Soviet thought. For ex- 
ample, the dictates of military science require that there be exact 
classifications of various military disciplines and a whole series of 
hierarchies in which relative positions are assigned that then 
determine the weight of various military capabilities. For example, 
the speeches of the Minister of Defense on an anniversary of the 
Great War of the Fatherland (World War II) designate the relative 
importance of the various services and in turn, the ranking of the 
weapons systems within each service; e.g., long-range strategic 
submarines take precedence within the navy. 

In the elaboration of their system, the Soviets have devised two 
terms that are somewhat confusing: military science and military 
art. Although they appear sometimes to be used interchangeably, 
the two terms refer to different methods of analysis. Military 
science is the theoretical study of war. Its object is to discover 
those laws that are universally valid. The theory of military art, on 
the other hand, applies to the actual practice of war itself. It is 
divided into the studies of strategy, operational art, and tactics. 

By strategy the Soviets mean roughly the same as we mean in 
the West. The only difference is that their use of the term is more 
encompassing in the sense that it emphasizes the role of the 
political and civilian sectors and the psychological preparation of 
the masses. Military strategy is always emphasized as being closely 
connected with all other social and natural sciences as it must 
absorb quickly new scientific discoveries and achievements when 
formulating its own goals. 

Another way in which the study of strategy differs from the 
general practice in the West is in its emphasis on future war. 
Although certainly all strategic concepts relate, by implication, to 
future wars, Western strategic emphasis is upon deterrence (the 
impossibility of war-its "unthinkableness"— is a widespread pre- 
conception), while the Soviet concept looks toward the proba- 
bility of war and its victorious conduct. The Soviet perception, 
therefore, lays enormous stress on the civilian and industrial 
sectors of the economy and on morale or as it is called "the 
spiritual state of the masses." In other words, the Soviet concept 
of strategy is never very far from the practical problems of 
preparing the country for war. Also, it deals with the laws of war 
as an armed conflict in the name of certain class interests. War is 
always political and being political implies a hierarchy of moral 
values including the destruction of backward social systems, a 
legitimate undertaking as it is historically inevitable. 


The foregoing obviously means that Soviet strategic concepts 
about war must include nuclear missile warfare. The theoretical 
approach to war clearly drives it in the direction of all-out nuclear 
strikes; and tactics must be able to implement nuclear strike 

Naval strategy cannot be separated from overall strategy that is 
dictated by politics and is that part of military art concerning 
itself with the fundamentals of preparing for and waging war as a 
whole. By denying an individual strategic role to any of the 
services, the theory insures a conceptual coordination. This idea is 
stated in the Officers' Handbook. "Coordination of the actions of 
all the services of the armed forces in war is possible only within 
the framework of a common military strategy." 2 

Military thought is divided basically into three sections and our 
concern with these sections is partly the result of our understand- 
ing the degree to which they can be known outside the Soviet 
Union. The three sections are: military science, military art, and 
military doctrine. Military science, the examination of the 
technological nature of weapons, specifically the scientific princi- 
ples governing them, is generally open for discussion within the 
Soviet Union and is reflected in numerous articles in journals 
received abroad. Many scientific articles relate to foreign equip- 
ment. By implication one assumes that they relate also to Soviet 

Military art is about the employment and coordination of 
weapons. As long as the discussion is theoretical and abstracted 
from specific Soviet systems it may take place also in unclassified 

The third category is military doctrine that results from the 
assessment of the political situation in the world and is determined 
at the highest levels. Changes in military doctrine, which are 
matters of considerable secrecy, are only known by their 
reflection in changes in military tactics, equipment or theories. 
For example, until about 1965 Soviet military doctrine was 
believed to hold that any war with NATO or the United States 
would immediately escalate into a nuclear war. But in 1965 an 
article by Colonel-General Lomov 3 argued that local conventional 
wars could occur in Europe in which tactical nuclear weapons 
might or might not be used and that the U.S.S.R. should be 
prepared to fight such wars. The implications were that such wars 
could remain conventional. Soon after, new equipment in the 
Soviet divisions in Europe seemed to indicate that the possibility 
of flexible response had become part of the military, and therefore 


the political, doctrine of the Soviet Union. The third edition of 
Marshal Sokolovskiy's Strategy contained a number of revisions 
that seemed to underscore the concepts of flexible response; 
however, that was a side issue. 4 Conventional weapons, like 
aircraft carriers, would be useful in many ways but against the 
main enemy, the United States, it was the doctrine (at least in 
practice) that nuclear weapons would certainly be used. 

The Officers' Handbook is clear about the role of military 
doctrine. Doctrine is established only after the Communist Party 
of the Soviet Union has formulated its conclusions and interpreta- 
tions about the current stages of development of socialism with 
respect to the historical level of imperialistic powers; that is, their 
degree of disintegration. All of this, of course, is interpreted in the 
light of the "scientific" laws of Marxism translated into Leninist 
tactics pointing toward the "inevitable" victory of the socialist 
system. There is no question that when pronouncements are made 
about doctrine they are no longer subject to debate. Doctrine is "a 
single system of views and directions free from private views and 
evaluations." 5 But in military science contradictory points of view 
are permitted and varying hypotheses can be presented. 

Officially defined, military doctrine is: 

A system of guiding views and directions of a state on the 
character of wars in given specific historical conditions, the 
determination of the military tasks of the states, the armed 
forces and the principles of their structuring and also the 
methods and forms of solving all these tasks, including the arms 
struggle which flows from the goals of war and the socio-eco- 
nomic and military technical possibilities of a country. 6 

When, as is frequently now the case, official Soviet spokesmen 
make the statement that the correlation of forces has changed in the 
the favor of the socialist camp, we may assume (1) that this is a 
reflection of a change in military estimates and (2) that there are 
consequent changes in concepts of military strategy. When such 
statements are connected with other pronouncements concerning 
the economic decline of the West and the crisis of capitalism, 
comments frequently found in the Soviet press, we may be sure that 
strategic assessments have been revised and should not be surprised 
to see new and more aggressive political and military initiatives. 

The other way in which we can assess Soviet military strategy is 
through its historical development, and statements in contem- 
porary journals. 


Commander Herrick's book, Soviet Naval Strategy, illustrates 
the extreme difficulty involved in trying to determine Soviet 
strategy on the basis of evidence that appears in the press. He 
could prove his thesis that there was serious interest in a 
blue-water navy in the Soviet Union in the 1930s. What was not 
revealed, however, was how serious that interest was, what 
strategies were influenced by it or what caused the idea to be 
dropped. The kind of material that Commander Herrick analyzed 
is not defined by the Soviets as naval strategy at all but naval art. 
Soviet naval art has to do with the use of weapons. It is the 
translation of theoretical decisions into practice and is generally 
treated as classified information. 

The Soviets have named three stages in the development of 
military art since World War II. 7 These stages undoubtedly also 
reflect changes in Soviet military strategy. The first stage was from 
1945 to 1953, the second from 1953 to 1959, and the third began 
in 1960 and has lasted presumably until the present. (Some would 
probably argue that at least in naval art there was another period 
that began just before 1975. They would point to the articles of 
Admiral Gorshkov. But Admiral Gorshkov only elaborated ideas 
that he had expressed in 1967 and that were the fulfillment of 
Stalinist concepts of 1945. Although the basic direction remained 
the same, the doctrines around 1975 recognized to a greater 
degree the possibility of limited war and the use of military 
presence only under conditions of the changed correlation of 

The first period, ending in 1953, was clearly one dominated by 
Stalin. Nevertheless, the major principles of that time were not 
totally different from those that succeeded them. The massive 
forces that remained mobilized, the plans for construction of 
many major capital ships, and the enormous sacrifices demanded 
of the civilian sector of the economy differed in degree but not in 
kind from decisions made after Stalin's death. Construction of 
nuclear submarines began in 1953 and that was the dominant 
direction of the Navy for the next 20 years. A major difference 
was that under Stalin decisions were not made on what would now 
be called a scientific basis. 

The major strategic concern both of that period and of the one 
that succeeded it was that the imperialistic coalition, with the 
United States in the lead, would use its superiority to unleash a 
war to destroy the socialist camp. Given Stalin's paranoia, the 
propaganda about the warlike intentions of the West, and the 
experience of the ferocity of the Nazi invasion, a Soviet citizen 


would have come to no other conclusion. Nevertheless, until 1953 
the Soviet Union was too weak economically to have any other 
reasonable strategy. It had to depend on morale of the rear-that 
consisted of a terrorized population, numb from privation, 
deception and secrecy. 

After Stalin's death, the study of strategy was reorganized, so it 
was said, to prepare for nuclear war under the new technological 
conditions. This also involved preparing the population for its 
dispersion, for methods of civil defense, and for education for 

In 1959 a major decision regarding strategy was apparently made 
by Khrushchev and his advisors and approved by the Presidium of 
the Central Committee. That decision almost certainly had to do 
with defining the nature of nuclear war, the inevitability of war with 
the West, and the possibility of the Soviet camp surviving. A 
concomitant decision was to drive to achieve nuclear parity. But in 
Soviet terms it was axiomatic that nuclear parity was not enough. 
The Soviet Union would of course seek nuclear superiority in all 
fields as well as superiority in the conventional fields of military art. 
Ironically, this decision was made at the time of "the thaw" in 
domestic affairs when Khrushchev was talking about an increase in 
consumer spending, although he must have known that the 
economic and technological demands of the decision meant a 
continuation of economic scarcity for the people. 

The revolution in weaponry was to incorporate in operational 
art new developments in missilery and rocketry, primarily surface- 
to-surface missiles. In 1959 the Styx missile was placed on a small 
torpedo boat, a combination of platform and weapon designated 
by NATO as the Komar. 8 It is ironic that the little Komar marked 
a change in naval warfare as significant as the employment of 
the aircraft carrier at Midway, or of torpedoes (exploding 
projectiles) at Sinop. It meant the end of conventional naval 
tactics and the end of conventional assessments of navies by 
tonnage and firepower. The later placement of a surface-to-surface 
missile on the Echo submarine confirmed that naval balances had 
become unhinged. 

Analysts are fairly certain that overall Soviet strategy between 
Stalin's death and the major decisions of 1957-1959 was to engage 
and stop Western forces far from Soviet shores. That had always 
been Russian strategy -protect the center. The heavy submarine 
construction, which probably would have taken place under any 
circumstances, could have been justified as a means of interdicting 
the resupply of NATO, of challenging the strategic use of aircraft 


carriers and of moving the line of defense further to sea by cutting 
lines of communications. The idea of the use of the navy to 
support state interests, which caused such a stir in the Gorshkov 
papers of 1975, was already part of naval concepts in 1964, for 
Soviet ships increasingly began making formal visits to foreign 

This was announced in Red Star in 1963: 

the party has reached the conclusion that the armed forces 
and the country as a whole must prepare for a war in which 
nuclear weapons will be widely used; which will present a 
decisive, classic version of two opposed world social systems; 
and which will be distinguished by unprecedented violence, 
dynamic force and high maneuverability of combat opera- 
tion. 9 

Admiral Kuznetsov had reopened the question of naval tactics 
in 1953 in an article in which he said that World War II experience 
was no longer a sufficient guide for military strategy. This was 
after Stalin's death and was the first public challenge to Stalin's 
famous dictum that winning a war depended on (1) the stability of 
the rear, (2) the morale of the troops, (3) the quantity and quality 
of divisions, (4) the efficiency of armament, and (5) the 
organization and ability of the general staff. Stalin's principles- 
placing the human element above the mechanical— dominated 
Soviet military thought during his lifetime. After his death, to 
reawaken discussion, the first tentative and somewhat timid 
suggestions began appearing in the press in 1956. Suddenly, 
Stalinist precepts were replaced by arguments that atomic weap- 
ons, missiles, helicopters, nuclear warships, and radar had so 
affected war that military thought was out-of-date. 1 ° Theoreti- 
cally, at least, an effort began to turn strategic thinking away from 
World War II and toward the future. 

Marshal Zhukov, in 1956, argued that in any case large forces 
would be necessary as the occupation of enemy territory, even 
after a nuclear exchange, would be essential. Admiral Gorshkov 
accepts that concept and uses it to support his idea about the 
priority of action against the shore. 1 1 This also justified the need 
for large reserves and the necessity for the three states of readiness 
that characterized Soviet forces; that is, first, line units ready for 
immediate operations; second, backup units not quite up to 
strength in men or equipment; and third, line units that could be 
made ready in short order. 


The mental paralysis induced by Stalinism and the growing need 
to define new doctrines for the accommodation of the new 
weapons brought about an exceptional concession in the extraor- 
dinarily secretive Soviet Union; that is, publication in 1962 of a 
book on military strategy under the editorial direction of a Soviet 
military leader and theoretician, Marshal Sokolovskiy. 

The main thrust of the first edition of this book was to discuss 
the changes brought about by nuclear warfare. The second edition 
incorporated the idea of the preemptive strike and discounted the 
idea of sparing cities (counterforce) as impractical (after all the 
United States has many more large cities than the Soviet Union 
and can therefore presumably spare more). The third edition 
mentioned the possibility of nonnuclear war and considered that 
nuclear strategy was only one of many possible strategies. 
However, in all editions a premise taken for granted was that war 
would end in a massive nuclear exchange and that the decisive 
battle could only be won with occupation of foreign territory. 

The third edition, published in 1968, was also significant in that 
the Soviet Navy was mentioned for the first time as playing a 
strategic role. This was because of the advent of strategic 
submarines. In 1971, similar ideas were reiterated by the Defense 
Minister, Marshal Grechko, who said, "We are aware that in the 
future world war, if the imperialists start it, nuclear missiles will be 
decisive means of armed combat. Along with this, conventional 
weapons will find their use, and under certain circumstances the 
units and subunits may conduct combat actions only with 
conventional means." 12 Statements like this, echoed in Soviet 
military publications, clearly showed that the armed forces were 
prepared or being prepared for an intense nuclear exchange, 
although the possibility of other kinds of warfare continued to be 

The Soviets had exploded a hydrogen bomb in 1953 and had 
first successfully tested ballistic missiles during the period of 1955 
to 1957. Exercises for nuclear warfare began at that time and 
increased in sophistication. 

Even if the Soviets had adopted a policy of flexible response, 
military and political analysts could hardly find that a sign of the 
lessening of tensions between the two camps. Soviet military 
doctrine, in emphasizing the class nature of war, showed little 
concern for the degree of destruction. In fact, in emphasizing the 
need to wipe out the strategic and economic base of the enemy in 
the first minutes of war, the policy promised vast population 


Military doctrine insures that Soviet concepts are always 
aggressive. Because all war is "class" war, there is no provision for 
passivity or assumption of good will. Soviet military art, in which 
such questions as estimates of the preparedness and intentions of 
capitalist nations, their plans for preemptive strikes and the 
significance of their military expenditures are analyzed for the 
political leaders, starts with an assumption of the danger of war. 
As we shall see in a short review of Soviet military thought, even 
in the period of the policy of detente, the dialectics of the 
permanent nature of the conflict with capitalism formed the basic 
analytical preconception. 

One place in which the Soviets have recognized the possibility 
of flexible response has been in the navy. (It should be added that 
the use of satellite troops as surrogates, the sale of arms, and 
economic support are also weapons of a flexible response.) 
Admiral Gorshkov has advertised the Soviet Navy as a flexible 
instrument of state power. This has been apparent in the use of 
the navy, particularly since the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. With the 
rapid growth of the Soviet Mediterranean force and the tactic of 
shadowing U.S. ships during crises, the Soviet Navy advertised 
Russia's challenge to the naval balance. 1 3 

Since the Second World War, the Soviet Navy has not suffered 
in the party's allocation of new technology. It is also apparent that 
the party has been aware of the navy's role as an advertisement of 
the economic sophistication of the nation. As Admiral Gorshkov 
wrote, "The navy, having always been the focus of the latest 
achievements in science and technology, was the first of the 
branches of the armed forces to see the large scale and widespread 
introduction of nuclear missiles, radioelectronics and nuclear 
propulsion." 1 4 

The pace of innovation in the Soviet Navy has been nothing 
short of remarkable. Since the Second World War no less than 17 
different classes of submarines have been built and if one considers 
various modifications then that figure would reach 28. It is 
obvious that in submarine construction the Soviets have been 
aware that their technology lags behind the West but they have 
compensated for that with numbers. As their technology im- 
proved, they built more sophisticated submarines and traded 
reduced quantity for improved quality. 

In the 1960s, as a result of new technology, an independent role 
was assigned to the navy in strategic operations, undoubtedly 
because of ballistic missile submarines and a recognition of the 
importance of limited wars. 1 5 Interestingly, the Soviets concen- 


trated on the navy's ability to attack the land while America 
concentrated on the autonomy of naval elements at sea: the attack 
aircraft carrier, the ballistic missile submarine, the amphibious task 

The development of heavy aircraft armed with missiles and 
electronics was the Soviet alternative to the aircraft carrier. That 
was a recognition that long-range airpower of various sorts fitted 
not only the Soviet concept of war, but also the Soviet geographic 
position. Heavy aircraft filled a tactical need very quickly (major 
land and sea objectives were within range) and certainly more 
cheaply than the aircraft carrier could have done and gave the 
Soviet Navy both flexibility and range. The late development of 
Kiev with its VSTOL aircraft only underscores the degree to which 
the Soviet Navy has become luxurious. 

The next logical step, begun in the late 1960s and early '70s, 
was to develop foreign airbases so that the zones of offense/ 
defense could become greatly extended. The results were the bases 
in Egypt, Somalia, Guinea, and eventually in Cuba. As Lt. Gen. 
S.A. Gulyayev, the Commander of Baltic Fleet Aviation wrote in 

Naval aviation armed with missiles with nuclear warheads 
can use its powerful weapons outside of the operational range 
of shipboard surface-to-air missiles and almost beyond the 
potential range of fighters directed against these aircraft. This 
permits missile-carrying aviation to carry out effectively the 
mission of destroying enemy warships and transports at sea, 
regardless of their anti-aircraft defense systems. Modern naval 
aviation has great possibilities for conducting successful 
combat operations not only against large surface warships but 
also against submarines including nuclear powered 
ones . . . and in many instances aircraft have many advantages 
over surface combat ships and even more over modern 
submarines. With their great range and speed they can strike 
quickly against enemy forces found at sea. Aviation units and 
forces can be transferred to other operational areas quickly 
(for example large groups of aircraft can be redeployed from 
one continent to another in a day without any loss of combat 
capability). 1 6 

As part of the change caused by forward deployment, the 
Soviet Navy recognized the need for greatly increased air cover. 
Many older units were reequipped with surface-to-air missiles in 


addition to surface-to-surface missiles and new ships were designed 
with SAMs. 

The history of Soviet ASW efforts does not begin until the late 
1950s because until then there was no real ASW problem. There 
was no requirement to protect convoys in coastal zones and there 
was not any great prospect of a submarine threat. Because there 
was no need to protect shipping on the high seas there was no 
concept of sea control except for the defensive rings in the Baltic, 
Black and Okhotsk seas. The Polaris threat abruptly forced the 
Soviet Navy to expand its operational art. New classes of ships, 
submarines, and airplanes were developed and became operational 
in the second half of the 1960s as the Soviets, to meet the threat, 
adopted an operational doctrine of combined systematic employ- 
ment of all existing forces for antisubmarine warfare. 1 7 The 
totally new ship design, the Moskva -class ASW cruiser that was 
commissioned in 1967, bears witness to the attention that was 
devoted to that problem. 

Basic to the new tactics of that decade was the idea that one did 
not achieve superiority through a concentration of weapons 
platforms but through a concentration of missiles. 1 8 The new 
tactics deemphasized the importance of maneuvering the platform 
because with the new missile technology it was the maneuvering of 
the trajectory that was important. Furthermore, with the greatly 
expanded ranges, the navy's support on the flanks of the army was 
recognized to be at such a distance that the navy would be 
accomplishing other tasks as well. 

As the decade progressed technology was increasingly sophisti- 
cated. It became apparent that the tactics of naval maneuver were 
not just those of controlling the missile but also of electronic 
maneuver. In fact, the range of electronic detection and recon- 
naissance can control modern warfare, as Admiral Gorshkov 
admitted. 1 9 

These new concepts brought the amphibious forces back into 
play. The necessity to invest the land with troops in a nuclear 
attack finally was recognized. An amphibious force would be 
needed. With their organic concepts the Soviets could go in several 
directions, increase their amphibious forces, or augment the 
training of paratroops to fill that need. Demanding an individual 
dedication would not be characteristic. 

An important consideration was that the Soviets regarded the 
era of large ships as ended. However, this did not eliminate the 
aircraft carrier as a useful platform in other kinds of wars, or for 


other purposes. After all, the Soviet Union faces other maritime 
problems than those posed by the United States. 

The new tactical orientation involving the concentration of 
missiles and electronics but not of carriers was thought to mean 
the end of large ships. Admiral Gorshkov said in 1960 that "the 
significance of aircraft carriers has fallen sharply. Like battleships, 
they have already had their day and are inevitably moving into the 
past." 20 By 1969, that tune was changed when he said, "Of 
course, one should not minimize the combat potential of aircraft 
carriers, especially when they are brought to bear against fully 
armed countries." 2 1 By 1972, the renewed use of aircraft carriers 
was fully elaborated. In an article in Morskoy sbornik, the 
rationale was stated as follows: 

In connection with revolutions in military affairs, during 
the last fifty years and the development of navies, the role 
and missions of the various forces and ships have changed. 
Large gun ships have almost lost their value in naval battles. 
Aircraft carriers have again become one of the strike forces 
against surface ships and also can be useful in solving several 
other problems such as ASW and shore bombardment, etc. 2 2 

The new priority for aircraft carriers should not disguise the 
fact that the Soviets thought they had resolved all the naval 
problems they faced before 1970 in terms of naval science and 
operational art. The one exception was the ballistic missile 
submarine. (That is not to say that they could have successfully 
implemented all of their solutions.) The renewed interest in 
aircraft carriers represented the new naval problem; the increased 
complexity of antisubmarine warfare and the vastly increased 
scope of Soviet naval activity. The scene of action was no longer 
confined to shallow contiguous seas under the umbrella of Soviet 
land-based aircraft. The navy had to solve the problems of forward 

Between the end of World War II and 1955, the Soviet Navy 
greatly emphasized the importance of aircraft, but tactics and 
operational concepts seemed to repeat the experience of the 
Second World War rather than changed conditions of the modern 
era. There was heavy emphasis on fighters. There were no 
long-range naval aircraft but only some light bombers, torpedo 
carriers and reconnaissance airplanes. The first regiments of TU-16 
Badger bombers were transferred to the Navy in 1965 along with 
some long-range Bears. In 1960 Air Defense Service (PVO) was 


given responsibility for supporting the navy in the coastal zone 
and therefore all navy fighters were transferred to it. Soviet naval 
aviation suddenly dropped from approximately 3,500 airplanes to 
800. In 1966 there were three combat branches of naval aviation: 
reconnaissance, strike (meaning missile launching), and antisubma- 
rine. 23 Together with the training and transport commands, 
Soviet naval aviation probably numbered about 2,000 aircraft. 

Heavy emphasis was put on air refueling. Now practically all 
naval air long-range missile bombers and reconnaissance planes are 
capable of air refueling. This gives them practically unlimited 
range in the northern hemisphere. The critical role of aircraft in 
naval maneuvers was demonstrated in exercises Okean 1970 and 
1975. To consider the Soviet naval aviation potential as limited by 
that service alone, however, would be a mistake. Establishment of 
smooth cooperation in command and control with the Long 
Range Air Force has been well advertised and demonstrated. The 
first vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft, the Freehand, 
was exhibited as early as 1967 at the air show at Domodedovo 
near Moscow. The claim was made that the aircraft was opera- 
tional in 1972, a claim that should probably be discounted. 
Nevertheless, it is now providing some of the striking power for 

Subordinate to the Soviet Navy is a sizable shore defense force 
that provides defense along the vast coastline and particularly 
around Soviet naval bases. The defense force is now missile 
equipped. One of its early missiles was a coastal version of the 
Styx missile, which shows the adaptability of Soviet concepts. The 
major element of the shore defense force has traditionally been 
the naval infantry proper, which was reformed prior to 1964. It 
has remained at approximately 15,000 men in spite of the 
strategic notion of the need to conquer and invest the land. The 
number of amphibious forces can remain small because of the 
close coordination with other branches of the service. The 
operations of the naval infantry appear to be essentially similar to 
those in Western navies except that the Soviet Navy's lack of 
shipborne air cover is supplied by land-based air cover and missiles 
on various platforms. To soften up beachheads, the tactic to be 
employed is to use submarines, aviation, surface ships, and even 
land-based missile units all with nuclear weapons, of course, "in an 
attempt to destroy and neutralize missile installations, air de- 
fenses, and air fields in the coastal defense zone." 24 For this 
purpose cruise-missile-firing submarines and cruise-missile-firing 
patrol boats, such as the Osas and Nanuchkas could probably be 


used. Considerable use is also made of airborne troops which are 
delivered both by parachute and by helicopter and whose mission 
is to secure the rear while the naval infantry secures the coastal 

The spirit and elan of the naval infantry apparently is very like 
that of the U.S. Marines. It considers itself to be an elite group, 
able to perform all missions and whose motto is: "Advance, 
advance, advance, advance." As one advertisement put it: 

Our marines can do everything. They can blow up bridges 
and remove mines from harbors. If necessary, just two of 
them can disrupt an entire platoon in the rear of the enemy. 
They can also jump from [sic] parachutes, they can climb 
mountains like mountaineers and they make excellent 
snipers. 2 5 

All the naval infantry units are guards (elite) units. They probably 
retain their traditional brigade organization. A brigade is divided 
into three or four battalions, one of which is a tank battalion. The 
brigades probably are distributed among the four Soviet fleets and 
there is a total of perhaps seven brigades. 2 6 

Soviet faith in the ability to solve naval problems includes 
boasts that convoys cannot be defended. Emphasizing the dual 
capability of Soviet weapons systems, tacticians write about the 
difficulty of planning an effective defense of convoys: 

Under modern conditions, convoys have to disperse widely 
in order to minimize losses from a nuclear strike which could 
be launched by attacking submarines. But attacking sub- 
marines welcome this dispersal. They carry torpedoes which 
have acoustic guidance systems and the warhead can be either 
conventional or nuclear. 2 7 

With so much emphasis upon aircraft and submarines, the key 
concept for the design of the new Soviet surface fleet has been 
that it was, tactically speaking, an auxiliary fleet. Its all-purpose 
design was to make it able to solve other problems, primarily ASW 
but also to provide support for shore bombardments and landings, 
to patrol and to convey political signals. 

The design of some ships, Kara for instance, was also most 
likely influenced by a political requirement for it to advertise the 
industrial and scientific success of the Soviet people. 

A Marxist concept, widely reflected in military thinking, is: 


Ideological conviction based on the study of the theory of 
Marxism/Leninism is one of the most powerful controllers of 
human behavior. Ideas having sunk into the consciousness of 
a person cause him to act in a certain way. Ideas become 
transformed, as Karl Marx said, into a physical force. 2 8 

Certainly, Soviet naval commentators think of their navy as the 
embodiment of ideas. Soviet military designers are constantly 
being harangued to design for the future. Marshal Grechko said 
that military science must "always be ahead of practice, always 
look further ahead, reveal possible paths for development . . . ." 2 9 

There is little doubt that Soviet military critics mean what they 
frequently say about large ships making good targets. The fact that 
the Soviets have continued their major surface shipbuilding 
program while at the same time criticizing the usefulness of 
surface ships would logically indicate the following: the recogni- 
tion of the possibility of limited naval engagements at sea 
(probably with nations other than the United States); a recogni- 
tion of the role that surface ships must play in destroying 
submarines, primarily FBMs; and a recognition of the importance 
of surface ships for deterrence, presence and politics. It also may 
have been a propaganda cover for their deficiencies. 

Some Western commentators, in arguing that the Soviet Navy 
has been designed under the assumption that it is expendable, have 
called it a "throw -a way" navy. While such hyperbole is intriguing, 
it masks the fact that the Soviets consider many things expendable 
if they contribute toward the achievement of their ideological 
goals. 3 ° 

The lessons of World War II, so constantly reiterated, are that 
people are expendable; that they must die for the motherland if 
required to do so; that if they allow themselves to be captured 
they will be considered traitors unless there is proof that they 
were unconscious at the time . This finds expression in one of the 
laws of operational art that holds that the enemy must be located 
and immediately attacked with all means and maximum force. The 
implication is always quite clear that loss of life and equipment are 
not important considerations if the attack has been decided upon. 

When Admiral of the Fleet Isakov called aircraft carriers 
"floating mortuaries" in 1963, one may be sure that he was 
engaging in psychological warfare because the Soviets had no 
carriers. Such a concept would not be likely to occur to Soviet 
planners about their own forces. After all, death is the business of 
war. The lessons of the Arab-Israeli wars were quite clear: in 


modern warfare everything has to be expendable; even such 
comparatively small objects as tanks make extremely easy targets. 
The idea that Soviet ships are expendable is a condition of modern 
war. It emphasizes Soviet operational art which is to strike first 
and devastatingly. The effect of this condition of naval warfare is 
well known to the Soviets, as Admiral Gorshkov wrote: 

. . . one must not forget that in contrast to past wars, 
under nuclear warfare conditions the replacement of naval 
forces will be very difficult or practically impossible. Conse- 
quently, the problem of building a modern balanced navy can 
be resolved mainly in the process of building in peacetime. 3 1 

The design of Soviet surface ships is also dictated by their 
concept of command-at-sea that stems from a different theoretical 
framework from ours although the practical execution may prove 
tactically similar. For the Soviets, the idea of command-of-the-sea, 
until recently, has been non-Mahanian. Economic limitations 
dictated a sector concept. The sea was to be controlled in a 
specific area to the degree necessary to insure the success of the 
operation underway. As described by a Soviet naval theoretician: 

Based on Lenin's teaching on war, our naval art correctly 
considered that to be everywhere equally strong was im- 
possible, and therefore, to insure success, it was essential to 
regroup forces and means for achieving a superiority in the 
primary direction .... [In the Second World War] while 
confirming the principle of achieving superiority over the 
enemy in the main direction, Soviet naval theory did not 
reject the principle of command of the sea but thought of it 
not as a goal but as a means of creating favorable conditions 
for the successful conduct of operations. In a course of 
lectures at the Naval College at that time, it was put as 
follows: "To achieve superiority of force over the enemy in 
the main direction and to pin him down in the secondary 
directions during the time of the operation-that is the 
meaning of achieving command of the sea in a theater or in 
part of a theater; that is, creating such a situation that the 
enemy will be paralyzed or inhibited in his actions or 
weakened and therefore thrown into confusion by us in the 
fulfillment of his operation or in solving his operational 
plan." The principle of achieving command at sea, from that 
point of view, was applied in the last war and is still valid 
today. 3 2 


That, however, was the "line" for limited and defensive wars 
under the condition of an unfavorable correlation of force. One 
application was for the support of guerrilla movements. This was 
described as follows: 

In connection with the task of preventing local wars and 
also in those cases where military support must be furnished 
to those nations fighting for their freedom and independence 
against the forces of international reaction and imperialist 
intervention, the Soviet Union may require mobile and well 
trained and well equipped armed forces. In some situations 
the very knowledge of a Soviet presence in an area in which a 
conflict situation is developing may serve to restrain the 
imperialist and local reaction, prevent them from dealing out 
violence to the local populace and eliminate the threat of 
overall peace and international security. It is precisely this 
type of role that ships of the Soviet Navy are playing in the 
Mediterranean. 3 3 

This is practically a mirror image of the missions of the 6th Fleet 
in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s and it does define the politico- 
military role of the Soviet Mediterranean squadron. 34 

The new line inevitably led to a new posture and to the danger 
that the Soviet Union would play the role of the bully in 
international affairs. Warnings and boasts, such as the above, have 
become more frequent and are likely to increase in aggressiveness. 

A second implication is that there is a change in operational art 
that must also indicate a change in strategic policy. A plan for 
increased capability in the Soviet Union is often the signal for 
increased boasting and aggressiveness. It is not, therefore, sur- 
prising that Admiral Gorshkov, in his book, strikes a new line for 
naval warfare. The ominous part is that we will probably see the 
increased forces in the years ahead. The boast will be made real. 
The new line is that the Soviet Navy must strive for sea control, 
not in the old sense of sector control but in the even older sense of 
Mahan's concept of sea control. 

This is a logical outcome of the Leninist doctrine on the 
method for defeating imperialism: to seize the means of produc- 
tion; to cut off the source of supply for industrial production. 
Two things have reinforced the validity of those ideas in recent 
years: the Arab oil embargo in the winter of 1975 and the 
increasing intensity of competition for the resources of the oceans. 
The Gorshkov pronouncements on sea control suggest that the 


Soviet strategy will be to intensify the battle for control of those 
resources. The Soviet Navy will be ready, as it was not during the 
Cuban missile crisis and sugar boycott, to defend the sea lines of 
communication. If it has been the preponderant power in strategic 
forces, it will be able to pose a threat of alarming dimensions. The 
nuclear umbrella makes sea control, again, a valid concept in naval 
warfare . 

A second, operational, factor has reinforced the idea of sea 
control. Modern warfare will be fought with enormous speed. 
Timing is critical. Large surface targets cannot hope to survive. 
Therefore, they must be positioned where they can quickly 
perform their assigned task in a coordinated attack. Defense can 
no longer play a prominent role because of the power, accuracy, 
and destructiveness of missiles. Modern naval warfare has changed, 
in that it is not so much concerned with the formation of a task 
force as with the placement of missile and electronic platforms. 
(Needless to say, whether the platforms belong to the navy, army 
or air force is only of administrative interest so long as it fulfills its 
functions.) Gorshkov recognized this in saying: 

The maneuver will be carried out on the basis of data 
received from various electronic systems, even under condi- 
tions of the most intensive electronic warfare, which, when 
correctly organized, can fully paralyze data acquisition and 
monitoring systems. 3 5 

Because of the importance of electronics, and of timing, the 
nature of naval warfare has totally changed. In fact, much greater 
authority must inevitably be given to the separate units that are 
maneuvering for position in order to execute their electronic or 
missile attack roles. 

The nature of naval warfare is distinguished by its global 
scale, the briefness of its engagements, and the considerable 
increase in the effectiveness of its combat operations in 
comparison with operations of the past. This circumstance 
greatly increases the responsibility of every commanding 
officer in making decisions and carrying them out without 
delay, and confronts him with the need to display excep- 
tional operational efficiency appropriate to the dynamics of 
the events taking place. 3 6 

The implications of such a concept of naval warfare, given the 
Soviet orientation, are anything but comforting. They suggest that 


the only kind of successful war— because of timing and logistic 
factors— will be one that is preemptive. 

In Soviet military art the navy, like all branches of the service, 
must be designed for flexible uses. Western tactics are frequently 
criticized in Soviet literature for the competition between the 
branches of the service. In contrast, Soviet military writers think 
of themselves as not having discovered but having more fully 
understood the need and nature of coordinated attack in the 
modern era. As one writer put it, 

. . . Soviet naval art was the first to take into account the 
sharply increased significance of coordination which to a 
considerable degree was the result of the stormy development 
of aviation and the increased effectiveness of air operations at 
sea. Our naval theory emphasized that it is incorrect to 
interpret coordination simply as delivering attacks by a 
variety of forces at one moment on some objective. It can 
include attacks at different times and even in different places. 
But it is important that these variously delivered attacks, at 
different times and different places, be operationally con- 
nected and subordinate to the solution of one problem. 3 7 

Unity in the Soviet Navy implies considerably greater forces 
than are at the disposal of most other navies. Because the Soviet 
Government owns everything, the merchant and fishing fleets, the 
hydrographic fleet and any other resource necessary for naval 
warfare, all can immediately be put at the disposal of the armed 
forces. The nation, which already operates on the basis of wartime 
mobilization, can quickly be converted to total military support. 

While such notions are not new, they are part of the concept of 
"operational art" that the Soviet theoreticians formulated in the 
thirties and that helped them to "move significantly and tac- 
tically." 38 These concepts lead to vast exercises in coordinations, 
such as Okean and, most importantly, affect Soviet naval 
estimates. The unity of views in the armed forces is certainly 
supported by all military leaders. Admiral Gorshkov reflected in 
greater detail that concept which in his book was more softly 
stated, when he wrote in 1972: 

The place and role of each of the branches of the armed 
forces of a country can change both in peacetime as well as in 
war, depending on the technical transformations, on the 
enemy who is opposed, the geographic conditions, 


etc., ... As is clear, in all cases, one aspect remains un- 
changed: the results of the victory in a campaign or war can 
only be secured by ground forces capable of proving the 
reality of it by their actual presence. 3 9 

It is not surprising that the navy's main tactical mission is again 
against the land. 

Soviet military art dictates many operational doctrines shared 
by all of the services. Briefly, they are the following: 

1. Surprise is frequently considered the most important tactical 
element insuring victory under modern conditions. The doctrines 
of all of the services often state that because of the nature of 
nuclear war, he who achieves the greatest surprise is most likely to 
win. Essential to achieving surprise are, as Admiral Gorshkov 
noted, intelligence and reconnaissance, automated information 
systems, and successful maneuver of missile and electronic 
platforms. Combat readiness is stressed above all else in the name 
of achieving tactical surprise which, under nuclear conditions, may 
mean strategic victory. Maintaining a sense of nervousness about 
the dangers of war is useful for promoting combat readiness and to 
do this Soviet naval training officers have the services of all of the 
nation's organs of information, propaganda and censorship. 

2. Speed, certainly a corollary to surprise and combat readi- 
ness, is also frequently mentioned as essential to victory. The 
speed of decision and action and the rapidity with which 
circumstances change help to confuse the enemy and assure 
victory. This factor increases in importance with each develop- 
ment of technological change and causes greater demands on 
personnel, advancing technical knowledge and absolute loyalty. 

3. Joint action of all the services is being emphasized now, 
perhaps, more by the navy than by others. In any case, because of 
its historic lack of air cover the navy has been more acutely aware 
of its need for coordinated operations. By drawing from all of the 
services a force can be composed that is specifically designed to 
solve a particular problem and that will be more effective than a 
force from just one service. Smooth joint operations have 
characterized Soviet forces for years. There really is no evidence to 
support arguments that the forces compete, as ours do, for 
allocations, unless they are perceived as competing with the 
civilian sector of the economy. 

4. The characteristic strike in Soviet tactics has not changed 
significantly from the days of Catherine's brilliant General 
Suvorov. It is to attack with maximum surprise, maximum speed 


and maximum force. As in all of these concepts there have to be 
trade-offs— maximum force may reduce the possibility of surprise 
—so one must analyze a situation to estimate to which element 
Soviet tacticians will give the greatest weight. The history of 
Russian warfare suggests that priority is often on the side of 
maximum force. That may have something to do with the Soviet 
submarine force that is of spectacular size and, on the whole, fast, 
but not very quiet. 

In any case, the Soviet naval theory of the strike is to attack the 
main or critical target first with maximum force. What has 
changed is that the targets must be attacked over much greater 
distances, and with greater destructive force. The size of the 
attacking platform no longer matters. Because of its power, the 
strike may be decisive; thus it has become a strategic factor. 

The differing combinations of arms in the Soviet Navy since 
World War II reflect responses to the threat, the economic capability 
of the country, and the theory of balanced forces. By "balance" the 
Soviets do not mean a navy that is equally proportioned according to 
some sort of abstract design, but a navy designed to meet the 
presumed threat and carry out a nation's missions in a given 
geographic area. This is naval science in the purest sense. Balance 
does mean, for the Soviets as for the United States, achieving the 
greatest degree of versatility with the forces available. 40 

On the basis of the composition of the Soviet Navy and current 
doctrine, the following are the major modern tactical concepts: 

a. Soviet surface ships are not likely to operate in large 
groupings. Missiles and means of detection and destruction 
make the use of a task force unlikely. The Soviets think that 
they have solved the problem of reliably sinking large ships; 
therefore, surface ships will be used for ASW to attack the 
shore, for gunboat diplomacy and for patrol and shadowing 
other forces in both a strategic role and a tactical one. 

b. A primary task for surface forces in conjunction with 
ASW air forces, is to seek out and destroy enemy submarines. 
In addition, submarines are taking a more important role in 
this operation. Whether it is in advance of the reality or not 
(which would be typical) the Soviets are already boasting 
that they can detect and destroy nuclear subs. 4 ! 

c. In Okean 1975 the Soviets appeared to show that 
they could destroy convoys. Their vast submarine fleet would 


surely be used in hunter-killer operations for blockades and 
interdiction and to destroy surface ships. The submarine fleet 
will also be used in various peacetime and aggressive roles in 
support of Soviet foreign policy. It is also to be used against 
the land in both a strategic role and a tactical one. 

d. Whether or not it is able to accomplish all of the 
above successfully, the Soviet Navy will always have an 
important role in support of army operations on the land. 
This is a function of the geographic problem. The emphasis 
on the idea of investing the land may suggest that the naval 
infantry will grow and that there will be increased production 
of amphibious ships. Considerable innovation in naval tech- 
nology for attacking the land and guerrilla operations is likely 
including air-cushion and hydrofoil ships. 

The Soviet concepts of military doctrine, military science and 
military art seem, in fact, to have insured that the Soviet solutions 
to military problems, far from being tradition-bound and para- 
lyzed by controls, are innovative, imaginative and oriented far 
more toward the future than the past and toward concrete 

While Admiral Gorshkov has obviously been an effective naval 
leader of the modern Soviet Navy, it is certainly not the result of 
his genius alone. Other branches of the service, having a similar 
discipline for military thought, have been extremely innovative as 
well. Furthermore, theirs is a society in which priority is given to 
the military and one that exacts great sacrifices from all of its 
citizens to insure maximum military preparedness, a society that 
considers peace as one of the battles in a permanent conflict. 
Admiral Gorshkov has had a considerable number of resources at 
his disposal. 

Russia has a long history of thinking itself invincible and then, 
in war, proving that the system does not work. The thesis of the 
use of power— a Romanov as well as Leninist idea -has, in practice, 
often given way to its antithesis, a collapse of power. We must 
examine some of the problems. 



The October Revolution destroyed many things in Russia but 
not the naval officer educational system which, in spite of all the 
years of war, civil strife, chaos, privation and purges, resumed its 
functions and many of its traditions in the same buildings and 
with the laboratories and many of the teaching personnel of the 
Imperial Navy. 1 The Imperial Naval Cadet College, founded by 
Peter the Great— who even taught there— on the banks of the Neva 
in St. Petersburg became the Frunze Higher Naval School. The 
buildings are the same. The cadets before the Revolution were 
exclusively the sons of the nobility. For a brief period after the 
Revolution, they were the sons of workers and peasants. Now, 
however, many of the cadets are the sons of naval officers in a 
kind of hereditary nobility of the sea. A class structure appears to 
be reasserting itself. 

One of the traditions of the Imperial Russian Navy was to lay 
great emphasis upon education. That continues to be true in the 
Soviet Union where the naval officer spends a good percentage of 
his service career in formal schools, a large percentage of his sea 
time training, instructing, and testing. The tradition established by 
Peter that the leader must know the details of the equipment that 
his subordinates operate remains in force and must pay big 
dividends under Soviet conditions. 

Leningrad is the focus of naval education. The naval schools 
renamed Frunze and Dzetzhinskiy, an engineering school, were 
reopened in 1922 and were elevated to the status of institutions of 
higher learning, on a university level, in 1939. 

There was a considerable expansion of training for the Soviet 
Navy in the years just before World War II when schools 
modeled after Frunze and the engineering school were opened on 
the Pacific at Vladivostok, at Baku on the Caspian, and in the 
Crimea. In addition, in specialized schools for naval communica- 
tions and gunnery, the curricula were expanded to 4 years. 

In 1944 a 7-year prep school was organized-the Nakhimov 
School— for young cadets under the age of 15. They then enter 


the Frunze Academy where the curriculum is concentrated on a 
technical naval education. 

After graduation and completion of 2 or 3 years in their first 
assignment, officers are customarily sent for an additional year 
of training at a specialized officers' technical school. Upon 
completion of the year an officer is assigned as the head of a 
department on board ship. 

In 1967, a banner year for fundamental changes in the Soviet 
Navy, the higher line schools were combined with the engineer- 
ing schools to form a higher naval command and engineering 
schools system with curricula of between 5 and 5% years. This was 
in recognition of the greater technical and scientific demands of 
modern naval science. The result is that all Soviet naval officers are 
now graduates of these schools and hold diplomas as engineers. 
Vice Adm. V.A. Krenov explained that the longer period of 
training was necessary because of the enormous increase in the 
volume of scientific, technical, and specialized knowledge that was 
necessary not just to maintain but to improve the quality of naval 
and command training. 2 

All of the officers on Yankee-class submarines have received a 
higher education. Of the officers entering the forces, according to 
the late Defense Minister Marshal Grechko, more than 50 percent 
have a higher education. This compares with the fact that only 
seven percent of Soviet officers at the outbreak of WW II had a 
higher education. 3 Although a military career does not stand very 
high in the list of choices of Soviet youth, there are nevertheless 
several applications for every vacancy at the naval cadet 

At the present time there are in the Soviet Navy at least ten 
higher naval schools; five in Leningrad, two in Sevastopol, one in 
Kaliningrad, one in Baku, and one in Vladivostok. The higher 
naval political school is in Kiev, the capital of the Ukraine and 
there is an auxiliary fleet maritime school in Lomonosov, a town 
on the mainland just across from Kronshtadt. 

In addition, there are many other schools for such common 
technical services as naval medicine. Naval aviators are appointed 
to the navy from air force higher schools and officers for the naval 
infantry come from the ground forces higher school. 4 

There are three sources for officers in the Soviet Navy. All 
graduates of the Nakhimov school system are assured of an 
entrance to one of the higher naval schools without examination. 
For others there are competitive entrance examinations for 
admission to the higher naval schools with preference given to 


qualified servicemen. Finally, civilian candidates who are graduates 
of the Soviet equivalent of our high schools may apply, but they 
first must undergo a period of observation aboard ship. 

The curriculum of each school is scientifically oriented with 
heavy emphasis on mathematics, electronics, physics, chemistry, 
engineering, and ordnance. In addition, a specific period of time 
(15 percent of the time is one estimate) must be spent on political 

Beyond the higher naval institutes are military academies 5 and 
the period of study lasts for 3 to 5 years. 

The courses are varied according to the specialty being studied; 
however, it is these schools, of which there are about 40, that 
produce many of the theoreticians of Soviet military art and 
science. In addition there are specialized short courses for future 
admirals and generals. 

The highest level of education for senior officers and admirals is 
the Higher. Naval Academy where courses of instruction in 
operational art are given. This school is directly subordinate to the 
Chief of the General Staff of the Military Council of the Soviet 
Union. Those who attend are approved by the Minister of Defense 
and are not called "students" but slushateli or, literally, "listen- 
ers." The period of education is about a year. 

The course of education for a Soviet naval officer, then, might 
be as follows: 

Age School Length of Study 

1 5 Nakhimov Institute 3 years 

18 Higher Naval Institute 5 years 

26 Special School 1 year 

34 Military Academy 3-5 years 

40 Higher Naval Academy 1 year 

Morskoy sbornik, a kind of equivalent of the Naval Institute 
Proceedings (although much more narrowly technical and profes- 
sionally oriented), has been published almost continually since 
1848. It is part of the vast military publishing enterprise that 
includes the publication of novels, poetry, and even music. 

Morskoy sbornik is a monthly with (usually) nine sections as 

a. An introductory section. The leading article is often by a 
prominent military or political leader. Included are inspirational 
sections such as pictures of naval heroes of the Soviet Union. 


b. Naval Art-A "how to" section with examples often based 
on historical experience. 

c. Military and Political Preparedness-A catchall section for 
both propaganda and information about technical developments in 
the naval service. 

d. Pages of History. Stories of the Second World War, referred 
to as "The Great War of the Fatherland" (the U.S. and England 
are hardly considered to have played a part) dominate this section. 

e. Armaments and Technology-A hardware section in which, 
because of security, foreign technology is usually discussed and 
one assumes that Soviet developments are often being referred to 
(for those "in the know") by implication. 

f. Phenomena of Nature and Life of the Ocean-A section on 
oceanography written on a technical level. 

g. Foreign Fleets. Pictures and information about foreign navies 
are published in a kind of continuing intelligence program. For 
example, details of the SOSUS system may be published or the 
capabilities of a new ship. 

h. Criticism and Bibliography. Here are recommendations for 
study on such subjects as underwater sound. 

i. Literary Section. This usually contains a short story or 
excerpts from a book and reviews of new books. 

From an even cursory examination of nearly any Morskoy 
sbornik it is quite obvious that Soviet naval officers are very well 
informed about developments in NATO navies and particularly the 
U.S. Navy. Much of the information presented (such as about 
SOSUS) is the kind that in the United States would be considered 
classified and not widely disseminated. 

The contents of Morskoy sbornik reflect the highly educated, 
technical level of Soviet naval officers. Many of the articles take a 
knowledge of electronics, physics, and higher mathematics for 
granted. They are nearly all written by officers who are military 
scientists and specialists, graduates of the military academies, 
including retired and reserve officers. A high percentage of the 
military authors have doctoral and predoctoral degrees in naval or 
technical sciences. 

Political activity in the armed forces is supervised by the Main 
Political Directorate of the Soviet Army and Navy. The Political 
Directorate does not report to the Minister of Defense whose 
subordination is in the government chain. Instead, the Political 
Directorate is directly subordinate to the Central Committee of 
the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. In other words, it is 
directly supervised by the Communist Party. There is a chief 


political directorate of the Navy which, of course, is subordinate 
to the Main Political Directorate. The chief of the Political 
Directorate makes his views known in the operational chain of 
command through his position on the Military Council of the 

Each fleet has a Fleet Political Directorate and also, in its 
operational chain, a Fleet Military Council. The Political Direc- 
torate, of course, acts in both. Following down the line, each 
subdivision of the fleet such as flotillas, units in fleet aviation, 
naval bases and so on have political departments. On each ship of 
destroyer escort size and larger there is a deputy commander for 
political affairs called the zampolit and for smaller units and 
aircraft squadrons there is a division zampolit. 

The political officers serve two major functions: on the one 
hand they are a kind of Communist chaplain performing morale 
and political functions, agitation, and interpretation of the party 
line; on the other hand, they are secret agents who watch carefully 
for any signs of political disloyalty or even questioning of party 
decisions. In foreign ports the zampolit and his staff determine 
who may go ashore, who may have contact with foreigners, and 
what may be discussed. 

The party puts enormous emphasis upon the need to prepare 
officers and men for the conditions of modern warfare and for the 
sacrifices they are expected to make for the fatherland and the 
future workers' paradise. It is through the indoctrination by the 
political workers that these tasks are accomplished and it is for 
this reason that they have been labeled, "true engineers of the 
sailors' souls." 6 

Line officers are forced to participate in political indoctrination 
as their fitness reports reflect the degree of their enthusiasm for 
party political work, their knowledge of Marxism/Leninism, and 
their ability to inspire a high state of political-moral preparedness 
in their command. 

Partly because of the unpopularity of the political officers and 
the boredom with which their lectures on the party line are 
received, there have been numerous efforts to try to upgrade them 
in the eyes of the regular navy. Political officers are required to 
undergo much of the same military training as the regular line, to 
stand watches at sea, to be able to fly aircraft, and to navigate. 
They are given constant military training. 7 

The amount of time devoted to political indoctrination, is 
considerable. Each officer must attend 50 hours of lectures or 
seminars per year solely on Marxism/Leninism. However, that is 


not all that he is expected to do. He is expected to attend 
theoretical conferences, debates, and lectures after regular duty 

Enlisted personnel must attend two or three so-called political 
information periods of 20 minutes duration in addition to the 3 
hours of political instruction each week. 8 

With the navy's all-ocean obligation for the protection of state 
interests has come an enormously increased pressure on the 
political officers. The men of the Soviet Navy are being exposed to 
foreign cultures and influences and are more able to observe 
alternative ways of life. 

During the Second World War the experience of seeing Eastern 
Europe had a very dramatic effect on Soviet troops who had been 
led to expect that they would find only impoverished masses who 
were oppressed and exploited. Many who saw the West were 
forced to undergo a long period of reindoctrination after the war. 
Now, before visiting the foreign ports, sailors are told what they 
will see. After their visit what they did see is given the correct 
Marxist interpretation. This tells them what they may say about 
their impressions when they arrive home. Any show of enthusiasm 
or undue interest in a foreign port would probably insure that a 
sailor would never again make a foreign visit. 

There is little doubt that the party political work is boring but 
that it is an effective instrument of control and discipline. The 
problems of the past when the political officer and the senior 
operational officer vied for control have been resolved in favor of 
the authority of the commanding officer. However, he only gets to 
be a commanding officer if he himself functions, to an important 
degree, in the role of a political officer as well. 

The history of party/military coexistence, as we have seen, has 
been an uneasy one. This is probably not simply a function of the 
military alone for it appears to be a Soviet institutional procedure to 
have strict lines of organization— a clear-cut wiring diagram— and 
then to confuse the picture by assigning multiple responsibilities. 
For example, in 1971 the 24th Party Congress greatly increased the 
number of party organizations having a right to supervise the 
establishments with which they were associated. The supervision is 
accomplished through a kind of "control commission" which is 
made up primarily of party members but also with an admixture of 
knowledgeable persons with appropriate qualifications. One would 
expect that in an important factory, the plant manager would have 
final authority. This is not the case. Through the control commission 
the manager can be overruled or brought to account. 


This system, of course, has caused some problems. For example, 
one secretary of a party group asked, "How can I, the assistant to the 
department head, supervise the work of my chief?" 9 This duality 
exists throughout the government where there is a party control 
commission, of some kind, for every important governmental 
function. This is true also throughout the armed forces. And, 
although Soviet military writers assert the principle of edino- 
nachal'e- the principle of the right of the military commander to 
command— the traditional Russian paranoia, the institutional 
functioning of the Soviet state, and the party's watchful fear of all 
deviation combine to insure that their principle is only partially 
followed. In any case, even if the captain has final authority, the 
party shares control at all echelons below him. 

The party manifests supervisory power through the party cell 
structure, the Komsomol (Young Communist League), the system 
of the political deputies, the control commission, and finally even 
through the military press. The CO cannot be in complete control 
of his own ship. 

While the party has greatly extolled the military and allowed it 
a very privileged position in Soviet society, at the same time it has 
been very wary if not suspicious of the power the military can 
wield. It has a fear of Bonapartism (the fear that a military leader 
will gain sufficient power and popularity to take over the 
government, the fear that led to Marshal Zhukov's being removed 
as Minister of Defense and exiled in 1957. Marshal Zhukov's 
disgrace was almost certainly the retribution for his moves to relax 
party control of the military. 1 ° ) 

Because the military is clearly within the government (as opposed 
to the party) chain of command with a clear organizational structure 
and a fixed philosophy of subordination in the military chain, how 
does the party exert its control? The answer is that the party 
exerts control from the top down through a parallel structure. 

Admiral Gorshkov, like all other military leaders, affirms and 
reaffirms the leading role of the party in all of his public speeches 
and articles. One might think that this control and leadership of 
the party would be in matters of policy, morale, and education 
but the party's role is not limited by that. There appears to be no 
military question, however technical, from which the party would 
consider itself excluded. As stated in an authoritative party 

Party leadership over the Armed Forces is carried out in all 
areas . . . determining the main direction for the development 


of types of Armed Forces, their organizational structure and 
equipping with modern technology and weapons, the training 
and indoctrination of military personnel, and the taking of 
specific measures related to further raising the level of Party 
political work ... in essence, there is no area of military 
affairs in which the leading role of the Communist Party, its 
Central Committee, and the Politburo of the CPSU Central 
Committee would not be manifested. 1 l 

Comrade Brezhnev, in consolidating his power as the first among 
equals, has become an authority on military questions. Military 
readers refer to him with increasing deference, a trend that has been 
formalized by his appointment as a general of the army and marshal. 

The party control of the military undoubtedly begins with the 
august and rarely mentioned Military Council. This is a group 
composed of the highest leaders of the government and party with 
selected military representation. Little is known about the actual 
membership. (Only through his obituary was it confirmed that 
Marshal Grechko was a participant.) 

This is the level on which military policy, reflecting strategic 
political decisions, is made. This body apparently can concern 
itself with technical questions as well as those of the roles of the 
services. Khrushchev must have "sunk" his cruisers and Stalin 
must have planned his aircraft carriers during meetings of the 
Military Council. 

Considering the kind of control that such a body exerts in the 
absence of interest groups with a political constituency, one can 
be reasonably certain that service factions do not play a 
competitive role in the public formation of policy. Information 
about naval policy is revealed only with this body's permission. 
Certainly, Sokolovskiy 's and Gorshkov's books and articles would 
have been approved for publication on this level. 

The commanding officer of a ship would necessarily be a 
member of the Communist Party. As such, he would be 
subordinated in two party chains. In one, he would be a member 
of the Peoples' Control Group where he would be subjected to the 
rule requiring open criticism of all members. Questioned even by 
his subordinates, he could face some kind of discipline through 
the party chain. 

In the other chain, he would participate in the Military Council 
through which he would have to justify his decisions to the party 
political apparatus. In addition, his command would be weakened 
by the fact that the overwhelming majority of the officers and 


men (90 percent for the navy) are either Communist Party 
members or in the Komsomol. 

Through the party chain, these members are subjected to party 
discipline and party leadership. At party meetings they have the 
right to criticize their seniors and the duty to express doubts 
about party loyalty or honesty of any of the personnel, seniors or 
juniors, in their unit. 

The military press, such as Red Star, is a means of control. 
"Citizens'" letters of complaint are published (obviously after 
careful selection). Names are named and accusations are made. 
The reporters and editorial staff of Red Star constitute a kind of 
disciplinary court, for they take it upon themselves to investigate 
suggested abuses and to decide questions of guilt. 

Finally, there is the traditional Russian system of informers, 
spies, and agents of one sort or another. All members of the 
Communist Party and Komsomol are frequently exhorted and 
admonished about their sacred responsibility to report abuses 
wherever they see them. In addition, there are the agents of the 
KGB and the Military Intelligence Service, the GRU, placed 
throughout the armed forces. 1 2 

Although the principle of the CO's leadership and independence 
is frequently affirmed, obviously he cannot function without 
party support. Quite clearly command is subject to debate, 
criticism, and revision. It is almost certain that under conditions of 
stress, decisive leadership would be impaired. A very close 
correlation is maintained between success in combat readiness and 
success in party political work. Thus, success in military training is 
attributed to success in party work and failure is a failure to 
maintain party controls. Either way the party wins. As stated in 
the Soviet Military Review: 

One of the fundamental features of our armed forces and 
the basic source of their insuperable strength is the high 
political consciousness of the Soviet fighting men. 1 3 

Possible political indoctrination was easier when the world was 
divided between East and West. The appearance of many 
alternatives makes political officers' duties very much more 
difficult, for by even denouncing alternative theories of com- 
munism and socialism they are suggesting possibilities of which 
Soviet citizens heretofore would not have been aware. 

Those who have not lived under such a system would have 
difficulty taking seriously the intensity of the party political 


workers; however, one must remember that the Soviet Union is a 
nation of 250 million people who are taught to believe that there 
is no alternative to their system and that no right-minded person 
has ever entertained any alternative ideas. When Secretary 
Brezhnev says, as he did to the 24th Party Congress, that, "We are 
living under the conditions of an unceasing ideological war that is 
being waged against our country ... by imperialist propaganda 
using refined methods and powerful technical media," the Soviet 
citizen is not supposed to know any of the facts of the ideological 
war being waged "against our country" and yet he is supposed to 
support Comrade Brezhnev's indignation. Obviously, such absurdi- 
ties are difficult to manage. Under these conditions it is obvious 
that "bourgeois ideologists are trying to weaken the combat might 
of our armed forces and influence the political- moral state of the 
Soviet soldiers." 1 4 The only reasonable response is, of course, 
redoubled vigilance, and intensification of party political work, 
and a call on all to unmask those who would weaken the unity of 
the collective. 

The West, and primarily the United States, becomes the 
convenient whipping boy for all problems in the Soviet Union. 
The fact that there is a problem with ideological deviation among 
Soviet youth is caused by the United States where insidious 
ideological sabotage is aimed "first and foremost at our youth." It 

The bosses of monopoly capitalism [who] are betting 
particularly on the ideological degeneration of Soviet youth 
and are endeavouring to weaken its revolutionary enthusiasm 
and to dull class awareness. We cannot help but consider this 
since the young people are the predominant majority among 
army and navy personnel; and in moral, political and 
psychological terms, we are preparing precisely the young 
people for skillful actions in modern war. 1 5 

Characteristic of the demand for purity is the idea that anything 
connected with foreign taste or ideas is subversive. Parents of 
those girls who wear eye makeup or boys who have hair down to 
their shoulders and wear tight-fitting trousers were admonished as 
being those "who do not stop to consider that youngsters 
sometimes go from trying on foreign fashions to trying on foreign 
ideals." 16 

One of the nightmares the party political workers must face is 
the fear that the spirit of the Kronshtadt rebellion could resurface 


and citizens could begin demanding the rights that are guaranteed 
by the Constitution. For example, when the Secretary of the 
Komsomol was confronted by the fact that two young recruits 
admitted to being devout Moslems, he answered, "We have 
freedom of conscience in our country." But the reporter com- 
mented in Red Star with indignation that the Komsomol secretary 
did not seem to understand that "freedom of conscience in our 
country also implies an obligation on the part of each citizen to 
participate in anti-religious propaganda work." 1 7 Red Star was 
equally scandalized that the wife of a warrant officer was a Baptist 
and did not intend to renounce her religion and that the party 
political worker accepted the Baptists as a "sect that was 

Examples of titles of political lectures for naval personnel in the 
long hours of indoctrination at sea are: "The Ideas of Marxism/ 
Leninism"; "Boundless Devotion to the People"; "The Homeland, 
the Communist Party, and the Soviet Government"; "The In- 
vincible Unity and Fraternal Friendship Among the People of the 
U.S.S.R."; "Proletarian Internationalism and Combat Cooperation 
with the Armies of. Fraternal Socialist Countries"; "The Moral 
Code of the Builder of Communism"; "The Spirit of High 
Vigilance"; "Class Hatred for the Imperialists and All Enemies of 
Communism"; "Personal Responsibility for Defense of the Soviet 
Homeland"; "Readiness to Give One's Life Itself if Necessary to 
Achieve Full Victory"; "The Domestic and Foreign Policy of the 
Communist Party"; "The Revolutionary Combat and Labor 
Traditions of the Party, the Soviet People and its Armed Forces"; 
"The Successes of Building Communism in the U.S.S.R. and the 
Building of Socialism in the Fraternal Countries"; "The Advan- 
tages of Socialism Over Capitalism"; and "Pride in the Homeland, 
Its Great Achievements, and Its Noble History." 1 8 

The West is pictured in such a way as to support the combat 
readiness of forces. For example, a commonly repeated statement 
is that hatred for the enemy "is the most important component 
part of the perseverance and heroism of Soviet troops." 1 9 "The 
Communist Party educates the troops to hate enemies of the 
Soviet Union and always to be ready to destroy them." 20 The 
subject "hate for the enemy" is one which is formally recognized 
as appropriate for lectures, indoctrination and special studies. 
Indoctrination must include teaching hatred for imperialists and the 
enemies of communism. Soldiers and sailors are expected to have a 
burning hatred for their enemies. Whenever possible this spirit of 
hate is related to specific objectives. For example, the sailors on a 


Soviet missile cruiser in the Mediterranean were given a lecture on 
"The U.S. Sixth Fleet: A Weapon of Aggression and Plunder. " 2 ' 

The purpose of the massive exposure to the horrors of the Nazi 
invasion and the Fascist movement is in part to imply that the 
Government of the United States and the leading citizens of 
America share such destructive and cruel aspirations and inten- 
tions toward the Soviet Union. 

Detente, the exchange of visits by heads of state, and signing of 
treaties and agreements such as SALT I and II, have created some, 
but comparatively minor, problems for the political propagandist. 
The line currently adopted seems to be the obvious one: because of 
the change in the correlation of forces, the imperialist nations led by 
the United States are aware that should they attack the Soviet 
Union the results would be catastrophic for them. Nevertheless, 
the argument maintains that capitalist forces that dominate the 
United States are pressing for a war of revenge and that in any case 
war and aggression are necessary to make the capitalist system 
work. 2 The distinction is always made that in the ideological 
sphere there is not and never can be peaceful coexistence. 

The high U.S. budgets for military expenditures provide very 
convenient propaganda for the Soviet Government and Commu- 
nist Party. By calling attention to this, they are able to justify the 
obviously high expenditures within the Soviet Union under 
conditions of public privation. The West, with the United States in 
the lead, has singlehandedly started the armaments race. The 
increase in the Soviet published military budget from 13.4 billion 
rubles in 1966 to 17.9 billion rubles in 1970 are justified by 
pointing out the dangerous new U.S. strategic doctrines such as 
"assured destruction" and "counterforce." 2 3 The current line is 
that communism is the wave of the future and that the Soviet 
Union is in the vanguard, that the correlation of forces has 
changed and that if the danger of capitalist aggression is somewhat 
lessened it is because of the successes of the Soviet Union. 

The naval officer corps is an elite group and apparently a stable 
one. There is no officer retention problem. 24 Soviet society 
provides very few alternatives in terms of position and rewards 
better than the life of an officer. Furthermore, switching to an 
alternate profession with the same pay, not to mention the same 
privileges, is very difficult if not impossible once a career is 

Adding to the prestige of a naval career is the fact that a Soviet 
officer has the possibility of having one of the most coveted prizes 


in the Soviet Union, a visit to a foreign country. Only officers and 
crews, however, who have been screened for political reliability are 
permitted in ships visiting foreign ports. Reliability ratings reflect 
somewhat the possibility of contact with foreigners. Even permis- 
sion to live in one of the open ports of the Soviet Union where 
foreign tourists or ships visit— Leningrad, Odessa, Tallin, or Riga, 
for example— or even in Moscow for that matter, is dependent 
upon political reliability. Any shadow of doubt, even about close 
relatives, may limit a sailor's career opportunities. 

Nearly all Soviet foreign naval attaches are officers from the 
military intelligence organization, the GRU, or from the KGB, the 
government intelligence organization. The practice for all per- 
sonnel serving or visiting abroad is to hold at least one immediate 
member of the family hostage in the Soviet Union to insure that 
there are no defections. This is routinely done with all diplomatic 
families as well. Everyone knows that if a father defects, his wife 
and children will suffer at home. 

Such controls, however bizarre to an American, are so much a 
part of Soviet life that they are probably taken for granted. While 
the Soviet line officer who supports the system with enthusiasm is 
rare, an officer who supports it out of ignorance of the alternatives 
appears to be the norm. In any case, professional training and the 
increasing prestige in the Soviet Union of the naval service insure 
that the Soviet officer is competent and dedicated. What would 
happen if he were given free alternatives and the chance to 
experience some other life is the nightmare with which the 
Politburo constantly wrestles. 



Commenting on the Winter War with Finland, Khrushchev said, 
"You wouldn't have thought that the Finns would have the 
advantage at sea but our Navy couldn't do anything right." 1 

Admiral Golovko, Commander in Chief of the Northern Fleet, 
was so uninformed about the political situation that he had to infer 
the possibility of the Nazi invasion from the flow of refugees, the 
massing of enemy troops, and the increase in aerial reconnaissance. 2 

These and other anecdotes suggest that the Soviet Navy shares 
not only many of the traditions but also many of the problems of 
its czarist predecessor. It has brilliant theories and brilliant 
practitioners, but the characteristics of the Soviet system and the 
Russian culture keep it from being, by any stretch of the 
imagination, perfect operationally. 

In many ways, Admiral Golovko 's memoirs about the Second 
World War provide a kind of textbook of Soviet naval thought 
even today. Then the fate of the navy was determined by Stalin. 
Those now in charge of the Soviet system are men who not only 
survived Stalin but also who were promoted by him. The new look 
of the Soviet Navy should not disguise the fact that it has taken 
place under the old leadership. 

The suppression of information, which makes the Soviets so 
difficult to understand, also makes them vulnerable to their own 
propaganda. Historically, Russian and Soviet leaders, who- 
through their dictatorial internal control-lull themselves into a 
false security, have made the grossest miscalculations about war. 

Golovko illustrated the most important one: he was not even 
informed that war with Germany was imminent, nor was the 
Commandant of the Leningrad Naval District. 

Although the problems of dual command stemming from having 
a government and a party chain are said to be resolved in favor of 
the commanding officer, the system makes decisive command 
inherently impossible. In many tactical exercises, a command 
appears to be clear and direct but when situations are new or 
unexpected, the lines of authority in the Soviet Union are blurred. 


The party, of course, has the last word and that knowledge alone 
undermines the authority of the military chain of command. 
There is always a question of who speaks for whom. 

Soviet citizens, even their admirals, are so controlled, the 
information they receive is so censored, that the rest of the world 
is a composite of their dreams, government propaganda and a few 
facts. This makes them subject to unpredictable behavior in the 
face of situations that do not correspond with their expectations. 
In spite of all of the emphasis on combat readiness, the Soviets 
cannot possibly be prepared as the world they are informed about 
is the artificial construction of the political organs. 

Although the Officers' Handbook calls for "burning hatred of 
the enemy," the Soviet sailor has difficulty developing such hatred 
for something so abstract and so remote. Furthermore, because 
the culture he is to hate is the producer of the goods he 
desperately wants— the going rate in the black market for 
secondhand blue jeans is well over a hundred rubles ($1 10)— he has 
trouble thinking of it as all bad. In fact, being subjected to a 
barrage of political propaganda about places they are not allowed 
to visit and not daring to discuss the party line except to agree 
with it, Soviet citizens have become indifferent to politics and not 
easily moved by hate literature. 

The refusal of the Northern Fleet soldier to fire at German 
airplanes indicates another problem in the system. In the Soviet 
Union, justice is extremely arbitrary. No one can be assured a fair 
trial, or even a trial. Those who offend the system may simply 
disappear. Thus, although unquestioning fulfillment of orders is 
required, everyone learns to consider whether disobeying an order 
would be more dangerous than obeying it. The chain of command 
can work smoothly but it is frequently interrupted by competing 
authorities such as secret police or political officers. For this 
reason, orders— even on the bridge of a ship— may be questioned 
and challenged, as foreign observers have noticed. If reality were 
to penetrate the preconceptions of the collective with too great a 
shock, the whole fabric of control would probably collapse as it 
did in the October Revolution. One only need remember the 
millions of Soviet citizens who greeted the invading German 
troops as liberators. Had Hitler understood Russian culture, he 
could indeed have taken Moscow. 

The Westerner has difficulty appreciating the degree to which 
the Soviet system can be self-destructive. For instance, the theory 
that a nation acts in its vital interests must be questioned when 
one considers the behavior of the Soviet Government in the 


thirties. After the purge, in the Northern Fleet, when the war 
began there was no officer on the staff over 35 years of age. 
Therefore, there was no one who had ever seen military action 
before unless it was against the Finnish Navy. Admiral Golovko 
became the commander in chief with only 13 years of active duty 
behind him, much of it in schools. 3 While there have not recently 
been purges, the conditions that made them possible still exist. 
The Soviet system facilitates the possibility of erratic, irrational, 
and unbalanced behavior in its leaders. (They themselves charac- 
terized Khrushchev, who fell only in the last decade, as an 
unstable adventurist and Stalin was undoubtedly insane.) 

Five days after the Nazi invasion, Admiral Golovko had no 
more fuel for his ships. There was only the oil in the tanks. The 
problems of supply and resupply in Soviet Russia, as in old Russia, 
are apparently never-ending. (A former fishing fleet captain has 
said that because there was not space on the Trans-Siberian 
railroad, he customarily had to dump up to half of his fishing 
catch.) Central planning may be a rational idea but it leads to 
miserable shortages. The simplest items— shoelaces, screws or 
flour— disappear from the shops for months. In logistics, it means 
an enormous supply problem and in an economy such as that of 
the Soviet Union, there are not duplicate products; there are few 
off-the-shelf items. Although there have been enormous improve- 
ments since the Second World War, there have also been great 
increases in the complexities. Ships may become ineffective for 
want of parts. 

For these reasons, Soviet military systems must be built to be 
rugged, interchangeable, and enduring. Although they seem crude, 
they are meant to be good enough for the job. Designers realize 
the importance of trying to avoid the problem of resupply 
altogether. Nevertheless, under conditions of war much equipment 
and many systems would not be operational for lack of a bolt. 

At such a point the Soviets would fall back on the traditional 
answer-the use of the masses. The Stalinist dictum that it is people, 
not equipment, who win battles was, of course, a rationalization for 
the materiel deficiencies of the Soviet Armed Forces. Nevertheless, 
it said something about the Russian mentality. Historically, in 
wartime and in peace, it has been national policy to sacrifice human 
lives with less concern than one sacrifices equipment. For instance, 
Admiral Golovko tells the story: 

We had no marine infantry in the Arctic at that time. The 
first so-called naval detachments of volunteer sailors, most of 


whom were skilled ship's specialists with four or five years' 
service were formed in literally so many hours. 4 

But the losses were horrendous because the sailors were totally 
untrained and even went into battle upright. They had not been 
taught to crouch down. 5 

On the other hand, the permanent condition of scarcity 
encourages a degree of physical hardness and endurance as well as 
a great degree of innovation. Soviet forces can make do with far 
less than their Western counterparts, judging by their history. 
Again, Admiral Golovko gives an illustration. Because amphibious 
forces were essential to holding the front around Murmansk, and 
there were no amphibious ships, the troops were delivered in 
fishing vessels. That took place in freezing waters on rocky shores 
held by hostile forces with superior arms and inadequate recon- 
naissance. After Gallipoli, most Western nations would not have 
considered such an operation feasible. Because of the incredible 
Russian sacrifices, the German forces never broke through to 
Murmansk. Leningrad and the Northern Fleet including the critical 
supply line were saved. 

Although the Soviet Union has had some spectacular techno- 
logical achievements, it is a nation only recently industrialized and 
in which technology is very unevenly distributed. Many of its 
sailors come from collective farms, forests, and industrially 
primitive regions of the Soviet Union. The heavy emphasis on 
education obviously suggests both a pragmatic and a cultural 
rationale. Soviet crews are far less sophisticated, technically, than 
their Western counterparts. As ships spend more time further from 
their bases, their problems in repair and maintenance are likely to 
become more serious. 

Finally, there is the enormous problem of reality versus 
scientific theory or plan. The Soviets' difficulty in distinguishing 
between v what actually exists and what is planned has already been 
mentioned. An example of such a mentality comes from the 
former Minister of Defense, Marshal Rodion Malinovsky, who died 
in office in 1967. In 1959, he said: 

Our navy has become in the fullest sense a modern navy 
capable of resolving any strategic mission in its area of 
responsibility. Overseas, they quite frequently speak and 
write that the U.S. Navy is capable of delivering an attack 
and landing at any point along our coastline. But as the 
saying goes, "it is easy to boast but also easy to fail." It 


seems to me that the people overseas should be thinking of 
the fate of their own coast and their extended lines of 
communication, whose vulnerability is now monstrously 
bared and about the traditional invulnerability of America 
which has been forever eliminated. 6 

In 1959, the Soviet Navy was far from being a modern navy 
capable of resolving any strategic mission; however, that was the 
plan and the new navy was beginning to be built. Whether or not 
Malinovsky believed what he said, his subordinates had to and 
they had to hurry. 

New operational systems, under such pressures, appear before 
they are fully tested. This is partly owing to the ability of the 
planning cycle to produce a false reality, partly owing to the waste 
which the Soviet military system permits, and partly because of 
the velocity of technological change in the Soviet Union. In any 
case, the West, and no doubt the Soviets themselves, are 
frequently giving credit to the Soviet Navy for a new system or a 
new capability that in fact is not proving effective in action. 7 

Deception and bluff, as well as incorrect predictions, charac- 
terize the Soviet life. Lenin was a master of deceit. Many of his 
lessons in tactics employ deception as a matter of course. Because 
of the Soviet system of political controls and repression, like the 
comparatively mildly repressive czarist system before it, a neces- 
sary cultural characteristic of Soviet peoples is to develop the art 
of deception. Khrushchev used deception so openly, so often and 
with such little art that in the end he came to be considered 
something of a buffoon even by his own people. Nevertheless, his 
techniques were very effective in influencing the behavior of 
Western governments. 8 

With respect to the navy, Khrushchev told the world that large 
ships were outmoded and that cruisers were only good for state 
visits. That was in 1959 and 1960. But in those years, he 
negotiated the right to build a naval base in Albania and must have 
authorized plans for the considerable expansion of the Soviet 
Navy. He approved plans for new and radical weapons to be 
carried on large naval platforms. 

His biggest game of deception was during the placement of 
missiles on Cuba, an act that might well have been influenced by 
the fact that a navy was being planned that could protect the 
delivery of the missile-carrying freighters. The confusion between 
present and future was clearly illustrated. In any case, the Cuban 
action was a gross miscalculation that should have taught the West 


two important lessons: (1) that the degree of thought control and 
censorship within the Soviet Union means that one cannot depend 
upon their making realistic appraisals of foreign situations; and (2) 
that a leader can acquire the power to engulf the world in war 
with few checks or balances. 9 

Trying to browbeat the world with its missile superiority was 
not an isolated Soviet tactic in international diplomacy. Boasting, 
bluffing, and deceiving are weapons that are almost constantly 
used to try to make the world, including the Soviet people, believe 
that the advent of Soviet-style socialism is inevitable. The current 
massive campaign to convince us that "the correlation of forces" 
has changed, or that the balance in the Mediterranean has shifted 
to the side of the Soviet squadron are elements of that same 
campaign. Admiral Gorshkov's articles and speeches about the 
Navy are similar moves. Otherwise they would not be published, 
quoted, and referred to in such a variety of Soviet publications for 
foreign consumption. He is, to some degree, being used as a voice 
of propaganda. That, however, only emphasizes the degree to 
which the new Soviet Navy is prepared for gunboat diplomacy. 

Historically, Soviet bluff and bluster have not been always 
successful, for when the Soviets have tried to take the lead in some 
aspect of technological development they have often only fallen 
behind. The exploration of space is an obvious example. An even 
more critical failure centered on agriculture after all of Khrush- 
chev's bluster about the virgin lands and increased productivity. 
Ultimate sorts of discouragement come from the fact that the 
Soviet Union cannot feed itself, after 60 years of spectacular 
advancement in agricultural machinery and chemicals in the rest of 
the world, and that the Soviet leaders have all had the experience 
of seeing people starve to death during the war if not during the 
thirties. Such failures must set limits on strategic planning. 
Without food and with endless problems in spare parts, the Soviet 
Union is unlikely to plan for a long war. 

One of the most amusing annual games of deception is the 
Soviet budget. In this game, the United States is particularly 
vulnerable because one of our national characteristics is to have 
trouble understanding the importance of something fully until we 
know how much it costs. Whenever the specter of the Soviet Navy 
is raised, it is necessary to try to say how much the new ships are 
worth in order to make it clear that there is a valid naval threat. 

The joke is that no one, not even the Soviets, knows how much 
the new ships cost and if you could assign a value, it would no 
more be a measure of the ship's worth than if you could calculate 


the value of a teaspoonful of dust picked up on Mars. First of all, 
rubles are not money. They are a kind of scrip or voucher used, 
among other purposes, to allocate scarce goods internally. Labor is 
exploited on an enormous scale, compared to the rest of the 
world, and paid an artificially low rate. The cost of materials is 
assigned and does not represent either competitive bids, intrinsic 
worth, or scarcity. Thus, if one somehow does calculate the cost 
of labor and material in rubles, the resulting sum reflects 
absolutely nothing comparable beyond the Soviet borders. Finally, 
much of the Soviet Defense Establishment is not reflected in the 
budget at all. Research and development, some equipment, and 
many services are placed under a variety of other headings. 

Recent defense budgets were-in 1966, 13.4 billion rubles; in 
1968, 16.7 billion rubles; in 1970, 17.9 billion rubles; and in 
1971-72 the defense budget was said to have leveled off without 
increase. But in 1970, Marshal Grechko referred to "a further 
strengthening of our country's defenses" 1 ° and in 1973 there was 
a statement that the Central Committee had taken steps to bring 
"troops up to strength" 1 l implying that troop strength had 
increased. Although Red Star 1 2 denied that Soviet expenditures 
were increasing, these were the years of the massive naval exercise 
Okean 1970, the reequipping of the Soviet forces with modern 
weapons, the introduction of a series of new atomic submarines, 
and the construction of Soviet aircraft carriers. That expenditures 
had not increased could only have been meant for the naive. 

But deception can work two ways and the greatest danger to 
U.S. Forces is probably not so much from Soviet deception as 
from our self-deception. 

Theories of convergence and peaceful coexistence (by which we 
mean the nonexpansion of Communist domination) ignore the 
realities of the Soviet system. The greater the domestic economic 
and foreign failures, the more the danger that the Soviet leaders 
will turn to military power in their frustration. With no time to 
prepare in modern war, we must correctly read the signals. We are 
in a new era of Soviet military expansion which means military 
bullying such as the world experienced during the various Berlin 
maneuvers of Stalin and Khrushchev. The difference now will be 
that the Soviets will have vast forces to play with on a worldwide 

Most important will be understanding the role of the Soviet 
Navy in the dialectics of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union 
that pretends-with its enormous powers of destruction— to see a 
world that, in a mirror of unreality, is a world like the following: 


Facing the future, socialism offers a specific alternative to 
the misfortunes and horrors of capitalism. A qualitatively- 
new, historically international basis of the people's struggle 
for peace, democracy, national freedom and social progress is 
emerging. Socialism's enormous successes are a key turning 
point in the development of all aspects of the world 
revolutionary process and in the formation of a communist 
civilization throughout the globe. 1 3 



1. Sergei G. Gorshkov, Sea Power of the State (Moscow: Voenizdat, 1976), p. iv. 

2. Friedrich Engels, cited in Gorshkov, p. 314. 

3. Ibid. 

4. Rodion Malinovsky, "Introduction," in Marshal Sokolovskiy, ed., Military 
Strategy, 2nd ed. (Moscow: Voenizdat, 1963). 

5. Such a critique of the Soviet Navy was apparent in a work so recent as Edward 
Wegener's The Soviet Naval Offensive (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1975). 


1. Of course, nothing on the scale of the purges of the thirties has recurred. For 
example, Marshal Zhukov, the World War II hero and the nearest thing to a popular 
figure in the Soviet Union, was removed from office in 1957 and allowed to retire. Even 
so, he was publicly disgraced and prevented from enjoying the honors that were his due 
because "he followed a course of curtailing the work of Party organizations and military 
councils and for the liquidation of management and control of the armed forces by the 
Party." (From a Decree of the Plenum of the Central Committee of the Communist 
Party of the Soviet Union, CPSU.) That, in the strange Soviet doubletalk, translates to 
mean that besides arguing for greater independence in military decisions, Zhukov had 
gained sufficient power and popularity to become a political danger. Admiral Kuznetsov, 
Admiral Gorshkov's predecessor as the Soviet CNO, was demoted and disgraced and had 
to make his promotion to admiral twice. He was not mentioned in Admiral Gorshkov's 
book although other naval leaders of that period were. 

2. This more aggressive internationalist theme was clearly stated by Brezhnev in 
his plenary speech of the 24th Congress of the CPSU and restated, with increased 
emphasis at the 25th Party Congress in 1976. (See Reprints from the Soviet Press, 15 
April 1976.) The theme was taken up by numerous officials. (For a recent version, see 
Marshal I. Yakubovskiy, "Victory was Forged by the People," Moscow Pravda, 8 May 
1976, p. 2.) 

3. L. Brezhnev, Stenograficheskii otchet XXV S'ezd KPSS (Moscow: Politizdat, 
1976), v. I, p. 35. 

4. Sergei Gorshkov, "Navies in War and Peace," Morskoy sbornik, February 1972, 
p. 20. 

5. V.I. Lenin, Selected Works (Moscow: Gosizdat, 1967), v. 9, pp. 475-479. 

6. For example, at the 25th Party Congress, Brezhnev attributed the recognition 
by the world of the German Democratic Republic and the inviolability of its borders to 
united strength of the socialist countries and pointed to the series of agreements with the 
United States as having a decisive influence on the decline of threats to the socialist 
system. See Morskoy sbornik, May 1976, p. 4, for a review of the most important 
aspects of the conference from the navy's point of view. 

7. Roman Kolkowicz, "Strategic Parity and Beyond: Soviet Perspectives," World 
Politics, April 1971, p. 449. 

8. For directing attention to this testimony, I am indebted to Roger W. Barnett's 
article, "Shattering the U.S./S.U. Mirror Image." The quote may be found in U.S. 
Congress, Senate, Committee on Armed Services, Military Implications of the Treaty on 
the Limitations of Anti- Ballistic Missile Systems and the Interim Agreement on 
Limitations of Strategic Offensive Arms (Washington: U.S. Govt. Print. Off., 1972), p. 

9. S.N. Kozlov, The Officer's Handbook (Moscow: Ministry of Defense, 1971), pp. 

10. V. Ye. Savkin, The Basic Principles of Operational Art and Tactics (Moscow: 
Ministry of Defense Press, 1972), p. 109. 

11. Phyllis P. Kohler, ed., Custine's Eternal Russia (Coral Gables: Center for 
Advanced International Studies, 1976), p. 114. 

12. A.S. Milovidov, ed., The Philosophical Heritage of V.I. Lenin and Problems of 
Contemporary War (Moscow: Ministry of Defense Press, 1972), p. 19. 


1. Richard Pipes, "Some Operational Principles of Soviet Foreign Policy," 
Memorandum, Subcommittee on National Security and International Operations, U.S. 
Senate (Washington: U.S. Govt. Print. Off., 1972), no. 71-039. 

2. Sergei G. Gorshkov, Sea Power of the State (Moscow: Voenizdat, 1976), p. 

3. Marshal A. A. Grechko, Krasnava Zvezda, 12 July 1972, p. 1. 

4. A.S. Milovidov, ed., The Philosophical Heritage of V.I. Lenin and Problems of 
Contemporary War (Moscow: Ministry of Defense Press, 1972), pp. 1-2. 

5. S.N. Kozlov, The Officer's Handbook (Moscow: Ministry of Defense, 1971), p. 


6. A. Kormil'tsev, "Concern for the Good of the Nation-The Highest Law of the 
Party," Morskoy sbornik, December 1975, pp. 3-8. 

7. Kozlov, p. 71. 

8. Ibid. 

9. V.I. Lenin, Collected Works (London: Lawrence & Wishart, 1960), v. 38, pp. 

10. Leonid Brezhnev, Report of the CPSU Central Committee to the 24th Congress 
of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, 30 March 1971, translated in Reprints 
from the Soviet Press, 14 May 1971, p. 27. 

11. Ibid. 

12. Milovidov, p. 19. 

13. Ibid. 

14. L.I. Brezhnev, Lenin's Cause Is Alive and Is Triumphing (Moscow: Politizdat, 
1970), p. 211. 

15. S. Gorshkov, "Navies in War and Peace," Morskoy sbornik, February 1972, pp. 

16. For this list of Leninist tactics, I am indebted to Doctor Kunta of the Army 
Institute of Advanced Slavic and East European Studies. 

17. Milovidov, p. 4. 

18. Kozlov, p. 79. 

19. Ibid., p. 11. 

20. Ibid., p. 11-12. 

21. Ibid., p. 73. 

22. Ibid. 

23. Ibid., p. 74. 

24. T. Kondratkov, "The Social Character of War," Red Star, 16 December 1970, 
p. 2. 


1. Nikolai Kuznetsov, Nakanune (Moscow: Voenizdat, 1966), p. 258. Robert 
Herrick, in his book, Soviet Naval Strategy; Fifty Years of Theory and Practice 
(Annapolis: U.S. Naval Institute Press, 1968), points out the interesting fact that 
references to the big-ocean navy, including the aircraft carrier, were not published in the 
serialized version of either the English language journal, International Affairs, or in the 
widely circulated Soviet magazine, Oktyabr'. It is apparent that the memoirs were 
censored at least three times: once by the Military Publishing House; once by the 
domestic censorship service; and once by the censors for foreign disclosure. 

2. Kuznetsov, p. 259, quoted from Herrick, p. 33. 

3. Herrick, p. 34. 

4. S.G. Gorshkov, "The Development of Naval Art," Morskoy sbornik, February 
1967, pp. 12-13. (Hereafter "Development.") The comment about "the period of the 
rehabilitation of the navy" refers to the late twenties when a new period of construction 
was begun after the long period of suppression after the Kronshtadt rebellion. 

5. Herrick, p. 35. 

6. John E. Moore, The Soviet Navy Today (New York: Stein and Day, 1976), p. 

7. Milovan Djilas, Conversations With Stalin (New York: Harcourt Brace and 
World, 1962), p. 182. 


8. Gorshkov, p. 15. 

9. Sergei G. Gorshkov, Sea Power of the State (Moscow: Voenizdat, 1976), p. 

10. "Komandir," Red Star, 11 February 1967, p. 1. 

11. Nikolay Smirnov, "Soviet Ships in the Mediterranean," Red Star, 12 November 
1968, p. 1. 

12. V. Kulikov, "Modern Missions and Tasks of Soviet Air Defense Forces," 
Vestnik protivovozdushnoy oborony, April 1973, p. 1. 

13. See, for example, V. Kasatonov, "The Mediterranean is not an American Lake," 
Soviet Military Review, January 1969, pp. 53-55. 


1. It is interesting that Admiral Gorshkov, in all of his writing, emphasizes the 
continuity between the Russian and Soviet Navies and their ties even to the distant 
Slavic past. In his book, Sea Power of the State (Moscow: Voenizdat, 1976), (hereafter 
Sea Power), he uses the past— glorified, censored and distorted to be sure— for two 
purposes: to emphasize the heroic traditions of the present and to justify and support 
current strategic concepts. 

2. These relationships are recognized by Admiral Gorshkov who gives the battle 
against the shore primacy for the navy. Gorshkov, p. 283. 

3. The Russo-Japanese war actually caused Mahan to revise his theory in such a 
fundamental way as almost to abrogate it. In 1911, in Naval Strategy, he wrote, "There 
is one further conclusion to be drawn from the war between Japan and Russia, which 
contradicts a previous general impression that I myself have shared, and possibly in some 
degree have contributed to diffuse. That impression is that navies depend upon maritime 
commerce as the cause and justification of their existence. To a certain extent, of course, 
this is true; and just because true to a certain extent, the conclusion is more misleading. 
Because partly true, it is accepted as unqualifiedly true. Russia has little maritime 
commerce, at least in her own bottoms; her merchant flag is rarely seen; she has a very 
defective seacoast; can in no sense be called a maritime nation. Yet the Russian Navy had 
the decisive part to play in the late war; and the war was unsuccessful, not because the 
navy was not large enough, but because it was improperly handled. Probably, it also was 
intrinsically insufficient— bad in quality; poor troops as well as poor leadership. The 
disastrous result does not contravene the truth that Russia, though with little maritime 
shipping, was imperatively in need of a navy." From Alfred T. Mahan, Naval Strategy 
(Boston: Little, Brown, 1911), p. 445. 

4. Frederick T. Jane, Imperial Russian Navy (London: Thacker, 1904), p. 136. 

5. Alfred T. Mahan, "Current Fallacies upon Naval Subjects," Harper's New 
Monthly Magazine, June 1898, pp. 44-45. 

6. Gorshkov, p. 359. 

7. See Arseni G. Golovko, With the Red Fleet (London: Putnam, 1965) for an 
account of how you fight a war without information, trained troops, equipment or fuel. 

8. V.K. Klyuchevskiy, Kurs russokoy istorii (Moscow: Gosizdat, 1937), v. IV, p. 

9. One is tempted to push comparisons too far; however, it is not difficult to 
understand why Peter the Great is such a hero for the Soviet proletariat. On his way to 
Holland to learn how to build ships— and incidentally during that excursion through 
Europe he did not allow himself to be diverted to see any major artistic objects 
whatsoever— he called at the court of the Duke of Bradenburg in Konete, now 
Kaliningrad. He was, at first, shy but soon collected himself, began to chat, charmed 
everyone, made his host and their retinue drunk with toasts, admitted that he did not 
love music or hunting but loved sailing, building boats, and fireworks. He showed the 
host the callouses on his hands and took part in the dancing but thought that the corsets 
the German women wore were their ribs and lifted the future mother of King Frederick 
the Great up by her ears and kissed her, thereby absolutely destroying her hairdo. 
(Klyuchevskiy , ibid. ) 

10. It is tempting to observe that like many modern Soviet visitors abroad, Peter 
the Great affected not to admire aspects of contemporary foreign life but concentrated 
almost entirely on technology, production, and craftsmanship. His primary diversion was 
not foreign cultural activities but alcohol. 


11. Klyuchevskiy, p. 22. 

12. Interestingly, Soviet military commentators including Admiral Gorshkov, 
attribute a similar strategic requirement to Americans. It is probably characteristic of all 
military leaders to want overwhelming forces. Perhaps too much is made of this so-called 
Russian strategic law. 

13. Brokgaus i Efron, eds., Entsiklopedicheskiy slovar (St. Petersburg: Brokgaus i 
Efron, 1902), v. 38, p. 906. 

14. N. Boyev, "Memoires du Comte de Langeron," Russkiy vestnik, No. 4, 1878, p. 

1 5. Catherine's evaluation of her fleet was even lower. She wrote that she had seen 
the fleet "fire all day without once hitting it [the target] and it maneuvered more like a 
fleet of herring boats than a naval squadron." Frances Gribble, The Comedy of Catherine 
the Great (London: Eveleigh Nash, 1912), pp. 169-170. 

16. The Empress had concrete imperial intentions. She told the Hapsburg heir 
apparent in 1782 that "all" she wanted was a port on the Black Sea and two or three 
Greek islands for entrepot purposes. Alexander Bruckner, Istoriya Ekaterinoj Vtoroj 
(St. Petersburg: A. Suvorin, 1885), v. Ill, p. 38. 

17. In discussing John Paul Jones' experience in Russia one is torn between the 
brilliance of his tactical and strategic plans on the one hand and the fascination of the 
court intrigues and the machinations of Catherine's favorites against him on the other. 
Actually, one should not try to separate the two for in Russia they went hand in hand. It 
was not enough to be a tactical genius. One also had to know the strategy even of the 

18. John Paul Jones, Memoirs (London: Washbourne, 1943), v. II, p. 87. 

19. Ibid., p. 84. 

20. Ibid., pp. 151-153. 

21. An incidental result of this royal christening was that during a rebellion against 
Nicholas I, the peasants were incited to adopt the slogan "Constantine and Constitu- 
tion." It is said that when later interrogated, they explained that they thought that 
"Constitution" was Constantine's wife. 

22. Lord Nelson was sufficiently aware of this to induce Paul to give Lady 
Hamilton the Order of St. John of Jerusalem which was bestowed in a letter from the 
Emperor of Russia to Lord Nelson dated 12 December 1799 and written in Paul's hand. 

23. Horatio Nelson, Memoirs of the Life of Lord Nelson (Boston: William Norman, 
1806), v. II, p. 5. 

24. Letter of Lord Nelson to Lady Hamilton, 5 May 1801 in Nelson's Memoirs, p. 

25. Jane, p. 142. 

26. A. Bubnov, On the Czar's Staff (V tsarskoy stavke) (New York: Chekov Press, 
1955), p. 219. 

27. Ibid., pp. 222-223. 


1. M.G. Saunders, ed., The Soviet Navy (New York: Praeger, 1958), p. 53. 

2. Ibid., p. 45. 

3. The necessity for developing the port of Murmansk and increasing the capacity 
of the dockyards at Archangel made those ports important targets and the northern sea 
lines vulnerable to German attack. The result was the organization of the Northern 
Flotilla in July 1916 to protect those sea lines of communication. Shipping on these 
lanes increased enormously from a negligible figure to 1,800 ships delivering 5,475,000 
tons between 1915 and 1917. K.A. Stalbo, The History of Naval Art (Istoriya 
voennomorskogo iskusstra) (Moscow: Voenizdat, 1965), p. 128. 

4. A. Bubnov, On the Czar's Staff (V tsarskoy stavke) (New York: Chekov Press, 
1955), pp. 1-3. 

5. Ibid., p. 124. 

6. Saunders, p. 56. 

7. T.G. Martin, "A Soviet Carrier on the Horizon?" U.S. Naval Institute 
Proceedings, November 1970, p. 47. 

8. That Lenin never intended any sort of disarmament is fairly certain as he made 
many pronouncements against it of which the following is an example: "Disarmament 
(universal and total) can be implemented only as a result of the victory of the socialist 


revolution in the entire world .... The disarmament idea is a Utopia in a society based 
on class contrasts .... This disarmament slogan was used by the bourgeois pacifists and 
was taken up by the Second International to deceive the working masses thirsting for 
peace . . . ." From the Large Soviet Encyclopedia, 1st ed., v. XLVIII (Moscow: Goslit, 
1941), p. 158. 

9. Stalbo, p. 156. 

10. Ibid., p. 168. 

11. Ibid., p. 153. 

12. Ibid., p. 168. 

13. V.I. Achkasov, et al., Combat Path of the Soviet Navy (Boevoy put' sovetskogo 
Voyenno-morskogo flota) (Moscow: Voenizdat, 1967), p. 148. (Hereafter Combat Path.) 

14. Ibid., p. 196. 

15. Ibid. 

16. N.G. Kuznetsov, Nakanune (Moscow: Voenizdat, 1966), p. 257. 

17. Ibid., p. 94. 

18. Sigfried Breyer, Guide to the Soviet Navy (Annapolis: U.S. Naval Institute, 
1970), pp. 21-37. 

19. Voenno istoricheskiy zhurnal, No. 6, 1971, pp. 36-37. 

20. Robert Herrick, Soviet Naval Strategy; Fifty Years of Theory and Practice 
(Annapolis: U.S. Naval Institute Press, 1968). 

21. Other references to these debates are found in: Kuznetsov, p. 49 and S.G. 
Gorshkov, "The Rise of Soviet Naval Art," Morskoy sbornik, February 1967, pp. 9-12. 

22. Nicholas Shadrin, "The Development of Soviet Maritime Power," Unpublished 
Dissertation, George Washington University, Washington, D.C., 1972, v. I, p. 51. 

23. Kuznetsov, p. 221. 

24. After the conclusion of the nonaggression pact in August 1939 with Nazi 
Germany, Stalin went to the extreme, considering his paranoia with respect to revealing 
military information, of placing the naval base at Murmansk at the disposal of the 
German Navy and of even agreeing to the passage on the North Sea route of a German 
armed merchant cruiser transiting to Japan. Such largess is yet another proof that he 
really did not expect war. 

25. Nikita S. Khrushchev, Khrushchev Remembers (Boston: Little, Brown, 1970), 
p. 153. 

26. Ibid., p. 155. 

27. Arseni G. Golovko, With the Red Fleet (London: Putnam, 1965), p. 22. 

28. In Combat Path the authors wish to pass off the inadequacy of the development 
of aviation as a function of foreign influence. "However, at that time, our military 
thought— like even that of foreign countries— greatly underrated the enormously 
increased possibilities of aviation which had become at the beginning of the Second 
World War a powerful striking force in battle at sea. Soviet military doctrine at that time 
was based on comprehensive conceptions of the strategic use of naval forces in their 
contiguous waters which led to a well-known contradiction between tactics and 
operational art," pp. 9-10. What all of that means is that the Soviets were simply 
unprepared for defensive warfare. 

29. Stalbo, pp. 171-174. 

30. N.G. Kuznetsov, "Second Book of Reminiscence, The War Years," Oktyabr', 
December 1968. 

31. Saunders, p. 59. 

32. Kuznetsov, "Second Book of Reminiscence, The War Years," p. 118. 

33. Saunders, pp. 79-80. 

34. Ibid., p. 78. 


1. N.G. Kuznetsov, Nakanune (Moscow: Voenizdat, 1966), p. 579. 

2. V.I. Achkasov, et al., Combat Path of the Soviet Navy (Boevoy put' sovetskogo 
Voyenno-morskogo flota) (Moscow: Voenizdat, 1967), p. 539. 

3. P. Bashurin, "Frunze Military Academy," Voyennyy vestnik, December 1968, 
p. 66. 

4. N. Sergeev, "The Ocean Fleet of Our Fatherland," Morskoy sbornik, July 1975, 
p. 7. 

5. Ibid., p. 8. 


6. Herbert Goldhamer, The Soviet Soldier: Soviet Military Management at the 
Troop Level (New York: Crane, Russak, 1975), p. 71. lam particularly indebted to Dr. 
Goldhamer for his well researched illustrations from the Soviet press. 

7. Ibid., p. 81. 

8. The International Institute for Strategic Studies, The Military Balance 1977-78 
(London: 1977), pp. 8-9. 

9. A. Chernomys, "The Far-flung Orbit of Voentorg," Red Star, 29 June 1971, p. 

10. "The Culture of the Military Town," Red Star, 28 September 1971, p. 1. 

11. Goldhamer, p. 32. 

12. Zev Katz, "Sociology in the Soviet Union," Problems of Communism, 
May-June 1971, p. 37. 

13. P. Ushakov, "The Collective in Work and Personal Responsibility," Kommunist 
Vooruzhennykh sil, January 1971, pp. 53-55. (Hereafter KVS.) 

14. A. Fedoryk, "The Inertia of Habit," Red Star, 14 October 1971, p. 2. 

15. Goldhamer, p. 108. 

16. Ibid., p. 109. 

17. Ibid., p. 111. 

18. Ibid., p. 117. 

19. Ibid., p. 172. 

20. Ibid., p. 173. 

21. Ibid., p. 193. 

22. Red Star, 5 February 1971, p. 2. 

23. Cited in editorial "A High Level of Training— The Basis of Military Readiness," 
Morskoy sbornik, June 1975, p. 3. 

24. S.G. Gorshkov, "The Navy Fulfilled Its Duty to the Motherland Up to the Very 
End," Morskoy sbornik, p. 15. 

25. Interestingly, in Gorshkov's resume of history in Sea Power of the State 
(Moscow: Voenizdat, 1976) (hereafter Sea Power), there is no mention of the atomic 
bombs dropped on Japan, the Kronshtadt rebellion, the importance of convoys to 
Murmansk or many other critical historical events. Gorshkov reaches a height of 
absurdity in dismissing the Battle of Trafalgar as of no great importance, p. 81. 

26. Achkasov, p. 231. 

27. Ibid., p. 243. There is an additional note that the officers and sailors of the 
English merchant and Royal Navies fulfilled their duties bravely and well. There is no 
mention of other allied participation. America did not even rate a footnote. 

28. Another indication that Soviet history is serving religious purposes is that of 
frequent digression in nearly all Soviet military writing, including that of Admiral 
Gorshkov, to list names of heroes or heroic acts. These digressions are particularly 
interesting because they have a very close parallel in classical literature, specifically in the 
works of Homer and Virgil. These lists are very like the catalog of heroes in the Iliad. 

In the modern Soviet state, being listed is somewhat the equivalent of achieving 
sainthood. Another technique in discussing major battles is to list who was present 
among the subsequently important Soviet leaders. Through such lists one learns, for 
example, that Admiral Gorshkov served in the Black Sea Fleet during the war and shared 
some experiences with Marshal Grechko. As details of their exploits in these 
engagements are usually not told— except in the case of Stalin in which the details were 
simply fabricated for his greater glorification— the effect is a religious one of conferring a 
kind of benediction for proximity to a great event. Presence at the Battle of Stalingrad 
has become a kind of mystical requirement in the current Soviet leadership, as already 
pointed out. 

In any case, these catalogs of heroes and battles are proof of the promise of 
immortality for those who have sacrificed themselves for the Soviet state. Though one 
cannot say to what degree this observance inspires the modern Soviet sailor, one can at 
least affirm that the official Soviet effort to create shrines and tributes to those who fell 
in a state of Communist grace is massive and unstinting. Others die without a trace, even 
a telegram to their families, and those disgraced are blotted out of history. 

29. V. Leskov, "Military Character," Red Star, 10 February 1972, p. 2; Goldhamer, 
p. 149. 

30. V. Konopolev and V. Kovalev, "On the Role of the Armed Forces in Modern 
Society," KVS, February 1971, pp. 27-34. 



1. See Marshal Sokolovskiy, ed., Military Strategy, 2nd ed. (Moscow): Voenizdat, 
1963), p. 6 and Sergei G. Gorshkov, Sea Power of the State (Moscow: Voenizdat, 1976), 
pp. 198-212. (Hereafter Sea Power.) 

2. Officers' Handbook (Moscow: Voenizdat, 1971), p. 68. (Hereafter Handbook.) 

3. S. Lomov, "The Influence of Military Doctrine on the Development of Military 
Art," Kommunist vooruzhennykh sil, November 1965, pp. 15-25. 

4. Gorshkov speaks of the "flexibility" of the navy but his discussions of its 
capabilities leave few doubts that its response in battle is geared to the nuclear age. Such, 
for example, is the following: "The steady increase in the range and power of naval 
weaponry is fostering the further development of this trend, [the use of missile 
weaponry] which permits the accomplishment of tactical missions under certain 
conditions, not through prolonged and stubborn fighting, but by a single unilateral 
action against the enemy." Gorshkov, p. 286. 

5. Handbook, p. 294. 

6. Ibid., p. 73. 

7. These stages were identified by A. A. Strokov, ed., History of Military Art 
(Moscow: Voenizdat, 1966), p. 590. There were many references to the same period by 
such men as M.I. Cherednichenko, "On the Details of the Development of Military Art in 
the Post-war Period," Military History Journal, June 1970, p. 19 and others. 

8. This was not without precedent. As Gorshkov observed, during the war the 
"Katyusha," multiple rocket launcher, was put on torpedo boats, p. 555. 

9. N.A. Sbytov, "The Revolution in Military Affairs and Its Meaning," Red Star, 
15 February 1963, p. 2. 

10. Maneuvers, taking into account the use of atomic weapons, were conducted as 
early as 1954. See Sokolovskiy, p. xix. 

11. Gorshkov, p. 272. 

12. Marshal A. A. Grechko, On Guard Over the Peace and the Building of 
Communism (Moscow: Voenizdat, 1971), pp. 52-57. 

13. See Robert G. Weinland, "The Changing Mission of the Soviet Navy," Survival, 
May/June 1972, pp. 129-134, and a general study of naval policy by Ken Booth, "Navies 
and Foreign Policy," Department of International Politics, University College of Wales, 
Aberystwyth, March 1974. In addition, see Thomas Wolfe, "Soviet Naval Interaction 
with the United States and Its Influence on Soviet Naval Development," Soviet Naval 
Developments (Halifax: Centre for Foreign Policy Studies, 1972), p. 62. Also see 
Richard T. Ackley, "The Soviet Navy's Role in Foreign Policy," Naval War College 
Review, May 1972, p. 48. 

14. S. Gorshkov, "Guarding the Achievements of the Great October," Morskoy 
sbornik, October 1967, p. 7. 

15. See V.A. Alafuzov, "On the Study of Military Strategy," Morskoy sbornik, 
January 1963, pp. 88-96. 

16. S.A. Gulyayev, "The Role of Aviation in Combat Operations at Sea in 
Contemporary Conditions," Morskoy sbornik, June 1965, pp. 36-43. 

17. V.G. Efremenko, "The Rise and Development of the Submarine Force and Its 
Tactics," Morskoy sbornik, October 1970, pp. 16-23. 

18. This is Nicholas Shadrin's clarification. See his "The Development of Soviet 
Maritime Power," Unpublished Dissertation, George Washington University, Washington, 
D.C., 1972. 

19. Gorshkov, Sea Power, p. 289. 

20. S. Gorshkov, "True Sons of the Fatherland," Pravda, 31 July 1960, p. 3. 

21. S. Gorshkov, "The Ocean Guards of the Fatherland," Pravda, 27 July 1969, p. 

22. V. Germanovich and N. Klimov, "The Destruction by Aviation of Large Surface 
Ships at Sea," Morskoy sbornik, March 1972, p. 45. 

23. V.V. Mikhajlin and Ya. G. Pochupajlo, "The Path of the Avrora," Morskoy 
sbornik, October 1967, p. 18. 

24. V.V. Vlagin and M.V. Patrikejtsev, "Rockets in the Navy," Morskoy sbornik, 
August 1922, p. 92. 

25. "Naval Guards: Report from on Board a Landing Ship," Komsomol 'skaya 
pravda, 18 September 1966, p. 1. 

26. Shadrin, p. 181. 


27. Bol'shakov and Chuprikov, "Submarines Against Capital Ships at Sea," 
Morskoy sbornik, June 1972, p. 35. 

28. Herbert Goldhamer, The Soviet Soldier: Soviet Military Management at the 
Troop Level (New York: Crane, Russak, 1975), p. 207. 

29. M. Kozlov, "An Important Factor in the Power of the Armed Forces," Red 
Star, 21 April 1976, pp. 2-3. 

30. Expendability has long been one of the principles of the Russian Navy. At the 
turn of the century, a Russian naval tactical genius wrote, "If ships only busy themselves 
about supporting one another in battle, the enemy who is in no way hindered, will 
invariably win." S. Makaroff, Discussion of Questions in Naval Tactics, trans, by John B. 
Bernadow (Washington: U.S. Govt. Print. Off., 1898), p. 25. 

31. Gorshkov, Sea Power, p. 324. 

32. N.P. V'yunenko, "Soviet Naval Art on the Eve of the Great War of th« 
Fatherland," Morskoy shornik, June 1971, pp. 29-35. 

33. Vasily M. Kulish, Military Force and International Relations (Moscow: 
International Relations Publishing House, 1972), p. 103. 

34. The change in the "correlation of forces" of course produced a change in naval 
politics, a new line. The new, more aggressive, posture which Brezhnev struck at the 24th 
Party Congress was reflected in more positive statements about the role of the navy such 
as "Our fleet is now fulfilling an important international mission. By its presence on the 
expanses of the seas and oceans, it shackles the aggressive intentions of the imperialists. 
The USA, whose naval forces are often used as a billy club by the Pentagon against 
people who are fighting for their freedom, independence and democracy, has to take it 
into account." V'yunenko, p. 35. 

35. Gorshkov, Sea Power, p. 289. 

36. Ibid., p. 264. 

37. V'yunenko, p. 31, 

38. Ibid., p. 32. 

39. Sergei Gorshkov, "Navy Missions," Morskoy sbornik, February 1972, p. 22. 

40. Gorshkov, Sea Power, p. 324. 

41. Gorshkov wrote, "Today the navy is capable of successfully carrying out 
strategic missions not only by destroying important targets in enemy territory, but also 
by destroying submarine platforms for nuclear weaponry at sea." Ibid., p. 260. 


1. See Nicholas G. Shadrin, "Development of Soviet Maritime Power," Unpub- 
lished dissertation, George Washington University, Washington, D.C., June 1972, v. I, p. 
212. Naval officers' schools were given the status of higher educational institutions in 
1939 and their enrollment was increased. However, while increased numbers of officers 
were coming into the navy from below, the numbers of experienced officers at the top 
were being drastically reduced in the purges. Again, the former czarist naval officers 
maintained the standards of the navy, for many of them staffed the educational and 
scientific institutions, and in the general slaughter of Soviet trained officers, in the 
purges, two of them emerged as fleet admiral and full admiral. See Robert Herrick, 
Soviet Naval Strategy; Fifty Years of Theory and Practice (Annapolis: U.S. Naval 
Institute Press, 1968), p. 45. 

2. V.A. Krenov, "Forge of Naval Officer Cadres," Morskoy sbornik, January 1971, 
pp. 17-21. 

3. I.I. Gusakovskiy, "Develop and Educate Military Cadres According to Lenin," 
Red Star, 20 January 1970, p. 2. It is not known how much of that low level of 
education was due to the purges. 

4. A.E. Orel, "The Ushakov Naval Academy," Morskoy sbornik, March 1969, pp. 

5. The Russian cognate for academy, akademiya, causes translators and writers 
difficulty. Whereas in English, academy means a college-level education, in Russian it 
always means an advanced-level institute. Only officers with the highest recommenda- 
tions and usually with 2 years' command experience are admitted. The general age limit 
is 38 years (although officers up to 45 years of age may be admitted to the extension 
schools for study). 

6. N.M. Zakharov, "The Authority of the Ships Political Worker," Morskoy 
sbornik, January 1970, pp. 41-46. 


7. Ibid. 

8. Shadrin, p. 210. 

9. For a discussion of the problems of dual control in the military see Herbert 
Goldhamer, The Soviet Soldier: Soviet Military Management at the Troop Level (New 
York: Crane, Russak, 1975), pp. 295-307. 

10. Until Marshal Zhukov became a full member of the Politburo in 1957 (also the 
year in which he was dismissed from all of his posts) no professional military officer had 
had membership in that leading body. (Trotsky is a semiexception.) Marshal Grechko, 15 
years later, in 1973, was the second officer to achieve that distinction. He undoubtedly 
learned from Marshal Zhukov's experience not to try to weaken party controls. 

11. N. Goncharov, "The Meaning of the Decisions of the 24th Party Congress . . . ." 
Kommunist vooruzhennykh sil, November 1971, pp. 59-64. (Hereafter KVS.) 

12. The KGB is far greater in size and complexity than the CIA. In addition to 
performing all of the functions of the CIA, it operates a considerable armed force of its 
own. It controls the border guards which involves an army, navy and air force and at 
various times has maintained a uniformed force for internal security and control as well. 

13. V. Pustov, "NATO Designs Against the Arab East," Soviet Military Review, 
January 1970, pp. 52-53. 

14. G. Zavizion, Yu. Kirshin, "Soviet Military Science: Social Role and Function," 
KVS, September 1972, pp. 9-16. 

15. Goldhamer discusses Soviet charges of subversion of youth, soldiers and 
security, pp. 212-223. 

16. Ibid., p. 217. 

17. V. Devin, "When One Forgets About An ti- Religious Propaganda," Krasnaya 
zvezda, 22 August 1972, p. 2. 

18. P. Efimov, "Documents of Great Political Significance," KVS, April 1973, pp. 

19. Goldhamer, p. 224. 

20. V. Matsylenko, "Operational Disguise of Soviet Troops," Military Historical 
Journal, June 1972, pp. 11-21. 

21. Goldhamer, p. 225. 

22. Such an argument seems to be the basis of an article in KVS: S. Bartenev, 
"Imperialism-The Cause of Wars," KVS, November 1972, pp. 71-76. 

23. M. Cherednichenko, "Modern War and Economics," KVS, September 1971, pp. 

24. Shadrin, v. I, p. 212ff. 


1. Nikita S. Khrushchev, Khrushchev Remembers (Boston: Little, Brown, 1970), 
p. 153. 

2. Arseni G. Golovko, With the Red Fleet (London: Putnam, 1965), p. 22. 

3. Ibid., pp. 11-12. 

4. Ibid., p. 47. 

5. Ibid., p. 49. 

6. R.Y. Malinovsky, Izvestiya, 4 February 1959, p. 1. 

7. Michael MccGwire has written very convincingly on the degree to which the 
Soviet Navy uses bluff and deception to make the world believe that it is far more 
capable than it is. See his excellent book, Soviet Naval Development (New York: 
Praeger, 1975). 

8. Khrushchev's false statements published in Pravda, 28 July 1959, that the 
Soviet Union had taken the lead in the production of ICBMs threw the United States 
into something of a panic in 1 959. 

9. After Nixon's years, the world can say the same thing about the U.S. 
Presidency. Perhaps it is a consolation that the world will not, normally, be kept 
ignorant of its danger from the United States in advance. 

10. M. Cherednichenko, "Modern War and Economics," Kommunist vooruzhennykh 
sil, September 1971, p. 20. (Hereafter KVS.) 

11. P. Efimov, "Documents of Great Political Significance," KVS, April 1973, pp. 


12. "Answers to Questions Asked of the Editors of Red Star," Red Star, 10 July 
1973, p. 3. The editors not only flatly denied that the Soviet defense budget had 
increased but also they claimed that it had actually declined and stressed that armaments 
were only produced to satisfy the needs of defense. 

13. A.I. Sobolev, "The Revolutionary Transforming Activity of the Working Class," 
Rabochiy klass i sovremenniy mir, 16 March 1976, p. 19. 



Bibliographical References 

Motiuk, L. Strategic Studies Reading Guide. Ottawa: Research 
Board, annual. Lt. Col. Motiuk issues this bibliography, the 
most exhaustive available on strategic studies, yearly. 

Scott, William F. Soviet Sources of Military Doctrine and Strategy. 
New York: National Strategy Information Center, Inc., 1975. 
An excellent critical bibliography, this has the advantage of 
containing Colonel Scott's very informed comments. 

Periodicals in Russian 

Kommunist vooruzhennyk sil'. (Communist of the Armed Forces.) 
This is a doctrinaire monthly journal, an important source of 
information on changes in strategy and tactics. One must be 
prepared, however, to spend hours of tedious reading for a few 
gems of information. 

Krasnaya zvezda. (Red Star.) This is a daily newspaper that repeats 
the leading articles of Pravda and Izvestiya, the Party and 
government newspapers respectively. One does not read it for 
the news, however, but for the speeches of leading military 
figures. The obituary column in Red Star is the most popular 
among Kremlinologists who keep card files on who went to 
whose funeral. That is the means by which they determine who 
is advancing in the hierarchy. Such close analysis also, some- 
times, reveals the probability of some disaster, such as a nuclear 

Morskoy sbornik. (Naval Gazette.) This is a monthly, the rough 
equivalent of the U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings. It is far less 
informative and written in an exceedingly dry style. Significant 
articles are translated into English by the U.S. Navy Scientific 
and Technical Center. 

Voenno-istoricheskiy zhurnal. (Military -historical Journal.) An 
exceedingly wordy rewrite of history, this journal occasionally 
contains some information that throws some light on an event 
or operation of interest. 

Books in English 

Cable, James. Gunboat Diplomacy. New York: Praeger, 1971. 
Whether or not one agrees with Cable's conclusions, this is an 
indispensable book because of its methodology. 

Chomeau, John B. Seapower as a Political Instrument: The Soviet 
Navy in the Mediterranean. Ann Arbor: University Microfilms, 

Goldhammer, Herbert. The Soviet Soldier: Soviet Military Manage- 
ment at the Troop Level. New York: Crane, Russak & Co., Inc., 
1975. This is a comprehensive compilation and analysis of the 
information available from the Soviet press on Soviet military life. 
All scholars must be deeply grateful to Dr. Goldhammer for his 
painstaking research of Soviet periodicals— an exceedingly 
tedious undertaking. 

Gorshkov, S.G. Morskaya moshch' gosudarstva. (The Military 
Might of the State.) Moscow: Voenizdat, 1976. This has 
become the new bible for the study of the Soviet Navy. It is, of 
course, very significant; however, it contains much that Gorsh- 
kov has been saying for years and much misinformation. 

Herrick, Robert W. Soviet Naval Strategy. Annapolis: U.S. Naval 
Institute, 1971. This is one of the first books to try to 
formulate the strategy of the Soviet Navy. It is particularly 
valuable for showing the problems connected with the study of 
the Soviet military. Herrick's research remains valuable and 
many of his conclusions remain valid. 

Jane, F.T. The Imperial Russian Navy. London: W. Thacker & Co., 
1904. This history, by the founder of Jane's Fighting Ships, is 
still a primary source in English of information about the 
history of the Russian Navy. The author had the advantage of 
visiting Russia under the protection of one of the grand dukes. 

Kilmarx, Robert A. Soviet-United States Naval Balance. Washing- 
ton: Center for Strategic and International Studies, 1975. 

Kolkowicz, R. The Soviet Military and the Communist Party. 
Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1967. 

Kozlov, S.N. Spravochnik ofitsera. (Officer's Handbook.) Wright 
Patterson: Foreign Technology Division, USAF, 1971. This is a 
basic document on standards of service conduct, regulations, 
and doctrine. 

Martin, L.W. The Sea in Modern Strategy. New York: Praeger, 

MccGwire, Michael. Soviet Naval Developments: Capability and 
Context. New York: Praeger, 1973. This is by far the most 


significant current scholarly work on all aspects of the modern 
Soviet Navy. 
Milovidov, A.S. The Philosophical Heritage of V.I. Lenin and the 
Problems of Contemporary War. Translated by the USAF. 
Washington: U.S. Govt. Print. Off., #0870-00343. This series of 
translations by the Air Force is under the general title of 
"Soviet Military Thought." This series makes available in 
English the best of what is available in Russian and is quite 

Mitchell, Mairin. The Maritime History of Russia. London: 
Sidgwick and Jackson, 1949. This history summarizes available 
information for the period 1848-1948. 

Moore, John E. The Soviet Navy Today. New York: Stein and 
Day, 1975. This is the best unclassified source of information 
on Soviet naval ships and weapons. The author brings very 
expert knowledge to bear on the subject both as the editor of 
Jane's Fighting Ships and a former director in British naval 

Polmar, Norman. Soviet Naval Power: Challenge for the 1970's. 
New York: National Strategy Information Center, Inc., 1972. 
This is an extremely useful, short study of the Soviet Navy by 
an author with a broad range of interests and experience. The 
book is kept current through revised editions. 

Saunders, M.G. Editor. The Soviet Navy. New York: Praeger, 
1958. This is a basic textbook on Soviet seapower until the 60s. 
It is now rather dated, but there are many articles of lasting 
value in this volume. 

Shadrin, Nicholas George. Development of Soviet Maritime Power. 
Washington: George Washington University Microfilms, 1972. 
This book, an unpublished dissertation, is one of the best works 
available on the whole of Soviet maritime expansion and 
development. It is written by a very sensitive observer. 

Sokolovskiy, V.D. Editor. Soviet Military Strategy. Translated by 
Harriet Fast Scott. New York: Crane, Russak & Co., Inc., 1975. 
This is the most important and only published full statement of 
Soviet military doctrine. The introduction and commentary by 
Mrs. Scott are particularly valuable. 

Soviet Watch Officer's Guide. Translated by W.B. Cramer. Wash- 
ington, NavSTIC, 1973. 

Theberge, James D. Editor. Soviet Seapower in the Caribbean: 
Political and Strategic Implications. New York: Praeger, 1972. 

Wegener, Edward. The Soviet Naval Offensive. Annapolis: Naval 
Institute Press, 1975. This is important because it presents a 


view of Soviet seapower as seen in Europe. The concepts, 
however, appear to be highly conventional. 
Woodward, David. The Russians at Sea: A History of the Russian 
Navy. New York: Praeger, 1966.