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Russia’s General Gerasimov Talks Future War – Satellites and Counterspace to Play Big Role

General Valeriy Gerasimov, Russian Chief of the General Staff and First Deputy Minister of Defence. Photograph courtesy of Wikipedia.

The Russian Chief of the General Staff and First Deputy Defence Minister of Russia, General Valeriy Gerasimov, gave a speech on his conception of future warfare to the Military Academy of the General Staff on 24 March 2018, in which the military uses of space features prominently.

The speech, widely reported in the Russian press and among Western analysts who specialise in Russian military affairs, is of interest to SpaceWatch.Global readers because of the emphasis General Gerasimov put on the role of counterspace (such as electronic warfare and antisatellite – ASAT – capabilities) in the future Russian way of war, as well as the growing need for Russian satellites to make Russian forces faster, more accurate, and more lethal.

Acknowledging that the character of war is constantly changing and that each war in the future, as today, will be unique requiring very different responses, General Gerasimov did go as far to assert that future wars will more than likely feature the widespread use of artificial intelligence that control automated weapons, such as unmanned vehicles, and that the targets in future wars will include economic and telecommunications nodes, as well as traditional military ones.

Of note, General Gerasimov also stated that the information (cyberspace) and space domains will also heavily feature in future wars.

“It goes without saying that each military conflict has its own distinctive features. Broad employment of precision and other types of new weapons, including robotic ones, will be fundamental characteristics of future conflicts. The enemy’s economy and state command and control system will be the priority targets. Besides traditional spheres of armed struggle, the information sphere and space will be actively involved,” General Gerasimov told his audience, as quoted in Interfaks-AVN.

“Countering communications, reconnaissance and navigation systems will play a special role, General Gerasimov added, indirectly referring to Russia’s growing skills and capabilities in electronic warfare that can target satellites.

“The troops are being outfitted with systems of electronic warfare against aerospace means, navigation systems and digital radio communications. Means of counteracting precision weapons are being perfected,” General Gerasimov said, as quoted by the TASS news agency.

The Russian military chief also said that the Russian military is modernizing and developing its own military satellite constellations in reconnaissance and surveillance, communications, and positioning, navigation, and timing (provided by the GLONASS constellation), to increase the speed, accuracy, and lethality of Russian reconnaissance-strike and –fire systems.

“Reconnaissance-strike and reconnaissance-fire systems are being developed which aim to support the effectiveness and continuity of fire suppression on the enemy. The integration of reconnaissance-information and information-command systems with the weapons systems of services and troop branches is being implemented,” General Gerasimov told his audience, as quoted by Interfaks-AVN.

“Work to develop an inter-service automated reconnaissance-system is being conducted. It should result in reducing the time cycle for completing fire missions — from reconnaissance to target destruction — by 2-2.5 times. At the same time, the accuracy of targeting will increase by 1.5-2 times, and the potential for delivering precision weapons will expand,” the General added, expanding on this theme.

The speech is the latest in what has become an annual event for the Russian Chief of the General Staff to provide a strategic, even theoretical, overview of the future character of war from the perspective of Russian military leadership.

The vision laid out by General Gerasimov is in line with the evolving thinking of the Russian military as available from open-source literature and speeches over the past few years.

Furthermore, the viewpoint expressed by General Gerasimov that the space domain is likely to become one in which actual combat is likely to take place mirrors the views of senior U.S. defence officials and military leadership.

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