Engaging the Enemy

Engaging the Enemy: Organization Theory and Soviet Military Innovation, 1955-1991

Kimberly Marten Zisk
Copyright Date: 1993
Pages: 300
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  • Book Info
    Engaging the Enemy
    Book Description:

    Did a "doctrine race" exist alongside the much-publicized arms competition between East and West? Using recent insights from organization theory, Kimberly Marten Zisk answers this question in the affirmative. Zisk challenges the standard portrayal of Soviet military officers as bureaucratic actors wedded to the status quo: she maintains that when they were confronted by a changing external security environment, they reacted by producing innovative doctrine. The author's extensive evidence is drawn from newly declassified Soviet military journals, and from her interviews with retired high-ranking Soviet General Staff officers and highly placed Soviet-Russian civilian defense experts.

    According to Zisk, the Cold War in Europe was powerfully influenced by the reactions of Soviet military officers and civilian defense experts to modifications in U.S. and NATO military doctrine. Zisk also asserts that, contrary to the expectations of many analysts, civilian intervention in military policy-making need not provoke pitched civil-military conflict. Under Gorbachev's leadership, for instance, great efforts were made to ensure that "defensive defense" policies reflected military officers' input and expertise. Engaging the Enemy makes an important contribution not only to the theory of military organizations and the history of Soviet military policy but also to current policy debates on East-West security issues.

    Kimberly Marten Zisk is Assistant Professor of Political Science and Faculty Associate of the Mershon Center at the Ohio State University.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-2093-1
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-10)

    Many political scientists have recently become interested in the study of military organizations and the development of military doctrine. Most work in this area has argued that military organizations suffer from dysfunctional organizational biases. Military organizations are seen to be primarily bureaucratic actors, focused on domestic battles for resources and autonomy from civilian control. Military organizations are believed to value their own prestige and organizational stability and predictability above all else. This is thought to distort officers’ views of the objective strategic situation that their state faces.¹ Barry R. Posen in particular concludes from this perspective that military organizations resist...

  5. 1. Military Organizations and Innovation
    (pp. 11-30)

    The major tendency in current studies of doctrine development is to portray military institutions as bureaucratic organizations that are sluggish and resistant to innovation. According to most scholars who study this topic, all organizations focus on maintaining standard operating procedures, and therefore tend to be conservative in their approach to problem solving. Militaries are thought to be like any other organization in this regard. Militaries are believed to innovate only when they are prodded by failure in the battlefield or by civilian intervention into military policy.¹ Furthermore, the doctrines preferred by military institutions are seen to be those which best...

  6. 2. Doctrinal Debate and Decision in the USSR
    (pp. 31-46)

    The theories developed in the previous chapter were constructed so as to be generalizable. They should apply to any professional military organization, structured as a general staff, that has responsibility for the development of the state’s doctrine for future warfare. Given that the subject of this study is the reactions of the Soviet military to foreign innovations in doctrine, the next task is to demonstrate that the Soviet General Staff was in fact a professional organization which did indeed have a great deal of control over the formulation of doctrine. If it was not a professional organization, with a mission...

  7. 3. Soviet Reactions to Flexible Response
    (pp. 47-81)

    As the evidence presented below demonstrates, U.S. and nato planning for the flexible use of conventional weapons against the Soviet Union in the European theater had a strong impact on Soviet military debates and Soviet military planning from the mid-1960s onward.

    The doctrine of Flexible Response was officially adopted by the United States in 1961, and by nato as a whole in 1967. However, these dates are not the ones which mark actual Western operational policy for the limited use of conventional weapons against a Soviet military threat in Europe. In reality, nato military planners and politicians realized by the...

  8. 4. Soviet Reactions to the Schlesinger Doctrine
    (pp. 82-119)

    The U.S. adoption of the Schlesinger Doctrine and the Soviet reaction to that adoption present us with evidence of puzzles without clear solutions. One of the stated purposes of the 1974 United States military doctrinal shift was to create a variety of preplanned limited strategic nuclear strike options, usable by the President in the event of crises or wars, to signal U.S. intentions without unleashing a world nuclear holocaust.¹ Previous U.S. strategic nuclear targeting plans were seen to lack a sufficiently flexible selection of target sets; the President would be left with a choice between all-out nuclear war or no...

  9. 5. Soviet Reactions to Western Deep-Strike Doctrines
    (pp. 120-177)

    Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev said in a speech at Stanford University on June 4, 1990:

    Science has played a major role in the arms race. Yet science was the first to speak out authoritatively against this folly and to look for a way out. Here we have to give credit to the joint efforts of Soviet and American [scholars]. . . . I am referring to the development of the basic principles of such concepts as international security and strategic stability. Without a serious and objective approach to defining stability and mutual security, without a scientific analysis taking into account...

  10. 6. Doctrine, Innovation, and Competition
    (pp. 178-187)

    As the three case studies demonstrate, each of the hypotheses outlined in chapter 1 contributes to a correct understanding of the process of military doctrinal competition and innovation in the Soviet Union. Each of them highlights particular aspects of the historical problem that have often received insufficient attention in Western analyses.

    Hypothesis #1 states: “Military organizations are likely to develop innovative doctrines on their own, in the absence of civilian intervention, when they interpret a foreign doctrinal shift as a threat to the success of their current war plans.” The Soviet reaction to the Western adoption of the Flexible Response...

  11. Postscript: After the Cold War
    (pp. 188-198)

    The present study demonstrates that the competitive bipolar international atmosphere of the 1950s through the 1980s had a significant impact on Soviet doctrinal innovation attempts. As the United States innovated, the Soviet military was concerned to keep up its end of the competition, not only in weapons development, but also in the doctrines that explained how those weapons would be used.

    Now a new international atmosphere has emerged. Leaders of both sides in the competition have declared that the Cold War is over, and that each side no longer considers the other an enemy. Through various forums, nato has actively...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 199-250)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 251-280)
  14. Index
    (pp. 281-286)