The Russian Committee for the Defense of Peace, the Russian Center for
Political and International Studies and the US Foreign Military Studies Office
brought together a number of Russian and international specialists in Moscow (31
May-3 Jun) to exchange opinions and perspectives about issues of the "non-traditional" use of military force and "operations other than war." This article--which
addresses the use of military means to ensure domestic security--was written in
preparation for these exchanges and has benefitted from the discussions. It is aimed
at assessing and understanding new factors in the theory and practice of
The situation in Europe and in Russia today is much more complex than it was
a year ago. Unfortunately, armed forces are increasingly being utilized for non-traditional operations. I refer to the recent actions of NATO aircraft in the Balkans,
the operations of Russia's joint federal forces in Chechnya and the actions of the
military contingents in Tajikistan.
As a representative of the Internal Troops, and as a practitioner rather than a
theoretician, I must say that we read with great interest the theoretical documents on
the problems of peacekeeping, the materials from previous conferences, the concepts
of the multi-national operations of the second generation, and the NATO
The Internal Troops of Russia is a state institution which came together
historically in our vast and multi-national country. They are part of the forces that
maintain domestic security. Over the last 20 years the missions of these troops have
naturally undergone change. Since 1988 their most important missions have been
those involving "hot spots" and areas of ethno-national conflicts.
If you juxtapose the experience of the Internal Troops with the peacekeeping
views of the world community, you reach a fairly obvious conclusion: these are links
in the same chain, and they have a common nature.
I will try to illustrate this point.
One of the conclusions of last year's conference was that there were two
experimental, rapidly changing types of operations, both of which were essentially "peacekeeping" in nature, and that these types of operations were evolving in similar
directions. The two types were a) classic operations under the aegis of the UN and
b) operations on the territory of the former Soviet Union (FSU). The use of the term
"non-traditional operations" in the title of today's seminar, as opposed to the former
"peacemaking" or "peacekeeping" operations, attests to the essential commonality of
all types of non-traditional operations.
NATO doctrine notes the great diversity of peacekeeping activities. Despite
these clear differences between the specific forms of peacekeeping, these operations all
have one essential element in common. They all involve a non-traditional application
of military force.
Armies are created for the conduct of war. Both by virtue of their direct
function and by their essential nature, armed forces ready themselves to achieve
victory by destroying the enemy. As an officer of the Internal Troops, I will not go
into a discussion of defense questions. I will say only that given today's high
standards, when the means of armed combat, i.e., the armed combat of nations and
their coalitions, have been developed to such an extent as to make that combat
suicidal, it is now especially clear that the traditional use of military force is barbaric.
It is from this standpoint that one can define non-traditional operations, first
and foremost, as a civilized use of armed forces.
What does "civilized use" mean, and is it possible?
The Internal Troops, whose intended function is inside the country, personify
this civilized use of force.
In regions of ethno-national conflict the Troops have done the following:
- provided systematic measures for handling emergencies and curfew
- prevented weapons and armed units from getting into or out of the
Chechen Republic last year;
- separated the potential positions of the hostile parties in Northern
and Southern Ossetia;
- maintained the conditions of the cease-fire in Nagorno-Karabakh;
- protected lawful civilian authorities in Dushanbe in
- guarded Turk-Meskhetins in the Fergan Valley in
- protected strategic facilities in conflict regions;
- disarmed illegal armed units, and;
- escorted humanitarian aid and refugee convoys in Northern Ossetia
The Troops have done many other things as well, both at the stage where no
force was used to regulate conflicts and also at the force stage, as was appropriate to
the formats of peacemaking, peacekeeping and post-conflict activities.
In this process, the Troops sustain losses and use their weapons in accordance
with the law:
- to protect citizens from life-threatening attacks;
- for self-defense;
- to free hostages and to recover stolen armaments, cargoes and combat
- to detain armed persons caught in the act of committing crimes
against the lives of citizens;
- to repel armed attacks on military posts and military trains,
- to suppress the resistance of armed groups who refuse to obey lawful
requirements to halt illegal activities and to surrender their arms and
At the same time, the Troops do not engage in battle with an enemy, and there
is no "enemy" in their training.
Service personnel in particular feel the specific nature of the Internal Troops.
My personal observation, after temporary duty trips to Armenia and Azerbaijan,
Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, Northern Ossetia, Ingushetia and Chechnya, having seen
the hatred of some as well as the tears of joy and gratitude of others, is that I feel
empathy for everyone--and I emphasize, everyone--who has fallen victim to harm.
The most difficult part of our trips is seeing peoples' pain. But stopping that pain
provides our motivation. Many officers, warrant officers and soldiers are now able to
say of themselves in the words of our poet, Maximillian Voloshin: "I did everything
to stop our brothers from destroying themselves, from killing one another."
Helping someone who has fallen victim to harm is man's sacred duty. So don't
think me a science fiction writer if I look into the future and believe that a combined
armed force of the countries of the world will ultimately be the "internal forces" of the
people of one planet.
Why am I certain that these troops will be preserved?
The use of force in order to guarantee domestic security is inherently
paradoxical. The plan actually is to use force, a threat to human life, in order to
protect the most fundamental and the deepest of human rights--the right to life.
This is a significant contradiction. To a large extent it defines the dual nature
of non-traditional military operations and their complexity, which those of us in the
Internal Troops encounter daily. On the other hand, this paradoxality, or more
accurately, this dialectic, of the "civilized force factor," attests to its viability, since
there is an objective need for non-traditional operations involving the use of armed
That need is the following.
The strife and crises in the development of our complex, diverse world are to be
expected. This is a dialectic. It is pointless to have simplicity and uniformity as a
goal, because these are unattainable and would mean the end of progress, and
actually, the end of everything. Extremism is a primitive, simplified approach to
problems, a desire to solve them with a single blow, cutting the Gordian knot. This is
precisely why extremism is so popular, attractive and very much alive.
The main conclusion which we can draw from recent history is the following.
We will have to learn to live under conditions of continuous and intense
contradictions and also to live in a civilized way, resolving these contradictions with
as little bloodshed as possible.
This is why countering and preventing extremism, and alleviating its
consequences, are now among the most important of human and international
challenges. We cannot eliminate poverty and preserve the environment without
safeguarding peace not only on the planet as a whole, but also in each of its
Extremism is often accompanied by, and even equivalent to, force. Therefore,
as a crisis develops, there comes a point when armed force must be used in order to
create conditions which will permit a civilized resolution of the crisis.
Therein lies the real foundation of non-traditional operations. Therein lies the
essential unity of the actions of the UN blue helmets in Yugoslavia, of the military
contingents performing peacekeeping actions on the territory of the countries of the
Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), and of the Russian Interior Ministry's
Internal Troops in the Northern Caucasus.
Before highlighting the types of non-traditional operations, it is necessary to
define how they differ qualitatively from traditional operations and also how non-traditional operations are all inherently related and have a common goal. The goal is
to stop someone, who is blinded by hatred, from becoming a murderer--to stop an
extremist, but not an enemy.
Various factors form the basis for classifying the types of non-traditional
operations: are the armed forces involved multi-national; is the conflict itself multi-national or domestic; how intense is the use of force (ranging from no use of force
whatsoever in preventing conflicts, to such a level of force that peacekeeping takes on
the character of combat, as has become the case in Chechnya). Thus, in form, non-traditional operations may very closely approach traditional operations--but only in
form. In essence, the important distinction of non-traditional operations remains--there is no enemy. Peacekeeping forces cannot be trained for, and must not conduct,
a war of annihilation.
This circumstance explains the relatively low intensity of the combat actions in
Chechnya. As the federal troops carry out their mission to disarm illegal armed
formations, these federal troops are constantly negotiating both at the field-commander level and also at the highest level in order to reduce the number of
casualties. Even when Dudaev's commanders take the initiative and seek
negotiations, not because they are sincere, but only because they have sustained
losses, lost control and want to win time to restore the combat readiness of their
units, even then, we must agree to these negotiations, because we must take
advantage of even a hypothetical opportunity to reduce the losses of soldiers,
militants and civilians. After all, these people are all citizens of our country.
I will note here in passing that only mercenaries are hated by our troops.
Further, many of our officers count former classmates among the Chechen field
The reaction to the use of force is never unanimous, and it never will be.
Everyone is aware of the criticism of Russian peacemaking operations and the actions
of federal forces in Chechnya. Assessments of NATO actions in the Balkans are also
A bitterly humorous statement commonly heard in Russia of late is, "why do we
want what is best but end up with what we've always had."
Without elaborating I will just quote the adage, "it looked smooth on paper,
but we forgot about the ravines." The casualties and the destruction are not the result
of bloodthirstiness on the part of the troops or the politicians. Rather, they are the
consequences of the complexity of the problems the troops and politicians are facing,
problems which have no simple solutions.
I offer one thought in conclusion.
The fact that the theoreticians and practitioners, both of countries that are
well-off and countries that are in crisis situations, are combining their efforts in the
area of peacekeeping only confirms the universality of the problem and gives hope for
Based on the foregoing, the future of NATO lies not so much in a defensive
alliance as it does in being transformed into an effective tool for peacekeeping, into
the "Internal Troops of Europe," I would say.
Recently, I had occasion to hear a very old and very wise toast. "Be vigilant in
happiness and steadfast in misfortune."
The fortunate West will have to "be vigilant." It is very important not to
overlook this vital need for a qualitative rather than a quantitative change in the
alliance--a change which is worrying so many.
The East will have to remain "steadfast in misfortune." I believe we will endure.
It won't be the first time.
1.Text of an oral presentation given at a jointly sponsored
US/Russian international workshop entitled "Non-Traditional Operations Involving
the Use of Armed Forces: Russian and International Experience", May 31-June 2,
1995, Moscow. BACK
2.Colonel Tsygankov is Deputy Department Chief, Main Command
Directorate of the Internal Troops, Ministry of the Interior, Russian Federation. BACK