Maintenance of Morale in the Military

Maintenance of Morale in the Military – Russia

M. Zelenkov

Analysis of military organizational development, combat and mobilization readiness, training and employment of the military allow the conclusion that the role of the moral-psychological factor in modem warfare grows sharply. This is confirmed by practical combat activities in the Chechen Republic, Daghestan, Abkhazia, Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina and other regions.

Psychological stability of the personnel and its moral readiness to put up with privations and fatigue of military service are an inalienable part and the essential condition of high combat readiness and combat effectiveness of the military and by the same token of military security of the state. This is why one of the key solutions to this problem is to maintain high morale among the personnel by adopting creative forms and methods in organizing effective moral-psychological support (MPS) of its activities.

Military researchers, commanders, officers of staffs and indoctrination organs have by now formed certain ideas on the essence of MPS. According to these ideas there are two levels–the state level, i.e. indoctrination on the scale and in accordance with the needs of the entire country; and the military level, i.e. indoctrination directly pertaining to the military.

According to the majority of specialists, MPS on the state level consists of a set of coordinated measures implemented by the state and military leadership, organs of military administration and assigned personnel of the Army and Navy in an effort to achieve such a state of morale among the military personnel and civilians as is necessary for tackling problems in peacetime and winning in a war (or a conflict). On this level MPS covers the political, economic and military aspects and it is provided by all state and military organs, commanders, staffs and indoctrination organs with strong reliance on the mass media, the achievements of science, literature and art and through other possible ways of influencing the awareness and behavior of the country’s population and military personnel in order to achieve the required state of morale.

MPS on the military level means a single and indissoluble process of forming and maintaining in the personnel high fighting spirit, a stable psychological state, the fostering of other moral-psychological and warrior qualities that are necessary in operational and combat training and daily activities of the troops, a high degree of combat readiness in peacetime and readiness to defend the interests of the state in conditions of war. This support is organized and carried out in the first place and mainly by commanders, staffs and the indoctrination organs. It is important to bear in mind the fact that the military level covers the strategic, operational and tactical aspects.

MPS in the military is planned and carried out depending on changes in the strategic, operational, moral-psychological and informational situation and in cooperation on the strategic and operational-tactical levels with the indoctrination organs (organs for the work with personnel) of the Federal Border Service [FPS], Ministry of Internal Affairs [MVD), MVD internal troops, Federal Security Service [FSB], Ministry for Emergency Situations [MChS], Federal Government Communications and Information Agency [FAPSI], Federal Railroad Troops Service[FS ZhDV), other troops, units and organs of the Russian Federation, as well as the armed forces of allied states as part of coalition (regional) groups of forces. The MPS objectives are reached through information-indoctrination, psychological, military-social, cultural work coordinated as to its tasks, place and time and carried out in accordance with a single philosophy and plan, as well as by protecting troops from enemy information-psychological pressures and by the provision to the troops of technical indoctrination equipment.

Some headway has been made in studying the problems of MPS: a body of theoretical findings has been built that finds a wide practical application in upgrading standards of combat and mobilization readiness, operational and combat training and in daily routine activities of troops. Higher schools of the RF Defense Ministry have produced textbooks and study aids. They also conduct comprehensive research. MPS has been included as an independent type of support in all fundamental documents containing regulations and in documents of combat and mobilization readiness of the Armed Forces. What is more, we can talk today about the creation in the RF Armed Forces a system of moral-psychological support the main objectives of which are: to inform troops (forces) and explain to them the government policy with regard to defense and security; reduce losses due to psychogenic factors and help servicemen to recover powers and strength; maintain law and order and military discipline among the troops (forces); protect troops (forces) and the country’s population from enemy information-psychological pressures; provide social protection for servicemen and members of their families.

Research into the problems related to MPS of military security of the state, training and employment of the Armed Forces, regarding them as an integral system will make it possible to identify its principal elements without which it cannot function effectively: targets of MPS, initiators of MPS, as well as an aggregate of various conceptions (programs, legal rules and so on) that add up to the ideological-theoretical and legislative foundations of MPS.

Analysis of the objectives and content of MPS shows that it is necessary to consider several target groups of moral-psychological support.

The first target group is comprised of members of the military (generals, officers, contract NCOs, ordinary soldiers and sailors, as well as constription NCOs and ordinary soldiers and sailors) and the civilian personnel of the Armed Forces. It is extremely important to take account of all individual traits of both in organizing MPS.

The second target group is comprised of the families of the contract servicemen. The functions and objectives of this group within the MPS system differ. It is, however, certain that combat readiness of troops and their efficiency very much depends on the morale of these small collectives because a solid home front has always been the keystone of victory.

The third target group of MPS is comprised of sections, crews, platoons, companies, battalions and so on that are created to carry out job-related, training, combat and other missions. Their activities are connected with great expenditure of moral energy, psychological strain and requires well-organized moral-psychological support. We talk about mobilizing each member of the military and all of them for the performance of their assigned missions. At the same time it is important, in organizing this work, to bear in mind that a targeted military collective is at the same time an important factor of influence upon each serviceman, that is to say, it also becomes a moral-psychological support target.

The fourth MPS target group consists of separate types of activities of the Armed Forces and various tasks performed by them. In peacetime, for example, MPS centers on military organizational development, combat and mobilization readiness, operational and combat training and daily routine activities of troops. In wartime, the focus is on boosting morals and psychological stability of troops during the course of military operations.

The fifth MPS target group includes all of the country’s civilian population, especially that part of it that comprises the Armed Forces mobilization resources. Historical experience shows that the people cannot be left out of MPS. Each citizen should have a clear idea of defending the Fatherland and of military service. Society and the people alone can lend the army corresponding fortitude and demand of it high moral qualities. There is real confusion in the minds of many of our citizens. Vacuity and immorality are rampant. The country’s culture, history, our manners and customs, age-long wisdom of the peoples of Russia are opposed with the cult of violence, cruelty, cynicism, plain ignorance and stupidity. Such notions as duty, honor, patriotism, service to the Fatherland and other motivations of military service are becoming devalued. Extremist, nationalist and anti-army sentiments are on the rise among a considerable proportion of the population and especially among the young people. The world-outlook, i deological and moral-psychological crisis in Russia is a real threat to its future, statehood, position and role in the world civilization. If society and state power do not form in the people love and respect for military people, if they take poor care of the army (some political figures and members of the mass media think it a burden on the state, which is characteristic of today’s reality in the country), such society and such an authority will never be able to inspire their soldiers to heroic deeds and therefore cannot expect victory of them.

All points to a tremendous role of the country’s population in the general system of MPS targets and calls for a radical change in the attitude on the part of state organs and the mass media to the Armed Forces and to stepping up work to generate among the people, especially among young people, patriotic awareness, the realization of importance of military service and readiness to defend the Fatherland and develop and strengthen in every way unity of the army and the people.

A number of state establishments, public and religious associations, as well as individuals, whose job it is to address MPS problems and who have some necessary facilities for performing their functions, also play an important role in moral-psychological support of the Armed Forces.

Organs of state power are invested with the right to provide moral-psychological support in the context of the whole country.

Under the Constitution, The President of the Russian Federation is the Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. He endorses the military doctrine of the Russian Federation, and in the event of aggression against the Russian Federation or an immediate threat thereof, he introduces martial law on the territory of the country or in some of its areas with immediate notification thereof of the Federation Council and the State Duma. The President’s edicts and his media speeches and addresses are of tremendous importance for planning and organization of moral-psychological support to the Armed Forces, for the formation in the country of a sound public opinion, a correct attitude of the country’s population and the Armed Forces personnel to practical matters concerning military policy and military organizational development. Morale of the country’s population and military personnel is under the impact of the laws already passed and the very course of the discussion, all manner of sta tements, resolutions on military questions, what deputies say in the mass media and before their voters. As important in this respect are also RF government decisions and what its members say.

This author thinks that, in order to achieve a more effective control of the military and its more efficient cooperation with the other “power structures” and to use rationally funds earmarked for security, there should be a special organ that could provide the top leadership of the country and the Armed Forces with scientifically validated recommendations with regard to organizing MPS in the Armed Forces. The most desirable development at this stage, we think, would be the creation of a coordinating council for moral-psychological support of the state’s military security under the auspices of the Russian Federation president. We think that coordination should mainly consist in the following: planning and implementation of coordinated measures aimed at upgrading military and patriotic indoctrination of the Armed Forces personnel and the country’s population; cooperation on MPS problems between the Armed Forces and other military units and Russian Federation organs in peacetime; coordination of information an d publicity support of military organizational development; organization and conduct of psychological work; training and advanced training of indoctrination officers and military pedagogical personnel; joint research into MPS problems; coordination of cultural and recreational activities of the military personnel and so on.

Political parties, public and religious organizations occupy a special place within the general structure of moral-psychological support entities. Although their activities in the Armed Forces is prohibited by laws, they, as experience shows, can strongly influence the minds and behavior of the military personnel via the mass media, appearance of their representatives in bodies of state power, at various conferences, rallies and so on. Public associations do not have the same resources as state bodies do. Their activities are so far those of control. However, as society’s democratic foundations grow stronger, the role of public associations as entities that give moral-psychological support to the Armed Forces in order to protect security of the state will undoubtedly increase.

I would like to dwell on the mass media, the so-called Fourth Estate that has tremendous influence on the minds and behavior of the countries military personnel and civilians. It should be noted that the mass media constitute both MPS forces and resources. They can both boost troops’ morale, mobilize them to the performance of their missions and demoralize them, make them doubt the justice of the cause for which they shed blood. The mass media can form in society a favorable attitude to the army, military service and the duty of citizens to defend the Fatherland. At the same time they can turn the country’s population against serving in the army and undermine in the eyes of public opinion prestige of the Armed Forces and military service. The most glowing proof is the way the developments in the Northern Caucasus have been covered. During the first Chechen campaign, TV and radio reports and newspaper publications contributed in a big way to the extremely negative public reaction to operations of the Russian t roops. During the 1999-2000 counterterrorist operation, thanks to the competent policy of the country’s leadership with regard to the mass media, operations of the United Group of Forces have not only been supported by the population but they also boosted the popularity of the military in the country.

The main MPS entity in the Armed Forces, in accordance with current legislation, is the command personnel. In charge of MPS is a one-man commander [*] who is responsible for all aspects of life and activities of his men, including the formation by the personnel of moral-psychological and combat qualities necessary for the performance of missions assigned them.

Experience of this is and other countries shows, however, this commanders alone cannot take care of all MPS aspects. There should be special structures in the troops operating under commanders and constituting important elements of the MPS system. These structures are organs for the indoctrination work. Their mandate is to put into effect among the troops the government policy; motivate servicemen to observe the RF Constitution, laws, general military regulations of the Armed Forces, the military oath of allegiance, cultivate the qualities of a citizen and patriot, reliable defender of the Fatherland; boost morale and strengthen psychological stability of the personnel to perform their missions in all conditions and situations; work together with central and local bodies of state power, public and religious associations and the media for the benefit of indoctrination of the personnel.

One should not forget at the same time that, in addition to commanders and indoctrination organs, there are staffs, cultural institutions, members of the military mass media, judicial bodies, medical institutions and the bodies of activists of military units and subunits.

The ideological and theoretical foundation of the MPS system comprises the most important government and military documents: the Constitution of the Russian Federation, National Security Concept, Information Security Doctrine, long-term plans (programs) of the country’s development, the Military Doctrine, plans for the organizational development, training and employment of the Armed Forces. The more thorough are these documents with regard to the conceptual basis of the MPS system, the more refined and effective will be its organizational and legal segment.

Of great importance for the entire MPS system from the point of view of its effective functioning is a corresponding body of laws. It consists of legal rules that are supposed to guide activities of all the entities of the moral-psychological support system. The body of laws is special in that it should regulate MPS efforts so as they benefit the country’s military security. A big role is played not only by legislation regulating activities of the Armed Forces but also the legal rules found in federal and regional documents regarding the country’s continued existence. In particular, if an armed conflict is brought under control without state of emergency being announced, troops are forced to operate under peacetime rules. It is necessary under these conditions to put a greater stress on military discipline, law enforcement, the solution of social and legal problems of servicemen, information, indoctrination and counter-propaganda, and cooperation with public and religious associations and with the mass media , etc.

The development of a body of laws with regard to MPS has not been completed yet from the scientific and practical point of view. The guideline documents currently in effect do not fully correspond with the modern concept of employing the Armed Forces and many even contradict each other. Furthermore, the range of MPS tasks has considerably increased of late. Therefore, it is necessary to revise the fundamental formal documents containing regulations on planning, organization and control of MPS to make it correspond in content, form and methods with modern requirements.

(*.) One-man commanders are all persons in authority of the Armed Forces ranging from the Russian Federation defense minister to section commanders. They all are entitled to initiate MPS and solve important problems in this field.

COPYRIGHT 2000 East View Publications

COPYRIGHT 2001 Gale Group