It is highly important that the Soviet command and control or their submarines be understood. This is necessary if the command and control of our own ASW forces — of which submarines are an important part — is to operate effectively. Soviet command and control differs from ours in several ways, some of which are distinct shortcomings. Hence a knowledge of these differences presents an opportunity to use them to our advantage. The balance between the u.s. and the Soviets in underseas combat may easily lie in a correct reading of Soviet command and control concepts and how they accomplish them in their present practices.
3 First, it should be noted that the terms c3 or C I, as used by the U.S. are not used in Soviet command and control theory. The Soviet’s approach seemingly uses C-EW to describe the function of command and control. c, to the Soviets, means “control”, while EW is “electronic warfare” to cause the enemy to lose control of his forces. The other elements of command and control, i .e. communications, command, intelligence and navigation, are treated as only ancillary factors. Though these supporting elements are basically similar to those of the u.s., “control” and ” EW” have far greater emphasis and show some subtle differences.
“Control” is the secret of successful Soviet offensive operations. And , EW is the means to insure the survivability of control of Soviet forces — by neutralizing an enemy’s means of control which he might use to oppose a Soviet offensive action. “Control” is examined in great depth by the Soviets and control is seen as “a dynamic quality of military force employment which changes with different situations, different political objectives and different rules of engagement.” A Soviet officer knowingly writes that “the outcome of a naval action hinges on the status of force control.” Admiral s. Gorshkov, Head of the Soviet Navy, emphasizes the quality of “control” which is being achieved •only by the use of automated control systems.• He considers this to be “a new weapon” capable of reinforcing “the intellect” of the military commander. It is, according to the Admiral, “a quasi-collective intellect” which concentrates the theoretical knowledge and experience of many military commanders and which makes the “control” decisions ·in the Soviet Navy. Hence for submarines, decision-making by a central Commander or by a CO of a unit, is necessarily computer-assisted. This application of computers, according to ADM. Gorsbkov, “concentrates theoretical knowledge and the experience of many military commanders in a form which assures its utilization by any CO with due regard to the specific situation which has arisen.” Such a situation will be defined for computers from the situational-data entered. The volume of this data is likely to be so great that only through computerization can it be synthesized to a form where it can be related to the mathematical algorithms and programs in the computer complex and provide decision-making suggestions. Yet, Admiral Gorshkov notes that “the final control decision of the officer-incharge will always be subjective, with selection objectively substantiated by the computer’s output.” This does not rule out a creative approach by a CO for solving the problems at hand. Wisely, the Admiral also recognizes that “even among indecisive officers-in-charge, an original (computer) search for the best decision cannot continue endlessly,” and a plan of action must sooner or later be determined by a hesitant CO. Thus “control”. of submarines is not likely to result in a form of inaction and missed opportunity as too often occurred in submarine operations during World War II. Admiral Gorshkov’s belief in the increased efficiency of “control” in modern day operations — despite “their large spatial scope and the shortening of time for decision-making by an officer-in-charge” must also be evaluated in light of the impact of a political commissar on each staff or with each submarine. It is clear that this Party representative, who is likely to be close at hand when major operational decisions are made by an officer-in-charge, will try to ensure the “ideological purity” and consistency of such decisions with Communist Party military policy. This additional factor, acting on the “control” of a submarine, is foreign to Western concepts but should be recognized when optimizing Western antisubmarine command and control functions. Although such a political officer has been made a watch stander on most submarines, it is unlikely that he would have adequate tactical knowledge to either approve or disapprove a CO’s control decisions. Hence any departure by the CO from doctrine or the suggestions ground out by a computer’s Party policy sanitized programs, would likely be viewed as a form of deviationism and would tend to be suppressed. Thus, the political officer has a certain overriding effect aboard a submarine, because he can report a CO’s “deviationism.” Hence creative responses to tactical situations by the CO become far less likely. The isolation of the submarine in its operations effectively prevents a rapid resolving of such differences by higher authority. This is unlike the functioning of the political officer on submarine staffs where his suspicions as to a Commander’s deviationism can be resolved quickly.
Another area of concern, relative to the control of submarines, is the lack of initiative shown by Soviet individuals in general. This is evident from the numerous articles dealing with the means to improve initiative in military operations and is probably the product of the Communist Party’s stifling domination of all Soviet citizens in. their puhlic life. Its effect on the CO’s control of his submarine, while in action, needs to be evaluated for the advantage that might accrue to our own ASW forces.
The Soviets also emphasize the need to appreciate an enemy’s policies, ideology, organization and military doctrine as well as the character of its commanders. By so doing, their own command and control efforts are conducted more profitably — particularly if u.s. submariners are not doing their homework along these lines.
The efforts used to galvanize initiative, the inhibiting effect of the political commissar, and the consequent dependence on doctrinal policysanitized computer solutions should make a Soviet CO’s control of his submarine predictable in critical tactical situations. His penetration of a convoy screen, his reaction to various types of enemy ASW effort, his responses in a short-range melee-type of engagement, his role in coordinated multi-unit operations, etc., should be recognizable if the performance of Soviet submarines is carefully studied in peacetime and patterns of action recognized from the considerable writings of Soviet leaders on the subject of “control.”
As suggested earlier, in addition to controlling Soviet submarine forces with existing assets, the Soviets stress the importance or disrupting an enemy’s control mechanisms in order to ensure the survivability and continuity of Soviet elements of control. “Radio-electronic combat” (EW) is the essence of this form of control of the enemy’s command and control systems. Jamming enemy sensors or physically destroying them are the main measures employed. Moreover, by obtaining intelligence on the enemy’s control network, the Soviets feel that they can deny up to SOJ of his communication capabilities and his intelligence collection. A capability to jam U.S. submarine broadcast frequencies except for the ELF ones, bas been demonstrated by the Soviets over the pa~t few years. In addition, the Soviets see the use of deception — false information, use of decoys, camouflage, etc. -and electronic counter-counter measures as providing a protection of Soviet “control” systems from enemy efforts.
“Control” in Peacetime Ooerations
The continuous peacetime pattern or up to half a dozen Soviet SSBNs deployed individually for deterrent effect as well as a few SSNs (which include the guided missile attack boats) for gathering intelligence and gaining operating experience, appear to be under a form of control similar to that used for U.S. submarines. Command and control of such Soviet submarines is evidently exerted by the theater submarine commands. One difference however is probable. Because of the central control of a single land based command for coordinated world-wide operations at the commencement of a big war at sea — as illustrated by the two major OKEAN exercises — the geographic plots or surface ship and submarine activity on the oceans would be kept by the overall central command and by the theater submarine commands, rather than by individual submarines using some form of Outlaw Shark system. Control of targeting of Soviet submarines for an initial major strike against an enemy would then be by the central command assisted by the theater submarine commands. Only after an initial “first salvo” type of attack would control shift to the submarine CO for uninhibited “mop-up operations.” The communications to submarines needed for such an evolution tend to be sparse, hence non-alerting and virtually all one way — to the submarines.
The coordinated submarine operations which are probably practiced in peacetime include: transits involving the mutual support of other submarines and possibly surface ASW units as well as aircraft; multi submarine trailing or enemy SSBNs; ASW protection of own SSBNs; and operations with a surface strike fleet. Unlike the centrally controlled initial “first salvo” type of massive strike against enemy units wherever, these coordinated operations will necessarily be controlled by an on-scene commander — although the details of such operations are only of the sketchiest variety in the Soviet unclassified writings which were researched. Doctrinal methods for conducting such coordinated operations should be well established in computer programs — both for the officer-in-charge and for the unit commanders. This computer-aided doctrinal approach to coordinated operations is indicated for all military forces as well.
Admiral Gorshkov also stresses the extensive use of computers to aid staffs in preparing plans rapidly for their Commander. The Admiral’s emphasis on “the new tempo of operations” which calls for amongst other things, rapid staff response to a particular opportunity — one due to weather, own success in a deceptive action, an enemy error in strategy, etc. — also calls for close integration of staff personnel with their computer aids. The Admiral notes that “The primary purpose of the automated control system is to make the most expedient decision to assure maximum utilization of the potential resources of the forces”, and that “with the help of mathematical models the staff receive neither a project, nor an operations plan, but only the quantitative recommendations to work out the best variant for operations, suitable for the situation which is taking shape.” The reasoning behind this emphasis on computer aided staff work is that, if a plan can be generated swiftly and the operations commenced rapidly in response to a plan, the enemy will be taken by surprise — not necessarily due to being caught unaware of what is happening but actually unable to respond quickly enough and adequately enough because of the great speed with which offensive operations have been laid on.
Control of Strategic Submarines
Such “control” involves both ballistic missile submarines as well as those armed with Tomahawk-like nuclear tipped cruise missiles. Recently, Soviet intercontinental strategic nuclear forces were apparently brought together into a single organization, a Strategic Nuclear Forces (SNF) Command. Operational control, then, of Soviet strategic submarines is vested in a Navy nuclear commander-in-chief who reports directly to the SNF Commander-in-Chief. The CO or a submarine employing strategic weapons merely carries out the orders of his higher command. Whereas Soviet SSBNs were formerly expected to play a role in an initial massive nuclear exchange, today they appear to be planned as a strategic reserve ·- a survivable blackmailing ~orce ~or late-war bargaining and an inrluencing o~ peace terms. There are indications that Soviet SSBNs will operate in protected bastions close to the Soviet homeland or under the Arctic ice cap. VLF and ELF broadcasts through the ice to the SSBNs should be satis~actory while underwater telephone communications with protecting SSN units also appear satisfactory though not totally secure in their transmissions.
Control of the “first salvo”
As demonstrated in the OKEAN exercises of ’70 and ’75, control of Soviet forces worldwide for a “first salvo” initiation of a war at sea is contemplated and would be executed from a single shore based command center — near Moscow. Satellite communications insure the reliability of this central control. Enemy battle groups would be located geographically by mainly airborne means and become designated targets for Soviet submarines operating in their proximate vicinity. The central command would promulgate an overall plan of action, probably giving a time for missiles on target rather than a time for initiation o~ attack. This would tend to achieve a near-simultaneous attack effect from widely dispersed ~iring plat~orms whether submarine or long range aircraft and also tend to overwhelm enemy defenses because of the saturation nature or such an attack. Decentralized submarine commands sort out inrormation on the enemy and the theater environment and keep attack submarines updated on target and operational iDrormation through mainly VLF broadcasts. They might also issue qualifying control directions to their submarines to insure a conrormity with the overall plan. The COs or the Soviet attack submarines (both SSGNs and SSNs) should remain under control of their submarine commands until their launch of missiles. Then control of the submarines would shift to the CO and the individual units would be released to conduct evasion action or mop-up operations against the ships of the crippled enemy battle group under attack. Shifting from land based to onboard control is probably a matter of doctrine. During mop-up operations several Soviet submarines are likely to coordinate their torpedo attacks using underwater telephone communications — the senior commander of the group of submarines assuming tactical control in accordance with doctrine.
Control of Supported submarines
Unlike the U.S. with its preference for lonewolf operations, Admiral Gorshkov stresses the need for supported submarine operations wherever possible. This means that submarines are invariably working in close coordination with other submarines, surface ships or aircraft. Offensive strike operations are then likely to be coordinated with land based long range aircraft, satellites and other submarines. While protective operations for SSBNs, transitting submarines and defense of coastal areas will tend to involve surface ASW units and other submarines. In any case, reliable communications between all units are essential for effective operational coordination. Such communications are assured through considerable redundancy of means, while close adherence to established tactical doctrine is dictated to ensure a minimum use of communications.
In summary, it is “control” that is the essence or Soviet operations. And, this woontrol• of Soviet forces is insured by crippling those control systems or the enemy, through electronic warfare, which support the enemy’s efforts to counter Soviet sea forces.