Officers in Russian Military Are Rewarded for Following Orders, Not for Nimbly Taking Initiative

(p. A1) This war has exposed the fact that, to Russia’s detriment, much of the military culture and learned behavior of the Soviet era endures: inflexibility in command structure, corruption in military spending, and concealing casualty figures and repeating the mantra (p. A7) that everything is going according to plan.

. . .

The scripted way the military practices warfare, on display in last summer’s exercises, is telling. “Nobody is being tested on their ability to think on the battlefield,” said William Alberque, the Berlin-based director of the arms control program at the International Institute for Strategic Studies. Instead, officers are assessed on their ability to follow instructions, he said.

. . .

Rampant corruption has drained resources. “Each person steals as much of the allocated funds as is appropriate for their rank,” said retired Maj. Gen. Harri Ohra-Aho, the former Chief of Intelligence in Finland and still a Ministry of Defense adviser.

. . .

“It is impossible to imagine the scale of lies inside the military,” Mr. Irisov said. “The quality of military production is very low because of the race to steal money.”

One out of every five rubles spent on the armed forces was stolen, the chief military prosecutor, Sergey Fridinsky, told Rossiyskaya Gazeta, the official government newspaper, in 2011.

For the full story see:

Neil MacFarquhar. “Soviet-Era Tactics Hobble Russia on Battlefield.” The New York Times (Tuesday, May 17, 2022): A1 & A7.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date May 16, 2022, and has the title “Russia Planned a Major Military Overhaul. Ukraine Shows the Result.”)

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