Soviet/Russian Military Capabilities: Assessing Tech, Manpower, & Loyalty
Eastern European Studies
Other International and Area Studies
Other Political Science
Politics and Social Change
Soviet and Post-Soviet Studies
Since the Imperialist times of Peter the Great, Russia’s military ideology has been largely predicated on the goal of creating a large and powerful army. In an attempt to gain territory and prestige, a nation’s military strength was often reduced to a mere game of numbers in order to overpower the opposing side. Of course, weapons and tactics were also involved, but they meant nothing without the men who were needed to utilize them and perform accordingly. Overtime, as new threats began to emerge and a different international dynamic began to form with improved technological systems and weaponry, large conventional armies became significantly less effective. For a long time, however, Soviet Russia was unyielding to change. A Peter the Great mentality rang supreme in the minds of military elites who fostered a strong opposition to any means of reform despite repeated attempts by Soviet and Russian leaders. This force against change resonated in the attitudes and loyalty towards the Soviet and Russian military establishment, and further set Russia back in terms of its outdated technology and overall decreasing military capacity. Although some may say that Russia was a bit late in the game to display noticeable trends in military improvements, this study seeks to answer the question of where Russia lies now in terms of its military capabilities and citizens’ attitudes towards the military itself and their duty to serve. In other words, this study tests the question of how an improvement in military technology, coupled with a more streamlined personnel base, reflects a change in Russia’s military capabilities and in associated attitudes overtime. Background on the history and progress of military reform in Russia is provided and analyzed in light on capability measurements, followed by an evaluation of the 2008 Russo-Georgia War. Additionally, a case comparison of the 1979 Afghanistan crisis and the current intervention in Syria is conducted to demonstrate a change in capabilities and attitudes towards the military establishment. Finally, an analysis of loyalty towards military duty from a psychological perspective is preformed and further coupled with a discussion of how a shift in attitudes has occurred in parallel with military reform in both Soviet and present day Russia. The assessment of loyalty further adds to the analysis of military capabilities due to the connection between increased loyalty and compliance on the one hand, and enhanced military capabilities on the other. The study ends with implications associated with the findings.