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Soviet Union

Operational Art

Operational art involves the translation of strategic goals into military objectives in TVDs by conducting decisive theater campaigns. Although a single military strategy existed for the Soviet armed forces, each of the five armed services had its own operational art and tactics. Three enduring concepts that have shaped Soviet operational art since the 1920s have been the concept of the TVD, the principle of combined arms, and the theory of deep offensive operations.

TVDs divided the world into manageable military-geographic sectors. In l983 the Soviet Military Encyclopedic Dictionary defined a TVD as part of a continent or an ocean "within the boundaries of which are deployed strategic groupings of the armed forces and within which military operations are conducted." Around its periphery the Soviet military recognized five continental TVDs with their surrounding seas: the Northwestern, Western, Southwestern, Southern, and Far Eastern. Oceanic TVDs were located in the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian, and Arctic oceans (see fig. 27).

The combined arms concept is a major principle of Soviet military art. It means that all services are integrated and coordinated to achieve victory in a war, an operation, or a battle. The concept originated in the 1920s, when Marshal of the Soviet Union Mikhail N. Tukhachevskii understood combined arms primarily as the cooperation between artillery and infantry in land warfare. Since then, as the Soviet armed forces have added new weapons systems such as tanks, aircraft, submarines, and ballistic and cruise missiles, combined arms acquired a new meaning as it began to mean the interaction of all services of the armed forces to attain strategic goals.

The deep offensive operation theory evolved in the 1920s and 1930s as an outgrowth of the combined arms concept. The deep offensive operation called for the destruction of the enemy to a substantial depth of its deployment, for the use of mobile groups in the enemy's rear, for a breakthrough of tactical defense, and for encirclement and subsequent destruction of enemy troops. During World War II, Soviet commanders stressed coordination of troops, operational maneuver, and operational breakthrough, as well as the necessity of conducting an operation with combined forces on several fronts. New types of operations emerged, such as air and antiair operations, and combined operations of the Ground Forces, Air Forces, and Naval Forces. In the l950s, the increased mobility of armor and the striking power of nuclear weapons bolstered the concept of the deep offensive operation.

Nuclear weapons produced fundamental operational changes. The scope and depth of an operational offensive grew, and its violence intensified. Soviet military thinkers believed that they could achieve a decisive victory by delivering preemptive nuclear strikes on objectives deep in the enemy's rear and, subsequently, by encircling, cutting off, and destroying the enemy's troops with nuclear and conventional munitions. Soviet military writers soon began to point out, however, that radioactive contamination, fires, and floods caused by massive nuclear strikes could interfere with the success of operations.

In the 1970s, the Soviet Union built up its conventional forces in Europe and adopted new operational concepts for the conduct of a deep offensive operation using both conventional and nuclear weapons. A conventional phase was to precede the nuclear phase. By the early 1980s, the Soviet military had developed an allconventional option for a deep offensive operation in a TVD (see Offensive and Defensive Strategic Missions , this ch.).

Data as of May 1989