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Strategic Defence Bulletin — Hidden Helplessness of the Security Council

June 25, 2016
<p>Strategic Defence Bulletin — Hidden Helplessness of the Security Council</p>


Anatoliy Lopata

Analyzing the present, concerning the security and defence of the State, as a person caring about the military affairs, I have read the approved by the National Security and defence Council of Ukraine and adopted by the relevant decree of the President of Ukraine, Strategic defence Bulletin, which was prepared on the basis of a complex examination of the security and defence sector of Ukraine.

The current state of affairs and the real threats faced by the country today, as well as my experience in the post of the Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in 1993-1996, give me the right to express my thoughts on the matter.


The Strategic defence Bulletin (SDB) is an open document of defence planning, determining the main directions of Ukraine's military policy and development of the defence forces until the end of 2020. It is a “road map” of reforming the defence sector of Ukraine, according to which will be determined the ways of its implementation, taking into account the approaches and principles of Ukraine's foreign policy, including those used by NATO member countries.

The assessment of the state of military security of our State and experience of the Armed Forces of Ukraine's participation in the anti-terrorist operation have revealed a number of problems of functioning of defence forces in the situation of existing and potential threats.

I will dwell on the most sensitive issues relating to managing the defence forces — namely, on the definition, creation and distribution of responsibility for their use and management among the officials.

Building a more effective command and control system based on the principles used in the NATO member countries, for some reason, has been determined (why?) as the first priority strategic goal of this Bulletin.

According to the Document, in order to achieve this goal it is planned to eliminate the existing duplication and to provide a more optimal distribution of functions and tasks between the Ministry of defence of Ukraine and the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

Communication with the experts who participated in working out of the approved SDB, has confirmed that working out the basic approaches to the distribution of authority, responsibility, subordination and accountability of the officers of the senior management of the Ministry of defence and the Armed Forces of Ukraine was the most difficult stage of the work, for both, national and invited experts.

Taking into consideration the Euro-Atlantic experience and standards, the above-mentioned Strategic defence Bulletin of Ukraine by 2020 provides for as follows:

appointment of civilian Minister of defence of Ukraine, his Deputies and State Secretary of the Ministry of defence;

introduction of separate posts of “Commander–in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine” and the “Chief of General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine”, which are now occupied by one person;

elimination of duplication of functions between the Ministry of defence of Ukraine and the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, providing them with greater interaction and full integration in the future.

At this, it is assumed that:

Minister of defence of Ukraine will be responsible for the formation and implementation of the State's policy in the sphere of defence, for defence planning, for programming and resource management, effective democratic civilian control over the Armed Forces of Ukraine, as well as control over the use of defence resources, comprehensive life support, functioning, development and use of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (almost the authority of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief);

Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine will be the highest military officer, and will have full power in the command and control of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, will be responsible for their readiness to fulfill the assigned tasks and control of the use of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, and of the subordinated forces and means of other components of the defence forces (the powers of resource provision are not provided for, — why?)

Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine will be responsible for the tasks and functions assigned to the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, including for planning national defence, strategic planning of the use of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and of certain forces and means of other components of defence forces, coordination and control of the fulfillment of tasks in the sphere of defence by the executive authorities, local authorities and defence forces (and where is the Minister of defence when dealing with executive bodies?).

It is also planned by 2020 to separate the functions of the formation, training and development of the troops (forces), which will be assigned to the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and Command of types (individual arms) of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. To this end, the SDB provides for the introduction of a post of “Commander of the Combined Forces”, which is subject to Commander Armed Forces of Ukraine and with direct management will plan the use of subordinated combined forces and means of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Ukrainian national contingents and personnel during their participation in international operations to maintain peace and security (maximum a brigade, under the decision of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine).


At first glance, the proposed control system of the defence Forces is quite logical.

President of Ukraine is the Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. But the Armed Forces of Ukraine — it's just the Army, Air Force, and the Navy. We can't see here the MIA, State Security Service, border guards, government communications and other power structures, established in accordance with the laws of Ukraine. It would be better to call him the Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the defence Forces of Ukraine.

defence Minister of Ukraine, subordinate to the President of Ukraine, is a civilian, a politician, a member of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine and takes on the responsibility for the formation and implementation of the state policy in the sphere of defence, military planning, program and resource management. (Strange, because too much!)

Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (like in NATO countries he is presented as the main leader of defence, Chief of defence). In fact he is subordinate to the Minister of defence of Ukraine (civilian), and only in case of introduction of martial law or a state of emergency he will report on these issues to the President of Ukraine — Supreme Commander–in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

Chief of the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, commanders of arms (separate forces) of troops and the Commander of the Combined Forces are subordinate directly to Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

For me personally, and not just me, there were many questions on the occasion of the proposed “innovations” that lay in the future of Ukraine and its defence capability a “road map”, according to which we will come back to where we were in 2014, when there was no system of governing either the state or its Armed Forces.

What scientific foundation, or what kind of experience is the basis of such decisions? We don't have our own military science, the Soviet warfare school had been rejected, and the foreign one — not introduced. It would seem that common sense should suggest the ways to solve this problem, and a group of practitioners and researchers, taking into consideration the mistakes of others, would make appropriate proposals not to the detriment of the defence of the state.

I propose to refer to our previous national experience of reforming the Ministry of defence and the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, as well as to the experience of some NATO member states that have passed through similar reforms.

The Ministry of defence of Ukraine was formed from the ground because it was not part of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine in 1991. We had relative freedom of choice of the structure and the number of ministries from the experience of the construction of the Soviet Army, the experience of conducting local wars, reducing the number of groups and the elimination of nuclear weapons. Until 2004 Ukraine had one and only defence Ministry headed by the Minister of defence of Ukraine — a military servicemen, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, who had the necessary powers, real levers of keeping troops (forces) in combat readiness, of their logistics and management when performing defensive tasks.

The defence Minister — Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine had in his direct subordination the Chief of the General Staff — First Deputy Minister of defence, and the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine with the functions of strategic planning and management of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, other Deputy defence Ministers and structural subdivisions of the Ministry with functions of resource maintenance of the activity of troops (forces). To him was also submitted the Deputy Minister, who coordinated the issues of formation of the military policy and Commanders of Arms of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, who practically implemented that policy.

This organization of the defence Department excluded duplication of functions, had a smaller total number of personnel of the administrative apparatus, provided a good level of cooperation between subdivisions. Its main drawback was considered the lack of proper democratic civilian control over the Armed Forces. In order to eliminate this drawback, it was decided on the division of the posts of Minister of defence of Ukraine, which became a civilian, and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, whose powers were now assigned to the Chief of the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine was removed from the Ministry of defence and became a separate subdivision. At this, the Chief of the General Staff — Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine did not receive the powers to supply troops (forces) as structural units by types of resource provision remained in the Ministry of defence. It was an obvious (or planned) miscalculation which led to further problems in relations between the leadership of defence Ministry and the General Staff, forced creation of the necessary supporting structures (by types of logistics) subordinated to the Chief of General Staff — Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. In fact a “Logistics General Command for the Armed Forces of Ukraine” was created. The General Staff was burdened with extrinsic problems of logistics supporting troops, while the civilian component of the Ministry of defence was far from the needs of the troops (forces), mired in corruption deals. That is how were destroyed the Rear and Armament of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

The Ministry of defence was burdened with plenty of subordinate units, schools, institutions and organizations of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (more than 30 thousand people). It also was fulfilling a significant amount of tactical-level tasks and that did not allow it to properly fulfill the strategic objectives — to form, coordinate and monitor the implementation of the state policy on national security in the military sphere, the sphere of defence and military construction.

The experience of NATO member countries shows that they also have some problems, although the Alliance is committed to the standardization and uniform standards. Some countries in the field of defence, “go their own way.” Analysis of the control systems of their Armed Forces indicates lack of (impossibility) of a clear division of the post of Chief of the General Staff and the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. On the contrary, the countries, the main purpose of the use of the Armed Forces of which is to protect the national territory rather than conducting expeditionary operations, combine these positions (which is called — Chief of Staff of National defence).

The system proposed by the new Ukrainian SDB, is used only in the Baltic States and Scandinavia, where it has a right to life, based on the size of their Armed Forces (10 to 30 thousand people), and membership in NATO and in other regional security associations (NORDEFCO).

I am sure that choosing the system of management of the Armed Forces of a state should be based on the “comparative analysis”, which should be carried out with the countries closest to Ukraine in certain complexes of characteristics (size of the territory, population, composition of the Armed Forces, and so on).

Referring to the experience of reforming the system of military command of the Armed Forces of our neighbor and a strategic partner — of the Republic of Poland. In 2014, Poland, within the framework of organizational and staff activities, disbanded commands of arms of its Armed Forces, and created on the basis of them the General Command of arms and reorganized the General Staff into a body for strategic planning, coordination and control. After the final transition to the new system of management and command, began to show signs of its imperfections and problematic issues related to the functioning of the new system. It turned out that the new control and management system of the Wojsko Polskie had not taken into consideration one of the main principles of military command — the presence of a single control center, endowed with appropriate powers and responsibilities (unity of command!!!).

Trying to fix the situation, our neighbors were forced to adopt a law that provides the appointment of Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Poland for the time of war, but that law does not solve other problems. That is why today they are developing plans to reform the overall management system. They consider a possibility of returning to the General Staff of the Polish Armed Forces the role of a single body of military administration and formation of management bodies, similar to the former Commands of the Armed Forces.

Another example — Turkey. NATO member country, with the most powerful Army in the Alliance, which has been in a state of permanent military conflict for a long time. Turkey's Armed Forces' management system is not like the one offered to Ukraine by the Security Council. The neighboring Romania's system of managing its Armed Forces is also different.

What makes these countries care about the efficacy of their Armed Forces control system? There is one and only reason for this — the Russian militant rhetoric against NATO countries and the aggressive policy against neighboring countries, especially those who are trying to build their future on their own, and are not in line with the policy of the Russian Federation. It is Russia's violation of provisions of international law and Moscow's use of force policy makes the Euro-Atlantic community reconsider its approach to collective security.

The collective security of NATO member countries is more powerful and effective than the military capabilities of the Russian Federation, but Russia has its own achievements in military matters and the proven by military confrontations system of government of its Armed Forces. We can't help pointing out the widespread use of “hybrid” forms of warfare, the active use of the integrated fire damage, which enhanced by the intelligence capabilities (including UAVs) and means of ELINT and EW. But the most effective factor is the construction of a control system based on the one-man management and concentration of power in decision-making. This, even with a certain technical lagging behind, allows Russians to significantly reduce the time to make decisions, bring them to the performers and reduces the possibility of information leakage.

That is why NATO has decided to significantly optimize the control system of the Joint Allied Forces in possible armed conflicts and to provide the Supreme Commander-in-Chief of NATO Strategic Command for Operations corresponding additional powers in the sphere of defence.


And finally. I am convinced that the introduction of separate posts of “Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine” and “Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine” is incorrect and inappropriate measure in terms of presence (for a long time) of high-level threats (primarily military) for Ukraine from the Russian Federation.

This defence and Security Council is preparing for President of Ukraine extra stress over determining the motives of such proposals and will return to consideration the powers of officials proposed by the DSC. The criterion of success of the Armed Forces of Ukraine should not depend only on the civilian control, and a non-alternative use of such a mechanism is not advisable.

We remember the despair and anger that gripped us during the defeats at Ilovaisk and Debaltsevo. And now we daily hear about deaths or injuries in the ATO zone. Can many of us predict what fatal consequences for the activity of the Armed Forces of Ukraine may be from artificial burdening the decision-making system?

I want to ask the people (Ukrainian and foreign experts), who prepared the proposals for the DSC — in what universities had you been trained? What experience in managing personnel, commanding military units do you have? Do you know the system of managing people according to Moses?

Do not disperse the security capabilities of the State!

And one more thing.

I would like to invite the not indifferent local specialists and experts with relevant knowledge and management experience to a broad discussion of this most important for the defence of our country theme.


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