Russia's Nuclear Shield

Moscow ARMEYSKIY SBORNIK, Dec 95 No 12,
(Signed to press 25 Nov 95) pp 7-11
by Colonel General Igor Sergeyev, CINC Strategic Missile Troops

In the past training year forces in the Strategic Missile Troops were upgraded by introducing missile regiments armed with the Topol missile complex to the order of battle and placing them on alert duty. Work continued on creating the modernized Topol-M missile complex.

Today the Strategic Missile Troops [SMT] are the most powerful and most combat-effective branch of the Russian Federation Armed Forces, the main component of strategic nuclear forces, and a real guarantor of national security. SMT nuclear missile weapons give fullest consideration to Russia's geostrategic position and the directions and scale of threats, they are distinguished by global reach and enormous destructive power, and they objectively equalize the correlation of economic, technical, demographic and other parameters of state strength that do not favor Russia.

Equipped with survivable [zhivuchiy] missile complexes and having the very highest combat readiness, the Missile Troops at present and in the future will be capable of performing practically all missions of strategic nuclear forces in a surprise retaliatory counterblow [otvetno- vstrechnyy udar] and around half of the missions in a retaliatory strike.

The presence of sufficient nuclear potential and the capability of its guaranteed use under any situation conditions not only ensure prevention of nuclear aggression, but also serve as a reliable deterrent against initiation of a large-scale conventional war or escalation of local and regional conflicts directed against Russia. An analysis and forecast of threats to Russian Federation national security are the initial stage in determining prospects of the Missile Troops as well as of the strategic nuclear forces as a whole. The threat of initiation of direct, large-scale aggression against the Russian Federation has declined substantially under the military-political conditions at hand. Despite a relaxation of international tension and military confrontation, the new nuclear doctrine and national security strategy of the United States and other nuclear countries preserve tough positions of nuclear deterrence and reliance on military force and provide for a rapid buildup of nuclear forces in a crisis situation.

The existing and potential centers of local wars and regional conflicts and neighboring countries' territorial claims on Russia also should be considered as real sources of military danger for Russia. And while previously the mission of strategic nuclear forces exclusively was to deter the United States and NATO, the deterrence mission also extends to preventing local and regional wars under the new military-political conditions and with consideration of limited capabilities of Russian general purpose forces.

Deterrence is realized through practical missions, the most important of which are maintaining constant combat readiness for immediate actions to deliver nuclear missile strikes; ensuring the grouping's high survivability; and ensuring stability and efficiency of battle management under conditions of nuclear bursts, ECM and conventional war. Performing the first mission permits carrying out retaliatory actions if necessary in the form of a surprise retaliatory counterblow, i.e., before enemy warheads impact. SMT combat potential is realized to the full extent under these conditions.

Stationary missile complexes having the very highest technical and operational launch readiness and requiring relatively low costs and numbers of personnel for supporting their alert duty and operation meet conditions of a surprise retaliatory counterblow to the greatest extent. It is necessary to give the grouping of missile complexes high survivability for guaranteed use of the Missile Troops' combat potential under the most difficult conditions of a retaliatory strike after an enemy nuclear delivery. Mobile ground and rail complexes have greatest resistance to enemy effect. Their self-contained launchers are capable of rapidly changing location and dispersing to position areas, and by using means of maskirovka [lit. "camouflage", however, includes "concealment" and "deception" -- FBIS] it is possible to hamper an estimate of their location to the maximum extent in order to avoid their destruction by aimed delivery of fire.

Thus, an SMT grouping oriented toward precise execution of combat missions under any situation conditions must consist of missile complexes with different types of basing.

In addition to the need for maintaining the grouping at its level of combat capabilities, SMT organizational development plans are determined to a considerable extent by provisions of the START I and II Treaties concluded by the United States and Russia, by the service life of missiles and by the position-area infrastructure created in the SMT. Thus, in accordance with START I Treaty restrictions, by the end of its implementation period the SMT can have up to 154 heavy-class missiles in the order of battle, can retain light-class missiles and can increase the number of single-warhead missiles somewhat. The overall number of warheads in the SMT can be up to 3,000-3,100. Warheads are reduced only through elimination of missiles with expired periods of operation which would have to be removed from the order of battle independently of the START Treaties.

Quantitative limits on groupings of the parties' strategic offensive arms established by the START II Treaty at 3-3.5 [sic] warheads are supported with minimum outlays with SMT deployment of 800-900 single-warhead missiles in position areas of existing stationary and mobile complexes on Russian territory. The sensible proportion of mobile ICBM launchers is 55-65 percent. The following missions can be singled out here. First of all, a maximum service life extension (based on conditions of safe operation) of multiple reentry vehicle [MRV] missiles, the launchers of which are planned to be refitted for single-warhead missiles, and also of Topol ground-based complexes, which will ensure keeping the order of battle at the requisite level and will permit creating a time reserve for deploying new complexes at rates acceptable to the Russian economy.

Secondly, completion of development and beginning of deployment of the modernized general-purpose Topol-M complex, first with stationary and then with mobile basing. The creation and introduction to the order of battle of the Topol-M missile complex with stationary and mobile methods of basing is a key issue of SMT development in the upcoming decade. The presence of the Topol-M missile complex in the grouping will permit creating a stable nucleus of the grouping that provides rather high effectiveness of SMT retaliatory operations both under conditions of their development within the framework of treaty restrictions on strategic offensive arms and ABM defense as well as with torpedoing of the treaties, and also will permit shifting painlessly to the process of in-depth treaty reductions of strategic offensive arms.

A comparative analysis of the principal specifications and performance characteristics of the Topol-M solid- propellant ICBM with foreign analogues shows that the Missile Troops are being armed with one of the world's best missiles in terms of the aggregate of many indicators. In terms of the generalized indicator of energy-weight efficiency [sovershenstvo] (ratio of payload weight delivered over an intercontinental range of 10,000 km to missile launch weight), level of resistance to damage- producing elements of a nuclear burst, reliability and technical readiness for launch, Topol-M missiles surpass Minuteman 3M missiles, on which the order of battle of the ground component of U.S. strategic offensive forces will be formed under conditions of START II Treaty implementation.

In addition to maintaining the grouping's quantitative makeup and improving the specifications and performance characteristics of complexes included in it, developing a system for battle management of troops and weapons is of very great importance for maintaining the level of SMT combat capabilities.

Although the existing SMT battle management system as a whole supports execution of missions, the demands for reliability in communicating orders to nuclear weapon delivery vehicles increase sharply with a significant reduction in the SMT grouping. This can be done only by improving both the battle management assets as well as the command and control facilities themselves. The time has come when efforts for developing battle management assets must be integrated within the scope of the entire triad of strategic nuclear forces. Parallelism now is impermissible in developing and creating new battle management and communications assets; financial capabilities are extremely limited.

Engineering solutions that are being put into advanced battle management assets of the SMT and strategic nuclear forces will permit creating an open information-management system with high operational performance characteristics providing an opportunity for modernization and integration. In connection with the high degree of centralization of command and control of strategic nuclear forces, the main forms and methods of inflicting damage on an aggressor remain the delivery (by decision of the Supreme High Command) of single, multiple or massed nuclear missile strikes in a surprise retaliatory counterblow (before enemy warheads begin impacting) and in a retaliatory strike (while enemy warheads are impacting or afterwards). Theoretical developments for organizing combat operations of missile large strategic formations and formations under conditions of local and regional wars are acquiring special urgency.

From a practical aspect, problem-oriented issues of SMT tactics are concentrated in the area of providing cover, security and defense of Missile Troops installations in a conventional war, supporting the timely dispersal of missile formations with mobile missile complexes, organizing their maneuver operations under conditions of local and regional wars of varying duration, and providing command and control and comprehensive support of units.

Provisions of new U.S. nuclear strategy concerning a lowering of the "threshold" of nuclear weapons use in local wars right down to the threat of delivering nuclear strikes against installations of "third" countries to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction require in- depth study of forms and methods of possible involvement of strategic nuclear forces in deterring the initiation and escalation of conflicts and regional wars. In addition to maintaining high combat readiness, under the new conditions the Missile Troops also must be prepared for demonstrative deterring actions.

The appearance of new weapon systems and development of forms and methods of combat employment and alert duty require improvement in the combat training system. Main efforts here must be directed toward training officers, NCO's and privates performing contract service. Their level of proficiency largely determines unit capabilities for executing missions successfully.

The specifics of training Missile Troops personnel are that many training missions cannot be practiced on organic combat equipment. Therefore one of the main directions for upgrading the troop training system is the development of training equipment which permits training personnel without conditionalities and oversimplifications. Training servicemen on this equipment remains one of the prospective directions in troop training.

Troops presently are being augmented by officers from other branches of the Armed Forces and from the reserve who do not have the necessary level of knowledge and skills. Beginning with the 1995 summer training period, classes have been planned with them in military educational institutions and SMT training centers in accordance with the specialty and position occupied.

With the numbers of NCO's and privates on contract service preserved, it is necessary to implement their training system fully. This category of servicemen must be trained in a differentiated manner, depending on specialty. Basic training is organized at military schools for junior specialists or at SMT training centers.

Organization of personnel education with a transition to a contract system of manning the troops also has its features. They are dictated, first of all, by the heterogeneity of this category in terms of service and family situation, age and life experience; secondly, by the mixed manning of SMT subunits. Therefore the need arises to solve additional problems.

Much is being done in the Missile Troops to create good everyday social conditions for contract servicemen. They live separately and enjoy a flexible leave system in many SMT formations and units. No less importance is attached to material incentives for their service (bonuses for alert duty, for proficiency rating level, for intensity and stress of work, and for years served). The specifics of this category of servicemen also are taken into account in organizing leisure time and rest.

In conclusion I would like to dwell briefly on some problems of reforming the Russian Federation Armed Forces. It is advisable to consider the integration of branches and arms of the Armed Forces most related in terms of missions, spheres of combat employment and weaponry and the cooperation of armament and military equipment developers as the main principles of upgrading the Russian Federation Armed Forces structure. And this goes above all for forces and assets supporting performance of the nuclear deterrence mission.

The need for effective performance of missions by the strategic nuclear forces under conditions of their reduction and of the simultaneous upgrading of strategic offensive and defensive arms of armies of developed world states elevates the role of integration of combat and supporting systems, and above all of ground-based warning assets and space reconnaissance assets.