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MAY 2021

Russian Ground Forces Receive Revolutionary Combat Doctrines

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Russian Ground Forces Receive Revolutionary Combat Doctrines

Written by Pavel Ivanov; Originally appeared at VPK, translated by J.Hawk exclusively for SouthFront

Ground Forces experienced an event whose importance can hardly be overestimated. A new set of combat doctrines has entered into force.

Traditionally it includes three books. Part one covers operations of regiments, divisions, and brigades. This document is classified. The second part deals with the company and battalion level. The third is intended for the platoon, squad, individual tank.

Formally, these doctrines are considered temporary. But that’s no reason for concern. For example, when the Rosgvardiya was being formed, MVD doctrines also were temporary.

The new doctrines were approved in September 2017. But they began to arrive in line formations only this September. It’s noteworthy that they are propagated mainly in electronic form, through the “military internet”, a closed channel for data transmission.

Even now these documents are being called “revolutionary” in the field. One of the officers who spoke with VPK even joked that, upon reading them, he exclaimed “That’s not my army’s doctrine”. This underscores the degree to which they change the tactics of combined arms forces. Traditionally, the platoon-squad-tank manual has been the smallest of the three. This time it’s the second in size.

Doctrine Q&D

Since the early 2000’s, Ground Forces exchanged doctrinal documents three times. These documents were a good reflection of reforms in the Armed Forces.

Until 2005, Russian combined arms forces used doctrinal documents adopted in USSR. But they did not incorporate experience gathered by Russian motorized riflemen and tankment in local conflicts on the territory of former USSR and in two Chechen campaigns.

The main platoon tactical formation specified in the 1989 doctrine was a skirmish line. Operating by pairs, threes, fours, were not included in the doctrine. Even though they were adopted in Afghanistan.

The 2005 doctrine were an attempt to deal with these shortcomings. Formally, the whole doctrine set was adopted with a single order, but were distributed to troop units only gradually. The first sets were sent to the 42nd Guards Motorized Rifle Division in Chechnya even before the doctrine was officially approved. The remaining units received them only in 2006, and even then only the second part.

The first part was sent six months later. And the “Platoon, Squad, Tank” part was distributed only in 2007-08. Although by then the development of new doctrinal documents had begun.

Tactics outlined in the 2005 doctrine did not change greatly. There were new chapters on units and formations participating in local conflicts. But by and large these new additions were superficial. They provided general outlines of functions of platoons, companies, battalions, regiments, and divisions during armed conflicts. The main tactical operation types were search-and-reconnaissance, and also checkpoint duty.

The next doctrine set took nearly six years. Even while it was written it underwent significant changes. This effort began simultaneously with Anatoliy Serdyukov’s “new look” reforms. All the tactics were developed for the newly formed motor rifle and tank brigades.

The “brigade, regiment, division” part was particularly difficult. After all, the reforms reduced the number of regiments and divisions which were replaced by brigades. The first provisional doctrinal documents for the “new look” formations were ready in 2011. But they were sent to troop units only for familiarization. Ground Forces continued to “fight” using the 2005 doctrine.

In 2012, Serdyukov was replaced as the Defense Minister by Sergey Shoygu, and the “new look” reform was shut down. The Armed Forces saw a different transformation. Therefore doctrinal documents had to be rewritten once again. Regiments and divisions were returning in place of brigades.

The final combat doctrine set was approved in 2-14. It for the first time contained separate provisions for the employment of sniper teams.

This issue was a problem for the Ground Forces for a long time. Snipers used to be part of motorized rifle squads and platoons, and were subordinated directly to their respective commanders. Later snipers were concentrated in special sniper companies directly under brigade command. During combat operations, sniper platoons would be assigned to motor rifle battalions.

The Syria Adjustment

Why did the doctrine have to be changed once again after three years? The answer is obviouis. The new documents incorporated Syria operational experience. This becomes clear even after superficial examination with the doctrine. For obvious reasons, we are discussing only the second and third parts of the doctrine which are not classified.

The trend to expand the range of tactics used by squads and platoons was evident already in the 2005 and 2014 doctrines. But the 2017 doctrine the new tactics found their logical conclusion. The new edition breaks up the squad into fire and maneuver groups. The latter defeats the enemy in close combat using shock action and maneuver. The former renders fire support. The maneuver group consists of three riflemen (one of them the leader). The squad machine-gunner, anti-tank grenadier, and their two team members comprise the fire group.

Russian Ground Forces Receive Revolutionary Combat Doctrines

The “Tactical-Level Combat System” pamphlet was the first publication which subdivided the squad into groups. It was issued in the late ‘00s. This organization proved its worth during practical field exercises. But only now has it been included in combat doctrine documents. A considerable amount of text is dedicated to describing how the groups operate during assault and clearance of fortifications. It is also noteworthy that the 2017 doctrine also allows for the squad to operate in a skirmish line if the situation requires it.

Motor rifle platoon tactics also underwent major change. It also can form several groups: command, fire support, and combat vehicle. The first includes the commander, his vehicle, and communications personnel. The second consists of attached fire support weapons such as automatic grenade launchers and anti-tank missiles. The 2017 doctrine pays particular attention to the operations of reinforced motor rifle platoons.

The combat vehicle group is an interesting novelty. If needed, the platoon commander can detach combat vehicles from their squads and form a reserve of sorts. It can be used to support advancing squads by fire and maneuver. In defense, it may be used to prevent enemy breakthrough.

Companies and battalions form so-called fire ambushes. Their task is to eliminate as much enemy personnel and equipment as possible, using point-blank fire and minefields.

The ambush may be conducted by a squad or a platoon, reinforced with flame launchers, combat engineers, and also remote minelayers. In addition to the squad or platoon, a fire ambush also utilizes several groups: decoy (the first to open fire in order to attract attention), cover (protects the main forces during their withdrawal from battle) and interdiction (prevents reaction forces from reaching the ambush).

The new doctrine also dedicates much attention to urban warfare. And while earlier these chapters were written on the basis of the Great Patriotic War experience, the 2017 doctrine clearly reflects the battles in Syria’s cities.

In particular, the Middle East experience is evident in the chapters on the defensive strongpoints. It mentions the echeloned squad deployment (one squad per building floor). Each echelon is responsible for engaging targets at a specific range from the strongpoint. The higher, the longer the engagement range.

When creating a strongpoint, it is recommended to seal unneeded windows. Bricks can be used to create firing ports and protection. A mortar should be placed on the roof. Particular attention should be paid to communications lines and underground passageways.

It is noteworthy that a strongpoint can be set up outside a building as well. In that case one should build barricades. The strongpoint should block streets and roads, exits from parks and city squares.

When attacking, motor rifle platoons are subdivided into maneuver and fire groups. Each is assigned one side of the street. Tanks and infantry fighting vehicles operate from behind them, providing fire support. For the first time, doctrine specifies how rooms should be stormed.

The 2017 doctrine seriously re-evaluates the participation of army units in internal conflicts. Formally, combined arms formations have the same missions as in international conflict. They block areas, conduct search and recon missions, man strongpoints. But tactics are entirely different. For example, there is a complex algorithm for search and recon. Several lines are formed, there are foot patrols, inspection teams, cover teams.

Checkpoint duty is also more nuanced. They have been transformed into de-facto mini-fortresses. Their task is to prevent the free movement of militants, seal-off an area, and ensure security of important facilities.

Roving Snipers

The motor rifle platoon is reinforced with a sniper team of two, and a company with a group. Formally the group or pair are subordinate to their respective unit commanders. But these commanders do not direct the snipers’ actions. They indicate the area of operations, brief on the unit mission, identify areas and sites to focus on. The commander also provides the snipers with challenge-password information.

From then on the snipers operate autonomously. They establish a base where they rest and prepare for action. They establish the main and reserve firing positions themselves.

The snipers’ task is to destroy important targets: commanders, ATGM crews, machinegunners, AT grenadiers and, please note, drones. Interestingly, the authors of the doctrine noted the psychological impact on the enemy, who knows that there are high-precision shooters operating in the area, as an important component of snipers’ work,

The description of how pairs and groups operate is interesting as well. As you know, the Russian Ground Forces do not differentiate between snipers and spotters. Therefore one of the snipers is designated as a spotter, working with one, two, or perhaps even three snipers. Then the position is rotated.

Paid For With Blood

The most valuable assessment of the new doctrine is what the military servicemembers are saying about it. Not for naught they are saying that every line in the doctrine is written with blood. Every officer VPK spoke to said that the new doctrine is a very important and well put together document. For the first time, the doctrine reflects the most recent combat experience, and the current military art trends.

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  1. katakanBR says:

    Good to see the Russian army learning with the experience of the Syrian war, should prepare the army for a ground war in europe

    1. FlorianGeyer says:

      Yes, the Russian Doctrine differs from current US and NATO doctrine .

      NATO use proxy terror gangs supported by False Flags and NATO aircraft to spread their values.

      1. Jens Holm says:

        Russians do too. They are just smaller. Ukraine, Abkasia.

        1. FlorianGeyer says:

          You may remember that the Ukranian oligarchs illegal coup of 2014 was funded and orchestrated by the USA. Victoria Nueland stated as much on TV at the time.

          The resistance to the illegal coups was formed in the Donbass. These people are NOT terrorists ,just as you would not be a terrorist if you resisted an illegal takeover of your elected government in Denmark Jens.

          1. matt says:

            and what about Abkhasia? South Ossetia? Do you have any knowledge on Georgian history? Kavkaz history in general?
            Russians are not angels Florian

          2. FlorianGeyer says:

            I do and the Georgian debacle had a lot to do with a pipelines and the Zionist Georgian oligarchs in Government . Israeli military advisors started the war on ethnic Russian civilians in South Ossetia where Russian Peacekeepers were stationed. Blocks if civilian flats were deliberately shelled by the Georgians.

            When Russian internal ministry combat troops arrived the Israelis fled and the Georgians were tamed. Sakashvilli famously ate his tie and also grovelled on the ground when he saw a Russian plane in the distance.

            It is ALL on video.

          3. Villainess says:

            Don’t leave out the pot-stirring by the not-nearly-long-enough-missed ‘bomb-bomb-Iran’ Arizonan.

          4. matt says:

            Bullshit, i went to Georgia and talked with several people. All you do is reading jewish conspiracy crap…

          5. Promitheas Apollonious says:

            you have no idea what you talking about kid.

          6. matt says:

            I have a very good idea, because i was there, a guest of several Georgians, what the fuck do you know, dumb ass fascist piece of crap!!

          7. Promitheas Apollonious says:

            the size of your moms as*hole that given birth to a turd as yourself kid.

          8. matt says:

            A kid, born in 1966….

          9. Promitheas Apollonious says:

            I was referring to your single brain cell, not how many years you polluting earth, wasting breathing air. At least if you was a kid then you have the excuse you just a kid.

          10. matt says:

            Wow, you are the bright light of intelligence here…. :-)

            Never seen any smart comment from you
            I disagree with most people here, but you can only spit foul language and hatred

          11. Promitheas Apollonious says:

            only to idiots as yourself.

          12. AWtify says:

            Have you talked to Ossetians? Don’t you think that listening to only one side of the conflict is not a good way to find the truth?

          13. Jens Holm says:

            I am afraid so. Yes he has. And its well descriebed where Ryssians has their greedy fingers.

          14. FlorianGeyer says:

            That’s what you get when you talk to Zionist Jews Matt and its rarely got any link to Truth :)

            Chatting to ‘several ‘ people in a ‘bar’ is not proper research.
            Even the Western press at the time acknowledged that it was about a Pipeline.

          15. matt says:

            In a bar??? What do you think about on the university?? I did not meet ONe jew, you stupid racist pig!!

          16. FlorianGeyer says:

            I have often wondered what the language of your birth is Matt.
            Will you enlighten me ?

          17. matt says:

            You could have known….it was out there in several comments
            I even left several comments in the language of my hometown

          18. FlorianGeyer says:

            Do enlighten me Matt.

          19. Jens Holm says:

            Its not about A and 1 PIPELINE.

            Its about many plans for them, where all want a piece of cake and a dirty competition among countries as well as many oil- and gaz companies.

            And fx as in Syria and Iraq its very much if all the population or a self selected part of it take the whole of it.

          20. matt says:

            There is a lot “on video”
            It doesn’ prove anything

          21. Prince Teutonic says:

            They are certainly not but are lesser evil then Muricans…

          22. Jens Holm says:

            I dont care at all.

        2. John Whitehot says:

          Not at all. One thing is independist forces, another is gangs of goatfucking cutthroats

      2. NATO use proxy terror gangs supported by False Flags and NATO aircraft to spread their values.”
        A tactic which they invented in Vietnam (the phoenix programme), using proxy death squads, and which they have continued to this very day, from Latin America (contra rebels, death squads in El Salvadore, etc.) to Afghanistan (mujahidin, predecessors to al-Qaeda) to the middle east (ISIS, al-Qaeda, etc.)

    2. BMWA1 says:

      Tank armies with modernized t72s, 90s, 14s, stationed around Smolensk and Vorenhez once invitations come..

    3. alejandro casalegno says:

      “Ground war in Europe”, only at low level combat……..France, Germany, UK don´t have any interest in fight against Russia , the only problem are the URSS garbage backed by the CIA like “Banderistan”….

  2. paul ( original ) says:

    I am not sufficiently expert to have clear opinion on these doctrines. I understand that doctrines are very important and define the way an army fights. However, I would imagine a doctrine has to be specific to the nature of the enemy. So a doctrine suitable in fighting terrorists in Syria may not be appropriate for fighting NATO in Europe. Is this not so? Thus I don’t really know what to make these changes.

    1. Brian Michael Bo Pedersen says:

      Correct, doctrines have to be adjusted to suit the current terrain and enemy.
      US learned that in Vietnam and the USSR learned that in Afghanistan.
      Massive losses on both sides showed how fitted both sides where to a European conflict, not the current war they where in.

      1. Jens Holm says:

        That right. Vietnam was a very very good example. Those many hard weapons didnt solve , what they came and hoped for even they killed many.

    2. katakanBR says:

      1. Terrorists in Syria had modern ATGMs.

      2. Doctrine was used on a battlefield where SAA had a more or less similar tech as the adversaries (just like Russia vs NATO)

      1. Jens Holm says:

        Yes, kind of. Modern infantery of today are well equipped and by that much harder.

        And most muslims are from birth like Russians learned to be obeyers. By that its very difficultt to make modern armies, where the decissions should be local made and right away.

        The guerilla infantery by ISIS and SDF has many small leaders used to decide themselves and often very much outnumbered and forced to be good at seeing all parts of the enemy well and then go somewhere else and camouflage preparing for the next step.

        So tech also can be a bad thing, when You can handle it because You are not even able to handle it well.

        People fx has laughed at me and even named me as traitor and terrorist, because I have proposed SAA instead of tanks and tiigers instead should have a lot of artillery for low range but big grenades.

        But everybody can learn handling artillery seeing the enemy always close to them and not in kilomaters. They could get a lot much firepower for less money even the few in the tanks are better protected.

        Well, thats my opinion. I have seen many wars but is no expert.

    3. Jens Holm says:

      I agree 100%. Russians and maybee most of the world can only learn fighting ISIS and SDFs much better.

      The rest apart from USA and Russian logistics dont learn any much more there.

    4. AWtify says:

      There are no fundamental differences between NothernAtlanticTerroristicOrganization and terrorists of the ISIS. :-)

  3. Jens Holm says:

    Its like reading from the old days. F16s are new compared to that, but of course we sont see the rest of it.

    Russia do as the rest. They upgrade and educate trying to establish more quality and a flexibel version.

    Long way to go. I have follwed Afghansitan, Thetjenia 1 + 2 and the few Russian troopers. Im am not impressed at all. They still dont treat their soldiers well and then get too much mechnic instead of thinking.

    Clausewitch, Molkte and several others are not there and wrong things are rewarded. A good thing for Russia therefore still is, that they have many spendables and by that in this are in the top of the world.

    And Yes, many should learn a lot about guerilla warfare in the ISIS and SDF versions. Those are very strong opponents to any army, if they are well equipt by modern weapons, good logistics and by that an outmanouvre the big elefants just as ISIS has done som many times.

    True strongpoint should not even be houses. We have see it again and again for ISIS. The strongpoints are even covered, so none know, where they are and very much under ground.

    So do armies need strongpoints ? Well, I dont think so. Armies should be on the move, so the enemy cant make plans taking strongpoints as dots on th map.

    As it was said about the first troops arriving at Normandie covering the flanks. It wasnt as bad as it looked, when Eisenhower could not find the many parashuted ones. The Germans by that did not find them, and those parashooters did have plans, germans did not know.

    So russian troops against well armed troops as ISIS and SDFs should be mobile – walking or driving or not – having good internal secret contact.

    And what is strongpoint. Whole armied can be runned by a few computers.

  4. R Trojson says:

    When your are losing after the end of the first quarter it is best to make some changes. Unfortunately these changes attempt to put the blame on Russian troops instead of the head coach and play callers.

    That is the Russian way, bet if their own air defense system shot down one of their own military aircraft they would find someone else to blame it on. Could not be the fault of the air defense system since who would think to design an air defense system that made it hard to shoot down your own aircraft. Could not be the fault of the air defense system operators since they were just doing the best that can be expected of them. After all they were able to activate the system, fire it and bring down a plane. That is way above expectations. Only one minor problem it was a Russian plane and all 15 on board were killed. I for one am confident that if they do that enough eventually they will hit a non-Russian plane.

  5. alejoeisabel says:

    Is it not true that Russian military doctrine transfers the theater of war to the United States if war breaks out in Europe. Russia considers any war started by a United States vassal holds the United States responsible. Any attack on Russia will be responded with a retaliation on the United States.

    1. AWtify says:

      It’s logical. Why beat the secondary forces?

  6. Prince Teutonic says:

    Maneuvering (flanking) team and fire support team was already used in WW2 by Germans and Americans…

    1. paul ( original ) says:

      My guess would be that this goes back to the very beginning of warfare. Without tactics it’s just a bar room brawl .

  7. Smaug says:

    I think this has more similarities with US military science than they realize. Although I’m sure there’s a number of important differences.

  8. Róbert Pagáčik says:

    Anywhere to download and read the full-texts ?

  9. John Whitehot says:

    The “combat vehicle” element is not such novelty, it actually was successfully employed in Afghanistan by the soviets, and was made to give company and platoon commanders an entirely new flexible element based on btr and bmps, once they dismounted their infantry. The “bronegruppa” element was by design able to provide both maneuver and fire, also to perform more specific tasks.

    It certainly makes more sense in a counter insurgency situation, although technology could have made the bronegruppa more capability also in conventional terms.

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