The inevitable losses of junior commanders in the course of hostilities in Ukraine should also be considered. The Soviet model assumed that junior commanders in wartime would be graduates of civilian universities, who, almost without exception, underwent military training during their course of studies, and, upon graduating, received the rank of reserve lieutenants. In the past 30 years, the Russian army did not need lieutenants, and this system vanished. It will now take at least five years to resurrect it.
In addition, there is the Soviet experience of World War II when short-term officer courses were set up, where mobilized men with a higher level of education were selected, and received several months of basic training. However, it is not clear whether this practice can be reproduced given that today’s army relies on relatively sophisticated equipment.
Besides, to conduct an effective mass mobilization, a large number of skeleton formations must be restored to serve, once again, as the basis for the formation of new divisions. To do that, it is necessary to recreate the network of gigantic training centers, training grounds and weapons depots.Is a planned economy next?
Finally, and most importantly, the transition to a mass mobilization army will inevitably require fundamental changes in the organization of industry and a revision of property rights – in other words, changes in the structure of the Russian state. The current level of military production does not correspond whatsoever with Shoigu’s plans to expand the armed forces. Contrary to bravura reports about output being ramped up as much as 12 times, industry is clearly unable to provide more than two dozen new divisions with at least new, if not modern, equipment and weapons. The real state of affairs is evidenced by the occasionally voiced complaints
about the lack of shells and the use in combat operations of tanks and artillery that were produced almost half a century ago.
Only a defense industry organized on the Soviet model – that is based on a so-called planned economy and autarky – can provide a mass mobilization army with the adequate number of weapons and amount of equipment.
In the USSR, there was no real division between the civilian and defense sectors. The vast majority of components for military production were manufactured at “civilian” factories. An integral part of this economy was Gosplan, which allocated funds and set all prices – for raw materials, for elements, for various components – ensuring the necessary profitability.
In the 1990s, most Soviet industry died. A small part was reprofiled to make other products. The current owners of private enterprises do not want to take defense orders, as they would inevitably make their main products more expensive and therefore less competitive. It is no coincidence that even before the war, proposals arose in the government to obligate private manufacturers to produce military products, of which they did not want any part.
In spring 2022, parliament passed a law
according to which “regardless of the structural and legal form and form of ownership, [owners of enterprises] have no right to refuse to conclude agreements and government contracts. Moreover, on the proposal of security agencies, the government may, at will, increase or decrease the amount of goods, the amount of work or services within the framework of State Defense Procurement.” Already, based on demands from the Prosecutor General’s Office, the courts have begun to revert
to federal ownership enterprises “of strategic importance for ensuring the defense of the country and the security of the state.” However, these are only the first steps toward the militarization of Russia’s economy. Meanwhile, attempts to quickly put industrial production onto a war footing amid Western sanctions, are likely to significantly exacerbate the economic crisis.
As a totalitarian state, the Soviet Union was able to provide a mass mobilization army with human and material resources. Only such a state needs a mass mobilization army that can occupy vast foreign territories.