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Non-state combatants in conflicts of a new generation. Lessons learned and opportunities for Russia
Material posted: Publication date: 28-10-2016
The end of the Cold war and the disappearance from the political map of the world the Soviet Union has not led to the "end of history" and the end of major confrontations with the use of military force, as it was predicted by many Western idealistic thinkers, led by Francis-girl fighting. Decades since the collapse of the USSR was accompanied by wars and armed conflicts of varying intensity, the annual number of which is somewhat decreased in comparison with 1991, but in recent years has been a steady growth trend [1]. The number of victims of armed confrontations. Analysis of conflicts in recent decades have allowed researchers and professionals to speak about serious changes in the nature of war and methods of conducting it, which is reflected not only in the expert reports and studies, but also in doctrines and concepts of military development the different States.

On the one hand, in studies of modern military experts talking about the so-called wars of the fourth (or according to the Russian classification sixth) generation, the distinguishing feature of which is the use of advanced militarily, States a wide range of precision weapons. Its use, according to Professor Vladimir Slipchenko, is able to destroy the industrial and economic potential of the enemy, to break the political will and the will of the population to resist, ensuring the victory without resorting to large-scale army formations [2]. The effectiveness of the use of these weapons is achieved by using them in the framework of the concept of network-centric warfare (eng. – network-centric warfare). On the other hand, direct military confrontations between States are less frequent, giving way to intra-state conflicts, civil wars, primarily due to internal reasons, but often inspired or supported from the outside. In military operations wars of this type is the increasing role played by non-state actors or actors (eng. – non-state actors). The present work aims to highlight the role of non-state actors in conflicts of a new type in the context of the opportunities and risks for the security of Russia.

There are different approaches to the classification of non-state combatants, the study of which is not the purpose of the present work. We emphasize that in the military and expert community of the USA, who are leaders in the development of concepts of warfare in war of a new type, continues a serious discussion about the terms. The debate around such concepts as, for example, "non-conventional/non-conventional military operations" (eng. – unconventional warfare), an irregular military actions (eng. – irregular warfare) and related definitions. They are contrasted to traditional or conventional war, Central to which are the States with their armed forces. In contrast, most researchers agree that in modern wars, a Central role belongs to the rebels/rebel groups, terrorists/terrorist groups, guerrillas/partisan groups, extremist organizations, and other non-state actors. However, as noted in the monograph Hrachya Arzumanyan "Strategy of irregular warfare: theory and practice", a clear division between these combatants in conflicts of a new type is missing [3]. In addition, given the constant development of modern technology and the emergence of cybernanny threats, some researchers talking about cyberterrorists and ideologically motivated hackers-singles, as distinct categories of non-state actors in hostilities [4].

In research on non-conventional wars and non-state actors, which is the main driving force of such conflicts, much attention is paid to the threats that emanate against the state by the forces that use guerrilla tactics of warfare. Their role as a resource and a tool for achieving certain States increasingly becomes the subject of publications in the media. Taking into account that intra-state conflicts and civil wars of the last decades, mainly due to internal contradictions (political, economic, social), it is necessary to emphasize the fact that a significant number of cases a kind of the trigger for the start of open confrontation is external intervention to implement policies to third countries. In this case, non-state actors act in the role of a key tool and conductor of foreign policy pursuing its own interests.

The United States has a clearly-defined system of working with non-state actors in armed conflicts, as evidenced by the doctrinal documents in the public domain. So, in the dictionary of military and associated terms US Department of defense (the"United Charter 1-02" - Joint Publication 1-02) in determining the number of terms directly the necessity of non-state actors in the conduct of special operations [5]. In "common Charter 3-05" (JP 3-05), among other things, refers to the support of the "Northern Alliance" with the US special operations Forces during the liberation of the city of Mazar-I-Sharif as a successful example of the use of non-state actors in the Afghan war [6]. In field Charter FM 3-05.130 (Army Special Operations Forces Unconventional Warfare) included measures of support to non-state actors and seven implementation phases of special operations with their use [7]. Such transactions, among others, accompanied by awareness-psychological events and efforts in the international arena. The volume of the present work does not allow for more in-depth analysis of American documents on the issue. However, these examples demonstrate that the U.S. has a clear, science-based system of conducting military operations using non-state actors. In this large and independent role of the State Department, both at the stage of training and all subsequent.

A good example of the use by States of non-state actors as a means of solving the tasks of military-political character is emerging in the middle East situation. In 2011, NATO countries have relied on indirect armed interference with the use of special operations Forces (hereafter SDF) during the civil war in Libya that eventually allowed to overthrow the regime of Gaddafi Mummar. The level and spectrum used to support the Libyan rebels resources were extremely wide. Were provided with so-called "no-fly zone" that has deprived the government forces one of the advantages over the troops of the armed opposition. The MTR of the member countries of the Alliance fulfilled the instructor function provides support and control of insurgent groups, are involved in the planning. There is information about the involvement of some States in the operation of an instrument such as private military companies, which, in essence, are also non-state actor military action [8]. Western countries carried out large-scale information support and information support for the ongoing insurgency operations. This is only part of the facts that illustrate purposeful use of non-state actors in armed conflicts with third countries.

The indicated thesis is confirmed by the war with Syria, the number of non-state actors which, according to various estimates, more than 1, thousands of armed groups of different sizes [9]. It is known that most large groups (among which, including terrorist) are supported by such countries as Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, USA, EU, Israel, Iran, Jordan and others, each of which pursues its objectives in this war. Essentially, the Syrian war is, among other things, examples of so-called "indirect" or "proxyvon" (eng. – proxy war), where they encounter not only the interests of the various States, but also nonstate actors such as Hezbollah and Hamas [10].

A short analysis indicates the extensive use of non-state actors in armed conflicts by States to address a wide range of military-political tasks. This experience should take into account the military-political leadership of our country. However, such practice is not a new phenomenon in the history of warfare, and Russia has its own experience of support and non-state combatants. So, the Russian Empire supported the Slavic peoples in their struggle against the Ottoman Empire in the XIX century, when they spread out the ideas of pan-Slavism, and the Soviet Union supported national liberation movements around the globe in the twentieth century, guided by the ideas of communism.

However, unique compared to many other countries of the world is the experience of the Russian volunteer movement. Examples of large-scale participation of Russian volunteers in the wars in which Russia was not directly involved, are of the Serbian-Turkish war 1876, the Boer war of 1899-1902, the first and second Balkan wars (1912-1913) and others. The important role of Russian volunteers have played in contemporary conflicts like in the former Soviet Union (the war in Transnistria, Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Nagorno-Karabakh) and in the Balkans. Despite the remoteness from the Russian border in comparison with the CIS countries and the difficulties that had to be overcome volunteers from Russia, in the war in the Balkans were able to take part more than 500 persons [11]. The main feature of Russian in these wars was high motivation and morale which, coupled with the training has allowed to speak about the effectiveness of teams of volunteers.

Unprecedented is the participation of volunteers in the conflict in the South-East of Ukraine, which, according to some estimates, took part from 30 to 50 thousand Russian citizens [12]. In many ways, the participation of volunteers from Russia on the side of the forces of the DNI and the LC is allowed to make progress, albeit limited, in opposition to the people's republics with the Ukrainian side. This experience raises a number of serious problems that require discussion. Not picking up to consider the feasibility and validity using a state of the volunteers as tools to solve foreign policy problems, it should be noted a number of important points are important to ensure the security of our country.

Specified, experience has shown that, as a relatively spontaneous, voluntary movement includes citizens with various degrees of training. Despite the fact that a significant number of Russian volunteers in Donbass war are persons with a military (including combat) experience, many of those who went to fight in the Donbass, did not have even basic military training, what was the reason for the large number of casualties among the personnel. To a large extent this is due to the lack of a minimum set of skills required when handling a weapon – the so-called "culture of weapon handling". Since we are talking about Russian citizens to the preservation of life and health which in the conditions of unfavourable demographic situation is, including the care of the state, it is advisable to create a primary and special military training for certain categories of the population. The private question of volunteers raises more General and important question about the lack of a developed system of training of the population not only to conflict, but also emergency situations.

In the face of growing destabilization along the perimeter of Russian borders, one cannot exclude the risk of the emergence of hotbeds of instability in the country. On the need to improve the efficiency of the territorial defence said the chief of the General staff Valery Gerasimov in his article "the experience of Syria" [13]. However, according to some experts", "the hope is that within the framework of existing approaches to territorial defense will be able to effectively disrupt the operations of the regular forces of the enemy raznovidnostei, quite disparate groupings of his troops may not make excuses." The territory of Russia is too great to ensure its defence and security forces army, police, emergency and created Regardie. Given the predictable nature of threats and their variety, it seems advisable to improve the system of territorial and civil defense with the wider involvement of the population in the field, which should allow not only to effectively counter activities of subversive groups and terrorist organizations, but also to overcome the consequences of major natural disasters and technogenic accidents. Speed of response to the threat of state bodies and structures in terms of General destabilization may not be enough, since the forces themselves and the funds will be diverted to the solution of immediate tasks of defence. And in this case, can not do without the wider involvement of citizens United in the militia or the militia, depending on the type and level of threat. All this is impossible without the creation of a network of training organizations or strengthening existing institutions.

In this respect, not to mention some of the steps that have been taken to improve the system of military training, which should help to maintain and improve the existing knowledge and skills of citizens in stock. The current system remains largely formal and does not allow to master new types of equipment or to improve the knowledge of military occupational specialties. It seems appropriate to contribute to the development of the system of DOSAAF and military-sports clubs, the interest from the male population of all ages is natural. Useful in this regard is the creation of so-called "Warmii". This should take into account the negative experience of Ukraine, where such organizations (a variety of scouting, training camps for the militants of the OUN, Right sector and other right-wing marginal organizations) often created on the means and on the model approved by the foreign States with active informational influence to promote anti-Russian sentiment. In the end, this led to the creation of combat units are ready, ready not only to overthrow the current government, but also with arms to wage war against Russian and Russian-speaking population.

A deliberate state policy in this direction needs to neutralize the risks in allowing young people to receive the necessary training to ensure the safety of their own country. The experience of creation of military-sports organizations can be implemented in the territories of the others – mostly former Soviet States. The aim is to develop trained groups of Pro-Russian population, able to withstand the aggressive anti-Russian groups. The lack of such policy was also manifested in the conflict in Ukraine, where a number of trained Pro-Russian-minded citizens to stage more street clashes were insufficient in comparison with the forces of Ukrainian nationalists.

The list of knowledge and skills required when training conventional forces, civil militia should be established with consideration of the peculiarities of contemporary conflicts. It is advisable to include the training of safe gun handling and marksmanship and basic tactical and medical knowledge, skills to assist during disasters and emergencies. Useful would be training in the use of means of communication. All this, as mentioned above, will not only enhance the defensive potential of the country, but will be useful in everyday life. For example, basic medical knowledge in case of mastering by them the large number of citizens that can reduce the mortality rate in road accidents or emergency situations.

Thus, the total strategic uncertainty, the changing nature of threats and vozrastala the role of non-state actors in military operations in conflicts of the new generation (both separate and as a weapon in the hands of third countries) raises the question of increasing efficiency and improving existing and creating new resources to counteract marked challenges. The presence of non-state instruments can improve the flexibility of the Russian policy in solving problems of defense and security of the country. Study, extension of existing and the introduction of a new experience in the use of non-state actors is important, including to increase the efficiency of the Russian operations in Syria, where we have to deal with this category of participants of military operations.

New tool to ensure that Russian interests could become a private military company, who are currently in the national doctrinal documents continue to be seen as threatening Russia's security instrument of foreign States. In favor of the adoption of the law on the activities of these bodies, among other things, the presence of a significant number of military experts not serving in the armed forces, but are willing to perform a variety of functions related to the security of Russia abroad. But, of course, this issue requires more detailed discussion. The experience of the war in the South-East of Ukraine showed that Russian volunteers are a major factor that should be considered when planning situation in the former Soviet Union. Although part of this category of actors in military action not supported by the state, recognition of their role and improvement of level of preparation is important.

Shift with leading role of state bodies in the organization of territorial and civil defense to strengthen the role of contingent of the local militia, it seems highly important, given the breadth and nature of existing threats. This requires extensive discussion and study of various models of organization of such structures in other countries (e.g., the national guard of the United States). The proper organization of the system of preparation and training, they could become a reliable reserve of the armed forces, and the availability of such training of the citizens would increase the level of security not only in war but also the world.

A list of sources and literature

  1. Scott Gates, Håvard Mokleiv Nygård, Håvard Strand, Henrik Urdal Trends in Armed Conflict, 1946-2014 // report of the research centre of the Peace Research Institute Oslo 01.2016. <,%20Nygård,%20Strand,%20Urdal%20-%20Trends%20in%20Armed%20Conflict,%20Conflict%20Trends%201-2016.pdf>
  2. Slipchenko V. what kind of war should prepare the armed forces // Otechestvennye Zapiski. 2002. No. 8 <>
  3. Arzumanyan R. V. Strategy irregular warfare: theory and practice // the Center for strategic estimates and forecasts, M., 2014.
  4. Sharanya Ravichandran Non-State Conflict and the Transformation of War // E-International Relations August 29, 2011 <>
  5. Joint Publication 1-02 Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms. 8 November 2010 (As Amended Through 15 February 2016) <>
  6. Joint Publication 3-05 Special Operations. 16 July 2014 <>
  7. FM 3-05.130 Army Special Operations Forces Unconventional Warfare. September 2008 <>
  8. Head of French Company is Killed in Libyan City // Information from the website of the newspaper “The New York Times,” May 12, 2011 <>
  9. Syria''s Armed Opposition // the Report on the website of the research organization Small Arms Survey Geneva January 2016 <>
  10. Zakhar Gelman Hamas vs Hezbollah // Article on the website of the newspaper "Independent military review" from 13.09.2013 g. <>
  11. Oleg Valetsky About the role of Russian volunteers in the war of 1992-95 in Republika Srpska // Article on the website "" <>
  12. In Russia, the Union of volunteers of Donbass // Information from the website of the news Agency TASS <>
  13. Valery Gerasimov, the experience of Syria // "Military-industrial courier" № 9, March 9, 2016 <>

Vladimir Neelov

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