One of the oldest challenges to wargame designers is understanding the threat. Many times the challenge comes from security classification – “If I tell you I have to kill you.” Finding a good, comprehensive study in the unclassified world is all to rare. All of which makes Dr. Lester Grau and Charles Bartles’ The Russian Way of War: Force Structure, Tactics, and Modernization of the Russian Ground Forces a very valuable publication.
As Grau and Bartles tell us in the Introduction:
Russia’s 2014 annexation of the Crimean Peninsula, activity in eastern Ukraine, saber rattling regarding the Baltics, deployment to Syria, and more assertive behavior along its border have piqued interest in the Russian Armed Forces. This increased interest has caused much speculation about their structure, capabilities, and future development. Interestingly, this speculation has created many different, and often contradictory, narratives about these issues. At any given time, assessments of the Russian Armed Forces vary between the idea of an incompetent and corrupt conscript army manning decrepit Soviet equipment and relying solely on brute force, to the idea of an elite military filled with Special Operations Forces (SOF) who were the “polite people” or “little green army men” seen on the streets in Crimea. This book will attempt to split the difference between these radically different ideas by shedding some light on what exactly the Russian Ground Forces consist of, how they are structured, how they fight, and how they are modernizing.
As an added bonus for wargame graphic designers, check out the last part of the book on Russian Military Symbology. What better way to make your Russian forces, uh, Russian?
Feature image courtesy Dan Kitwood/Getty Images