The futuristic-sounding theme of this issue of OZ, “The Future of War and War of the Future”, should not mislead the reader; the challenges discussed here are very much a matter of current concern. Right before our eyes, the very notion of war is acquiring new meaning, and the face of war is changing beyond recognition. The system of international relations set in place after the fall of the Berlin Wall has ensured that there is very little likelihood of traditional wars of attrition between opposing powers, with conventional wars giving way to local and anti-terrorist wars of varying intensity. These new trends have not only featured prominently in the thinking of overseas military theorists, but have also been adopted by advanced states in remodeling their military. Our country’s generals, however, as can be gleaned from the few specimens of their theoretical writing that filter through to the public, continue to prepare for the traditional “war of big battalions”. We, on our part, made an effort to gather and present in this issue the material that would allow the reader to judge for him- or herself the magnitude of the challenge at stake and learn about the way it is being addressed in different countries.

Eliot A. Cohen. A Revolution in Warfare: Technology Strikes Again. Although the article was first published in Foreign Affairs 10 years ago, it has lost none of its relevance for the present day. It looks at the causes and potential effects of a radical overhaul that has been taking place in the US defense system to reflect the demands of the new high-tech environment. The author seeks to provide an answer to four main questions: what impact will this technological warfare have on military combat, the structure of the armed forces, the shape of new military elites and the balance of power in the world?

Dmitry Trenin Wars of the 21st Century

In the 21st century, wars fought over traditional geopolitical rivalries and inter-state conflicts will give way to “asymmetric wars” with states waging combat against adversaries that may not constitute a state. The greatest threat, the article asserts, will be posed by: Islamist extremists battling for power, several Middle Eastern regimes out to acquire nuclear weapons, and ethnic conflicts in Central Asia and the Middle East. The author believes that the turn of the 21st century has ushered in a new and unique situation with the main players of the international security system no longer regarding each other as likely adversaries, and this gives them the opportunity to join forces in order to counter common threats.

David J. Betz in his article The RMA and “Military Operations Other than War”: A Sword that Cuts Both Ways details distinctive features of a revolution in military affairs (RMA) whose origins the author traces as far back as the 1970s, when the US military turned to high technology in a bid to offset the numeric superiority of Soviet armed forces at the time. But the full extent of RMA capabilities was demonstrated for the first time in 1991 during the Gulf war. While recognizing the spectacular RMA-related progress in the sphere of advanced military technology and battlefield strategy, the author points out that these military advances are best applicable to high intensity force-on-force warfare between major powers armed with similar weaponry, and are far less suited to the so-called military operations other than war, which include anti-insurgency, anti-terrorist, anti-drug, and peace-enforcement operations. However, as this type of low-intensity combat operations is likely become the prevalent form of armed conflict in the 21st century, the author believes that the most relevant military technologies of the future will be those — especially in the communications and information sphere — that will heighten combat capabilities at the level of individual infantry-men.

In an interview with OZ, Andrei Kokoshin, Deputy of the State Duma and Director of Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute for International Security Issues, points out that the vast majority of publications related to the ongoing revolution in military affairs have been dominated by a simplistic technology-centered approach, whereby the revolution is considered almost exclusively in terms of this or that technological breakthrough in arms and weapons systems. In actual fact, however, revolutionary changes in warfare are determined by the appearance of new forms and methods of combat operations, as well as by changes in command and control mechanisms at large.

Igor Domnin and Alexander Savinkin outline the main military concepts developed by Evgeny Messner, a prominent war theorist, who had been a Colonel in the pre-revolutionary Russian General Staff and who went into exile following the defeat of the White Army. In the article Asymmetric Warfare, the authors note that Messner was the first analyst to realize what shape military conflicts would take in the 21st century. He predicted the impending end of an era of wars involving large-size armies. Messner believed that future military challenges would no longer take the form of traditional armed confrontation with other states, but would rather involve extremist groups resorting to terrorist tactics — and these new challenges would require a review of the entire national military structure.

Ignatius Clarke. Voices Prophesying War: Future Wars 1763–3749.

The literature of future wars is a popular genre embracing both classics and mass-market bestsellers. Here sci-fi meets the spy thriller, and the war novel meets the novel of dystopia. The book shows how the genre developed, accounts for its success, and describes how it is still changing. The edition of 1992 examines recent work in detail and includes a checklist of all major future war fiction to have appeared since the 18th century.

Martin van Krefeld. Transformation of War; Defending Israel. Synopsis.

The book The Transformation of War, which has brought its author wide renown, provides a detailed analysis of the so-called low-intensity conflicts which seem to be superseding traditional, full-scale wars. The second book Defending Israel assumes a more practical approach by exploring the prospects of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Krefeld believes that Israel’s withdrawal from occupied territories, coupled with the construction of a defensive wall, will be the best option not only from a political and economic, but also from a military point of view.

In an article Globalization of Military Industry: Imperative of the 21st Century, military economist Vitaly Shlykov discusses why leading Western countries no longer tend to draw a clear distinction between military and civilian industry. The article points out that privately owned firms, which these days mostly tend to be multinational, operate in a highly competitive environment and are, therefore, more receptive to innovation than is the case with government-owned defense companies. When it comes to defense contracts, private firms tend to do the job faster, cheaper and with higher technological sophistication.

What is to be the role of nuclear weapons in the 21st century? Are they to remain a deterrent solely vis-a-vis a world war, as has been the case so far, or will their scope widen to include prevention of large-scale regional conflicts? Will the nuclear club members’ policy of reliance on atomic weapons lead to further nuclear proliferation? The article Nuclear Weapons in the 21st Century by Vladimir Dvorkin suggests that we should look for answers to these and similar questions not in official government statements, but rather in the actual nuclear weapons programs adopted and implemented by governments in practice. According to the author’s own analysis, nuclear weapons will continue to play a deterrent role in preventing large-scale military conflicts until the middle of the 21st century. However, the deterrent concept may be extended to include the threat of preventive nuclear strikes against countries with unstable regimes if there is a real danger that they will use weapons of mass destruction. The author criticizes Russia’s nuclear policy for being ill-conceived, excessively reliant on the traditional nuclear triad, and unreasonably secretive.

Under a new strategy, NATO has been rapidly reforming its military structures to enable the organization to adapt speedily and efficiently to changing missions and environments. While NATO has kept to its basic premise that armed forces must be prepared for both large-scale and low-intensity warfare, the Alliance’s main focus now is to get ready for local conflicts. In his article NATO: Achieving Maximum Efficiency with Minimum Means, Alexander Olegin takes a look at the Alliance’s current military command structure which, he claims, has become more streamlined, more effective and less expensive than previously. But most significantly, it is fully in step with the modern concept of armed forces integration.

Alexander Olegin and Vitaly Satarov entitled their article USA: A Bid for Supremacy, and they did not exaggerate. America makes no secret of the fact that it is pursuing a comprehensive armed forces reform with a view to achieving global military dominance. The authors provide a detailed analysis of the reform, noting that a dramatic, multifold increase in the US army’s combat power will be attained primarily through the introduction of advanced technologies and new methods of conducting combat operations involving the highest level of interaction between all available forces.

Despite the fact that throughout its entire history Israel was forced to maintain large armed forces, it has begun a rapid transition toward an army which is “small but smart”. In an article Israeli Military Response to Threats of the 21st Century, Alexander Shulman looks at the reasons that led Israel to embark on military reform, the main motivations being the changing nature of threats to the country’s security and the need to cut military spending. Israeli military no longer see the main threat as coming from neighboring Arab countries, but rather from international terrorism, as well as from hostile states that seek to acquire weapons of mass destruction.

The article The New Army of the “Celestial Empire” by Vladimir Zamkov discusses reforms that have been taking place in the Chinese armed forces for the past decade. The main direction of these reforms can be summed up by the following formula: “a transition from an industrial era mechanized warfare toward modern-age warfare focused on command and control - war of knowledge and war of the intellect”. In all main respects, the Chinese reform follows the general modern trends, although Beijing does not intend to scrap conscription. Another peculiar feature is the priority given to the development of the Navy, something that can partly be explained by China’s determination to gain sovereignty over Taiwan.

In the article Peacekeeping: Preventing and Resolving Modern-Day Armed Conflicts, Natalia Shepova examines the issues of settling military and political crises through the instrument of peacekeeping, and provides a brief description of the main types of peacekeeping activity conducted by UN and regional organizations. Using specific examples, the author traces the way traditional peacekeeping evolved into more sophisticated and multifunctional operations, and makes a comparison with peace-enforcement operations.

Alexander Sharavin and Alexander Khramchikhin. There Is No Future Without True Patriotism. An analysis of changes taking place in the military sphere makes it clear to the authors that the presentday Russian army is incapable of fighting a modern high-tech war. Having remained, for all intents and purposes, a Soviet-style army, it continues to gear itself to fight in a traditional type of war, with Russian generals trying to tack on to the traditional war the experience of “insurgency warfare” gained in Afghanistan and Chechnya. The main reason behind the crisis of the Russian armed forces, the article contends, is not a lack of funds, but rather that the army is simply out of step with the times. The new Russia needs to build a new army from scratch, one that would initially exist side by side with the old army, gradually replacing it altogether. However, major elements inside Russia’s leadership and significant sections of the population see their country as a cut-down version of USSR and just fail to understand what national goals the army has to safeguard, what threats to counter and what wars to fight.

For almost three centuries, the Russians lived in a country where everything was subordinate to the needs of the army. This inevitably affected the national psyche and led to a militarized mentality. In an article The Burden of Militarism, journalist Alexander Golts shows how Russian government authorities and top generals keep on whipping up a militarist sentiment in the country. The authorities do this in order to strengthen the personal power of the Russian president, while the generals do so in order to thwart military reform.

Victor Litovkin in his piece Deception That Does Not Elevate looks at the latest statements by Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov, especially his article “Russia Must Be Strong” published in The Wall Street Journal, and notes that the Minister should stop deluding both himself and the public, and admit that no “profound and large-scale modernization of the armed forces” has in fact been taking place and that defense reform is being thrown off track by the wrong strategy and ill-conceived methods employed. An open public dialogue is needed to find an acceptable approach toward building a new Russian army that would be up to the task of safeguarding the country’s sovereignty and independence, but Russia’s military top brass have obviously no intention of allowing public participation in discussing the issues and challenges of armed forces reforms.

Vitaly I. Tsymbal. Modernization of Russian Armed Forces: Does the Army Serve Society or Vice Versa? The article is critical of the Russian Defense Ministry, particularly its Main Organization and Mobilization Directorate, for stubbornly refusing to make the transition from conscription to a contract- based army recruiting system. Projection models demonstrate that such a transition need not be a protracted process and may benefit not only the community, but the army and state as well.

The article also discusses the role the public could play in trying to influence military reforms. The article The Barracks Format by ethnographer and anthropologist Konstantin Bannikov looks at the cultural mechanisms developed by the so-called “extreme communities” i.e. communities based on systemic ritualized violence that the author associates with the formerly Soviet, and currently Russian army. The author discusses how these cultural mechanisms affect the discourse and cultural mechanisms of Russian political life and civil society as a whole.

In the article Demob-87: Food for Thought for a Potential Draftee, Alexander Kovalev, a grade 9 high-school student from the village Novyi Kurlak, Anninsky District of Voronezh Region, presents a vivid picture of life in the present-day Russian army, its traditions, and rituals of hazing and bullying — all based on personal conversations with servicemen, and their letters in the period between 1987 and 2004.

Vladimir Evseev. Deferments From Military Service: The Present and Future

The issue of military service deferments stems from an outdated structure of the Russian armed forces which continue to remain a scaled-down version of the Soviet army. Keeping in place the existing mixed contract/conscription recruiting system in the unfavorable demographic environment may merely exacerbate the problem and lead to social unrest. The only way out is to drastically cut the size of the armed forces (to 600–700 thousand servicemen) and make a switchover to the contract system of army recruitment.


Dmitry Epshtein. A State Farm named “Elite”.

The word elite, in the parlance of Russian politicians and political analysts, has roughly the same meaning as nomenclatura did in the USSR era. It denotes a privileged minority invested with great power. Unlike their USSR predecessors, the present-day elite have no qualms about openly proclaiming their economic interests and political ambitions, even if these violate the Constitution. The present-day heirs to the nomenclatura have developed a new ideology in an attempt to lend legitimacy to the elite’s rule, while virtually denying the people the right to vote.

Sketches Grandma Pashka Feklistova by Elena Armand tell the story of old people. Elena Armand’s stories deal with old country folks: a story of an old woman’s life on her native Soviet land.

Gamid Bulatov in the article Attitudes towards the Elderly and Longevity in the Caucasus takes as his basis the comparative psychosocial research on elderly and long-lived people, conducted in the late 1970s and early 1980s in Kostroma Region and the Caucasus, and demonstrates that unlike their Kostroma counterparts, the Caucasus elderly live in a family environment, surrounded by the respect of the community. They are therefore almost completely spared the feeling of uncertainty and anxiety engendered by the fear of social status erosion related to aging. The process of growing old and the attendant possible physical frailties produce no adverse effect on the psyche of the Caucasus elderly, and this seems to have a direct bearing on the phenomenon of longevity.

In an essay Drums of Our Destiny, writer Andrei Dmitriev talks about a tacit pact which existed between the Communist government and the people after 1945. The country traumatized by war was prepared to tolerate any amount of lies and injustice, and endure any amount of hardship, as long as the rulers would provide peace. This tacit pact was shattered in Afghanistan. Communist power collapsed because it had failed to deliver on its single most important pledge — a commitment for which the population had tolerated and was prepared to continue to tolerate the Communist rulers indefinitely.

Mikhail M. Prishvin. Diary for the year 1930.

Excerpts from a secret diary kept for many years by the prominent Russian writer. The main events described in vivid detail include collectivization, food and consumer goods shortages caused by Bolshevik economic policies, a campaign against religion, and destruction of Russian Orthodox churches in the town of Sergiev Posad where the writer lived at the time.