The Russian Way of War
Operational Art, 1904-1940
Richard W. Harrison
In the first half of the twentieth century, both czarist Russia and its successor, the Soviet Union, were confronted with the problem of conducting military operations involving mass armies along the broad fronts, a characteristic of modern war. Despite the ideological and technological differences between the two regimes, both strove toward a theory which became known as operational art-that level of warfare that links strategic goals to actual combat engagements.
From the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905, through World War I, the civil war, and to the eve of World War II, modern operational art grew from theoretical speculations by a small group of officers to become a critical component of the Soviet art of war. In this first comprehensive treatment of the subject, Richard Harrison shows how this theory emerged and developed to become—despite radically different political settings and levels of technology—essential to the Red Army's victory over Germany in World War II.
“A bold study suitable for officers, academics, and newcomers to the subject.”
—Journal of Military History
“This book should be read not just by Soviet specialists, Russian historians, and interested laymen, but it should also be pondered by commanders at every level and by those who would teach them how to think about future war.”
—ParametersSee all reviews...
“A most important study and should be mandatory reading for all students of the operational art.”
—Aerospace Power Journal
“Offers a world beyond the writings of western military thinking to which we have grown accustomed.”
“Harrison resurrects from an unquiet grave a huge and vibrant tradition of Russian military thought, long dormant, frequently unread, or totally ignored. This is an act of restitution long overdue and sorely needed and it is supported by a virtual cornucopia of sources, some rare, many only recently disclosed. An invaluable guide to a unique literature.”
—John Erickson, author of The Road to Stalingrad
“Harrison’s definitive study establishes a new standard for research and writing in this complex field. Stands head and shoulders above any existing volume on the subject and is likely to remain the definitive work in its field.”
—David M. Glantz, author of Soviet Military Operational Art
“Pathbreaking and very readable.”
—Malcolm Mackintosh, author of Juggernaut: A History of Soviet Armed ForcesSee fewer reviews...
Tracking both continuity and divergence between the imperial and Red armies, Harrison analyzes, on the basis of theoretical writings and battlefield performance, the development of such operationally significant phenomena as the "front" (group of armies), consecutive operations, and the deep operation, which relied upon aircraft and mechanized formations to penetrate the kind of intractable defense systems that characterized so much of World War I.
Drawing upon a wide range of sources, including memoirs, theoretical works, and materials from the Russian military archives (many presented here for the first time), Harrison traces the debates within the Russian and Soviet armies that engaged such theorists as Neznamov, Svechin, Triandafillov, and Isserson. The end result is an exemplary military intellectual history that helps illuminate a critical element in the "Russian way of war."