U.S. Defense Secretary Robert
Gates recently gave a speech at a Russian military academy, where he admitted
that many of the American military transformation ideas now being implemented,
were first developed by Russian military thinkers in the 1970s. Then, terms
like "cybernetic warfare" and the "military technical revolution" were tossed
about in the very military school where Gates was speaking. The Russians had
one major problem, though, they did not have the industrial capabilities to
produce the needed equipment. The command (top down) economy of the Soviet
Union did not produce sufficient quality, and often not even enough quantity. The Soviets had lots of well
educated scientists and engineers, but far fewer managers and technicians, the
people who really made things work.
The Soviet military bureaucracy was as obstinate
and resistant to change as any other, but those new ideas were circulated to
the entire Soviet military. This was custom adopted by the communists, in order
to foster an open discussion of new ideas. Once a new idea was accepted, it
became top secret. That's what happened to some tactical and technical
innovations. But the big problem the Soviets had was the much larger number of
new technologies being churned out in the West, particularly in the United States.
Moreover, the American military, especially the army, entered the 1980s looking
for new ideas, and with a spirit of reform. The new Russian concepts were known
in the West, and the rest is history. Basically, the U.S. implemented many of
the Russian ideas, while the Soviet Union tottered through the 1980s, and
collapsed completely in 1991. The Soviet armed forces shrank by 80 percent in
the next decade, and most Russian military thinking was about survival as a
force, not the "military technical revolution" they had invented.
Now, the Russian military rebuilding itself, and
it's using those 1970s ideas, and the way the United States has implemented
them, as a model.