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Military


Armed Forces General Staff

#NameRankStartEndNotes

Chiefs of the General Staff of the
Soviet Union

P.P.LebedevFebruary 1921April 1924
M.V. Frunze April 1924January 1925
S.S.Kamenev February 1925November 1925
M.N.Tukhachevsky November 1925May 1928
B.M.Shaposhnikov May 1928June 1931
A.I.Egorov June 1931May 1937
B.M.Shaposhnikov May 1937August 1940
K.A.Meretskov August 1940January 1941
G.K.Zhukov JanuaryJuly 1941
B.M.Shaposhnikov July 1941May 1942
A.M.Vasilevsky May 1942February 1945
A.I.Antonov February 1945March 1946
A.M.Vasilevsky March 1946November 1948
S.M.Shtemenko November 1948June 1952
V.D.Sokolovsky June 1952April 1960
M.V.Zakharov April 1960March 1963
S.S.Biryuzov March 1963October 1964
M.V.Zakharov November 1964September 1971
V.G.Kulikov September 1971January 1977
N.V.Ogarkov Marshal of the
Soviet Union
January 1977September 1984
S.F.Akhromeev Marshal of the
Soviet Union
September 1984December 1988
M.A.Moiseyev December 1988August 1991
V.N.Lobov AugustDecember 1991

Chiefs of the General Staff of the
Armed Forces of the Russian Federation

1 Viktor DubyninArmy
General
10 Jun
1992
22 Nov
1992
Died in office
2 Mikhail Kolesnikov Army
General
22 Nov
1992
18 Oct
1996
3 Viktor SamsonovArmy
General
18 Oct
1996
22 May
1997
4 Anatoly Kvashnin Colonel
General
22 May
1997
19 Jul
2004
5 Yuri Baluyevsky Army
General
19 Jul
2004
03 Jun
2008
6 Nikolai Makarov Army
General
03 Jun
2008
09 Nov
2012
7 Valery Gerasimov Colonel
General
09 Nov
2012
Incumbent

General Staff of Armed Forces of Russian Federation

  • Main Operations Directorate of the General Staff
  • General Directorate of the General Staff
  • Main Organization and Mobilization Directorate
  • General Directorate of Armed Forces Communications
  • National Control Center of the Russian Defence
  • Office of the Chief of electronic warfare forces
  • Military Topographic Directorate
  • Eighth Directorate of the General Staff
  • Management of operational training the Armed Forces
  • Office of development of UAVs
  • Archival Service of the Russian Armed Forces

The Main Directorate of the General Staff was created in Russia in 1863. In 1865 this directorate became part of the Main Staff that was subordinate to the Defense Minister. In 1905, after the defeat in the Russo-Japanese War, Nicholas II, attempting to restructure the military command system on the German model, established the position of Chief of the General Staff.

Originally the Chief of the General Staff reported directly to the czar and enjoyed equal rights with the Minister of Defense. For this reason the Main Directorate of the General Staff was pulled out of the structure of the Main Staff that reported to the Defense Minister and was made subordinate to the Chief of the General Staff.

Starting in March 1909 the Chief of the General Staff and his apparatus were again placed under the Defense Minister. Nonetheless, the General Staffs role in military command and control remained dominant. It developed military and mobilization plans, organized troop services, managed railroad shipments, etc. The Main Staff managed personnel training, local military directorates, and governor-generalships.

By the time of the Great Patriotic War the Soviet General Staff had eight directorates: operational; intelligence; organizational; military reports; mobilization; logistics; recruitment; and, military-topographical. It also had three departments: fortified areas; military-historical; and, personnel. In the war years the functions of the General Staff expanded significantly, particularly in issues of military production.

From the summer of 1940 until the summer of 1941, the chiefs of the General Staff were changed four times (B.M. Shaposhnikov, K.A. Meretskov, G.K. Zhukov and then again B.M. Shaposhnikov). In the brief stay in such a complicated and crucial post, of course, neither K.A. Meretskov nor G.K. Zhukov was able to successfully master his duties. For example, G.K. Zhukov was the head of the General Staff for just 4 months. During this period, the superior military leadership, including himself, committed a number of major errors, and with the start of combat, there were even more of them. The military leader rightly pointed out that all these errors were the consequence of the lack "in all of us of sufficient experience in troop leadership in a difficult situation...." During this period the military command still did not dare to defend its professional views before the "omniscient and wise leader."

Only the Stavka of the Supreme High Command issued directives to the troops, but the Stavka did not make a single decision of any importance without first hearing the opinion of the General Staff. The staff converted the decisions into practical instructions, prepared directives for the troops, and controlled their execution.

The central role of the General Staff, howevrer, was probably eroded somewhat during the early Khrushchev era. Still chafing at what he regarded as interference by the General Staff in operations at the front during the Great Patriotic War, Khrushchev, a former political commissar, actively sought to reduce the staff's stature. Moreover, development of strategic missiles led to a new concept of military operations. Khrushchev and several military theoreticians of the period posited that any future war might last only a few hours or days. Under this concept, the need for a central organ such as the General Staff to control the operations of all the armed services was considerably lessened.

For Khrushchev, the most urgent necessity was control of the Strategic Rocket Forces. During the early days of the SRF's existence, control over that force was probably exercised directly by higher authority, possibly by Khrushchev himself.

Army General Viktor G. Kulikov, chief of the General Staff, in two articles in the Soviet open press in 1974, appeared to be defending the role of the General Staff in peace and war. That Kulikov has found it necessary to restate publicly the traditional and current functions of the General Staff suggested that there was some internal controversy over its place in the country's strategic leadership. The controversy could relate to a realignment o: the General Staff's responsibilities or to its position and influence vis-a-vis the military services in the military decisionmaking and resource allocation process.

Kulikov's claims to a General Staff role in nonoperational defense planning (e.g., weapon development and procurement) betrayed a concern on his part for a possible erosion of the General Staff's authority in these matters. The General Staff had a central role in budgetary, weapons development, organizational, and mobilization matters for many years. Organizational changes in the Ministry of Defense, however, had an impact on several aspects of the staff's responsibilities. The appointment of two former General Staff officers to posts as Deputy Ministers of Defense suggests that some functions had been removed from the General Staff and placed directly under Minister of Defense Grechko.

Colonel General N. N. Alckseyev filled a newly created post as Deputy Minister of Defense for Armaments, suggesting that the principal responsibility for weapons development has been placed directly under the Minister. Alekseyev had previously served in the General Staff in a position long associated with weapons development. The reason for this change, which took place in 1970, was not readily apparent. It was not without precedent, however, since primary responsibility for weapons development resided in the Ministry of Defense, outside the General Staff, before and during World War II and throughout the 1950s.

The appointment of Army General N. V. Ogarkov to another newly established Deputy Minister of Defense position indicated a change in the General Staff's role in the preparation of the defense budget. His directorate was said to assess the effectiveness of various military programs and make recommendations for allocation of resources among the services.

Marshal Sergei Akhromeyev, the chief of the Soviet armed forces, wrote when he committed suicide in the wake of the failed August 1991 Kremlin coup, everything he had devoted his life to was now collapsing. Akhromeyevs earlier warnings of the disintegration of the Soviet Union and its armed forces had come to pass.

After the first Chechen war began, the government, in the person of Boris Yeltsin, began to encourage the General Staffs participation in the direct leadership of military actions. Moreover, on 11 January 1995 at a meeting between Prime Minister Victor Chernomyrdin and the Chairmen of the Chambers of the Federal Assembly, Vladimir Shumeyko and Ivan Rybkin, President Yeltsin announced his intention to pull the General Staff completely out of the Defense Ministry and attach it directly to himself.

Kolesnikov, chief of the General Staff, reportedly wanted the supreme military command to reside with the General Staff, which would have responsibility for developing and implementing Russia's long-range strategic plans for ensuring national security and for the administration of the military. Under this plan, the functions of the Defense Ministry would have been reduced to providing material and technical support and financing the coordination with the military industrial complex.

Grachev reportedly opposed this plan since it would have significantly reduced his authority. Instead, he pushed for an expansion of the Defense Ministry's authority, including placing other Russian armed formations, such as the border troops, the Interior Ministry troops, and the units of the Ministry of Emergency Situations, under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Defense. Grachev also vigorously opposed the appointment of a civilian defense minister, a reform reportedly favored by some members of Yeltsin's entourage.

True enough, Yeltsin never implemented his plan, possibly because at that time the General Staff was headed by General Mikhail Kolesnikov, a modest person who respected official subordination, or possibly because he did not find the right person for the job.

The objective possibility, and, essentially, the inevitability of conflict between the Minister of Defense and the Chief of the General Staff are embedded in the archaic structure of the highest level of military command, which has changed little since the early 20th century and is completely inappropriate for the conditions in todays Russia.

The General Staff was a major link in the centralization of the Russian national command authority. It provided staff support and acted as the executive agency for the Supreme High Command. The forces in various theaters reported through it to the Supreme High Command and the Supreme CINC. Contrary to the United States tradition of military authority derived strictly from the civilian sector, Russian General Staff officers exercised command authority in their own right.

The tasks and functions of the Russian General Staff were defined in the 11 November 1998 publication of President Boris Yeltsin's Decree No. 1357, "Issues of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation and the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation," together with the "General Staff of the Armed Forces Rules and Regulations"

The Chief of the General Staff held much more substantive levers in the system of military command than did the Defense Minister. It was namely the General Staff that was charged with: "ensuring the development of the command system of the Armed Forces" (Part III, Section 6, Paragraph 13); planning and organizing activity for developing the command structure and the country's communications system, taking defense needs into account; using automated command systems; organizing communication and coordination with other troops, military units and bodies; managing the development of communications systems and automated command systems within the Armed Forces (Para. 14); carrying out reconnaissance activities in the interests of defense and security (Para. 17); developing and carrying out measures related to maintaining information security, command and control, and communications, as well as monitoring their performance (Para. 31) and so forth.

The General Staff of the armed forces of the Russian Federation was the central organ of the Arms Forces Administration and the basic organ of operational management of the armed forces of the Russian Federation, which achieved coordination the activities of organs and troops of the federal boundary service of the Russian Federation, internal troops of the RF Ministry of Internal Affairs, railroad troops of the Russian Federation, troops of the Federal Agency for Government Communications and Information with the President of the Russian Federation, troops of civil defense, technical-engineering and roadbuilding military formations of the Russian Federation, Russian Federal Foreign Intelligence Service, organs of the federal security service, federal organs of government connection and information, federal organs of state protection, federal organ of the guarantee of mobilization preparation of the organs of the power of the state of the Russian Federation on the accomplishment of mission in the region of defense.




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Page last modified: 10-04-2019 10:16:38 ZULU